A History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio
Pages 207 - 212

History of Butler County: The Rebellion

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The Mexican War ended, as we have seen, with complete victory by the United States, and we now had no enemy nor any foreign controversy. War seemed far distant. Our boundary troubles, which for several years had seemed likely to result in bloodshed, had been amicably closed two years before the beginning of the contest with Mexico, and the small portion which remained unadjusted, respecting the channel between Vancouver's Island and Oregon, was, by the wisdom and patience of General Scott, quietly composed. Our differences with Spain respecting Cuba had passed by, and nothing remained for us to do except to sit under our own vine and fig tree and watch the development of the country. Yet the seed of discord was there, and war was soon to break out among us on an unexampled scale. The remote cause was negro slavery; the immediate cause was State rights, so called, pushed to an unnatural and dangerous extent-a length never dreamed of by those who were most strenuous in opposing the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and certainly not by those who favored it.

The baneful effects of slavery were seen everywhere in the South. The fields of Kentucky, even at this day, do not compare with those of Ohio. Liberty of speech was inhibited, strangers form other States were forbidden to sojourn in Southern towns in cases where it was suspected their views of the peculiar institution differed from those of their neighbors, the press was muzzled, the pulpit not allowed to speak on one of the most flagrant violations of morality ever committed, and all these ultra views were sustained by a phalanx of Congressmen who could be depended upon in any emergency. No such unanimity existed among the representatives from the free States, and it was impossible to conceive of their being so completely of one mind as those who dwelt South of Mason and Dixon's line, for differences of opinion always spring up in a free government. What mild dissent might have been allowed at the beginning of the century, when Jefferson uttered his philosophic doubts, and Madison and other Virginia statesmen hoped that emancipation might come some day, had entirely disappeared. The recruits never disclosed any individual ideas. The two strong men of the South who entertained latest a difference of opinion, Henry CLAY and Thomas H. BENTON, disappeared from the scene before the final struggle. After them came DAVIS, YANCEY, SLIDELL, WIGFALL, and others, who breathed forth the real views of the people of the South. Slavery had been used to aggravate their people at every election until they had resolved to embrace civil war rather then endure the slightest interference in the Territories, the District of Columbia, or in regard to the return of fugitives.

Nor in this respect was the North unblamable. Demagogues among us steadily fanned the feelings of enmity of the Southern people to those who only wished to do justice to a poor, ignorant, and weak class of the American people. In some of the states free colored men were not permitted to sojourn; in others it was a State's-prison offense for the two races to marry, never reflecting that nature itself would prevent them, and here in Butler County the bitterest prejudices prevailed. Any man of color who attempted to settle in Rossville was speedily driven out by a mob. Should any one of that race go South he was liable to be taken up and sold, as being presumptively a runaway, and the most distinguished colored citizen of the county at present, a man always free, and whose abilities and acquirements are at least equal to those of any other man in Butler, was forced to pretend, in order to prevent being enslaved in New Orleans and other places where he traveled in this youth, that he was an Indian.

It is difficult to speak coolly of the years before the Rebelllion-more difficult than to do so of the great struggle itself. The last was the effort of a people to free itself from what it regarded as oppression, but the true stain on the character of the people of the South is the long course of injuries practiced upon a defenseless people, and the crime against free speech and liberty thereby engendered. With the toil of a dozen of these wretches, who slept in dirty cabins, ate the rudest food, and wore the coarsest clothes, the master dressed in breadcloth and fine linen; with a dozen more his wife maintained her state; and with the spoil of a hundred the family visited Saratoga or the White Sulphur Springs, the sons were sent to college and the daughter to boarding-schools, the parents enjoyed the luxuries of life, and the children were brought up to follow in their footsteps. Yet the same man would not have accepted a gift of five dollars from another white man, and would have resisted with his life any attempt to wrest from him a penny of his property. His moral sense, by a long course of tampering, was degraded. Walpole saw nothing wrong in giving a bribe to members of Parliament, nor did they in receiving it, and the nobility in France resisted the payment of all taxes and sustained the privileges of their order until they fell under the ruins of the monarchy. Daylight came to the Southern masses only at the close of the war.

It would be unprofitable to relate the chain of events that preceded the beginning of the American conflict. In general terms the war may be traced to the compromise measures of 1850, and to the passage of the Kansas and Nebraska act. Fighting began in Kansas in 1855. A little later John BROWN made his attack upon Harper's Ferry, and failed. SUMNER had been beaten over the head by a bludgeon, his assailant reaping a great increase of popularity. The fugitive slave law was occasionally and spasmodically enforced through the North, each recovery making an anti-slavery majority in the neighborhood. Finally, as the result of the election of Abraham LINCOLN, South Carolina seceded, and was followed by other States. Major ANDERSON maintained his position in Charleston Harbor with difficulty, and at last, after removal form one of the islands to another, was attacked by the Secessionists forces under General BEAUREGARD.

The Intelligencer of this city, in its next issue after the fall of Sumter, says:

"The news of the fall of Sumter, and the call of the President for 75,000 volunteers to defend the country against the organized forces of traitors and rebels, has fired the Northern heart to a pitch of indignant enthusiasm never before equaled since the days of the Revolution. From every city, town, village, and hamlet comes up the enthusiastic response to the call of the government for aid to sustain the integrity of the Union, and uphold its Constitution and laws. The public sentiment of the North is assuming a unanimity of tone and temper that will strike terror to the hearts of the traitors of the Southern Confederacy and their misguided dupes. It is wonderful what a revolution a few days have wrought in public opinion in the free States of the republic. The partisan has emerged in the patriot, and now Democrat and Republican alike feel and proclaim that the honor of the stars and stripes must be preserved at all hazards; that the very existence of the government is involved in enforcing obedience to its legally constituted authorities, and in holding possession of its public property. Judging form all we see and hear at home and abroad such now seems to be the almost \universal sentiment. The daily papers are literally filled with telegraphic dispatches from every quarter, giving brief notices of the proceedings of public meetings of the people, which show that the North ins waking up to a sense of the awful peril in which our institutions are involved by the great rebellion, and that is rushing with one accord to the rescue."

For the next Monday a war meeting was called at Beckett's Hall. It was organized by the appointment of Josiah SCOTT as president, Israel WILLIAMS as vice-resident, and E.A. DALTON as secretary. It was largely attended by persons of every shade of sentiment, Democratic and Republican.

John W. WILSON, A. F. HUME, Minor MILLIKIN, N. C. MCFARLAND, Thomas MILLIKIN, John H. FALCONER, Israel WILLIAMS, John S. WILES, and Ransford SMITH addressed the meeting, urging it to sustain the Union and maintain the dignity of the United States flag. By all the speakers party was forgotten, and only the country remembered. Judge SCOTT in alluding to the very natural repugnance which all feel against going to war with their countrymen, said substantially, "Why is it worse to war against a domestic than against a foreign foe? Foreign nations may have no cause for gratitude toward us, but these rebel States, who owe all their prosperity and greatness to the fostering hand of the general government-like the viper warmed into vitality in the bosom of its benefactor-have turned their deadly fangs upon their own country with the wicked design of destroying it. What punishment can be too severe for such ingratitude and outrage?"

The following resolution was introduced by John W. WILSON, and was passed unanimously-the meeting numbering two thousand five hundred persons:

"Whereas, War has been commenced against the government of the United States, and the honor of our national flag tarnished by being lowered to traitors,

"Resolved, That we will, with all the means in our power, maintain the government and flag of the United States."

On motion of E. G. DYER, a committee of three from each ward of the city, for the purpose of organizing military companies and procuring arms, was appointed. The names of the committee were as follows:

First Ward-Thomas STONE, S. K. LIGHTER, W. C. ROSSMAN.

Second Ward-Captain HUMBACH, Captain VAN DERVEER, H. H. WALLACE.


The following resolution was adopted:

"Resolved, That it is expedient for the present Legislature to appropriate one million dollars for furnishing and equipping the military of this State, and our senator from this district and our representative from this county be requested to five their aid and support to the passage of the same."

The meeting, with three cheers for the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws, then adjourned.

The next week a more formal meeting was held. Owing to the short notice which was given for the previous one many of our citizens were unable to attend, and scarcely any from the country. The following call was issued:


At a mass-meeting of the citizens of Hamilton, the undersigned were appointed a committee to invite every man in Butler County to meet in Hamilton, on Wednesday, April 24, 1861, to take counsel together, and adopt such measures as may be deemed advisable in this alarming crisis of our country. Armed rebels have stolen the property of the general government, have attacked and battered down one of its strong forts, and taken a gallant garrison prisoners, have trampled and tailed our glorious flag in the dust, and now, in the pride of their success and madness of their treason, are making preparations to capture and destroy the Capital, at Washington, and to utterly overthrow and subvert our government.

We, therefore, invite every man in Butler County, without distinction of age, sect, religion, or party, to meet in Hamilton on the day above named, and take such measures as may be thought advisable to aid our government to suppress and punish treason, to protect our Capital, to wipe out the insult offered to our glorious flag, and to sustain and defend our blessed and beloved Constitution. Distinguished speakers will be present and address the meeting. Come one, come all!

Thomas MILLIKIN, Alex F. HUME, John W. SOHN, William S. PHARES, E. A. DALTON, H. H. WALLACE, Committee.

It was duly held, and was large and enthusiastic. A national salute was fired in the morning and again at noon, and the stars and stripes were gayly floating from hundreds of houses all over the city. At one o'clock the meeting was organized by appointing as president, Judge Fergus ANDERSON; vice-presidents, Robert GIBSON, Fairfield; John K. WILSON, St. Clair; Robert BECKETT, Hanover; James S. CHAMBERS, Milford; William H. ROBERTS, Oxford; Colonel William STEVENS, Reily; Absalom Mckain, Morgan; Samuel DICK, Ross; John S. WITHEROW, Wayne; James ROSSMAN, First Ward, Hamilton; Thos. CONNAUGHTON, Second Ward; Christopher MORGANTHALER, Third Ward; secretaries, Israel WILLIAMS, Fred. LANDIS.

The following committee on resolutions was then appointed: Thomas MILLIKEN, N. C. MCFARLAND, Alex, F. HUME; Ferdinand VAN DERVEER, W.H. MILLER, Milton COOPER, Wm. H. SMITH, George JACOBY, Abraham P. COX, and John S. EARHEART.

While the committee were preparing resolutions the meeting was addressed by Messrs. GAYLORD, CHRISTY, GILMORE, L. D. CAMPBELL, and others, during which the committee on resolutions returned with the following preamble and resolutions, through their chairman, Thos. MILLIKIN, who remarked in presenting them that they were principally copied from the resolutions adopted at the great Union meeting held in New York City a few days before.

"Whereas, The Union of the States, under the guidance of Divine Providence, has bee the fruitful source of prosperity and domestic peace to the country for nearly three quarters of a century; and

"Whereas, The Constitution, framed by our Revolutionary fathers, contains within itself all needful provisions for the exigencies of the government, and in the progress of events, for such amendments as are necessary to meet new emergencies; and

"Whereas, An armed combination has been formed to break up the Union by throwing off the obligations of the Constitution, and has, in several of the States, carried on its criminal purpose, and finally, by assaulting Fort Sumter, a fortress of the United States, occupied by a slender but heroic garrison, and capturing it by an overwhelming force, after a gallant defense, thus setting the authority of the government at defiance and insulting the national flag; and

"Whereas, The government of the Untied States, with an earnest desire to avert the evils of civil war, has silently submitted to these aggressions and insults with a patient forbearance unparalleled in the annals of history, but has at last deemed it due to the public honor and safety to appeal to the people of the Union for the means of maintaining its authority, of enforcing the execution of the laws, and of saving our country from dismemberment, and our political institutions from destruction; therefore,

"1. Resolved, That we are sacredly bound by every sentiment of honor, of affection, of duty, and interest to maintain and preserve our national government, the most equal and beneficent hitherto known among men, unbroken and unsullied for our generation, and to transmit it to our posterity; and that to the maintenance of this sacred trust, and in support of that government, we devote all that we possess, and are prepared to shed our blood and lay down our lives.

"2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, the basis and the safeguard of the Deferal Union, having been framed and ratified by the original States, and accepted by those which subsequently became parties to it, is dinging upon all; and that any resumption by any one of them of the rights delegated to the federal government, without first seeking a release from its obligations through the concurrence of common sovereignty, is unauthorized, unjust to all the others, and destructive of all social and political order.

"3. Resolved, That when the authority of the Federal government shall have been re-established, and peaceful obedience to the Constitution and laws prevails, we shall be ready to confer and co-operate with all loyal citizens throughout the Union, in Congress, or in convention, for the consideration of all supposed grievances, the redress of all wrongs, and the protection of every right, yielding ourselves, and expecting all others to yield to the will of the people, as constitutionally and lawfully expressed.

"4. Resolved, That it is the duty of all good citizens, overlooking past differences of opinion, to contribute by all means in their power to maintain the Union of States, defend the Constitution, to preserve the national flag from insult, and uphold the authority of the general government against all acts of rebellion everywhere, which, if longer unresisted and unpunished, would inevitably end in breaking down all the barriers erected by out fathers for the protection of life, liberty, and property, and involve the country in universal anarchy and confusion.

"5. Resolved, That we urgently insist that the representative in Cong4ress form this district shall, at the session thereof to meet on the 4th of July next, cordially and promptly support and vote for all proper measures, and all necessary appropriations of money and supplies of men to enable the general government to execute its laws and maintain the rightful authority of the Constitution, and to suppress and punish the present rebellion and treason in the South, and to punish treason in every State and territory in the whole Union.

"6. Resolved, That we deny the right of any State to assume the position of armed neutrality as between the federal government and any State of States in rebellion against its authority; and to refuse to furnish its proper quota of men to aid the federal government to enforce its laws and maintain the authority of the Constitution everywhere in the Union, when properly and legally called upon by the President so to do; and we deny the right of any State to refuse to allow the federal government to transport its soldiers over its territory for any lawful purpose, an to any place in the Union; and we condemn and denounce the conduct of all such States as have refused to respond to the call of President Lincoln for volunteers to suppress the rebellion in the South and to allow the volunteers of other States to pass over their territory, as recreant to their duty, and as affording aid and comfort to rebellion and treason.

"7. Resolved, That as soon as it is authorized by law, we request that our county commissioners shall levy a tax of sufficient amount upon all the property in the county to furnish all needful support to the families of volunteers during their absence in the service of their country.

"8. Resolved, That we recommend that all able-bodied men in the county shall immediately form themselves into military companies, procure arms, elect officers, and thoroughly drill themselves, and stand ready to obey any call of their country that may be made upon them for their services.

"9. Resolved, That we disapprove of all attempts to control by violence the honest expression of opinion by any of our citizens upon the exciting subjects of the day, but we recommend that in the present excited state of our country all abstain from discussions calculated to excite ill feeling or party prejudice.

"10. Resolved, That Major ANDERSON, by his prudence prior to the attack upon Fort Sumter, and for his gallant and heroic defense of that fort, is entitled to the thanks and admiration of the whole country."

A large and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens in the neighborhood of Jones's Station was held on Monday evening, April 22d. Milton COOPER was chosen chairman and J.C. LONG, secretary. A call for funds for the purchase of a flag, etc., was promptly responded to, after which the following preamble an resolutions, presented by C.F. WARREN, were read and unanimously adopted as expressing the sentiments of the meeting:

"Whereas, A state of war exists and the destruction of our government is threatened by a band of armed traitors; therefore, be it

"Resolved, That as loyal citizens we will use all the means in our power to sustain the government and the honor of that flag under which we have lived for eighty years in unexampled prosperity. That banner, which like one of old proclaimed wherever it was seen a great cause before it, and a powerful nation behind it, must be sustained, and no less honored and respected-the nation's pride and citizens' defense.

"Resolved, That we look upon the reasons of the rebels as only pretexts of usurping the government, maturing a treason of thirty years' standing, which was nipped in the bud in 1832, and must be again met in 1861, and taught to know that the patriots of this country will never yield the birthrights handed down to them by their fathers either to foreign or domestic foes.

"Resolved, That while we hail the people of all nations seeking home on our soil as brothers, so long as they assist in defending our flag, we are no less ready to take up arms against traitors whenever or form whatever section they may appear."

After the adoption of the resolutions Mr. G. W. JONES being called for, replied in a few remarks, in which he expressed his regret at the unhappy condition of our country, and his determination to defend it at any cost. The meeting concluded with three hearty cheers for the Constitution , the Union, and the enforcement of the laws.

The citizens of Port Union and surrounding country met at the hall, on Saturday evening, April 20, 1861 and organized by calling Philip NASH to the chair, and appointing A.J. FOSTER, secretary.

The objects of the meeting were made known by E. BONE in a brief address, stating the condition and demands of the country, after which Dr. REED presented the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:

"Whereas, Wicked and designing persons have sought and obtained control of the government of some of the States of this Union, which States are now in rebellion against the general government; and

"Whereas, It is uncertain what effect the prompt and energetic measures now being inaugurated by the administration to put down the same may have upon some of the remaining loyal States; and

"Whereas, Threats have repeatedly been made that in the event of the border slave States seceding and joining their fortunes with those who are trampling our country's flag in the dust, that the cities, towns, and country along the Southern boundary of our State will be overrun and made the special objects of their hatred; therefore, be it

"Resolved, That we have heard of such threats with profound regret, and while we deprecate war, with its terrors and devastating consequences, we will not shrink from its rugged issues when forced upon us.

"Resolved, That we pledge our fortunes, our honor, and our sacred lives to defend the stars and stripes, and protect our country from all lawless raids, come from whatever source they may. And be it further

"Resolved, That to more fully carry out the foregoing resolutions, we will form ourselves into a home protecting company, and that we appeal to the patriotism of our fellow-citizens, and cordially invite them to join with us in preparing and being prepared to meet whatever emergency may be forced upon us."

Patriotic remarks were made by D. STILES, J. M. THOMPSON, Dr. REED, and others, taking strong grounds in favor of protecting the whole country, and sustaining the government against all enemies at home and abroad.

Thirty names responded to the call for members to the company, after which the meeting ordered a copy of the minutes to be furnished the Hamilton papers, with a request that they be published, and adjourned to meet the next Monday evening for organization of a military company.

In the mean time the volunteers had not been slow in coming forward. Companies sprang into existence all over the State. The first from this county that reached Columbus in time to go into the first regiments was the Jackson Guards, Captain J. P. BRUCK. This was company K, First Ohio, and the regimental organization was made on the 18th of April. There were no arms, ammunition, or clothing, but it was determined to hurry the men on to Washington, where they could be provided for. Its earliest action was at Vienna, and it covered the retreat at Bull Run, afterwards being reorganized for the three years' service.

Captain ROSSMAN immediately organized the Hamilton Guards, and left for Columbus on the 21st. An immense congregation assembled at Beckett's Hall on Sunday, the 20th, to hear a discourse by the Rev. William DAVIDSON. The sermon was able, patriotic, and eloquent, and was listened to with earnest attention, and often with deep emotion. He spoke of the cause in which the loyal States were engaged as just and righteous, and said that if the war of the Revolution was holy, this was thrice holy, if that was sanctified this was thrice sanctified. History left no record of any war where the people were called upon more imperatively to take part in its prosecution than this people in defense of their government against the traitors who were then in array against it. If they were not subdued our government was a nullity, and anarchy would reign supreme. At the conclusion of the sermon Mr. RICHARDSON made a few pertinent remarks, followed by a brief address from Mr. MC MILLIAN. Miss Kate EMMONS presented one the volunteers with a Bible and a revolver, and Mr. Ezra POTTER, on behalf of the citizens of Hamilton; presented Captain ROSSMAN one hundred dollars to be expended at his discretion for the benefit of his company.

The previous day the young ladies of this city presented the guards with an elegant silk flag. The ceremonies took place in the public square, and were opened by an impressive and earnest prayer by Rev. Mr. LOWERY, after which Miss Kate CAMPBELL presented the flag with the following appropriate address:

"Hamilton Guards,--Your country demands your services, and you are promptly honoring her call. Traitors have made war upon our government and seek to overthrow our noble institutions secured to us by the wisdom, the toils, and the blood of our venerated forefathers. Your sisters can not share your dangers in the field, but their hearts will go with you. They present this banner as a token of their earnest sympathies with you, and with the sacred cause of freedom and justice in which you go to fight. It is the same emblem of constitutional liberty under which Washington and all our national heroes fought and conquered. Stand by it with your lives, if necessary. Let no rebel hands bring reproach upon its honored folds; let its stars ever remind you of your duty to the Union, and its stripes keep you thoughtful of the punishment due to fratricidal traitors. Take it, soldiers, and carry it on to victory. And my the God of battles watch over and protect you; and may he preserve our country and our Constitution to be the protectors of the oppressed of all lands to generations yet unborn."

Captain ROSSMAN received the flag on behalf of the guards, and responded as follows:

"Young Ladies of Hamilton,--Our country, which for so long a time has been the home of peace and liberty, is now rocking in the storm of civil war. Armed desperadoes have insulted our flag and defied our government. Men have been found in this country base enough to strike the mother who reared and protected them. The wounded government demands reparation. In obedience to that call we shall soon march to the scene of war. Going out from you, we desire to take with us this work of love and patriotism at your hands, and if the ardor of the company can be augmented I can only wish that their patriotism may be as bright as the stars, and their loyalty as unfading as the colors of the flag which has been so handsomely presented. We accept this flag, and in the coming contest, if one little band can do aught to maintain the honor of our government, what man in the Hamilton Guards but will, in that contest, strike with renewed ardor by the remembrance of this day's honor? We shall plant it on the outer wall, and its post shall be to us the post of honor.

"Some, perchance, in this company, in defense of that flag, may fall. Some of us, whose hearts beat high with proud hopes, and who are emulated to do deeds of glory, will return no more. But if a sacrifice from the guards is demanded to procure constitutional liberty and our Union, that sacrifice shall be cheerfully given. Yet they will not die; but from their ashes, as from the ancient phoenix, will arise their names, and in letters of living light will they be enrolled on a page of an immortal history. We accept this flag, and we promise to bring it back with no lost laurels, no tarnished fame. Its symmetry may be destroyed by the elements and by the strife, but these, in your estimation, will be but honorable scars.