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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Civil War Area Military Camps

Contributor:
Dallas Bogan on 4 August 2004
Source:
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The military training camps were the first rendevous points for the new recruits. What one learned, or didn't learn, was first rehearsed here. The act of war had not been in existence since the Mexican War; there was no set pattern in which to train. These camps were set up specifically to entertain the idea of order and discipline to more or less define the areas of combat. Apparently strictness instilled some form of knowledge and the consistent training showed that the men could be formed into a very good fighting organization.
The camps described in this chapter are mostly the camps the boys of Warren County were sent to. I'm sure the experiences and memories of these camps and the memories of the many friends they made were carried throughout the war.
There were two military camps in Ohio that were considered the hub of the Federal installations at the outbreak of the War of the Rebellion. They were Camp Chase at Columbus and Camp Dennison near Cincinnati. There were over fifty other officially recognized camps which served for the purpose of training, mustering in and organizing in Ohio. Many camps were set up on a temporary basis simply to assist local and possibly regional areas to garner and organize companies and regiments. The smaller camps in the region of Warren County were, Cincinnati: Camp Clay Pendelton, Camp Colerain, Camp Dick Corwin, Camp Gurley, Camp Harrison, Camp John McLean. Dayton: Camp Corwin, Camp Dayton, Camp Lowe. Hamilton: Camp Hamilton. Xenia: Camp Xenia.

CAMP CHASE

On April 26, 1861, Camp Jackson contained about 7000 men; on the twenty-seventh this number rose to 7,826. Over crowded conditions of this nature led to the use of the public halls, armories, the Legislative Chambers, the Supreme Court room, State Library room, rotunda and basement of the Capitol and all available apartments in the State asylums.
Meanwhile, grounds had been leased by the Government near Loveland, to accommodate the over-crowded conditions at Camp Jackson. General McClellan, commander of the Western Department, gave the name of this facility, Camp Dennison, in honor of the then present Governor of Ohio.
Fully extended to the absolute limitations of overcrowding a positive move had to be made. An announcement was made May 28, 1861, that a new camp was to be organized; the camp located four miles west of Columbus was to comprise 160 acres, under National control.
About June 1, the new camp began to be occupied. It bore the name of Camp Jackson until June 20, in which the name was changed to Camp Chase. By June 12, it had quite a large number of houses, about 160 in number. The organization of companies and regiments flowed with much more ease than at the old residence.
With the President's call for more volunteers, 42,000 for three years service on May 3rd, this became an ever increasing demand for unity. These first regiments were organized and sent to the Western Virginia and Virginia area.
With the return of the three-months volunteers the latter part of July, a tragedy occurred. No pay was available. Because the first thirteen three-months regiments were considered State Militia, the Government completely ignored the other nine Militia regiments. Governor Dennison had obtained pledges from the National Government that the three-month men would receive their discharges and pay as United States volunteers. Pay eventually came and several companies/regiments were reinstated in their old outfits, thus signing for three years.
The facilities at Camp Chase, beside being a training ground, was a facility for the housing of Confederate prisoners. The first prisoner arrested and brought to Camp Chase was one accused of firing a bridge. This happened on June 29, 1861. Thereafter, many more prisoners were taken from all different theaters of the war.
In March, 1862, it was rumored that there were over 70 Negro slaves in Camp Chase, brought there as servants to Confederate captives. The rumor was immediately investigated by a special committee of the State Senate, and was in part verified. The committee found in the prison department seventy-four Negroes, about fifty of whom were slaves, the remainder free. They had accompanied the Confederate officers brought from Fort Donnelson.
All that remains of Camp Chase is a burial ground for over 2000 Confederate dead. Thus ends the story of a time in which a place changed thousands of lives.
(Camp Chase is located on Sullivant Ave. on the western edge of Columbus.)

CAMP DENNISON

Camp Dennison was the training grounds for many of the recruitments. The Eleventh Regiment and the right wing of the Third Regiment were ordered to Camp Dennison on Monday, the 29th of April, 1861. 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, said 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; 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 cars, and there was a struggle for a place. The more modest were disposed to hold back, until the 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 nothing to eat since morning, and the commissariats 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. The affair was not exactly the kind to please a soldier who was to go to war to maintain his country.
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. They laughed and cracked jokes, and met the situation with good humor. Friends and neighbors did not neglect them, and sent forward bountiful supplies of provision and clothing.
The vigorous outdoor life and the physical employment of the recruits was a stimulus to all concerned, even the officers.
New battalions arrived daily. Training was employed without guns to try to fully develop a method before the arsenal arrived. Each regiment had its own camp and thus trained more or less individually. A book of tactics was handed to each group until it was no longer available. Difficulty of this sort hand-cuffed some company schools.
Child-hood diseases became a menace. Separate quarters (an old barn) were set up for the ever-present measles. By the middle of May, a system was perhaps being developed. Men of different talents were coming forward to help eliminate the problems of the camp. Supply officers were commissioned to, more or less, do the paper work for the soldiers pertaining to supplies, rations and clothing, etc. Hardly a man in a regiment could do the paper work required to satisfy the staff-bureaus at Washington.
Settling down to camp life meant that the soldiers were more or less showing their human side. Men from all walks of life were congregated in a localized area, this meaning squabbles, discipline problems and, of course, drunkenness.
The President's first call (April 15, 1861) was for 75,000 men. Ohio furnished 12,357 of these. This was to be a short war. Thirteen regiments were called for in Ohio's behalf. Portions of these regiments were the first to reach Camp Dennison. With a short war promised, these volunteers at Camp Dennison were perhaps like all the volunteers in other camps, looking forward to ending it all and going home.
(The grounds of Camp Dennison are located on ST. Rt. 126, north of Milford, Ohio).

CAMP HAMILTON

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 23rd of April, 1861. (Company A and F, 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry from Warren County was organized here).
On arrival at camp, the Butler Pioneers found the change anything 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 compartments, and after this the volunteers rested well.
The eating department was conducted by Straub, Rerutti & Co., for thirty-five cents per day, and tables were put up so that four hundred could eat at a time.

CAMP CORWIN

On August 5, 1861, recruiting for the First Ohio Infantry for the three years service began. On the 19th, the site for a military camp was selected two and one miles east of Dayton, on the hill. The camp was given the name of "Camp Corwin."
August 20, a company of sixty-five men marched in from the northern part of the county and camped in the fair grounds.
In the town, all was military excitement. There were twelve recruiting offices, four raising companies for the First Ohio Volunteer Infantry, two for the regular army, one for cavalry, one for the Thirty-Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a company of Sharpshooters from the Twenty-Second Ohio Volunteer Infantry, an independent company, one company for the Forty-Fourth Ohio Infantry and one for the Second Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
August 23, the first three companies numbering in the aggregate of 200 men, marched to Camp Corwin. On August 26, General Order No. 1 was issued, and military duty began. September 3, the Dayton Cavalry Company was ordered to Camp Corwin. The next two months was devoted to drilling and organization.
Saturday, October 12, notice was received that the Government could not supply the regiment with blankets. A meeting was called at once, and on Monday, 1,000 blankets, besides shirts, socks, etc., were distributed to the men. Thus nobly did the patriotic people respond to the call for aid.
October 31, at 8:30 A.M., the regiment marched in from Camp Corwin and boarded the train at the Union depot. They were a fine body of men.
The streets were crowded with people, who marched to the depot with the men, where wives, sisters, children and friends bade them a tearful farewell.
(Camp Corwin was discontinued in 1862.)


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