Veterans Medal from the 67th Ohio

I was fortunate recently to be able to acquire the planchet of the Ohio Veterans Medal that was issued to Private Jacob Hiller of Co. C of the 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On April 2, 1865, as the 67th Ohio Infantry was engaged in storming Fort Gregg at Petersburg, the General Assembly of the State of Ohio authorized Governor John Brough to acquire these veteran medals (as detailed in the certificate below) and pursuant to that resolution, Brough contracted with Tiffany & Company of New York to produce them. The medals were struck on bronze planchets and clasps with a silk ribbon attached. The design was striking, showing "Ohio personified"  crowning the veteran with a laurel wreath. 

All told, about 20,000 of these medals were produced, individually inscribed, and issued in 1866. Although evidence suggests that some veterans traveled to Columbus to acquire them, most were apparently mailed to the veterans. 

A certificate was included with the medal, the text of which reads as follows:

General Headquarters, Adjutant General's Office
Columbus, Ohio
June 1, 1866
Sir,
This medal is presented to you in accordance with the following Joint Resolution of the General Assembly of Ohio as a slight testimonial of the high appreciation by the State of your devoted patriotism in entering upon a second term without any hope or expectations of large bounties, and actuated only by the purest love of country.

None are entitled to this medal excepting those who, being already in service in Ohio regiments, re-enlisted for an additional term of three years.
Adjutant General Benjamin R. Cowen of the State of Ohio
Cowen was adjutant general at the time the Veterans' medals were issued

Resolved, by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, that the governor procure, or cause to be procured, for each veteran volunteer who re-enlisted from this state under General Orders No. 191 of 1863, a bronze medal, one and one-half inches in diameter containing upon one side in bold relief the following or some similar design to wit: Ohio personified, crowning one of her soldiers with a laurel. Emblems: wheat sheaf, eagle perched on shield, being State arms. In the background, a steamer and a tented field, springing from the wand which supports the liberty cap, a buckeye leaf. Clasp, a plain bar on which shall be raised the buckeye and laurel; the swivel of the clasp in the form of a monogram U.S. Upon the reverse side to be engraved the name of the recipient with his regiment, battalion, or battery; surrounded with a laurel wreath. The medal to be suspended by a tri-colored piece of silk ribbon and in its artistic features to be equal to the "Crimean Medal."

This particular veterans' medal is like many in that both the silk ribbon and clasp are missing. Eighteen-year-old Jacob Hiller from Holmes County, Ohio enlisted as a private in Co. C of the 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on October 9, 1861 under Captain Marcus Spiegel. Hiller served with the regiment throughout its term of service, seeing action at First Winchester, Harrison's Landing, Fort Wagner, and several engagements near Bermuda Hundred near Petersburg, Virginia before he was wounded in action June 18, 1864 at Ware Bottom Church. He later returned to the regiment and mustered out with it December 7, 1865. 

The 67th Ohio was raised in two major contingents, about 2/3 from northwestern Ohio (Lucas, Wood, and Fulton Counties) while the other third hailed from Cleveland, Akron, and Millersburg in northeastern Ohio. The regiment served entirely in the east, and always in what seemed to be backwater assignments: the Shenandoah Valley, Suffolk, the Carolina coast, and at Bermuda Hundred, then joined in the siege of Petersburg and was present at Appomattox Courthouse. It served as part of the Army of the James and was assigned to the 24th Army Corps, the corps badge of which was the heart, a shape used on many of the regiment's reunion ribbons in later years. 

The 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry re-enlisted on February 4, 1864  while the regiment was stationed at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Within as few days, the regiment shipped home aboard the steamer Fulton where Major Lewis Butler wrote to the editors of the Toledo Blade. "The regiment had been lying in camp for a few weeks at Hilton Head and had made their quarters not only comfortable but attractive, and after service of more than two years which for exposure, hardship, and hard fighting has hardly been equaled by any troops in this war, we had finally found rest from its fatigues in a quiet, clean, comfortable camp. But the question of re-enlistment came up; the country called for volunteers to enter the veteran corps and every old regiment, three-fourths of whom would enlist in the veteran corps, was granted a furlough with permission to visit home as a regimental organization. An order, also lately issued, that all men who joined the regiment in the summer of 1862 and who will agree to re-enlist as veterans when the two years of their present enlistment shall expire, may visit home with the regiment and shall be enumerated among the three-fourths above spoken of. This last order put it in the power of the brave 67th to enjoy the privilege of coming home as a regiment, and it required but a few days for the regiment to report as ready for home." Special Orders No. 46 of the Department of the South issued February 7, 1864 by Major General Quincy A. Gillmore sent the 67th home. 
Major Lewis Butler, 67th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Later Colonel of 182nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
In December 1864, the Ironton Register published a poem entitled "A Soldier Boy from Ohio" written by First Lieutenant Herman H. Hanssen of Co. D of the 67th Ohio. Lieutenant Hanssen had been killed in action at an engagement at Fair Oaks, Virginia on October 28, 1864. 

A soldier boy from Ohio lay gasping on the field,
When battle shock was over and the foe was forced to yield,
He fell a youth here before the foeman's aim,
On the bloody field near Richmond, near Richmond on the James.

But one still stood beside, his comrade in the fray,
They had been friends together in boyhood's happy day,
And side by side had struggled on fields of blood and fame, to part that eve near Richmond, near Richmond on the James.
A complete Ohio Veterans Medal with clasp
and ribbon

He said, I charge thee comrade, the friend of days of yore,
With the far distant dear ones, that I shall see no more,
Though scarce my lips can whisper their dear and welcome names,
To bear them my blessing from Richmond on the James.

Bear my good sword to my brother, the badge upon my breast,
To my young and gentle sister that I ever loved the best,
A lock from my forehead give my mother who still dreams,
Of her soldier boy near Richmond, near Richmond on the James.

Oh I wish that mother's arms were folded round me now,
That her gentle hand would linger one moment on my brow,
But I know that she is praying where our blessed light gleams,
For her boy's safe return from Richmond on the James.

And upon my heart, dear comrade, close lay those nut brown braids,
Of one who was the fairest of all our village maids,
We were to have been wedded, but death the bridegroom claims,
That I shall sleep near Richmond, near Richmond on the James.
Unidentified 67th Ohio private
from photo taken on Morris Island in 1863

Oh does the pale face haunt her, dear friend that looks on thee,
Or is she laughing, singing in careless girlish glee,
It may be she is joyous and loves but joyous themes,
Nor dreams her love lies bleeding, near Richmond on the James.

I know, dear comrade, thou'd miss me for a while,
But other eyes that love thee again on thee will smile,
Thou'st be the foremost in all their youthful games,
But I shall be near Richmond, near Richmond on the James.

So far from all that loved him, that youthful hero sleeps,
Unknown among the thousands for which his country weeps,
But no nobler heart did ever beat, no nobler eye did gleam,
The night he fell near Richmond, near Richmond on the James. 





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