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History of Butler County: The Rebellion

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"In conclusion, ladies, all that strong arms and stout hearts can do to maintain it, all that your patriotism can infuse into our hearts to defend it, all that the high hopes and good wishes of this city can stimulate us to vindicate, all the courage of a righteous cause, and of truth and liberty can give us to protect, all these shall, we trust, nerve every arm and heart in this company to vindicate the high confidence reposed in them by the young ladies of Hamilton, in the compliment to their patriotism and readiness to defend their country, signified in the presentation of this flag to the Hamilton Guards."

After Captain ROSSMAN had concluded John W. WILSON, one of the company, made an earnest and eloquent appeal in behalf of the cause in which they were engaged. His remarks were full of the true Revolutionary fire, and were loudly cheered by the multitude on the ground. When he sat down a company of amateur musicians, under the lead of Mr. BOYNTON, sang the Star-spangled Banner, after which ex-Mayor SMITH called for three cheers for the flag, three for the volunteers, and three for the young ladies, which were all given with a will, and the assemblage adjourned. The soldiers left home on Monday, a large crowd being at the depot to see them off.

A company of volunteers form Oxford passed through Hamilton on Monday, the 22d. A large number of the students volunteered, and the school was almost broken up. A list of those who served in the war, who had previously been in that college, may be found under the head of Miami University.

Two military companies were ready to march from Middletown that week, and another full company of volunteers was ready in Hamilton. The following were the officers: J. W. C. SMITH, Captain; John SUTHERLAND, 1st Lieutenant; L. M. LEFLAR, 2d Lieutenant.

An enthusiastic Union meeting was held at Collinsville on the 25th of April, which was addressed by Isaac ROBERTSON, C. K. SMITH, and Rev. Mr. DAVIS. Another meeting was held in Okenna, on the 4th of May, 1861, which was addressed by Isaac ROBERTSON.

David W. MC CLUNG, who is now surveyor of the port in Cincinnati, was appointed quartermaster at Camp Dennison.

The following companies were speedily accepted from Butler County:

Hamilton-Jackson Guards, Captain BRUCK; Hamilton Guards, Captain ROSSMAN; Butler Pioneers, Captain SMITH; Infantry Company, Captain HUMBACH; Hamilton Rifles, Captain MILLER.

Outside of Hamilton-University Rifles, Oxford, Captain DODDS; Infantry Company, Middletown, Captain HILT; Infantry Company, Middletown, Captain MCCLELLAND.

In addition to these, forty Germans of Hamilton attached themselves to a Cincinnati Company, and were at Camp Harrison. These went out on the 18th of April. They were known as Company B, 9th Ohio.

Some of these companies were very large, as for instance Captain DODDS's, one hundred and fifty-two men, and Captain ROSSMAN'S, one hundred and eleven men.

Two other companies were forming in the city, a cavalry company by Minor MILLIKIN, and an infantry company by John S. EARHART, the latter to be composed of men of five feet seven inches and upwards in height, together with an infantry company at Princeton, and an artillery company at Middletown. Add to these a company of home guards for each of the three wards of the city.

Henry C. CAMPBELL, George CAMP, James WILLIS, James WHITTAKER, Albert WHITTAKER, and H. H. ADAMS, were honorably discharged on the 27th of April, by order of Captain W. C. ROSSMAN.

Twenty-five families of those who had volunteered for the country's defense were being supported by the citizens of Hamilton and the surrounding country. The store house was directly opposite the court house, and contributions were received by D. D. CONOVER, chairman.

There were then in the camp three companies form Hamilton, one from Middletown, and two companies from Eaton. Captain HILT's company from Middletown had left. While there a presentation of a flag was made to the Butler Pioneers, and also to the company of Captain HUMBACH.

Port Union sent up a liberal supply of good things to the relief committee for the benefit of the families of volunteers.

The Butler Pioneers, after spending a week in the hotels of Hamilton, and being drilled in the streets, removed to Camp Hamilton, or the Fair Grounds, on the 23d of April. They were the first troops there. The ladies of Hamilton had presented them with a splendid flag, accompanied with an eloquent and patriotic speech from Mrs. RYAN. Captain J. W. C. SMITH made an appropriate response.

On arrival at camp they found the change any thing but pleasant. The first two or three nights were very Cold for that season of the year. They had but little straw for bedding, and but few of the soldiers were so fortunate as to have blankets of their own. The unfortunate shared with the fortunate, and it was laughable to see a half dozen trying to sleep under one blanket. The consequence was a great deal of shivering, only a little sleep, and a great deal of catching cold. They were not forgotten by the ladies of Hamilton, lending blankets and supplying a shirt to each, and the farmers brought in immense quantities of straw. The halls and cattle stalls of the Fair Grounds were suitably fitted up for sleeping apartments, and after this the volunteers rested well. The eating department was conducted by Straub, Reutti & Co., for thirty-five cents per day, and tables were put up so that four hundred could eat at a time.

This was a three-months company, and as the complement had been filled it did not go out to the war. Many of the men afterwards served in the three-year regiments.

Colonel W. H. MILLER, commandant at Camp Hamilton, issued the following orders on May 9th:

"Sentinels will pass out no soldier without a written pass from the commandant, and such pass will not be given except upon the statement of the captain that the absence is necessary.

"Citizens will be permitted to pass out at any time by sentinels, if known to be such; otherwise not permitted to pass without the orders of some commissioned officer in the camp.

"Persons connected with the subsistence department are exempted from this order, and will be passed in and out without delay.""

The following officers were detailed for duty: Captain Thomas MORTON, of the Eaton National Guards, to act in the absence of the commandant; Samuel L'HOMMEDIEU, Hamilton Rifles, Adjutant; N. T. PEATMAN, Butler Pioneers, Sergeant; Major John SUTHERLAND, Butler Pioneers, Quartermaster; J. W. SATER, Eaton National Guards, Assistant Quartermaster; James MC CLELLAND, Middletown Veterans, Surgeon; W. Palmer DUNN, University Rifles, Secretary of Commandant.

In an order of Colonel H. B. CARRINGTON, Adjutant-general of the State, organizing the militia, he assigns fifteen companies as the necessary quota from Butler.

The Eleventh Regiment and the right wing of the Third Regiment were ordered to Camp Dennison on Monday, the 29th of April. The train had thirty-three cars, and was cheered in every village or hamlet it passed through. Flags and handkerchiefs were waved from every farm-house along the road, showing the sentiment of the people.

At half-past one, says one of the volunteers from the Third Regiment, the train stopped in the midst of a level tract, surrounded by high hills. This they were told was Camp Dennison. There was no tent or hut, and not even a board of which to make a shelter-nothing but corn fields and wheat fields. There were no shade trees, not as much as a hickory sprout in a fence corner. Reluctantly leaving the cars, they formed and marched through the plowed field. Soon after a lumber train arrived, and the soldiers were told to take off their coats and carry boards across a twenty-acre field, there to build their quarters. The crowd reached the cares, and there was a struggle for a place. The more modest were disposed to hold back, until they thought of the night soon to come. One young theological student, who understood human nature, mounted the cars, took plank after plank, crying the name of his company at the top of his voice. Numbers of them were soon by his side, and before long all were sufficiently provided. The men were tired and hungry; they had had nothing to eat since morning, and the commissariat broke down, as it always does in new organizations.

It began raining before sleep reached them, but the next day all was fair. On Friday it rained all day long. Over four hundred buildings were put up in all-seven to one of the companies from Butler County. The fare was not exactly the kind to please epicures. Bread, rice, beans, salt pork, and coffee constituted the table. As one grim humorist remarked, three-fourths of the pork was pure fat, the remainder all fat. Still the soldiers enjoyed themselves. They laughed and cracked jokes, and met the situation with good humor. Their friends at Hamilton did not neglect them, and sent forward bountiful supplies of provision and clothing.

Monroe was not behind the other towns in its patriotic acts. It sent a large number of young men in the Middletown company-nineteen on the fist call-and supplied them with blankets, shirts, pocket money, and so on. They requested the commissioners to levy a tax for the aid of the families of volunteers, and raised by subscription over a thousand dollars to meet pressing necessities. The home guard there numbered over one hundred men, who drilled from four to six nights per week.


The following important resolutions were passed Monday evening, November 17th:


"Whereas, The attention of this council has been called to the fact that considerable suffering now exists among the families of our soldiers in the service of their country from this city, and still more suffering is apprehended from the rigors of the approaching Winter; and

"Whereas, We are further advised that the county commissioners assert that they have no means at their Command from which to grant the necessary aid that should be immediately rendered to such families; therefore,

"Resolved, That we hereby tender to said county commissioners, to meet the want above indicated, a loan of the sum to two thousand dollars, from the funds now in the city treasury, for such time as may be required, not to exceed fourteen months, and upon payment of six percent interest for the use of the same.

"Resolved, That the city clerk furnish to said commissioners a copy of the foregoing preamble and resolutions at this earliest convenience. Also, a resolution granting to Messrs. LONG, BLACK and ALLSTATTER the pump of the old fire-engine Water Witch, to be fixed up at their manufactory for fire purposes."

The young men of Hamilton and vicinity, between the ages of fifteen and nineteen years, formed a company to be known as the Young Guard, and were drilled by Lewis D. CAMPBELL, ex-member of congress, and formerly captain of Butler Guards.

Wm. H. H. RUSSELL and others formed a military company, drilling at Jacob's Hall. Gov. DENNISON had, on or before the 20th of May, accepted Captain J. W. C. SMITH'S Pioneers as one of thirty-three companies outside of the regular regiments.

At Camp Hamilton the Pioneers had some amusement in hanging Jeff. DAVIS in effigy. The ceremonies were imposing. Jeff. was appropriately represented as a negro, and was upborne by four men at the head of a squad of about fifty, ably commanded by Benjamin Franklin STEVENS, as captain, and Thomas Benton HART, as lieutenant. The procession moved from camp at 2pm for Hamilton, marching through the principal streets. It halted at Squire WILES's , who pronounced the sentence of the law upon Jeff. He was not worthy of a soldier's death by being shot, but must be hung by the neck until dead. The procession then returned to camp and proceeded to put the sentence of the court in execution. An Adams officiated as hangman. The drop soon feel, and Jeff. was suspended between heaven and earth, dying without a struggle. Shouts went up from the multitude, groans were given for all traitors, and cheers for the Union.

A large portion of the early drilling of recruits was done here by Captain John MC CLEARY, son of Andrew MCCLEARY, of West Hamilton. He had been admitted into the regular army, and was at home on a leave of absence when the civil war broke out. He was a graduate of the United States Military Academy, at West Point, in the class of 1854, and was appointed a second lieutenant in 1855. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1860, and captain on the 17th of May, 1861. He was breveted as major for gallant and meritorious services at the battle of Gettysburg, and afterwards was creditably employed as an officer in command of a post in South Carolina during the reconstruction period. He was a participant in the battles of Antietam, September 16 and 17, 1862; crossing of the Potomac at Shepherdstown, August 18, 1862; Skinner's, at or near Leetown, Virginia, Septmeber 20, 1862; Snicker's Gap, November 3, 1862; Fredericksburg, 13th and 14th of December; Chancellorsville, May 1, 1863; Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.

Major MC CLEARY died on the 25th of February, 1868. He had been complaining a little for a day or two, and kept in this room. On the morning of his death, he wrote an order which he gave to his servant for his breakfast, but when the boy returned with it he found MC CLEARY insensible and bathed in blood. The doctor reached him immediately, and tried to rally him, but it was of no avail, and he went off unconscious and without pain. The cause of his death was the bursting of an aneurysm of the aorta, opening into the esophagus. His remains were carefully embalmed and sent home, under the charge of an officer. The ladies of the army decorated the coffin most beautifully with flowers. Major James P. ROY, commanding the military post of Charleston, South Carolina, issued a general order announcing Major MC CLEARY's death. The deceased had, he said, been continuously in the service of his country for fourteen years. " IN the performance of his duty during this period, a large share of which has been checkered by events memorable in history, he ahs borne his part with a fidelity only equaled by that modesty of deportment which distinguished his personal character. On the frontier, in warfare with the savages, in marches across the continent, in the arduous and hard fought campaigns of the army of the Potomac in the late stupendous war, no superior has found him deficient in courage and capacity, and n comrade has known him but to respect him. His record has been uniformly that of a duty officer, a conscientious soldier. Of irreproachable morals and unsullied honor, his private character has been that of a retiring and estimable gentleman. In hi the army loses a valuable officer and his associates a trustworthy friend."

The commandant of the other detachment of his regiment, then stationed at Fort Gibson, in the Cherokee nation, Brevet-major M. BRYANT, also issued a feeling order in respect to the decease of Major MC CLEARY. He said:

"Major MC CLEARY entered the service in 1854, having graduated that year from the United States Military Academy. He served several years on the western frontier and in California, where he performed arduous and gallant services in campaign against hostile Indians, and in the late war, participating in every battle in which his regiment was engaged, from Yorktown to Gettysburg, receiving the brevet of major of gallant and meritorious services in the latter battle.

"A high-toned and estimable gentleman, a gallant and true-hearted soldier, has gone to his rest, leaving behind him a bright example of soldierly bearing, and of a conscientious and upright performance of duty, worth the emulation of the comrades who now mourn his loss. As a token of respect for the memory of the deceased, the officers of the regiment will wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days."

The Butler Grays, organized at Princeton, under command of Captain MURPHY, was one of the best in the county. A splendid flag was presented to it by the ladies of Princeton and vicinity, through Miss Mollie URMSTON.

The Reeder Cadets, who were young fellows from the ages of fifteen to seventeen, organized under the supervision of Captain N. REEDER. Their officers were Charles POTTER, Captain; Thomas SHAFER, First Lieutenant; F. A. LIGHTER, Second Lieutenant; and Joseph WYMAN, Orderly Sergeant. They received many gifts from the citizens of Hamilton.

The Butler Pioneers suffered much from shortness of tobacco. As their money had given out they could get no more. But the establishment of a sutler afterwards enabled them to get as much as they wanted, and have the value deducted from their monthly pay.

B. F. MILLER and F. W. KEIL began recruiting for a new company, and a roll was also left at Heppards's store, in Collinsville, and with W.S. LEWIS, New London.

The three months' recruits returned home in July and August, and were warmly received.

The University Rifles returned from their campaign in Western Virginia on the 8th of August. They were welcomed home by the military companies of the city and a large crowd of citizen, who greeted them with a salute of artillery and musketry, and the cheers of assembled thousands.

A fine company, under the style of Union rifles, composed mainly of citizens of Union Township, left Oxford, on the 8th of August, for Camp Dennison.

Captain STONE'S company of three years volunteers, the Anderson Grays, went into camp at the Hamilton Fair Grounds on the 10th of August. Captain THOMS, of Seven-Mile, had a company partly ready.

On the 15th of August, 1861, there were at Camp Hamilton three companies, the Anderson Grays, the Butler Blues, and Captain REEDER's. the last two were not full, but were being rapidly filled up.

Captain STONE's and Captian J. S. EARHART's companies were sworn into the service of the United States on Tuesday, the 20th of August. Captain Fred. HESER left Hamilton for Camp Dennison on the 22d, with seventy or eighty good fighting men, to join the Porschner regiment, which was to join Fremont's column immediately.

By an arrangement of the commissioners the families of such volunteers from Butler County as had been sworn into the public service could obtain relief by application, as follows: Those living in the townships of Morgan, Reily, Oxford, Milford, Hanover, and Ross apply to J. J. OWENS; in Wayne, Madison, Lemon, Liberty, and Union, to William DAVIDSON; in St. Clair and Fairfield Township, and in the city of Hamilton, to James GIFFEN.

The location of Camp Hamilton was changed in August from the Fair Ground to the common at the head of Third Street, on the old cricket ground. This was done principally to secure a good parade ground, where there would be no obstruction to drill.

Dr. MALLORY began raising a company in Hamilton in September. He had forty-two names on his roll.

Charles MURRAY was also getting up a company of cavalry. The company, when completed, would be commanded by Captain WHITE, a graduate of West Point, and for twelve years a captain in the regular army. The company was to be attached to Colonel Taylor's regiment, which was to be ordered to St. Louis.

W.H. WADE was engaged in recruiting for a cavalry company. It ws nearly full, and only a few men more were wanted. It was to be under the command of Captain HUNT, late of Burdsall's dragoons, well known for their effective service in Western Virginia.

One of the earliest companies raised was by William Clement ROSSMAN. It was attached to the Third Ohio Infantry, its colonel being Isaac MARROW, of Columbus; its lieutenant-colonel, John BEATTY, of Morrow County; and its major, J. Warren KEIFER, of Clark County. The regiment was at first at Camp Jackson, but afterwards at Camp Dennison. The three months' service had expired before they were called upon to take the field, and a great portion of the regiment re-enlisted. On the 20th of January they were supplied with arms and ammunition, and ordered to Grafton, Virginia, being the first three years' regiment to leave the State. At Rich Mountain, although present, the regiment was not engaged, as the fighting was in the rear of the fortification. It joined in the pursuit of the enemy, and afterwards assisted in fortifying the passes of the Alleghenies.

The rebels, under General Robert E. LEE, attacked their position at Elkwater Junction, on the 11th of September, driving in the pickets as they advanced. Colonel John A. WASHINGTON, of Mount Vernon, Virginia, was killed in this contest. It returned to Cincinnati on the 28th of November, re-embarked for Louisville, and thence marched to Camp Jenkins, four miles distant where the army of the Ohio was organized. It was placed in the Third Division, General Ormsby M. MITCHEL commanding. It went into Winter-quarters at Bacon Creek. Colonel MARROW here resigned, and promotions followed throughout the entire regiment.

From this camp, which it left on the 22d of February, 1862, it went to Bowling Green, entering that place just as the rebels left it, and then going to Nashville. It took an active part in all the events of that stirring and brilliant campaign, including the capture of Murfreesboro, and the occupation of Shelbyville and Fayetteville. In the battle of Bridgeport the Third acted its part. In the latter part of August General BRAGG, with the rebel army, made a bold push towards Louisville, Kentucky, and BUELL concentrated his forces in that direction. The march northward was extremely fatiguing. The roads were very dry, and there was scarcely and water, but they reached Louisville on the 25th of September.

Shortly after, in marching out, it was a part of the forces that engaged with the rebels at Perryville. It fought bravely and valiantly, nearly one-third of its number being brought to the ground. Color-sergeant William V. MC COUBRIE was shot down while carrying the flag a little in advance of the guard, and five others subsequently shared the same fate. The last hero who held the standard aloft was a beardless boy of seventeen, David C. WALKER, who successfully carried it through the action, and was made color-sergeant on the filed by Colonel BEATTY. General ROUSSEAU, after the close of the action, rode up to the regiment and thanked it for its gallant conduct. Its loss in the action was two hundred and fifteen killed and wounded.

In the battle of Stone River it took a noble part, being commanded by Lieutenant-colonel LAWSON. It engaged very early, maintaining its line until, upon the edge of a cotton field, the whole tide of battle seemed to roll down from the right and launch itself upon the center, where the Third was. It then began to give ground, stubbornly, delivering its fire steadily and effectively, though receiving two volumes for one. It was long exposed to a galling fire, and lost heavily. The second day it was occupied in guarding a ford, but on the last day it was again under fire. This was the end of the battle, and the rebels then retreated to Shelbyville.

In April, 1863, the Third was detached from the army proper, and in company with the Fifty-first and Seventy-third Indiana, Eightieth Illinois, and two companies of the First Alabama cavalry, was dispatched to destroy the Rome Iron Works, and the foundries and arsenals also situated there. On the 30th of April, the command was attacked by General RODDY, with a large cavalry force. After a fierce contest the enemy were soon routed, but General FORREST was near by, and soon after made a fresh attack. After a severe engagement he was compelled to retreat.

Shortly after, the rebels again engaged, the Union troops losing a large number of men. The horses and men were both worn out, and it was determined to send forward two hundred and fifty of the best mounted men to destroy the iron works and Rome. Ferry-boats could not be found at the Catoosa River, the troops going up the road four miles to a ford, which wet their ammunition. FORREST came up again, and demanded their surrender, which they were compelled to yield.

There were immediately sent to Belle Isle, and from there to Libby Prison, the officers beign retained there until a late period in the war. The men were paroled, and afterwards exchanged. They were stationed at various places until the conclusion of their term of service, many of the officers and men then re-enlisting in other regiments.

Henry SMITH, of Captain ROSSMAN's company, Third Ohio Volunteers, died at Annapolis, Maryland, February 21, 1863, from wounds received at the battle of Stone River. He was wounded and taken prisoner at Murfreesboro, and removed from there to Richmond, Virginia, where he was exchanged. His remains were brought to this city.

Alexander SCHMIDTMAN entered into the service of his country as a soldier soon after the breaking out of the Rebellion, and was a faithful member of Company F, Sixth Regiment Ohio volunteers, until the failure of his health. He took part in several of the severest battles fought during the war, among which was that at Pittsburg Landing. He was then taken sick, patiently suffering during his protracted illness. He died September 7, 1863, in the thirty ninth year of his age.

The First Calvary was organized in the Summer of 1861. A large number of men desired to join this regiment, and the officers were consequently enabled to use discrimination int eh selection of recruits. It was mustered into the service on the 5th of October, at Camp Chase, and three of the companies were soon after assigned on detached service in West Virginia. Several lost their lives, and among them was Seeley MENSCH. He was an earnest worker in the organization of the company, riding regularly to drill from Seven-Mile after his day's work, and shrinking from no labor or trouble in getting in men and horses. He left for his father's home in Michigan, where he intended to leave his infant child, on the express condition that he should be telegraphed if any thing occurred, and on being notified that they were about to depart he immediately joined them in camp. During the short time spent in Carthage in the laborious drilling incident to the preparing of men and horses for immediate service, MENSCH was most efficient and industrious, responding with ready acquiescence to the entirely unexpected order to leave for Virginia.

During the four weeks' campaign, immediately following the departure from Clarksburg, in which, it is safe to say, no dragoons ever saw harder or more exacting service, MENSCH was always the ready, cheerful, and brave soldier. In the midst of perplexing irregularities of the company in the arrangement of messes, the distribution of the equipments, and the incidental dissatisfaction and chafing of the men against each other, while learning camp duty and camp life, he did much by his conciliation and kindness to settle all into regularity and content. When by the severe picket and guard duty to which the company was exposed, as the only cavalry in the brigade, the men were so worn out as to be really unfit for further service, MENSCH was always willing and ready to volunteer in the place of some weaker, though not so severely tasked comrade. If there was any scouting promising danger, or any midnight expedition looking towards a skirmish, MENSCH asked to go. He was one of their best couriers, riding fearlessly, but with discretion. He was present in the arduous march around the flank of the enemy entrenched at Rich Mountain, and was in the fight afterwards. He was under the fire of the enemy for nearly an hour without flinching, although not permitted to fight, only regretting that the logs, rocks, and trees prevented his being at the cannon's mouth. He was in that section of his company that rode next morning first of all the army into the camp of the rebels. He was patient in difficult, cheerful under hardship, fearless in assault, cool in danger, forbearing with his comrades, respectful and obedient to officers, and perfectly rave. His was an intelligent and active bravery to. He understood perfectly well what he joined the army for-what he wanted to accomplish, and why he wanted it. He fought on principle, recognizing the magnitude of the issues at stake and the duty which presented itself to him as a citizen and a man. There were no hostile soldiers near the camp, and no dangers anticipated. He was fired upon by murderous citizens skulking in the bushes.