Rosecrans House: Home of Civil War General, William Starke
2935 Lehman Road in Price Hill

The sturdy thick-walled stone house on Lehman Road was built high on the hilltop in 1850 and its rear windows overlook the river.  The stone used to build its three stories is believed to have been quarried from a nearby spot on Glenway Avenue.  A tunnel running through the backyard and a sub-basement indicate that it was probably used as a station for the Underground Railroad, preceding the Civil War.  During the war years it was headquarters for General William Starke Rosecrans (1819-1898), with Colonel Joseph Burke in command. 

W. S. Rosecrans (1819 -1898) was born in Delaware County, Ohio.  His father was Dutch, and his mother traced back her descent to Timothy Hopkins, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  In Henry Howe’s Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes, published in 1907, it was noted that “while other boys were at play, [the general and his brother, who later became a bishop] were noted for their studious habits.”  W. S. Rosecrans attended West Point at 15 and later served in the Army Engineer Corps.  In 1853 he came to Cincinnati to take a civil engineering position and to make his home here.

Barbara Pilaia of Delhi found a note to his wife behind a photo of her great-great grandfather that she was given as a child. It read: “This is a New Year’s present. 
If I should not get home, you may say that I have died at my post.  Your beloved husband.  W.R.”

The note behind the picture was very likely written shortly before the battle of Stone River; one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War and was fought against General Bragg in Tennessee.  Whether or not, General Rosecrans knew how difficult this battle would be, history doesn’t say, but his note would indicate that he did.  The fighting started December 31 and was over on January 3, 1863, but by the time it was over each side had lost one third of their man, and it took six months for Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland to recover. 

But Rosecrans was determined to pursue and finally defeat Bragg, as he had been ordered.  Washington could not give him the additional troops, horses, and artillery he requested and badly needed, because Grant was in Vicksburg, and everything available was being sent there.  However, the general had a real asset in his own men who admired him immensely and had dubbed him,  “Old Rosey”.  When he could finally advance, he skillfully maneuvered Bragg out of Tennessee and into Georgia, freely Chattanooga, which was the main artery of the Confederates provision lines.  This was a real stroke of genius and Rosecrans was in hot pursuit of Bragg’s troops in North Georgia.  But the South would not allow this blow to be dealt and Lee instantly dispatched Longstreet’s entire corps to aid Bragg.  When Rosecrans realized that Bragg had been reinforced and was ready to strike back, he quickly re-grouped behind Chicamauga Creek.  Immediately he sent Washington urgent telegrams explaining the dire situation and again begged for troops.  This time Washington said yes, and asked General Grant to send two of his units.  But Grant’s troops never arrived.  After being hit by Bragg and 75,000 Confederates, General Rosecrans was able to move what was left of his 40,000 men back to Chattanooga and hold it until finally, General Hooker and 20,000 reinforcements came to his aid. 

It was at this time, that Grant was given command of the Union armies from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi and his first official act was to remove General Rosecrans, still under siege at Chattanooga, from his command.

In 1863, Rosecrans also became the commander of the Department of the Ohio and was reputed to live on Lehman Road.  He opened the Sanitary Fair on December 21, 1863 in which exhibits, lectures, and other fund-raising activities raised about $250,000 from Cincinnatians for soldier Relief.  He resigned from the Army in 1867.

Rosecrans served as Minister to Mexico from 1868 to1869, a Democratic member of Congress from California from 1881 to 1885, and the Register of the United States Treasury from 1885 to 1893.   A special act of Congress re-appointed Rosecrans a brigadier general and placed him on the retired Army list.

Records of the Sisters of Charity show that in 1850, 37 nuns moved into it and established a combination Mother House and school for women-Mount St. Vincent Academy.  The school was later was moved to Glenway Avenue as The Cedar Grove School which finally became known as Seton High School.  The Mother House is now at the College of Mount St. Joseph.

William Rosecrans’ brother, Sylvester Horton Rosecrans (1827-1878), was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy on June 5, 1853 and taught theology at the old Mount St. Mary’s Seminary on Grand Avenue.  He was appointed titular Bishop of Pompeiopolis and first auxiliary Bishop of Cincinnati on March 25, 1863.  It is during this period that he is believed to have lived on Lehman Road. On October 31, 1878, Bishop Rosecrans was appointed the first Bishop of the then new diocese with its center in Columbus and was buried in that city.

Mrs. Hoffman bought the building in 1955 and during remodeling she entered the attic and discovered a small trove of civil war mementos hidden under the floorboards.  According to a 1959 newspaper clip, confirmed with her family, she found papers dealing with the court martial proceedings of AWOL soldiers, as well as several medical certificates.  One allowed a soldier to stay in the shade for 30 days because of an aversion to sunlight.  Another excused a man from bathing.  Also recovered was a receipt showing that the Army paid 6 ½ cents each for 600 bars of soap, and 18 cents each for 350 candles.

*The above information was researched at the Price Hill Historical Society, 3640 Warsaw Avenue, 513-251-2888 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              513-251-2888       
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Return to Rosecrans,  Part 3,  Civilian Inventor, Engineer