Showing posts from May, 2019

“Remember Fort Pillow!” The 59th U.S. Colored Troops at Brice’s Crossroads

In May 1863, the War Department authorized Major General Stephen Hurlbut, then commanding the District of West Tennessee headquartered in Memphis, to raise six regiments of colored troops from the thousands of freedmen who had surged into the area following the Union occupation of western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. One of those regiments formed later became the 59 th U.S. Colored Troops. Captain Edward Bouton of Battery I, 1 st Illinois Light Artillery was commissioned colonel, and the white officers of the regiment were chosen from the ranks of the Fifth Division of the 16 th Army Corps. Of particular interest to this blog was that a number of the officers appointed came from the 46 th , 53 rd , and 70 th Ohio regiments. Two soldiers of the U.S.C.T. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress To secure recruits, the local freedmen’s camps were canvassed for volunteers but the army also went into the surrounding area to “appropriate” slaves. Cavalry units would scour t

Memorial Day Tribute to General Joshua W. Sill

Last week I traveled to Chillicothe, Ohio where I presented a talk to the Ross County Historical Society entitled "Death of a General: The Final Days of General Joshua W. Sill."  General Joshua Sill gravestone Chillicothe is an important place to me as it is the hometown of my great grandfather, and also the burial place of one of my Civil War ancestors. I can truly say that this ancestor inspired me on this path of researching the events of the Civil War. It started in the late 1990s when my grandmother gave me a Civil War discharge certificate of someone named James Morrow. "I know that we're related to him somehow, but I'm not sure how," she said. "Can you dig into and let me know what you can find out?"  After establishing our familial connection with him (he was my grandmother's father's grandfather), I started researching his Civil War service with the 1st Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. The more I read about their service, the more I

Inside the Crime of Pickett’s Mill: Voices from the 49th Ohio

The Battle of Pickett’s Mill, a relatively obscure battle fought in the opening month of the Atlanta campaign, occurred May 27, 1864 near Dallas, Georgia. It was a brief and ferocious fight and one of considerable importance to my family: my wife’s great-great-great grandfather George Saul was severely wounded during his regiment’s charge upon the Confederate works. Making it more tragic was the fact that Saul went into action with five of his cousins: at the end of the battle, three of them lay dead while he had been wounded. Only two of this group of six men escaped unscathed.         A wartime image of Private George Saul and who I believe is his cousin Corporal John Frees (sometimes spelled Freese)  of Co. F, 49th Ohio Infantry. George is standing at left. This image was taken between February-May 1864. George would be severely wounded at Pickett's Mills while his cousin John Frees was among the slain. (Photo courtesy of Dick Mann)            George Saul was born Marc

“Wipe out Perryville!” The 121st Ohio’s Redemption at Chickamauga

The 121 st  Ohio Volunteer Infantry was among the last of the regiments raised in the state of Ohio during the summer of 1862. Following the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Richmond, Kentucky, state and federal authorities in the Ohio Valley were scrambling to muster in troops to prevent the Confederacy from reaching the Ohio River. This regiment, raised from six mid-Ohio counties, was mustered into service at Camp Delaware, Ohio on September 10, 1862 with 985 men and immediately sent down to Cincinnati to bolster the city’s defenses. The regiment was armed with a mix of weapons, including “worthless Prussian muskets.” [The 1862 annual report of the state quartermaster general of Ohio shows that the regiment was provided with “900 Austrian muskets, .54 caliber.”] After a few weeks of uneventful guard duty around the city, the regiment was dispatched to Louisville, Kentucky to reinforce General Don Carlos Buell’s army. “Up to this date, the men had not been drilled an hour and, of c

“My God, what a scene it was!” On the right flank at Chancellorsville

This letter was published in the May 19, 1863 issue of the Norwalk Reflector . First Lieutenant Edward C. Culp of Co. C, 25 th Ohio Infantry was serving as a member of General Nathaniel McLean’s staff during the battle; McLean led the Second Brigade of General Charles Devens’ First Division of the 11 th Corps. McLean’s brigade consisted of the 17 th Connecticut (a new regiment) and four Ohio regiments- the 25 th , 55 th , 75 th , and the sole German regiment of the brigade, the newly formed 107 th Ohio. General Devens was wounded during the battle and McLean took command of the division, hence Culp’s heading as being at the headquarters of the First Division. Lieutenant Edward C. Culp, 25th Ohio Infantry (Photo courtesy of Tom Edwards at Find-a-Grave) Nathaniel McLean, the son of Supreme Court justice John McLean, was a noted Cincinnati attorney that with John Reilly raised the 75 th Ohio regiment in late 1861. Following the battle of Cross Keys, he was given command o