Mark Wood: Medal of Honor Recipient of the 21st Ohio Infantry

Exciting news today from Orlando, Florida where the Medal of Honor presented to Corporal Mark Wood of Co. C, 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry was discovered in a home under renovation in Florida.

Corporal Wood was a member of Andrews' Raiders, a group of Union soldiers dispatched on a mission in April 1862 to go behind Confederate lines into northern Georgia. Their mission was to destroy railroad bridges leading north from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The mission was ultimately a failure: the Raiders were captured and eight of them, including their leader James Andrews of Kentucky, were executed. Corporal Wood, in company with his Co. C comrade John "Alf" Wilson, made their escape back to Union lines. 

Lieutenant Mark Wood from a photo dating from 1864- note that he is wearing the Medal of Honor in this image. 

His Medal of Honor citation reads: 

"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private Mark Wood, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in April 1862, while serving with Company G, 21st Ohio Infantry, in action during the Andrew's Raid in Georgia. Private Wood was one of the 19 of 22 men (including two civilians), who, by direction of General Mitchell (or Buell), penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Georgia, and attempted to destroy the bridges and track between Chattanooga and Atlanta."

Mark Wood was a Private at the time of the raid but had been promoted to Corporal for his actions at the Battle of Stones River in December 1862-January 1863. When the medal was presented in 1863, the citation on the medal read Corporal Mark Wood as that was his rank at the time. Below is his service record as compiled from my files of the 21st Ohio:

Service Record: Enlisted as a private August 29, 1861 at Portage, Ohio, mustered in September 19, 1861 at Findlay, Ohio, appointed Corporal in February 1862, Andrew’s Raid, captured and imprisoned April 1862-October 15, 1862, returned to regiment December 1862, promoted Corporal also for gallantry at the Battle of Stones River, awarded Medal of Honor effective July 12, 1862, wounded twice in the right arm and captured September 20, 1863 at the Battle of Chickamauga, paroled at Chattanooga September 29, 1863, promoted to Second Lieutenant Company F February 26, 1864, discharged for disability November 3, 1864. Filed for a pension December 2, 1864 which was awarded under certificate #38,233. 

Following his service in the Civil War, Mark Wood returned to Ohio and took up residence in Toledo where he died July 11, 1866 of pulmonary consumption. He is buried in historic Forest Cemetery. The following is his obituary from the Perrysburg Journal dated July 20, 1866:

"Wednesday evening July 11, 1866 of pulmonary consumption at the residence of Mr. Benjamin Rhodes [a fellow comrade of Co. C of the 21st Ohio] in Toledo, Mark Wood, First Lieutenant, 21st Regiment O.V.I. He was aged 27 years and was a native of Egginton, Derbyshire, England.

Coming to the United States eight years since, Mr. Wood resided for the most part in the West, and latterly at Tontogany, Wood County, Ohio. His parents reside in Germantown, Pennsylvania. On the organization of the 21st O.V.I., Mr. Wood was a Private in Co. C under Captain Arnold McMahan. The regiment was in more than 30 battles, and at Chickamauga, some 240 of its brave boys lay dead, dying or wounded. Promoted for gallantry at Stones River, Corporal Wood was one of the noble 21 volunteers detached by General O.M. Mitchel to sever Rebel communications. 

He was taken to Key West and thence to Washington, D.C. where Secretary Stanton received him with marked cordiality and honor as he did his comrade [Wilson] Brown who had reached our lines sometime before. Among other rewards, the survivors of the valorous band were to receive medals and commissions in the regular service. These were the first medals given during the war, the first of which was conferred upon him who received 100 lashes rather than disclose the secrets of their expedition. They were also promised promotion to the first vacancies in their companies. Corporal Wood returned to his regiment, participated in the bloody engagement at Chickamauga, being twice wounded in the right arm. He was successively promoted to the Second and First Lieutenancy and after due examination was honorably discharged because of his wounds and the diseased state of his lungs, caused by Rebel cruelty in the Southern slaughter pens.

He returned to his home in Wood County, but soon after, came to reside with Mr. Rhodes, who in consideration of his inability to support himself, his failing health, and their long and eventful service together, offered him a place with his family. His parents urged him to come to Pennsylvania but as is usually the case with consumptives, he flattered himself with the hope of recovery. It was, however, otherwise ordered. Clad in the uniform he never disgraced and wrapped with the dear flag he had so proudly and bravely sustained, he was yesterday followed to his earthly resting place by a few mourning friends and members of the Rubicon and Toledo Lodges of the Free and Accepted Masons. There with a beautiful and impressive Masonic burial service, his remains were tearfully entombed." 

Included below is Mark Wood's account of his experiences on the raid and his harrowing time as a Confederate prisoner of war.

Seven Months a Prisoner:

The Andrew’s Raid Experiences of Mark Wood and Alf Wilson of the 21st O.V.I.
Cleveland Morning Leader, December 12, 1862, pg. 2

            A romantic and interesting story is told by two soldiers who have lately escaped from Rebel captivity of their adventures in Dixie. The two men were Mark Wood and Alfred Wilson of Co. C, 21st Ohio regiment and were captured while upon a secret expedition in April last and under orders from General Mitchel. Twenty-two men were detailed for the service. They were disguised in citizens’ dress and left Shelbyville on April 7th and represented themselves on the road as Kentuckians on their way to Chattanooga to join the Rebel army. From Chattanooga they went to Marietta, Georgia. It seems that their object was to destroy the railroad communication in the vicinity of Chattanooga. At a place called Big Shanty, they got on board a train of cars and at a given signal the coupling pin which held the train together was drawn out and one of the party who was an engineer [Wilson] took charge of the engine. They started down the road to carry out their purposes of destruction.
Private John "Alf" Wilson, Co. C, 21st O.V.I.
            They shortly stopped, tore up some rails behind them, and cut the telegraph wire. This they frequently repeated until they came to a bridge when they put one of their cars upon it, piled on wood, and set it afire. By this time, however, suspicion had been aroused and a train started in pursuit of them and overtook them at this bridge before it was too much burned to prevent crossing. Here the party took to the woods, every man for himself. The writer [Mark Wood] says:
            Our troubles now commenced and the greatest of all disasters was the division of our party; it was now every man for himself. We started for the Tennessee River but being entirely unacquainted with the country, mistook our way, and after being hunted through the woods and twice fired at, we made our escape. Our travels from this time were a succession of hardships and difficulties. We crossed the mountains, made the Tennessee River where we found a small boat with which we made our way down the river to Stevenson, Alabama. Here we found the entire Rebel force in a complete state of confusion occasioned, as we learned, by a visit from our cavalry which had made a dash into the town, captured a few prisoners, and left that morning.
            We had succeeded in passing through the town safely when we suddenly came upon a force of Rebel cavalry commanded by Colonel Stephenson who took us prisoners just 14 days after leaving the balance of our party. We were immediately recognized as belonging to Andrew’s party and after being confined one night in Stevenson, we were taken to Chattanooga and confined in jail where we found that whole party. It was endeavored to make us give the name of the engineer as they had a terrible fate in wait for him, but not one of the party would divulge his name.
William Pittenger, 2nd O.V.I.
           A court martial was ordered for the trial of Andrews, and Pittenger of the 2nd Ohio was taken out as a witness and by alternate offers of pardon and persecution they endeavored to make him testify against Andrews, but he was true to his word and companions and the court could gain nothing from him. Andrews and Pittenger were then sent back to us in jail and we expected nothing less than the whole party would be hung. At this time, about May 10th, Chattanooga was threatened by our forces and for safe keeping we were run off to Madison, Georgia.
            At Marietta, the cars were stopped by a mob who threatened to drag us from the cars and hang us to a tree, but the officer in charge of the train prevented them from carrying it into execution by placing a strong guard around the car and the mob, after great effort, was dispersed. We arrived safely at Madison where, after being kept in confinement three days, we were informed we were to be again taken to Chattanooga as the Yankees did not intend to try and take that place. Accordingly, we were again taken back to that place where the whole party, 22 in number, was chained with heavy irons and confined in a dark dungeon 13 feet square and for six weeks were fed on half fare of the most miserable quality. We were stripped of all in our pockets and left without a cent. Again a court martial was ordered, but this time in Knoxville and twelve of our party were taken there and confined in large iron cages. The court found seven of them guilty of being spies and lurkers around the camps.
James Andrews of Kentucky led the daring raid and paid for it with his life. 

            Andrews afterwards escaped but was recaptured and hung. On the 7th of June, he was taken from the jail and hung or rather strangled to death, for the tree on which they hung him was so low that when his head touched the limb his toes touched the ground and it was necessary to dig the sand away in order that he could be choked. His irons and shackles were still on him.
            After remaining in jail about seven days the Provost Marshal came to our cell and took out the seven that were tried at Knoxville, viz., [George Davenport] Wilson, [Marion]Ross, and Philip G. Shadrack of the 2nd Ohio, [Samuel] Slavens and [Samuel] Robertson of the 33rd Ohio, John Scott of the 21st Ohio, and William Campbell, a citizen of Louisville, Kentucky. These were taken from the cell into an adjoining room and then the sentence of death was read to them and permission refused them to return to their comrades before execution which took place half an hour after leaving us. They were hung with cotton ropes and two of the party broke down and were allowed to live about an hour; long enough to see the Rebels put their comrades in coffins after which they were again hung up and their lifeless bodies passed our jail window about half an hour later.
            The balance of the party stayed in jail until the 15th of October when they escaped and these two, after great hardship, reached the Federal fleet at Apalachicola, Florida.
John "Alf" Wilson later wrote a book entitled the "Adventures of Alf Wilson" giving a detailed (and perhaps exaggerated) account of his role Andrews' Raid. 


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