Fighting at the Bridges
—John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail —
Early on July 14, 1863, Confederate Colonel Basil Duke's
brigade was the first of Brigadier General John Hunt
Morgan's cavalry to splash across the Little Miami River
at Porter's Mill. Duke's initial objective was to capture
the Madisonville-Obanion-and-Camargo Turnpike bridge
spanning the Little Miami River three-quarters of a mile
west of Miamiville. Around 7:30 am, Morgan's scouts
interrupted and dispersed eight card-playing bridge
guards of Union Captain Jacob Shuman's Company H,
11th Ohio Cavalry. The raiders captured one Union
cavalryman and eight horses.
Duke's troopers galloped into Miamiville intent on
destroying their next target, the Little Miami Railroad
bridge. Pickets from Shuman's company at the bridge's
south end fought bravely but were overrun when Duke
attacked with men from four Kentucky cavalry regiments.
Union Lieutenant Colonel George W. Neff sent
Lieutenant William H. H. Smith and 200 militiamen
of the "Miami Volunteers" from Camp Dennison
to the rescue. They loaded their muskets on the run,
having arrived by train only minutes before. The militia
charged into the surprised raiders as they prepared to
burn the bridge. Duke's cavalrymen fled to the north
bank of the river and took cover behind trees and
fences. Smith's infantry formed a skirmish line along
the south bank.
Though inexperienced and ill-equipped, the militiamen
stubbornly held their line against Duke's veterans,
and the skirmish settled into a sporadic, long-range
firefight. Confederate Lieutenant Elias D. Lawrence's
two-gun battery shelled the Union line and Camp
with no effect.
As Union Captain Joseph Proctor attacked Duke's rear,
Neff arrived and led a squad of convalescent soldiers in
a bayonet charge across the bridge. After a brief struggle,
the raiders retreated, having lost seventeen men: six killed,
four wounded, and seven captured. Neff's casualties
totaled one killed, several wounded, four captured,
and one missing. The bridges were saved.
Camp Shady, a Union supply depot,
stood at the northeast corner of present-day
Branch Hill-Guinea Road and SR 28.
Morgan's Confederate raiders discovered
the deserted depot around 11 am on
July 14. Much to their delight, they also
found 50 U.S. Army covered wagons that
had been left behind, as well as a drove
of horses and mules.
While his men picked over the fresh mounts
General Morgan ordered the wagons
searched for needed items and then burned.
The raiders continued their march southeast
toward Batavia and Williamsburg.
Top left: Little Miami Railroad Bridge Skirmish:
(1) 8-9 AM Duke's Confederate raiders capture the railroad bridge and a detachment
of Company H, 11th Ohio Cavalry, but are pushed back across the river by the attack
of Smith's Union militia, the "Miami Volunteers";
(2) 9-10:45 am Smith's militia skirmishes with pickets from the 2nd, 5th, 6th
and 14th Kentucky Cavalry;
(3) 10:30 am Proctor's Union convalescent soldiers and militia attack the Confederate rear;
(4) 10:30-10:45 am Neff's convalescent squad breaks through the Confederate line;
(5) 10:45-11 am Raiders make a stand;
(6) 11 am Raiders retreat to Ward's
Middle left: At the Little Miami Railroad Bridge skirmish, the "Miami Volunteers" Union militia (bottom left) sought cover behind the fence rails of Fletcher Road during their fight with Morgan's dismounted Confederate cavalry (right). The charge of the Union convalescent soldiers (left) decided the skirmish's outcome.
Bottom left: Six days after the skirmish, the thirty-year-old Cincinnatian Lieutenant Colonel George W. Neff was promoted to colonel for his successful defense of Camp Dennison.
Top right: Morgan's raiders burned 50 government wagons at Camp Shady and captured the horses and mules that Union Lieutenant Colonel George Neff was forced to abandon due to a shortage of teamsters.
Text: David L. Mowery
Illustrations and Map: Bev Kirk