Posted: 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Women wants Ohio Historic Marker for Fairfield home of Civil War leader

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Women wants Ohio Historic Marker for Fairfield home of Civil War leader photo
This Fairfield home once belonged to Civil War hero Major G.W. Rue, known as the man who captured Morgan’s Raiders.
Women wants Ohio Historic Marker for Fairfield home of Civil War leader photo
This Fairfield home once belonged to Civil War hero Major G.W. Rue, known as the man who captured Morgan’s Raiders.

By Richard Jones

Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD —

In July 1863, Hamilton had a close call, narrowly missing a raid by the infamous Confederate General John Hunt Morgan as he and his Morgan’s Raiders made a daring dash across Southwest Ohio.

While his raid has been well-documented and is being well-celebrated on its 150th anniversary, a pair of Fairfield women are trying to shed a better light on the man who captured Capt. Morgan, the intrepid Major George W. Rue, who settled in Fairfield after the war and later went on to become a prominent Hamilton citizen.

Ina Fields currently lives in the River Road home that Rue bought after the war. She didn’t know that, however, when she bought the house until a local music teacher with an interest in history knocked on her door one day in the 1980s asking if he could take some photos.

“We never gave it much thought, but we later found out that the house was on the Ohio Historic Inventory,” she said.

Then a couple of years ago, her daughter-in-law went to look it up again and discovered that it was no longer on that list of historic buildings. With the help of Lois Kingsley of the Fairfield Historical Society began to research Rue’s life and the history of the house, embarking on a mission to not only have the house’s place on the Ohio Historic Inventory, but to also get an Ohio Historic Marker on the site.

Rue lived a short time in Glendale before residing in what was then Fairfield Twp., Kingsley said.

The earliest record of his residence the two have is his name on a list of jurors in 1868, though some sources say he lived in the area as early as 1856. He bought the River Road house in 1871 and worked a farm there.

Afterwards, he moved to Lindenwald, living at three different houses on Heaton Street before finally residing on N. 11th Street. He owned the Hamilton Plow Company, a manufacturer on the corner of S. Seventh Street and Walnut. He died in April 1911 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Rue was born in Harrodsburg, Ky., in 1828, and prior to the Civil War had fought in Mexico under Zachary Taylor and lost the sight in his left eye in a battle injury.

By his own account, as told in a 1909 speech at the dedication of a marker at the site of Morgan’s capture, he organized a cavalry company in Kentucky and was made captain of the Ninth Kentucky where he was kept busy chasing John Morgan out of the state.

“Six times I drove him out of the state… before the raid on Ohio,” he said.

When Morgan entered Indiana, crossing the Ohio River just below Louisville, Rue was ill and laid up in a house in Southern Kentucky while his regiment followed Morgan.

When he was well enough, Rue took a train to Cincinnati where he got his orders from Gen. Burnside, who put him in charge of a detachment of 400 men and 1,000 horses, plus 70 men from his own regiment, and the chase was on.

Both Cincinnati and Hamilton expected Morgan’s Raiders to lay their respective cities to ruin, but instead they went between and eventually made for Salineville.

Rue had the plan to take the railroad to a point ahead of Morgan’s Raiders and meet them head-on while the Seventh Michigan Cavalry pursued them from behind. Rue met up with a physician on the road who showed him the shortest route to the road Morgan was traveling on.

Finding a high point overlooking a broad valley and saw the cloud of dust that Morgan’s horses were raising, and so gave chase to the cloud.

“I had scarcely placed my troops in a position for a fight, when over the crest of a hill a quarter-mile away, appeared the heads of Morgan’s advancing troops,” Rue said.

Morgan’s men drew back, and soon three troopers emerged with bits of white muslin tied to a saber, a flag of truce. Except that they were requesting Rue’s surrender, which he declined and told them to tell Morgan “he must surrender or fight at once.”

Morgan and 336 of his men surrendered at around 2 p.m., July 26, 1863, at West Point, Ohio, several miles from Salineville, and Morgan gave Rue the sorrel horse that he had been riding, the only one to have made the entire 27 day raid through Indiana and Ohio, but Rue never actually took possession of the horse.

Morgan was sent to a prison in Columbus, where he tunneled out in November.

Rue mustered out a month after Morgans surrender and returned to Butler County.

 
 

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