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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Civil War: The First Days In The County

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 27 July 2004
Source:
Dallas Bogan, Warren County, Ohio and Beyond (Bowie Maryland: Heritage Press, 1979) page 176
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The American Civil War (1861-1865) was long in coming. With the bombardment of Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861, President Lincoln called on the States for 75,000 volunteers for three months service.
The regular army, as of January 1, 1861, had a small force of 16,402. This figure was reduced due to the resignations and desertions of officers loyal to the Southern cause.
The President's proclamation calling for three-month volunteers was read April 15, 1861. The states of Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri refused to answer the President's call. However, the Legislature of the State of New York chose to raise $3,000,000 for unlimited support of that State.
Ohio, because of its geographical location, was the centerpiece of the Union. A call by Governor Dennison for thirteen full regiments was received and answered so rapidly that a total complement of twenty-two regiments was filled.
At the end of July the three months service was over. The returning volunteers from the Battle of First Bull Run sought their pay. The original thirteen regiments received their pay as United States volunteers; the remaining nine were considered State Militia and received no wage.
However, Governor Dennison had originally obtained pledges from the United States Government that all volunteers would receive their earnings. Pay eventually came and several companies/ regiments were reinstated into their original outfits, thus signing for three more years' service to the Union. Ohio's Legislature immediately went into session and within less than 24 hours after the President's call, the State Senate carried through the three readings and passed unanimously a bill appropriating one million dollars. The House immediately went into action declaring a unanimous vote for the passage of the money appropriation.
Within 48 hours after the call, two Ohio regiments were on their way to Washington. President Lincoln's call for volunteers was received in Warren County at the premises of Washington Hall on the evening of April 16. This was the County's first war meeting. It was marked with a boldness of general enthusiasm and spirit. The enemy had turned their cannon on the citizens of the North and the flag of the United States was threatened. With A.H. Dunlevy presiding, a resolutions committee was formed. The panel consisted of George R. Sage, Durbin Ward, James M. Smith, J.D. Wallace, William Crosson, Simon Suydam, and John C. Dunlevy. The president, Judge Belamy Storer, Durbin Ward and J.D. Wallace, gave addresses of sincerity. Resolutions were adopted as follows:
"Resolved, That we, the citizens of Warren County, most cordially endorse the action of the Government in its energetic measures to execute the laws, and to preserve the institutions of our country.
"Resolved, That we stand by and support the Administration in the most vigorous efforts to put down rebellion and punish treason at whatever expense of men or money.
"Resolved, That we recognize no party in the present crisis, but the party of the Union.
The band played "The Star Spangled Banner, "Yankee Doodle," and "Hail Columbia." Professor William H. Venable, then a young man, described in his address at the 1902 Lebanon Centennial the meeting as such:
"I shall never forget that meeting. It was a gathering of men, some in the flower of their youth, others verging on four score, but the oldest felt young and the youngest suddenly grown mature, was eager to prove his manhood by relinquishing all that youth values, most ease, pleasure, home - to take upon him the soldier's burden, to fight, and if need better die for the Union.
"Durbin Ward made a brief, terse speech, eloquent for its simplicity. He was the first man in the congressional district to enlist. A paper he had drawn up, pledged those who signed it to the service of their country.
"This paper was passed from hand to hand and many names were written upon it. There was no noise, no shouting, the still white heat of patriotism consumed all smoke of outward demonstration. The meeting was solemn thruout and at its close the audience dispersed as quietly as a congregation leaving a church after listening to an impressive sermon."
Every day life of Warren Countians changed from one of habit to a rising "war spirit." The flag of the United States was flown from the courthouse, from stores, workshops and residences. Military preparation had consumed the whole nation. The county soon raised three companies commanded respectively by Capt. Rigdon Williams, of Lebanon; Capt. John Kell, of Franklin; and Capt. J.D. Wallace, of Morrow.
The sight of real soldiers to the residents of the County was new. The marching away of their loved ones, neighbors and friends instilled into the remainder a silence never before experienced.
On Tuesday, April 23, Capt. Williams' company marched from Lebanon to the railroad with the assumption that the departure for Camp Jackson at Columbus would be swift. Stores and shops were closed; the public turned out in great numbers to say their farewells. The procession of soldiers and citizens stretched for nearly a mile between Lebanon and Deerfield. Lebanon had no railroad at this time and the station at Deerfield was the closest depot.
At the railroad station, the Captain received a dispatch that Camp Jackson was full. Consequently, the company returned to Lebanon and encamped at the fair grounds. Captain Williams' company was mustered into the service of the United States for three months service at Columbus on May 5. It was reorganized and mustered into service for three years at Camp Dennison on the 19th of June, as Company F, Twelfth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
The first man to lose his life in the War of the Rebellion from Warren County was Jabez Turner from Harveysburg. He was killed at the Battle of Scarry Creek, (West) Virginia, July 17, 1861. Turner faced the engagement with an emotional tenderness. He went into battle with the feeling that he would not return alive. It was his first conflict with the enemy. He entered into the fighting line and fell at the first fire. In a letter to his widow, Captain Williams said that on several occasions Turner had related his premonitions to him. Although these instincts were strong they made no gloomy impressions upon him. He had offered his life for the service of his country. He died with glory, his face to the enemy. A ball struck him in the forehead and death was instantaneous. His body, along with others, was left to be buried in Virginia soil.
John Kell's company, before the war, had been formed as a militia company. It was called the "Franklin Grays." (Captain Kell had served in the Mexican War, 1846-1848, and had been appointed postmaster of Franklin by Buchanan.) It was the first company to leave the County for service and it became Co. F, 1st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in the three months service. The service date is recorded as of April 16, 1861. With drilling experience before the war, most of the company volunteered.
Durbin Ward was the first man of the County to sign an enrollment paper for troops in the Union cause. When the President's call reached Lebanon, Ward was holding court. He immediately drew up a paper saying in certain terms that, "We, the undersigned, hereby tender our services to the President of the United States to protect our national flag." He signed it and proceeded with his case. Ward was a Democrat along with about two-fifths of the eligible men of the County. A question arose as to whether these opposing party members would relinquish their politics and join with the Republicans and other political affiliations and take a stand to preserve their country. Ward declared many times over that politics had no bearing in his effort to reunite the Union. Political party lines melted in the County and seemed to have no consequences as patriotic feelings ran deep.


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This page created 27 July 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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