The Defense of Cincinnati occurred during what is now referred to as the Confederate Heartland Offensive (or Kentucky Campaign) of the American Civil War from September 1 through September 13, 1862, when Cincinnati, Ohio, was threatened by Confederate forces.
Confederate Brigadier General Henry Heth had been sent north to threaten Cincinnati, then the sixth largest city in the United States. Heth was under orders from his superior, Major General Edmund Kirby Smith not to attack the city, but to make a “demonstration”. Cincinnati’s mayor George Hatch ordered all business closed, and Union Major General Lew Wallace declared martial law, seized sixteen steamboats and had them armed, and organized the citizens of Cincinnati, Covington and Newport, Kentucky for defense.
Along eight miles of hilltops from Ludlow to present-day Fort Thomas, Kentucky, volunteers and soldiers constructed rifle pits and earthwork fortifications, which were defended by 25,000 Union Army soldiers and 60,000 local militia volunteers, called “Squirrel Hunters.” Construction of the defenses was directed by Colonel Charles Whittlesey until relieved by Major James H. Simpson, chief of Topographical Engineers for the Department of the Ohio.
Fort Mitchel was one of 23 Civil War forts and batteries manned by the Union armies. The exact location of Fort Mitchel is believed to have been on the hill between the end of Summit Lane and Barrington Road near the Dixie Highway. When Heth and his men marched from Lexington, Kentucky on the Lexington Turnpike (present-day U.S. Route 25) arriving south of Covington on September 6. He reconnoitering the defenses at various points. Heth’s forces stayed only a few days, skirmishing near Fort Mitchel on September 10–11 before returning south to Lexington on September 12, 1862.
The original town of Fort Mitchell was incorporated in March 1910, and at that time, it included the area between the Dixie Highway (then called the Lexington Pike) on the east and the present site of the Fort Mitchell County Club on the west, and between St. John’s Cemetery on the north and Maple Avenue on the south.
The Old Fort Mitchell Historic District developed as one of Northern Kentucky’s first”streetcar suburbs.” It is an early twentieth century residential neighborhood of 141 buildings. The district, developed continuously from the turn of the century through the 1930’s, and features an intact inventory of high-style and popular domestic architecture. Numerous examples of architectural styles are well represented. Old Fort Mitchell developed gradually over three decades, for the most part from the early 1900’s through the mid-1930’s.
photo: Fort Mitchel guarding approaches to Northern Kenutucky and Cincinnati, Ohio, www.sonofthesouth.net