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Warren County in the Civil War, Part III, Warren County, Ohio Newspaper
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Warren County, Ohio News Items
Warren County in the War
Part III

Beginning on Saturday, October 31, 1885, the Lebanon Gazette, a bi-weekly newspaper published in Lebanon, Ohio, published this 12 part series

Publication Date Part SubTitle
October 31, 1885 Introduction Warren County in the War.
October 31, 1885 Part I The First War Meeting in Lebanon.
November 7, 1885 Part II More about the Early Days of the War - The Meeting in Washington Hall was not the First War Meeting in Lebanon - Important Addition to the History of Those Stirring Days.
November 14, 1885 Part III April, 1861, in Waynesville - A Glorious Story of Patriotism - The Firing on Sumpter Arouses the Town - Flying the National Colors - A Cannon at the Top of a Union Pole - The Great Assemblage in front of Oscar J. Wright's.
November 21, 1885 Part IV Up with the Flag - Judge George J. Smith Orders the National Colors Flung to the Breeze at the Courthouse. - A Roll of Honor - Company F, 12th O. V. I. - Taking the Boys to South Lebanon
November 28, 1885 Part V First Papers From an Old Soldier - More To Follow - Military Companies in Lebanon Prior to the War - the Old Warren Guards - Very Interesting Local History - The Early War Days at South Lebanon - First Meeting in the Old School-House and a Speech by Lawrence Smith, of Lebanon.
December 5, 1885 Part VI Second Papers from an Old Soldier - The "Lebanon Rifles" - They Offer Their Service to the Government. - Early War Days at Morrow - Company A, of the 12th Ohio - Off To Columbus and Down to Camp Dennison - Starting the First Campaign
December 12, 1885 Part VII Some Corrections by Captain Sausser - Interesting Additional Items - The Early War Spirit in Maineville - Volunteers for Many Regiments - Hamilton Township Not Behind Other Parts of Warren County.
December 19, 1885 Part VIII Third Papers from an Old Soldier - Recruiting and Muster in of Company A, 35th Ohio, With a Full List of Officers and Privates - Also Something of Company F, of the same Regiment - The Friends of the Cause at Lebanon - Facing the Realities of a Soldier's Life.
January 2, 1886 Part IX Early Days at Harveysburg - Enlistment of Ex-Auditor Randall and History of the Recruiting Expedition of Captain Parshall.
January 9, 1886 Part X A Complete List of the Officers and Privates of Company F, 12th O. V. I., As Organized for the Three Years' Service; A Queer Combination - Testaments and Liniment; The Old Sanitary Committee of the South Lebanon Pike.
January 16, 1886 Part XI The Death of Jabez Turner, The First Man the County Lost in the Great Struggle as told by an Eye Witness.
January 30, 1886 Part XII Life at Camp Dennison - Drilling and Preparing for the Battles the were to Follow - How the 12th Ohio Spent its Two Months of Probation.




The effects in Lebanon of the firing on Sumpter and the President’s proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers to suppress the incipient rebellion have been narrated in out two previous chapters. They have shown that Lebanon people responded loyally and immediately to the call of their country.

But Lebanon was not in advance of the remainder of the county. The wrathful uprising against traitors was as universal at Waynesville, Morrow, Mason and Franklin as ever it was in Lebanon.

Waynesville furnished her full quota, and more than her full quota, of men to do and die for the right. The muster roll of more than one Ohio regiment was thickly dotted with the names of men who registered, “Waynesville, Ohio.” Company H of the 79th Ohio was raised almost exclusively at that village. Men from Waynesville figured in nearly every important battle of the war, and it was but just a few miles from this place from whence came Jabez Turner, the first man Warren County lost in the war.

But of the achievements of these men there is little record, and twenty-five long and busy years have wrought havoc with the memory of Waynesville’s citizens of the early war days at that place. They say, and it is natural that it should be so, that at this time it is impossible to distinguish between the hundreds of meetings that were held there during that wonderful period.

A Gazette reporter went to Waynesville a few days ago for the express purpose of inquiring as to the reception, as to whether any such meeting was held as that at Washington Hall, at Lebanon, and as to any other demonstrations that took place at that time. From one to four o’clock is very little portion of a day to be devoted to such an undertaking, but under the circumstances it was the best that could be done.

As was mentioned in the last Gazette, the reporter called on a number of citizens. In some points they differ, but in one particular they agree. That one is, as to the raising of a pole on the morning of the day of the Washington Hall meeting at Lebanon – Tuesday, April 16, 1861.

The news of the bombardment came on the previous Saturday morning. Monday’s morning papers contained the President’s call for volunteers. As at Lebanon, so at Waynesville, the heat and enthusiasm of the people grew all that Monday and it was determined to raise a pole on which to fly the Union flag and by which to express the sentiments of Waynesville’s loyal citizens.

Situated as the village is, it was easy enough to procure a long poplar pole, and this was done by Monday evening. It was determined to raise it on the following day. During the night some of the younger men decided that a cannon would be an appropriate “cap” to the pole. Accordingly, early in the morning, several of them went away up above the town, and procured a large piece of ash wood. They brought this to Waynesville, and John Keys, afterward Probate Judge, turned the cannon on his lathe. It was fastened to the top of the pole and every thing was ready.

No particular notice had been given, but as the reporter gathered from persons named below, and others, there is no question but that this meeting in Waynesville was one of the greatest feeling. The sentiment of patriotism was aroused to the highest pitch. The assembly gathered was a large one. It crowded up close to the stone steps in front of Oscar J. Wright’s house and extended across Main street to the bank of Mr. I. H. Harris. All present were moved by the one great impulse.

About ten o’clock in the morning the pole was raised to its place on the present National Bank corner by means of a derrick, the heavy wooden cannon necessitating this. It was a long pole and nearly at its top floated the dear old flag. We have so far been unable to discover what the organization of the meeting was, if any existed, but although, as will be seen afterward, it contradicts the recollection of some of Waynesville’s best men, it is pretty certain that there were speeches made and that one of the speakers was Emor Bailey, now deceased. Standing on the stone steps above referred to at Oscar Wright’s he made a most fervent speech. In it he declared that at that moment Jeff Davis was organizing a rebel army with which to over-run the North, and he declared that he would rather die then and there than to see the stars and stripes trailed in the dust before the Confederate army. Such a speech as this awakened enthusiasm impossible to comprehend unless once witnessed, but the older citizens who remember now and will remember while life lasts, those day of sorrow, can understand and appreciate what it really was. It is also believed that John W. Collett, afterwards a member of Company H, 79th Ohio, made a speech at this meeting, although no one could be found who could certainly remember this to be a fact.

Thus the war opened in Waynesville. Other meetings followed, some with a wonderful interest, but none could have that peculiar spirit that belonged alone to the one, the outlines of which, as near as can be learned, have just been narrated, namely, of being the first meeting, the true beginning of the war in northeastern Warren, and particularly in old Waynesville.

These facts were gathered from nearly twenty different sources. Some men recollect a great deal, others almost nothing. Some recall the first thing and forget the other, while men who saw the same occurrence will forget the one and remember the other. The reporter, on his tour of investigation, met many gentlemen who were sure they could give the facts had they time to sit down and think them out, or, as one man expressed it, “just blast and dig them out of forgetfulness.”

One of the fist gentlemen called upon by the Gazette man was Hon. Seth S. Haines. Mr. Haines said:

“Now, I can tell you nothing from recollection, for the simple reason that all my life I have depended on an artificial memory – this is, a diary.” He at once took down from the well-filled shelves of his library a large book, which proved to be his journal from 1859 to 1864. Under the date of April 13, 1861, a short note of the firing on Sumpter was made, and a few days later of the evacuation. But the journal showed that Mr. Haines went to Cincinnati on Monday, and there was no record of any war meeting at all in those early days. Mr. Haines laughingly said that his artificial memory had failed him, and that he would have to give it up. He informed the reporter of a number of gentlemen who could probably give the required information.

The next man to be “button holed” was Mr. George M. Zell, the furniture dealer. The reporter was unfortunate enough to find him very busy, but he kindly dropped his work for a minute of two and said: “No, I can’t say that I really do recollect our first war meeting, that is, the regular meeting at the hall. But I remember the day that they raised the pole at the bank corner with the cannon on it pointing towards South Carolina.”

“Sheet iron, I suppose,” suggested the reporter, for this was the first he had heard about the cannon.

“No, indeed. It was wood. Old Judge Keys turned it. He had a shop and a turning lathe and some of the boys got him the wood and he made a real good cannon out of it.”

“Were there any speeches?”

“Now I’m stuck. I don’t know. I have forgotten nearly all the details. But some time ago I came across an old diary that told about all these times and if I can find it I’ll give you any facts that may be in it.”

Thanking him, the reporter left and hunted up his next man, who was ‘Squire Joseph G. Keys. To him the reporter put the question if he remembered the pole raising after the firing on Sumpter.

“Just come with me, said the ‘Squire. “We’ll go in and see what my brother has to say about this. I remember the meeting well, but he is better on details.”

The shoe store of Mr. I. E. Keys proved to be the object of the ‘Squire’s walk. Going in, the reporter was introduced and the ‘Squire explained thus: “Iv., this young man wants to know about the time when we raised the pole on the bank corner just after the firing on Sumpter.”

Then the two brothers sat down and called up circumstances almost without number in connection with this pole raising.

“It was on the Tuesday after the firing on Sumpter,” said Mr. Iv. Keys. “I know we talked about it on Monday and some of the boys went down to James O’Neall’s woods and got the pole. Then, after we had that the idea of a cannon occurred to some of us and we went up above town and got a big ash chunk. We had to roll it up the long hill coming into town. After we got it in my brother John turned it and we fastened it to the top of the pole with a big strap. Ben Roberts, who lives out west now, was one of the most active men in connection with the raising of the pole. He was a carpenter and was working with Absalom Merritt, and it was Merritt’s tackle that was used to raise the pole. After the pole was up the cannon pointed to the southeast. We had a pulley up nearly to the top of the pole and we ran a flag up to this. Another active man in raising this pole was Ed Prinz. There was a big crowd there that morning, but I don’t think that there was any speaking.” ‘Squire Keys confirmed this.

“What became of the pole?”

“It stood there until after Lincoln was assassinated. Then it fell one night in a big storm, luckily injuring no one, although at least one person had a narrow escape. It saw some stirring times though. Once some of us fixed up an effigy of Jeff Davis. The boys rode it all over town on a rail and finally hung it to a yard arm on the pole. Some men cut it down from there and burned it up. You can see the cannon now if you want to.”

“How? Where?” asked the reporter.

“It’s over at Harris’ bank” was the reply. “He got it when the pole blew down and has had it ever since.” So after bidding the brothers good afternoon the reporter next came up at I. H. Harris’s bank. And there was the old cannon. Mr. Harris was very glad to show it and said: “That cannon stood guard for us for a long time and when it blew down I thought I would keep it.”

The old cannon is of heavy ash, and is about three feet long. At its larger end it is nine or ten inches in diameter, and tapers down to about five. There are two rings turned on it, and it required but little imagination to make it a first-rate cannon. Time and weather have made several great cracks in it, but, in spite of this, it looks as though it might last for many a long year, even though put upon a pole again to guard the town it so faithfully watched before.

The last man to be seen was Savory Adams, the painter. He is noted for his memory, but unfortunately he was in too great a hurry to stop and give his recollections. He promised to do this at any early day. He said that he remembered the first meeting in the hall, and that “old Daddy Irvin, the Mayor now, got up to speak and cried like a baby,” and that Perry Staley spoke, and wanted to start to the war with nothing but shot guns. These are the recollections of some of Waynesville’s citizens. Others were seen who did not care to have their names mentioned, and the facts herein given were merely corroborated, or their statements have been incorporated in the reporter’s account.

We trust that this will revive recollections that have been sleeping, for before many weeks elapse another chapter must give the history of another part of old Wayne’s share in “Warren County In The War.”


Cincinnati, November 7. – Having read with much interest the first of the Gazette’s articles on “Warren County in the War,” and having participated in the events therein described, I write simply to state that the organization of the fist Lebanon Company (Co. F, 12th O. V. I.) was begun on the morning of the 15th day of April, 1861, at the Courthouse before any public meeting had been held.

On that morning, in the court room where a number of members of the bar had assembled before the opening of court, a paper was drawn up by one of the members of the bar, for the enrollment of volunteers in response to the call of the President.

I saw the paper very soon after it was written and before it had been taken from the Court-house. It had then about one half dozen signatures. Among them there were Gen. Ward’s and Maj. W. W. Wilson’s. It was taken from the Court-house to the Lebanon House, where a number of other signatures were added, and before night more than one-hundred names were enrolled.

On the 16th the company was organized at Washington Hall by the election of officers, and went into camp at the Fair grounds awaiting orders, and if I remember correctly left for Columbus on the 17th, accompanied as far as Deerfield station by a large number of the citizens of Lebanon and vicinity.

The parting scene on Broadway, when the company left Lebanon, was most impressive and affecting, and will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. The only other event in the history of Lebanon that approached the scenes of the day, was the “welcome home” of the veteran remnant of that company in July, 1864, direct from the memorable Lynchburg campaign.

R. B. W.

Arne H Trelvik
31 May 2011

FOOTNOTES: [email any additional information or comments that you might want to submit to Arne H Trelvik]

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This page created 31 May 2011 and last updated 26 February, 2012
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