Thursday, September 4, 2003

Ohio Moments

Blacks pressed to serve amid fear of invasion

On Sept. 4, 1862, Judge William Dickson, a white man, took command of what would become Cincinnati's 706-man "Black Brigade."

At the outset of the Civil War, black men had attempted to form a home guard to defend the city. Some whites closed down the recruiting stations, saying this was "a white man's war."

But the city was gripped with fear after Aug. 30, 1862, when Confederates defeated Union forces in a battle a mere 100 miles away, in Richmond, Ky. On Sept. 1, Cincinnati was placed under martial law.

On Sept. 2, despite the protests of Mayor George Hatch, the Army ordered black men to dig fortifications in Northern Kentucky. Blacks were dragged from their houses and jobs without explanation. They were put in a hog pen on Plum Street overnight, then marched to Fort Mitchell. They were ill treated until Dickson took command. He sent them home, but asked them to return the next day. The Black Brigade would end up laboring for three weeks.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call 768-8361

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