The Civil War, Beers History of Warren County, Ohio
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The History of Warren County, Ohio

The Civil War



Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 17 January 2005

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter VII. Military History
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)
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The record of Warren County in the rebellion is one which will ever be contemplated with pride by her people. No State in the Union was more prompt and thorough in her response to the call to arms than Ohio, and no county in Ohio exhibited more alacrity and patriotism in bearing her share of the burdens of the momentous struggle than Warren.

Until fire opened upon Fort Sumter, the mass of the people did not apprehend civil war. Even after the inauguration of President Lincoln, with Jefferson Davis ruling at Montgomery—two Presidents with their cabinets, two Governments standing face to face—the people still seemed incredulous as to the imminence of a clash of arms. While a minority of the people of the county were willing to see a civil strife begun as a means for the destruction of slavery, the great majority hoped for a happy and peaceful issue from the national complications. Probably a majority were even disposed to favor such measures of conciliation as the repeal of the personal liberty bills in the Northern States which interfered with the enforcement of the fugitive slave law, and to give assurance that slavery should never be interfered with in any of the States where it then existed.

Thomas Corwin then represented the county in Congress. On the 14th of January, 1861, as Chairman of a Grand Select Committee of the House of Representatives, consisting of one from each State, Mr. Corwin made a report which perhaps met the approval of a majority of the people of the county. The report favored concession by recognizing the constitutional rights of the Slave States, and declaring that "all attempts on the part of the Legislatures of any of the States to obstruct or hinder the recovery and surrender of fugitives from labor are in derogation of the Constitution of the United States, inconsistent with the comity and good neighborhood which should prevail among the several States, and dangerous to the peace of the Union." The report passed the House by a decided majority. There were throughout the county, however, not a few who regarded even a declaration of a purpose to respect the rights of the Slave States under the constitution as an effort, to use the language of Horace Greeley, "to disarm the sternly purposed rebellion by yielding without bloodshed a substantial triumph to the rebels."

President Lincoln's first call for 75,000 militia to suppress unlawful combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed was read in the daily newspapers Monday, April 15, 1861. On the evening of the next day, the first public war meeting in Lebanon was held. It was held in Washington Hall, and was attended by citizens of Lebanon and vicinity and other portions of the county. The meeting was marked by a general and enthusiastic approval of the President's proclamation. Whatever spirit of conciliation and concession had before existed, there was now no more talk of coaxing or pleading with traitors who had dared to aim their cannon at the flag of the Union. A. H. Dunlevy presided. A committee on resolutions was appointed, consisting of

George R. Sage, Durbin Ward, James M. Smith, J. D. Wallace, William Crosson, Simon Suydam and John G. Dunlevy. Earnest and forcible addressee were made by the President, Judge Belamy Storer, Durbin Ward and J. D. Wallace. Resolutions were adopted as follows:

Resolved, That we, the citizens of Warren County, most cordially indorse the action of the Government in its energetic measures to execute the laws, and to preserve the institutions of our country.

Resolved, That we will stand by and support the Administration in the most vigorous efforts to put down rebellion and punish treason at whatever expense of men or money.

Resolved, That we recognize no party in the present crisis, but the party of the Union.

The band played "Hail Columbia," "The Star Spangled Banner" and "Yankee Doodle." Before the meeting adjourned, it authorized a dispatch to be sent to Gov. Dennison, pledging the county to raise promptly the quota of men required under the call of the President.

The war spirit was soon aroused throughout the county. The national flag was run up on the court house, and was seen floating from stores, workshops and residences. The whole country was filled with the noise and excitement of military preparation. Three companies from the county were soon raised, commanded respectively by Capt. Rigdon Williams, of Lebanon; Capt. John Kell, of Franklin; and Capt. J. D. Wallace, of Morrow. The sight of real soldiers was new to most of the people, and the marching to camp of a company for the three-months' service made more ado than afterward the departure of a regiment who left their homes for three years or during the war. Capt. Williams' company, on Tuesday, April 23, marched from Lebanon to the railroad, intending to take their departure for Camp Jackson at Columbus. Stores and shops were closed, and the people turned out to bid the soldiers adieu. The procession of soldiers and citizens on the road from Lebanon to Deerfield was nearly a mile in length. At the railroad station, the Captain received a dispatch that Camp Jackson was full, and the company returned to Lebanon and encamped at the fair-grounds. The company was mustered into the service of the United States for three months, at Columbus, on May 5; was re-organized and mustered into service for three years at Camp Dennison on the 19th of June, as Company F, Twelfth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry Jabez Turner, of Harveysburg, a member of this company, killed at Scarey Creek, W. Va., July 17, 1861, was the first man from Warren County who lost his life in the war of the rebellion.

Capt. John Kell's company, which, before the war, had been organized as a militia company, called the Franklin Grays," was the first company to leave the county for service under the telegraphic call for troops.

Durbin Ward was the first man in the county to sign an enrollment paper for troops in the civil war. When the President's proclamation reached Lebanon, he was trying a case at the court house. He hastily drew up a paper containing something like the following: "We, the undersigned, hereby tender our services to the President of the United States to protect our national flag." He signed it, and proceeded with his case. It was soon signed by Milton B. Graham. Only one or two other names were obtained until after the war meeting at Washington Hall, on the evening of April 16. Gen. Ward went into the army as a private, declining a captaincy. He came out a Brigadier General. He was a Democrat, and a decided opponent of the election of Lincoln, yet, when the national flag was fired upon, he at once offered his services to support an administration whose elevaton to power he had opposed. His example and influence did much to unite all parties in the support of armed measures for the suppression of the rebellion.

The volunteers from Warren County belonged to no one party. Republicans and Aboli-

tionists, who had been almost willing "to let the Union slide," all forgot their past differences and gave their services to support the Constitution and the Union.

The women of the county were earnest in their ministrations to the soldiers. From the beginning until the close of the war, they were constant in their efforts to supply those comforts and delicacies needed in the field, and still more in the hospital, and which no government does or can supply.

On May 3, the President issued his first call for men to serve three years or during the war. Then began the serious work of enlistment. Early in the war, there was appointed in each county of the State a standing military committee, which had the charge and direction of the military matters of the county. The raising of funds for bounties, enlisting recruits and looking after the families of those who were absent in the army, and many other duties, devolved upon the committee. The Governor consulted with this committee before commissioning military officers. The war called for so large a proportion of the entire male population that the quota of the county was not in all cases filled without difficulty. Drafts and the offer of large bounties to volunteers were found necessary. Liberal provisions were made for the support of the families of soldiers and marines in active service. Of the men who filled the quota of Warren County, all, except an inconsiderable fraction, were volunteers. Within eighteen months after the first call for three-years' men, the county, with a total militia enrollment of 5,352, sent into the service 2,140 men, of whom only 52 were drafted.

Most of the recruits, on being mustered into the service, received a considerable bounty. Under the last calls of the President, the local bounties were unusually large, amounting to upward of $500, while still larger sums were paid to acceptable substitutes. In this way an enormous sum was expended. The money for this purpose was raised in part by taxation, under the authority of law, but more largely by the voluntary contributions of the stay-at-home citizens. The large bounties were a great incentive to desertion, and it was estimated that of the recruits enlisted to fill the quota of Ohio under the call of July, 1864, more than ten thousand deserted. The deserters would present themselves at a new recruiting station, or, with a change of name, to the same station, be again mustered in, receive a second large bounty, and again desert. To put a stop to this "bounty-jumping," the plan was adopted of withholding the bounty until the recruit had reached his regiment.

The soldiers from Warren County were scattered through so large a portion of the United States Army, and in so many regiments and branches of the service, that the record of the county can only be given in the record of Ohio in the rebellion. Such a record, to be complete, should exhibit the military history of every soldier and officer—name, age, rank; when, where and by whom enrolled; when, where and by whom mustered into service; the nature and date of every promotion; date of death, discharge, muster out, transfer or desertion —in short, everything pertaining to the soldier's military career. The importance of such a record for the whole State is evident from the numerous applications made at the Adjutant General's office by soldiers or their relatives, heirs or attorneys, and the departments of the United States Government requesting certificates of service. There are on record at the court house in Lebanon only a few hundred soldiers' discharges. The military records of the Adjutant General's office at Columbus, though incomplete, supply most of the information necessary for the full war record of every soldier in an Ohio regiment during the rebellion.

Warren County claims its full share of the glory in the record of Ohio in the rebellion Whitelaw Reid, in his "Ohio in the War," says:

"Ohio soldiers fought on well-nigh every battle-field of the war. Within forty-eight hours after the telegraphic call, two Ohio regiments were on their way to the rescue of the imperiled capital in the spring of 1861. An Ohio brigade, in good order, covered the retreat from the first Bull Run. Ohio troops formed the bulk of the army that saved West Virginia; the bulk of the army that saved Kentucky, a large share of the army that took Fort Done!son; a part of the army at Island No. 10; a great part of the army that, from Stone River, and Chickamauga, and Mission Ridge, and Kenesaw, and Atlanta, swept down to the sea, and back through the Carolinas to the Old Dominion. They fought at Pea Ridge. They charged at Wagner. They campaigned against the Indians at the base of the Rocky Mountains. They helped to redeem North Carolina. They were in the siege of Vicksburg, the siege of Charleston, the siege of Richmond, the siege of Mobile. At Pittsburg Landing, at Antietam, at Gettysburg, at Corinth, in the Wilderness, before Nashville, at Five Forks, at Appomattox Court House—their bones reposing on the fields they won, are a perpetually binding pledge that no flag shall ever wave over these graves of our soldiers but the flag they fought to maintain."

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