Showing posts from August, 2018

55th Ohio at Second Bull Run

     The story of the fight of the 55th Ohio along Chinn Ridge on the second day of the otherwise disastrous Second Battle of Bull Run is one that even 156 years later resonates as one of the finest examples of Buckeye courage displayed during the Civil War. As a matter of fact, noted historian John J. Hennessy stated in his study of the Second Bull Run campaign that "no Union brigade would play a more critical role in the battle than McLean's, and no regiment more than the 55th Ohio." (His work Return to Bull Run is highly recommended and available here .)      On the second day of the battle, the 1,200 men of Colonel Nathaniel McLean's Ohio brigade, consisting of the 25th, 55th, 73rd, and 75th Ohio regiments played a vital role in slowing Longstreet's assault against the Union left, and bought valuable time for the remainder of the army to redeploy and retreat, paying as heavy price in blood for their efforts. In their time atop Chinn Ridge, they repulsed m

A Buckeye with the 54th Massachusetts Infantry

     While recently scanning through issues of the Urbana Citizen & Gazette (a great paper for soldiers’ letters by the way), I came across this little gem of a letter written by Private Napoleon P. Rector of Urbana. What is unusual about this letter is that it was published at all: it is a rare treat to find letters written by black soldiers published in the press of the time.      Napoleon P. Rector was a freeman, born in Ohio in 1835 and working as a porter in the city of Urbana, Ohio when he chose to enlist in Co. F of the 54 th Massachusetts Infantry, a regiment made famous for its exploits against Battery Wagner in July 1863 and depicted in the movie Glory . He served with the regiment throughout the war, being mustering into service May 12, 1863 at Readville, Massachusetts and mustered out with the regiment August 20, 1865. Regimental records show him being briefly hospitalized in April 1864 for sickness, but he was shown as present for duty every month.