SIDNEY — A number of presenters have already been engaged for Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend, Planning Committee Chair Mike Barhorst announced. The event, scheduled for Sept. 15-16, will include two presentations by Cincinnati native David Mowery.
Mowery has published two books on Confederate General John Hunt Morgan’s Great Raid through Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. His books include the first campaign study of the raid entitled Morgan’s Great Raid: The Remarkable Expedition from Kentucky to Ohio and the official guidebook of the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail, titled Morgan’s Raid Across Ohio. Mowery currently serves as chair of the non-profit Buffington Island Battlefield Preservation Foundation, the all-volunteer group working to save Ohio’s only major Civil War battlefield. Mowery’s first presentation on Saturday afternoon will be entitled “Morgan’s Great Raid: Taking the War to the North.”
“From July 2-26, 1863, while the great battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg captured the attention of the American people, Confederate Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan led nearly 2,500 cavalrymen on a daring raid into the North,” Mowery explained recently. “Morgan’s objective was to distract the Union forces under Major General William Rosecrans and Major General Ambrose Burnside from building up enough momentum to wrestle the mostly pro-Union East Tennessee region from its Confederate occupants and push General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee beyond its supply base at Chattanooga. Morgan’s incursion into Indiana and Ohio would produce the effect he desired, but it would end with disastrous results for his famous division.”
Mowery’s presentation will discuss Morgan’s Great Raid as it passed through three Union-held states and circumnavigated Cincinnati, which at the time was the seventh largest city in the United States and which served as the headquarters for Burnside’s department. “Morgan’s special-forces operation represented the pinnacle of Morgan’s strategic and tactical skills and the best of his division’s raiding capabilities,” Mowery noted. “No other American mounted infantry division on horseback would ever achieve what Morgan’s raiders accomplished on the Great Raid of 1863.”
Mowery’s topic on Sunday will be “Following the Footsteps of a Soldier: Pvt. Samuel S. Churchill, 20th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry.” This talk presents the biography of Samuel Churchill, who enlisted to serve with Company F, 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Sidney in 1861, and provides a history of the regiment that gained its fame fighting for the Union in the Civil War’s Western Theater.
“Before September 1993, the recorded life of Samuel S. Churchill was nothing more than a couple of dates, a few relatives’ names, and oral tradition that had been passed down through the years,” Mowery stated. “Little was known about the man except for the sketchy stories that were told of Samuel being a soldier in the Civil War and living in Lima, Ohio, after the war.”
“However, the stories were enough to spark an interest in learning more about Churchill,” Mowery explained. “What started out as my being curious led to my discovering a treasure trove of information about Churchill and his role in the 20th Ohio, one of General US Grant’s and General WT Sherman’s hardest fighting regiments in the Army of the Tennessee.”
Mowery’s interest in history was sparked during his youth. “My parents took my brothers and me on long road trips across the United States every summer following my birth,” Mowery stated. “We went to the usual haunts kids love like Disney World and the beach, but we would also stop at historic sites and battlefields. We read the historic signs on the roadways and by the time I was 9 years old, I was fascinated with the Civil War.
“I read everything I could find to read,” Mowery said. “In junior high, I began to seriously research history, especially of the Civil War period and military history. History teachers told me I had a gift – but by sixth grade, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to be an aerospace engineer. As a result, history became my primary hobby, or one might say, my ‘second job’.”
Mowery, who has been studying the Civil War for over 35 years, is a self-taught historian. With a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati, Mowery has researched, visited, and site-documented over 500 Civil War battlefields across the United States. For more than 28 years, he has been employed at Siemens as Senior Manager of Software Quality for Simulation and Test software.
Since 1995, Mowery has been a member of the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table. In 2001, he joined the Ohio Civil War Trail Commission. As a member of this volunteer group, he designed and historically validated the 557-mile John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail of Ohio. Mowery resides in Cincinnati with his wife Dawn.
“I’m excited to welcome Dave to Sidney’s Civil War Living History Weekend,” Barhorst said. “I invited him to speak about Morgan’s Raid at the suggestion of committee member J.R. Sharp. When I did, I had no idea that his great-great-great-great-grandfather grew up on a farm at the edge of Sidney, and that he had recently researched his life. I am truly looking forward to learning more about Private Churchill’s life – perhaps even more than about Morgan’s Raid, since I have already read a great deal about the raid.”