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Ohio in the American Civil War


Ohio in the American Civil War

During the American Civil War, the State of Ohio played a key role in providing troops, military officers, and supplies to the Union army. Due to its central location in the Northern United States and burgeoning population, Ohio was both politically and logistically important to the war effort. Despite the state's boasting a number of very powerful Republican politicians, it was divided politically. Portions of Southern Ohio followed the Peace Democrats and openly opposed President Abraham Lincoln's policies. Ohio played an important part in the Underground Railroad prior to the war, and remained a haven for escaped and runaway slaves during the war years.[1]

The third most populous state in the Union at the time, Ohio raised nearly 320,000 soldiers for the Union army, third behind only New York and Pennsylvania in total manpower contributed to the military.[2] Several leading generals were from Ohio, including Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip H. Sheridan. Five Ohio-born Civil War officers would later serve as the President of the United States.[3] The Fighting McCooks gained fame as the largest immediate family group ever to become officers in the U.S. Army.[4]

The state was spared many of the horrors of war as only two minor battles were fought within its borders.

  • Ohio in the Civil War by Larry Stevens
  • Civil War Monuments in Ohio by the Cincinnati Historical Society Library
  • Ohio in the Civil War Archive & Network: A Complete User Built Database
  • Johnson's Island - National Park Service
  • Ohio Civil War Attractions
  • National Park Service map of Civil War sites in Ohio
  • Vol 1 Roster of Ohio Soldiers 1893 {3 months Regiments of 1861; also includes Roster of the 5th {127th OVI} and 27th USCT Regiments }
  • Vol II Roster of Ohio Soldiers 1st-20th Infantry 1886
  • VOL III Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 21st-36th Infantry 1886
  • Vol IV Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 37th-53rd Infantry 1887
  • Vol V Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 54-69th Infantry 1887
  • Vol VI Official Roster of Soldiers of the State Of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 70-86th Infantry 1888
  • Vol VII Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 87th-108th Infantry 1888
  • Vol VIII Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1866 110-140th Infantry 1888. (Note 109th OVI failed to complete organization and men transferred to 113th OVI; the 119th OVI failed to complete organization and men trasfered to 124th OVI; the 127th OVI became the 5th USCT and is listed in Volume 1 )
  • Vol IX Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 141-184th Infantry 1889
  • Vol X Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 185th-198th Infantry + 1 & 2 Heavy Artillery; 1st Light Artillery 1889
  • Vol XI Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1866 1-13th Cavalry; 2 battalions cavalry; 2 companies Cavalry; Squadron of Cavalry; 2nd Mo Cav; 11th PA Cav 1891
  • Vol XII Official Roster of Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion War with Mexico/War of the Rebellion 1895
  • The civil war literature of Ohio; a bibliography with explanatory and historical notes (1911) on Internet Archive

External links

  • Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's war: the Civil War in documents (2006)
  • Dornbusch, C. E., Regimental Publications & Personal Narratives of the Civil War., Vol I Northern States, Part V Indiana and Ohio. New York: The New York Public Library, 1962.
  • Ohio Roster Commission. Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War on the Rebellion, 1861–1865, compiles under the direction of the Roster commission. 12 vol. Akron: Werner Co., 1886–95.

Primary sources

  • Bissland, James, Blood, Tears, and Glory: How Ohioans Won the Civil War. Wilmington, Ohio: Orange Frazer Press, 2007. ISBN 1-933197-05-6.
  • Dyer, Frederick Henry, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion. New York: T. Yoseloff, 1908. 3 vol.
  • George, Harold A. Civil War monuments of Ohio (2006), 87pp
  • Hall, Susan, Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War, 1862-1863. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., 2000. ISBN 0-7864-0866-9.
  • Leeke, Jim, editor. A Hundred Days to Richmond: Ohio's "Hundred Days" Men in the Civil War. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999.
  • Porter, George H. Ohio politics during the civil war period (1911) online edition

Further reading

  1. ^ Harper, pp. 4-15.
  2. ^ Reid, Vol. 1, p. 160; U.S. Census if 1860.
  3. ^ Appletons Cyclopedia of American Biography.
  4. ^ a b Whalen, Charles and Barbara, The Fighting McCooks: America's Famous Fighting Family, Westmoreland Press, 2006.
  5. ^ Brown, Dee A., Morgan's Raiders. New York : Konecky & Konecky, 1959. ISBN 0-914427-79-2.
  6. ^ Johnson's Island Preservation Society
  7. ^ Leip, David. 1860 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005).
  8. ^ Harper, p. 23.
  9. ^ Harper, pp. 33 and 42.
  10. ^ Nicolay, John and Hay, John, "Abraham Lincoln: A History. Vallandigham" The Century May 1889, pp. 127-37.
  11. ^ "1863 Ohio Gubernatorial County-Level Election Results". 
  12. ^ Harper, pp. 35-36.
  13. ^ Leip, David. 1864 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005).
  14. ^ Robert S. Harper, "The Ohio Press in the Civil War," Civil War History, Sept 1957, Vol. 3 Issue 3, pp 221-252
  15. ^ Harper, page 10.
  16. ^ Reid, Vol. 1, pp. 160–64.
  17. ^ Harper, pp. 9–10.
  18. ^ Harper, pp. 58-77.
  19. ^ Official Records; Harper, pp. 51-52.
  20. ^ Baumgartner, pp. 85–86.
  21. ^ Harper, p. 50.
  22. ^ Kenneth H. Wheeler, "Local autonomy and civil war draft resistance: Holmes County, Ohio," Civil War History, June 1999, Vol. 45 Issue 2, pp 147-58
  23. ^ Brown, Dee A., Morgan's Raiders. New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1959. ISBN 0-914427-79-2.
  24. ^ Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography.
  25. ^ Harper, 53–57.
  26. ^ New International Encyclopedia.
  27. ^ Bennett, B. Kevin and Roth, David, "Battle of Buffington Island," Blue & Gray magazine, April 1998.
  28. ^ Horwitz, Lester V., The Longest Raid of the Civil War. Cincinnati, Ohio: Farmcourt Publishing, Inc., 1999. ISBN 0-9670267-3-3.
  29. ^ Evans, Clement A., Confederate Military History, 1899.
  30. ^ National Park Service site for Johnson's Island
  31. ^ Potter, Jerry O., The Sultana Tragedy: America's Greatest Maritime Disaster. Pelican Publishing, 1992. ISBN 0-88289-861-2
  32. ^ Ohio Historical Marker Program
  33. ^ Lawnfield, James A. Garfield National Historic Site
  34. ^ OHS official website
  35. ^ Angela M. Zombek, "Camp Chase Prison," Ohio History, Aug 2011, Vol. 118, pp 24-48


  • Baumgartner, Richard A., Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg. Huntington, West Virginia: Blue Acorn Press, 2003. ISBN 1-885033-29-X.
  • Bissland, James "Blood, Tears, and Glory: How Ohioans Won the Civil War." Wilmington, Ohio: Orange Frazer Press, 2007. ISBN 1-933197-05-6.
  • Harper, Robert S., Ohio Handbook of the Civil War. Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio Historical Society, 1961.
  • Reid, Whitelaw, Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Her Generals, and Soldiers. 2 vol. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, & Baldwin, 1868.
  • U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 70 volumes in 4 series. Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
  • Leip, David. 1860 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005).
  • Leip, David. 1864 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005).


See also

Camp Chase Prison was a Union Army prison in Columbus. There was a plan among prisoners to revolt and escape in 1863. The prisoners expected support from Copperheads and Vallandigham, but never did revolt.[35]


The Ohio Historical Society maintains many of the archives of the war, including artifacts and many battle flags of individual regiments and artillery batteries.[34] More relics can be found in the Western Reserve Historical Society's museum in Cleveland.

Some of the homes of noted Civil War officers and political leaders have been restored and are open to the public as museums. Among these are the Daniel McCook House in Carrollton, Ohio. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center and Library in Fremont contains a number of Civil War relics and artifacts associated with General Hayes. Similarly, "Lawnfield", the home of James A. Garfield in Mentor, has a collection of Civil War items associated with the assassinated President.[33]

[32] Many Ohio counties have Civil War monuments, statues, cannons, and similar memorials of their contributions to the Civil War effort. These are frequently located near the county courthouses. The

Monuments in Cincinnati and Mansfield commemorate the hundreds of Ohio soldiers who had been liberated from Southern prison camps, such as Cahaba and Andersonville, but perished in the Sultana steamboat tragedy.[31] In the aftermath of war, women's groups were instrumental in raising money and organizing activities to create the memorials.

Two important cemeteries for the dead from the Confederate States Army can be found in the Buckeye State. One is at the prisoner-of-war camp on Johnson's Island, the most significant Civil War site in the state and intended mostly for officers. Estimates are that 10,000-15,000 Confederate officers and soldiers were incarcerated during the camp's three years of operations, with 2500-3000 at any one time. About 300 Confederates died and were buried there. A museum about Johnson's Island is located in Marblehead on the mainland. The Civil War buildings were dismantled shortly after the war. Archeological work by Heidelberg University has revealed the boundaries of the camp and new materials. At one time part of the island was used for a pleasure resort.[30] Another cemetery is located at Camp Chase, where more than 2,000 Southerners were interred. Union Cemetery in Steubenville, Ohio, is the final resting place of Civil War soldiers, including several generals and colonels, including several of the "Fighting McCooks".[4]

The only battlefield of significance in Ohio is Ohio Penitentiary before escaping.[28] Extreme south-central Ohio had previously been briefly invaded in early September 1862 by cavalry under Albert G. Jenkins.[29]

Monument in Hillsboro.

Civil War sites in Ohio

In addition to Grant and Garfield, three other Ohio Civil War veterans would become President of the United States in the decades following the war: William McKinley of Canton, Rutherford B. Hayes of Fremont, and Benjamin Harrison of the greater Cincinnati area.[26]

A handful of Confederate generals were Ohio-born, including Bushrod Johnson of Belmont County and Robert H. Hatton of Steubenville.[25] Charles Clark of Cincinnati led a division in the Army of Mississippi during the Battle of Shiloh and then became the late war pro-Confederate Governor of Missouri. Noted Confederate guerrilla Capt. William Quantrill was also born and raised in Ohio.

Numerous leading James A. Garfield, Irvin McDowell, James B. McPherson, William S. Rosecrans, and Alexander M. McCook (of the "Fighting McCook" family, which sent a number of generals into the service). The state would contribute 53 brigadier generals.[24]

Notable Civil War leaders from Ohio

It was not until the summer of 1863 that Confederates arrived in force, when Columbiana County. The Battle of Buffington Island was the largest fought in Ohio during the Civil War.[23]

Unlike its neighbors West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, Ohio was spared from serious military encounters. In September 1862, Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. Henry Heth marched through northern Kentucky and threatened Cincinnati (see Defense of Cincinnati). They turned away after encountering strong Union fortifications south of the Ohio River. Not long afterwards, Brig. Gen. Albert G. Jenkins briefly passed through the extreme southern tip of Ohio during a raid.

Military actions in Ohio

Small-scale riots broke out in ethnic German and Irish districts, and in areas along the Ohio River with many Copperheads. Holmes County, Ohio was an isolated localistic areas dominated by Pennsylvania Dutch and some recent German immigrants. It was a Democratic stronghold and few men dared speak out in favor of conscription. Local politicians denounced Lincoln and Congress as despotic, seeing the draft law as a violation of their local autonomy. In June 1863, small scale disturbance broke out; they ended when the Army send in armed units.[22]

President Lincoln had a habit on the eve of a battle of asking how many Ohio men would participate. When someone inquired why, Lincoln remarked, "Because I know that if there are many Ohio soldiers to be engaged, it is probable we will win the battle, for they can be relied upon in such an emergency."[21]

John Clem, celebrated as "Johnny Shiloh" and "The Drummer Boy of Chickamauga," became the youngest person to become a noncommissioned officer in United States Army history. More than 100 soldiers from Ohio units earned the Medal of Honor during the conflict. Several were awarded it for the ill-fated Great Locomotive Chase.

Several Buckeye regiments played critical roles in other important battles. The Richard Nixon, died at Gettysburg in the 73rd OVI.[20]

Ohioans first had military action at the Battle of Philippi Races in June 1861, where the 14th and 16th Ohio Infantry participated in the Union victory. Ohioans comprised one-fifth of the Union army at the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh, where 1,676 Buckeyes suffered casualties. Ohio would suffer its highest casualty count at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, with 3,591 killed or wounded. Another 1,351 men were taken prisoner of war by the Confederates. Among these prisoners, 36 men from the 2nd Ohio Infantry would perish in the infamous Andersonville prison, as did hundreds more Buckeye soldiers there.[19]

1st Ohio Infantry in action, June 1861.

Dozens of small camps were established across the state to train and drill the new regiments. Two large military posts were created: Camp Chase in Columbus and Camp Dennison near Cincinnati. The 1st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) would eventually be joined on the muster rolls by more than 100 additional infantry regiments.[18]

Nearly 320,000 Ohioans served in the Union army, more than any other northern state except New York and Pennsylvania.[16] Of these, 5,092 were free blacks. Ohio had the highest percentage of population enlisted in the military of any state. Sixty percent of all the men between the ages of 18 and 45 were in the service. Ohio mustered 230 regiments of infantry and cavalry, as well as 26 light artillery batteries and 5 independent companies of sharpshooters. Total casualties among these units numbered 35,475 men, more than 10% of all the Buckeyes in uniform during the war. There were 6,835 men killed in action, including 402 officers.[17]

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, in response to a call to arms by President Lincoln, Ohio raised 23 volunteer infantry regiments for three months' service, 10 more regiments than the state's quota. When it became evident that the war would not end quickly, Ohio began raising regiments for three-year terms of enlistment. At first the majority were stocked with eager volunteers and recruits. Before the war's end, they would be joined by 8,750 draftees.[15]

Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio, set up to train and drill Ohio soldiers.

Military recruitment

Newspapers engaged in very lively discussion of war issues, from the Republican, War Democrat and Copperhead perspectives.[14]

En route to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration, President Lincoln passed through Ohio by train, with brief stops in numerous cities. His first formal speech given after his election was in Hudson, Ohio, a stop he made en route to Cleveland. Although Lincoln had visited the state several times before the war, he would not return during the Civil War. In 1865 his funeral train carried his body through the state, bound for Springfield, Illinois.

[13] Public sentiment shifted more in favor of the Lincoln Administration, particularly as Ohio generals rose in prominence, with military successes in the

1864 election

Burnside ordered his arrest and took Vallandigham to Cincinnati for trial. At the trial, Vallandigham was found guilty. The court sentenced him to prison for the duration of the war. President Lincoln attempted to quiet the situation by writing the Birchard Letter, which offered to release Vallandigham if several Ohio congressmen agreed to support certain policies of the Administration. To try to prevent political backlash and preserve authority of Gen. Burnside, Abraham Lincoln changed Vallandigham's sentence to banishment to the South. The threat was imprisonment if Vallandigham returned to northern soil. The South allowed Vallandigham to migrate to Canada, from where he ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor against Brough in 1863. Vallandigham's campaign bitterly divided much of Ohio, Vallandigham's votes were especially heavy in central and northwestern Ohio. He lost his home county of Montgomery (Dayton) but by a narrow margin.[11][12]

Through the middle of the war, the Copperhead movement had appeal in Ohio, driven in part by noted states rights advocate, Congressman Clement Vallandigham, a leading Peace Democrat. After General Ambrose E. Burnside issued General Order Number 38 in early 1863, warning that the "habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy" would not be tolerated in the Military District of Ohio, Vallandigham gave a major speech charging the war was being fought not to save the Union, but to free blacks and enslave whites.[10]


During the war, three men would serve as Governor of Ohio– William Dennison, David Tod and John Brough. Without being asked by the War Department, Dennison sent Ohio troops into western Virginia, where they guarded the Wheeling Convention. The convention led to the admission of West Virginia as a free state. Tod became known as "the soldier's friend," for his determined efforts to help equip and sustain Ohio's troops. He was noted for his quick response in calling out the state militia to battle Confederate raiders. Brough strongly supported the Lincoln Administration's war efforts and was key to persuading other Midwestern governors to raise 100-day regiments, such as the 131st Ohio Infantry in early 1864, to release more seasoned troops for duty in Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's spring campaign.[9]

A number of men with Ohio ties would serve important roles in Lincoln's Cabinet and administration, including Steubenville's Edwin M. Stanton as Attorney General and then Secretary of War, and former Ohio U.S. Senator and Governor Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury. Prominent Ohio politicians in Congress included Senators John Sherman and Benjamin F. Wade.[8]

Much of southern Ohio's economy depended upon trade with the South across the Ohio River, which had served for years as passage and a link with the slave states of Virginia and Kentucky. The culture of southern Ohio was closer to those states than it was to northern parts of the state, owing to many settlers coming from the South and being formerly territory of the state of Virginia as part of the Virginia Military District. Most of the state's population was solidly against secession and in favor of a strong central government. During the 1860 Presidential Election, Ohio voted in favor of Abraham Lincoln (231,709 votes or 52.3% of the ballots cast) over Stephen Douglas (187,421; 42.3%), John C. Breckinridge (11,406; 2.6%), and John Bell (12,194; 2.8%).[7]

Ohio politics during the War



  • History 1
    • Ohio politics during the War 1.1
    • Copperheads 1.2
    • 1864 election 1.3
    • Military recruitment 1.4
    • Military actions in Ohio 1.5
  • Notable Civil War leaders from Ohio 2
  • Civil War sites in Ohio 3
    • Prisons 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Notes 6
  • Further reading 7
    • Primary sources 7.1
  • External links 8

[6]. Barracks and outbuildings were constructed for a prisoner of war depot, intended chiefly for officers. Over three years more than 15,000 Confederate men were held there. The island includes a Confederate cemetery where about 300 men were buried.Lake Erie of Sandusky Bay, located in Johnson's Island Ohio troops fought in nearly every major campaign during the war. Nearly 7,000 Buckeye soldiers were killed in action. Its most significant Civil War site is [5]

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