The 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Compiled by Dick Crews
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in the spring of 2001.

The 51st Ohio Volunteer Infantry was formed from the Dover/New Philadelphia area of Ohio in October of 1861. After training, the unit was sent to Louisville, Kentucky. Their first casualty was a private who fell off the steamboat and drowned in the Ohio River. The 51st was at the Battle of Perryville but saw no action.

On November 9, 1862, the regiment and its brigade, under Colonel Stanley Mathews, were sent out on a foraging expedition, and at Dobson’s Ferry, Stones River, met and defeated Wheeler’s rebel cavalry, who had by some means got in their rear. The fight was made by five companies of the 51st Ohio, and five companies of the 35th Indiana, led by Colonel Mathews. The 51st lost thirteen men wounded, three of whom subsequently died; the 35th Indiana lost its Lieutenant-Colonel (severely wounded), its Adjutant (killed), and a number of men. Colonel Mathews, while in the thickest of the fight, was thrown from his horse and severely injured, but kept the field and command until the troops arrived safely in camp.

On December 26, 1862 the regiment moved out on the Murfreesboro Turnpike, with Brigadier-General Van Clove’s division of the Twenty-First Army Corps, marching toward Stones River. Nothing of interest occurred until the 31st of December, when the regiment, having been thrown across Stones River on a reconnaissance, found the enemy in force.

On January 1, 1863, the 51st O.V.I. again crossed Stones River and took position, four companies being thrown out as skirmishers. Advancing half a mile, they met the enemy and skirmished all that day and night, and part of the next day. On the afternoon of the 2d of January, Gen. John C. Breckinridge’s rebel division made a charge, and flanking right, swept it to the west side of Stones River. The 51st left thirty-two of its number dead on the field, one hundred and five wounded, and forty-six captured. It was at this juncture that Union General William Rosecrans massed his artillery and settled the fortunes of the day by almost literally blowing the rebel column of attack into and across Stones River.

On the morning of the 4th of January, 1863, the enemy having disappeared, the army marched into and took possession of Murfreesboro. The army lay in Murfreesboro until the 24th of June, 1863, when it moved on the Tullahoma campaign. The route of the 51st O.V.I. and its division was by way of McMinnville, crossing the Cumberland Mountains into the Sequatchie Valley, thence to Point Lookout, near Chattanooga, and from there to Ringgold. At the latter place, on September 11th, Wheeler’s rebel cavalry was met, defeated, and driven to Tunnel Hill (Chattanooga).

On the 12th the regiment marched to Lee & Gordon’s Mill. On the 13th it made a reconnaissance to Shield’s Gap, and on the 14th went into position at Crawfish Springs. From that time until the opening of the Battle of Chickamauga the members of the regiment feasted on roasting-ears and sweet potatoes.

On the evening of the 18th of September, the 51st O.V.I., being relieved by the 6th Ohio, marched back to Lee & Gordon’s Mill (Chickamauga), where it went into position, and lay upon its arms all that night. On the morning of the 10th, the regiment met the enemy and drove him back a quarter of a mile, but in doing so lost eight men killed, twenty-five wounded, and as many captured. The enemy, receiving reinforcements, in turn drove the regiment back to its former position, where it lay on its arms for the night.

On September 20th the regiment was marched to the left to reinforce General George H. Thomas’s (Chickamauga) column, and on arriving at its position it took part in the effort to stay the enemy in his attempt to get into the rear of the Federal forces, through a gap left in the lines. The regiment struck the rebel General Adams’s division, wounded and captured its commander, and drove it pell-mell. The 51st was then brought back and again formed on the extreme left of General Thomas’s command.

In this Battle of Chickamauga the 51st lost twelve men and one officer wounded, and thirty captured, including Colonel B. W. McLain (commander of the 51st), Lieutenants Rittelley, McNeil, and James Weatherbee and Assistant-Surgeon Wing.

On September 21st the Union army retired behind entrenchments to Chattanooga, and was there besieged by rebel forces until the latter part of the following November, when the siege was raised.

On November 24th of 1863 the regiment participated in the storming of Lookout Mountain, and on the 25th took part in the taking of Rossville Gap, through Missionary Ridge. Its loss in these two affairs was one killed and seven wounded.

On January 1, 1864, the 51st Ohio re-enlisted, and on February 10th arrived at Columbus on veteran furlough of thirty day, gaining the distinction of becoming the 51st Ohio Veterans Volunteer. During the Atlanta campaign, it was engaged at Resaca, and on the 20th of June at Kennesaw Mountain. At the first-named place it lost one officer and ten men wounded and one man killed. At Kennesaw Mountain it lost two officers (Captain Samuel Stephens and Lieutenant Workman) killed, and ten men killed and thirty wounded. From this time until Atlanta was taken the regiment was almost hourly engaged with the enemy.

On September 1st of 1863 the regiment was at Jonesboro, Georgia, and took part in that engagement, and on the 2d pursued the enemy to Lovejoy’s Station. Here it lost ten men wounded. It then fell back to Atlanta, and on the 8th of September entered that city.

The 51st remained in Atlanta until the 3d of October, 1864. Then it marched toward Chattanooga, passing through Cassville, Kingston, Rome, Resaca, and Snake Creek Gap. This march was made in consequence of the rebel General John Bell Hood’s movement to the rear of Atlanta, and the consequent return of General Hood’s army. At this time a series of arduous marches were made in pursuit of the enemy through Tennessee and Alabama.

The 51st O.V.V.I was falling back with General Thomas’s command to Columbia, Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville. It was engaged at Spring Hill, but in the battle of Franklin it occupied a position not involved in the fight. A number of its men were, however, engaged as skirmishers.

On December 14th and 15th of 1865 the regiment took part in the battle of Nashville, with one man killed and fifteen wounded. It joined in the pursuit of the enemy up to Alabama. This march was difficult in the extreme, the roads being almost knee-deep in mud and water.

After Nashville the 51st O.V.V.I., as with many other regiments, was so small it was combined with three other Ohio regiments. Following the conclusion of the Civil War, the 51st was sent to Texas under the command of Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan to watch the French in Mexico.

On October 3, 1865, the regiment was mustered out at Victoria, Texas by Captain Wm. Nicholas, Commissary of Musters of the Central District of Texas, and on the 4th was on its way to Victoria, Texas where it arrived on November 1, 1865. It was discharged at Camp Chase, near Columbus, Ohio after a long and faithful term of arduous service honorably performed.

A sad sidelight on the 51st was that several men captured at Chickamauga were released from Confederate prison camps at the end of the war, only to die on the Sultana steaming up the Mississippi to Ohio.

The explosion on the Sultana, resulting in the deaths of 1,600 people, remains the largest ship disaster in United States history, exceeding the death tolls of both the Titanic (1,500) and Lusitania (1,198). Note the extreme overcrowding on deck illustrated in the photo.

Silent Witnesses to the Civil War, Part 3: Lakeside, Maple Ridge, Coe Ridge, and Chestnut Grove Cemeteries

By Dale Thomas
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

Part 3 of a 3-part article on cemeteries in Cleveland’s western suburbs

Lakeside Cemetery overlooks Lake Erie in Bay Village, now a bedroom community but in the 1860’s a region of orchards and truck gardens at the northern edge of Dover Township. Driving on Lake Road, one hardly notices the headstones that seem out of place where old homes are being razed to make way for lavish dwellings built on prime real estate. Two veterans of the American Revolution (David Foote and Christopher Saddler) and seven of the Civil War may be the next to be displaced by housing developers in the 21st Century.

John Schultz and Luma Griswold could not be identified with a specific Northern regiment. Michael Wolf fought with the 1st U.S. Cavalry, Regular Army. Washington Elmer was in I Company of the 10th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment. At Sackett’s Harbor, N.Y. on September 12, 1862, Pvt. Elmer mustered into Federal service. The regiment protected Washington until taking part in the battle at Cold Harbor in June of 1864 then the siege and fall of Petersburg at the end of the war. On September 19, 1861 in Findlay, Ohio, Chauncy Stevens mustered into the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a regiment that would suffer the loss of 392 men. Stevens rose to the rank of sergeant as the 23rd OVI fought in the western theater from Stones River and Chickamauga to Chattanooga and Resaca, then the siege of Atlanta and Sherman’s march to the sea. After the Grand Review in Washington, the regiment moved to Kentucky, then came home to Ohio.

Alonson A. Grant joined the 6th Ohio Cavalry in Warren, Ohio on October 7, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant during the course of the war, which saw his regiment fighting in many of the major battles in the East: Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Cold Harbor. On Palm Sunday in 1865, the troopers were in Appomattox Court House to take part in the surrender of Lee’s army. Alfred M. Wolf was one of the “100 Day Men” in the 150th OVI. On May 2, 1864 at Camp Cleveland, the Ohio National Guard Regiment mustered into service for a hundred days. It went east for garrison duty in the forts around Washington, helping to repulse Jubal Early’s attack in July. The men were back home and discharged on the 23rd of August.

Maple Ridge and Coe Ridge Cemeteries are located a few miles apart in what was originally the southern section of Dover Township. Situated on Columbia Road in Westlake, Maple Ridge contains the burials of eleven veterans of the Civil War, one of which is only a few feet from the shoulder of the encroaching thoroughfare. Henry L. Steele, John W. Hawkins, Chauncey C. and Lester Alexander, Reuben and Ziba S. Hall served in the 150th OVI. A Baptist minister born in England, Steele applied for an invalid’s Civil War pension around the turn of the century while living out of the state.

In late autumn of 1861, John H. Lemmon volunteered for the 65th OVI, which was being organized in Mansfield, Ohio. Beginning as a private in E Company, he became a sergeant as his regiment participated in most of the major campaigns and battles in the West: Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Resaca, Franklin, and Nashville. The 65th OVI moved to San Antonio, Texas at the end of the war, remaining there until December. Ashel P. Smith went to Norwalk, Ohio and joined the 55th OVI in January of 1862. Smith’s regiment fought in the eastern and western fronts including battles at Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Resaca, and Bentonville. It took part in the surrender of General Johnston’s army in April of 1865 and the Grand Review in Washington the following month. Smith was a hospital steward at the time of his discharge.

At Camp Chase on October 30, 1861, John Griffin, an Irish immigrant, enlisted in James A. Garfield’s 42nd OVI. Griffin saw action in the western theater of the war including the siege and assault at Vicksburg. Near the end of his three-year enlistment, he suffered a gunshot wound to his right lung and, after treatment, was discharged on November 15, 1864. At Camp Cleveland on New Year’s Day of 1863, Chauncey D. Hall mustered into A Company of the 124th OVI. The regiment fought at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Resaca, Franklin, Nashville, and other battles in the West. A native of Prussia, John E. Sawyer was a musician in D Company of the 117th New York Volunteer Infantry, organized in Oneida in August of 1862. The New Yorkers were in a number of engagements in the East including Fort Wagner, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Wilmington.

Five Civil War veterans are buried in Coe Ridge Cemetery, located across the street from a bowling alley at the corner of Walter Road and Lorain Road in North Olmsted. Bertrand C. and Rienzi W. Austin served with John Griffin in E Company of the 42nd OVI. Bertrand C. Austin did not survive the war, dying at the age of twenty-four on April 23, 1863. The regiment was campaigning in Louisiana at the time of his death and the records show he was not buried in the South, but at Coe Ridge.

Serving under two future Presidents, Wilbur Bently was a private in A Company of the 23rd OVI. The eighteen-year-old Bently was the same age and rank as William McKinley of E Company when they were mustered into federal service at Camp Chase on June 11, 1861. During the war, McKinley rose to the rank of brevet major under the regimental commander, Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes. The 23rd OVI first saw action in western Virginia, then moved to Washington in the late summer of 1862. When Lee invaded Maryland, the Ohioans fought at South Mountain and Antietam. Over the next two and a half years, the regiment took part in a number of battles including Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign. The men marched together for the last time on Cleveland’s Public Square in July of 1865.

At Camp Cleveland on August 22, 1862, Saul Demaline took an oath, offering three years of his life to help preserve the Union as a private in B Company of the 107th OVI. He survived the disaster at Fredericksburg, defeat at Chancellorsville, and bloody victory at Gettysburg. On December 4, 1863, however, Demaline was discharged on a surgeon’s certificate of disability. Pvt. John S. Demaline served with the 67th OVI, which had been organized at-large in Ohio from October 1861 to January 1862. The assault on Fort Wagner and the siege of Petersburg were some of the regiment’s major actions. On April 9, 1865, the men of the 67th OVI were at Appomattox Court House, taking part in the surrender of Lee’s army.

Chestnut Grove (Turkey Foot) Cemetery is located on Chestnut Grove Drive above the west branch of the Rocky River in Olmsted Falls. In a place that still retains much of its original rural setting, twelve stones are inscribed with the names of Civil War veterans. Lt. John G. Fitch and Pvt. Herbert O. Fitch served in I Company of the 150th OVI. According to his gravestone, Elisha Cook’s regiment was the 8th OVI, but official records list him in the 3rd OVI. On September 8, 1865, James Wright mustered out as a corporal in the 21st New York Volunteer Artillery Regiment, which had campaigned on the Gulf Coast.

At Camp Dennison in February of 1862, Henry and Thomas Stokes mustered into the 15th Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery. Henry Stokes died in Cincinnati on April 17, 1862. Rising to sergeant, Thomas Stokes survived the sieges at Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta, then Sherman’s march to the sea and the capture of Columbia, South Carolina. For years after the war on the Fourth of July, he loaded and fired the G.A.R. post cannon in Olmsted Falls.

John E. Bradford and Edward W. Kidney volunteered for the 19th Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery at Camp Cleveland in September of 1862. Also known as Shields’ Battery, it pursued Morgan in May of 1863 from Kentucky into Ohio and afterwards fought in Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Kidney made it through the war, but Bradford died on October 22, 1864. Hiram A. Vaughn was in the same company of the 65th OVI as John Lemmon.

Frederick W. Broady served with William McKinley in E Company of the 23rd OVI. Lorenzo B. Adams was a sergeant in Battery B of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery organized at Camp Dennison (Cincinnati) in October of 1861. He fought at Mill Springs, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga. Two other veterans buried in the cemetery, George Brown and Edward Damp, could not be identified with any Civil War unit.

The first officers of Olmsted G.A.R. Post 634 in 1887 included Commander Thomas Stokes, Senior Vice Commander John Fitch, and Quartermaster Sergeant Hiram Vaughn. Post members with their wives observed Memorial Day that year by placing flowers on the graves of veterans and casting wreaths into Rocky River for those missing in action during the Civil War.

Go back to Part 2 >>


Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (National Park Service Website, 2004).

Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War (Boston: Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1907).

Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio (Columbus: F.J. Heer, 1929).

Personal Reminiscences and Experiences (Sheffield Lake, Ohio: One Hundred and Third Ohio Voluntary Infantry, 1900).

Roll of Honor, Names of Soldiers Who Died in Defense of the American Union, Interred in the National Cemeteries (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1869).

Silent Witnesses to the Civil War, Part 2: Rockport Pioneer Cemetery

By Dale Thomas
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved

Part 2 of a 3-part article on cemeteries in Cleveland’s western suburbs

Rockport Pioneer Cemetery is located on a small, tree-shaded hill in Fairview Park, Ohio. Earliest burials predate the establishment of Rockport Township in 1814. Four of the interments fought in the American Revolution. Although traffic passes below on Lorain Road, the cemetery still retains some of the original rural environment on its south edge that overlooks the valley of Rocky River Metropolitan Park. Thirty-eight tombstones are inscribed with the names of those who served in the Civil War. Three victims of the war are at rest beneath the cemetery’s sod. Two stones in particular bear witness to the horrors of the war, but the remains of Nathan W. Hawkins and Ansel Jordan are buried in the prison cemetery at Andersonville, Georgia.

Nathan W. Hawkins came from a family of abolitionists. A mile west of the cemetery on Lorain Road, the Hawkins farm was a station for the Underground Railroad between Oberlin and Canada. In 1853, he married Lucy Romp in her father’s tavern and inn at the top of Cedar Point Hill on Columbia Road, now in the city of North Olmsted. After the war started, James Hawkins, a brother, refused to enlist, but Nathan believed someone from his family should defend the Union. Even though he had three young daughters at home, the thirty-year-old Hawkins traveled to Camp Cleveland on August 12, 1862 and enlisted in the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Township neighbors Ansel Jordan, Albert Durham, and Jacob Gessner joined Hawkins during the next week in G Company. Allen Jordan, Ansel’s cousin, John Andrews, James Welch, and William Romp, Hawkins’ brother-in-law, were assigned to other companies in the regiment.

The regiment was still under state control when it marched to Cleveland’s Union Depot and boarded a train for Cincinnati. Mustering into Federal service took place when an officer from the regular army administered an oath of allegiance on September 16, 1862. Two days later, the 103rd OVI pursued a rebel force to Lexington, Kentucky. One of the regiment’s first casualties, John Anderson, died of disease at the age of twenty years in Lexington General Hospital. His body was brought home and buried in the township cemetery.

The 103rd Regiment took part in a number of skirmishes as General Burnside’s army fought its way toward Knoxville. After a battle in October of 1863, Hawkins wrote a letter to his wife that probably gave her nightmarish dreams:

The most horrible sight was one of our men wounded in the neck. He was walking to the rear and the blood was running down in front of him. He was covered all over in blood of his own. These things seem horrible to you, and it is but soldiers think nothing of it.

A month later, Hawkins was almost fatalistic when writing his wife about the experience of being in combat:

You no doubt would like to know how Nate felt…just as cool as he does. No not the least bit nervous but I have to wink…when the shells began to burst. They make the most unearthly noise you ever heard… The worst of all is to see the dead and wounded to hear their cries and groans. God deliver me…

In the middle of January 1864, Union forces were ordered to withdraw from Dandridge, Tennessee, but Hawkins, now a corporal, acting without approval, stayed behind to help Ansel Jordan and Adam Miller, who were in poor health. They were captured on January 18 and taken to the prison at Andersonville where all three perished from disease: Hawkins died of typhoid fever on May 7, 1864; Adam Miller on July 5, 1864; and Jordan on September 19, 1864. Although knowing he was a prisoner, Lucy Hawkins did not hear news of her husband’s death until after the war. Since Hawkins and Jordan were among 13,000 prisoners buried in mass graves, their families could only place stone markers to memorialize them: “DIED AT ANDERSONVILLE.”

John W. Spencer grew up in a house that was a station for the Underground Railroad. (The old homestead still survives today at 4572 West 220 Street in Fairview Park.) On February 1, 1862 at Camp Dennison (Cincinnati), Pvt. Spencer and Pvt. Hoxie K. Landphair were mustered into Federal service in the 15th Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery. The men boarded a riverboat at Cincinnati and, while en route to Kansas, stopped at Louisville. Taken ill, Landphair went to a hospital in the city and died at the age of nineteen on April 3, 1862. While his body was being transported home for burial, the 15th Battery had a change in orders, going instead to Mississippi. Spencer took part in the sieges at Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta, then Sherman’s march to the sea and the capture of Columbia, South Carolina. He was discharged in June of 1865 and survived Landphair by 57 years. In late summer of 1919, Spencer was buried near his old comrade.

John Basset was born on his parent’s farm near Puritas Springs and Grayton Road, now a part of Cleveland. When the war came, Bassett expected as others had that it would be over in less than a year. Then reality set in and he volunteered in September of 1862 at Camp Cleveland for the 19th Independent Battery, Ohio Light Artillery. Shields’ Battery, as it was also called, pursued Morgan in May of 1863 from Kentucky into Ohio. Afterwards the unit fought in Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. However, John Basset did not survive the war and his remains were laid to rest in the township cemetery.

At Camp Cleveland in August of 1862, James Curran enlisted in the 7th OVI, which was fighting at the time in northern Virginia. He may have joined the regiment by mid-September when it took part in the bloodiest day of the war at Antietam. The following year, the 7th fought in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, then went to New York to quell the draft riots. The regiment moved to the southwestern front and saw action at a number of battles, including Chattanooga and Resaca. During the fighting near Dallas, Georgia on May 25, 1864, Curran was among five wounded from G Company. He was convalescing when the 7th returned to Cleveland for mustering out after three years of service. In late October, Curran was transferred to the 5th OVI, then occupying Atlanta. The march to the sea began two weeks later and the siege of Savannah at the end of the year. After campaigning in the Carolinas, the 5th took part in the Grand Review in Washington on May 24, 1865.

Samuel Bates and James Robinson served in the 124th OVI, organized at Camp Cleveland on January 1, 1863. The regiment fought at Chickamauga and Chattanooga besides taking part in the same campaigns as the 103rd OVI starting in Dandridge, Tennessee. Charles C. Dean joined the 92nd OVI in the late summer of 1862. The regiment from southern Ohio took part in many of the same battles as the 124th OVI. Enlisting in December of 1863, William McDowell was a drummer in the 128th OVI guarding prisoners on Johnson’s Island.

In October of 1861, Jacob Burkemer, a bugler, mustered into E Company of the 54th OVI at Camp Denison. His regiment saw action at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Resaca, Kennesaw, Atlanta, and in Sherman’s march to the sea. John Rush was a private in D Company of the 129th OVI, organized at Camp Cleveland in August of 1863. The regiment took part in the capture and occupation of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee. Albert G. Bentley fought with the 23rd OVI in western Virginia, including Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign. He was taken prisoner on May 9, 1864, but survived the war.

Great grandson of a Revolutionary soldier, Addison J. Farrand enlisted in June of 1862 for three months in D Company of the 84th OVI. While Addison was in Maryland, Jared Farrand died at the age of one hundred five in Middleburg, Ohio. In May of 1864, Sgt. James A. Potter and Pvt. Philip Phillips were mustered into the 150th OVI (National Guard Regiment) at Camp Cleveland for garrison duty in the forts protecting Washington. After repulsing Jubal Early’s attack in July of 1864, the troops were discharged the following month.

Son of a veteran of the War of 1812, George Cronk became a sergeant in Field and Staff of the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Organized at Cleveland’s Camp Wade in the autumn of 1861, the regiment saw action in Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas in 1862 before being ordered to Columbus, Ohio at the end of the year. Operations the following year included the pursuit of Morgan’s raiders, the capture of Cumberland Gap, and the siege of Knoxville. The 2nd was attached in May of 1864 to the Army of the Potomac and fought in the Wilderness and Cold Harbor in addition to a number of other battles. On April 9, 1865, the troopers from the Western Reserve of Ohio camped just outside of Appomattox Court House, where Lee surrendered on Palm Sunday to Grant.

A number of veterans in the cemetery served in the regiments of other northern states: Calvin Pease , 26th Illinois Infantry; A.A. Bagley, 13th New York Cavalry; James Harbeson, 53rd New York Infantry; William E. Crabb, 6th New York Cavalry; Henry Patchen, 9th Michigan Infantry; Webster B. Ewing, 2nd Battalion Veterans Reserve Corps; and Manley Green, 6th Veteran Corps. Thomas Crawford was in the 33rd Illinois Infantry and later the U.S. Navy.

John W. Spencer, Philip Phillips, Jacob Gessner, and William McDowell became members of the Olmsted GAR Post 634 that first met in the Olmsted Falls Town Hall on April 23, 1887:

Comrades, the time has been set to be mustered into the Grand Army of the Republic. The mustering in officers and escorts will be present from Cleveland. Bring your wife and friends. You are also requested to bring your discharge papers.

Go back to Part 1 >>
Continue with Part 3 >>

Bibliography follows Part 3.

Correction and Addendum:

John Andrews of the 103rd OVI was buried there in 1862, not John Anderson. Jacob Gessner’s name is spelled Gasner or Gastner in military records. (National Park Service Website. Soldiers and Sailors Monument). Nine veterans buried in this cemetery could not be identified with a specific military unit because of contradictory and/or inadequate records: George W. Cooper (Headstone: Cpl., F. Co., 25th OVI. NPSW: Pvt., F. Co., 24th OVI), Hiram B. Landphair (S and S Monument lists a Hoxie E. Lamdphear in the 54th OVI who was really in the 15th Ohio Battery. Was Hiram in the 54th? No record in NPSW.), J.B. Darby (NPSW: Joseph B. Darby, 185th OVI / 191st OVI. S and S Monument: John E. Darby, 125th OVI), Samuel H. Brown, Frank Bentley, Stewart Herbeson, and Gideon Pease.

Quoted letters of Nathan Hawkins are from the archives of the Olmsted Historical Society, North Olmsted, Ohio.

Silent Witnesses to the Civil War, Part 1: Evergreen Cemetery

By Dale Thomas
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved

Part 1 of a 3-part article on cemeteries in Cleveland’s western suburbs

Evergreen Cemetery in Westlake, Ohio is located on Center Ridge Road and bordered by greenhouses, a nursery, and soccer field. Across the busy highway, a housing complex sprawls beyond a ridge that once was a farmer’s field. The cemetery is well maintained, but something has been lost in the suburban encroachments around it. The names and dates on many of the old tombstones have eroded away and, like the rural surroundings, are gone forever.

The first burials date back to a time when the area was called Dover, a part of Cuyahoga County that became a township in 1811. One of the first settlers, Jasher Taylor, a veteran of the American Revolution, is buried in the southern part of the cemetery. His weathered gravestone lies flat on the ground, but is still readable. Born in Ashfield, Massachusetts in 1753, he served from time to time in the Continental Army from April of 1775 to the end of the war. The records also show Taylor was a farmer, six feet, one inch tall with a light complexion. He married Dolly Carr and moved to Ohio before the turn of the nineteenth century. At the age of seventy-five, the old soldier died, seven years after the Missouri Compromise helped preserve the Union in 1820.

Sherman Sperry was born five years before the Compromise of 1850, the last major attempt of a nation trying to find the middle ground to avoid disunion and war. However, conciliation failed, and the Civil War was about to enter its third year in January of 1863 when Sperry volunteered for the 124th Ohio Infantry Regiment being organized at Camp Cleveland. The eighteen year old became a musician in Company F and, more than likely, his parents hoped this would keep him out of danger. Within the month, the regiment left for Louisville, Kentucky and then moved on to Franklin, Tennessee in February, joining the Army of Kentucky, Department of the Cumberland. A month after his regiment fought its first battle at Thompson’s Station, Private Sperry died on the 13th of April. He was buried in the National Cemetery near Nashville, Tennessee. Sometime after the war, Sperry’s parents may have moved his remains to Evergreen Cemetery.

Private John A. Clague’s grave is near the soccer field, where today youngsters play and parents cheer, ignoring the tombstones on the other side of a rail fence. Displaying marksmanship with a rifle, Clague joined the 10th Independent Company of Ohio Sharpshooters, which would become Company H in the 60th Ohio Infantry Regiment. In the late winter of 1864, the regiment was reorganized at Camp Cleveland, departing by railroad for Alexandria, Virginia on April 21, 1864.

The 60th Ohio was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, and 9th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. From May 5 to June 12, the regiment saw action at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. It then took part in the siege of Petersburg, which lasted from June 16, 1864 to April 2, 1865. Private Clague, however, did not survive that last terrible summer of the war. Either a victim of disease or wounds, he was taken north to Philadelphia where he died at the age of twenty-three on August 11, 1864. Buried in Pennsylvania, his remains may have also been moved by family members to Evergreen Cemetery.

Surviving the Civil War by fifty-five years, John C. Smith served in Company G of the 18th Regular Army Infantry Regiment. Smith’s tombstone is unique because he wanted to tell his story for future generations:

JULY 1, 1838 – APRIL 4, 1920











James Bailey was another survivor of the Civil War. Facing rainstorms out of the northwest, his white limestone marker is badly eroded. Bailey was forty-four years old on August 9, 1862 when he went to Camp Cleveland and became a private in Company H of the 103rd Ohio Infantry Regiment. Ordered south in September, the regiment saw action for the rest of the war in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Probably due to his age, Bailey was transferred on November 21, 1864 to the 47th Company, 2nd Battalion of the Veteran Reserve Corps and was mustered out of the Union Army on July 1, 1865 in Washington City.

William W. Barnes was living in Michigan when the Civil War erupted. At the age of twenty-six, he joined Company C of the 9th Michigan Infantry, which was being organized in Detroit during October of 1861. His regiment saw action in many of the major battles in the western theater, including Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Kennesaw, and Atlanta. Suffering a total of 309 dead from wounds and disease, the regiment was mustered out in Detroit during September of 1865. Perhaps the result of the physical and mental stress of war, Barnes died the following decade on March 1, 1876 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, four months before the United States celebrated its centennial anniversary.

Continue with Part 2 >>

Bibliography follows Part 3.

Cleveland Fights the Civil War

By Dick Crews
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in the winter of 2002.

Cleveland and Cuyahoga County contributed a large percentage of its manpower to the American Civil War. The federal census of 1860 showed Cleveland’s population to be 43,838. The total Cuyahoga County population was approximately 50,000. The records on the walls of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Public Square, the official record of the county, contain the names of 10,000 residents of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County who fought in the Civil War.

The Cleveland Grays Armory, Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Grays, which has a history back to 1838, provided some of first troops to answer the call of the governor. The Grays were on there way within sixty hours of the governor’s call. They became Company E of the First Ohio Infantry.

A Cleveland battery fired the first shot for the Union. That shot was fired by the First Ohio Light Artillery which went to the front on only two days’ notice. It was commanded by Colonel, later General, James Barnett. It was at Philippi, West Virginia, that the historic first Union cannon was fired in battle. There was the 9th Independent Battery, of which Edwin Cowles, the founder of the Leader (an old Cleveland newspaper), was sergeant and afterwards a second lieutenant. The firing was done by the 19th Battery, familiarly known as Shields’ Battery, and the 20th. Both of these batteries owed most of their members to Cleveland.

7th Ohio Monument, Woodland Cemetery,
Cleveland, Ohio

Early in the Civil War, area men were mustered into the famous 7th Ohio Regiment. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County furnished the 7th Ohio with eleven field and staff officers and three complete companies. In three years 1800 men served in the 7th. However, following 3-year enlistment expiration, only 300 men remained to bring home the colors.

It is of the 7th regiment that a war historian wrote, “All in all, considering the number of its battles, its marches, its losses, its conduct in action, it may be safely said that not a single regiment in the United States gained more lasting honor or deserved better of its country than the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry.”

The 8th Ohio kept up Cleveland’s reputation by showing exceptional courage at Gettysburg. The gallant 23rd Ohio, containing two future U. S. Presidents and 250 men from the Cleveland area, helped defeat the rebels at the battle of Cedar Creek after Sheridan’s famous ride from Winchester.

Fifteen black men also enlisted from Cleveland. They were members of the 5th United States Colored Infantry, which had the terrible loss of 302 killed and wounded out of a total force of 559.

Even after the disaster of the first battle of Bull Run, Cleveland raised a new regiment, the Ohio 41st. The command was given to Captain Will Hazen. This regiment was followed by the Ohio 24th, the 37th, 58th, 103rd, 107th, and the 42nd, which included future President Garfield as a colonel. The 124th was also from the Western Reserve, and many Clevelanders were with it as officers and privates. Its work at Lookout Mountain was especially noteworthy. Clevelanders also served in the 128th regiment, which guarded Confederate prisoners at Johnson’s Island.

The 115th and the 169th regiments, which garrisoned Washington in 1864, were also made largely of Cleveland men. Cleveland also contributed largely to the independent companies of sharpshooters which Governor Tod recruited. The 2nd Cavalry, which was made up almost exclusively from Cleveland and the Western Reserve and was noted for the social prominence of its members, had a most picturesque career. It fought Choctaws in Indian Territory, Quantrell’s guerillas in Missouri, and was a large factor in the chase and capture of John Hunt Morgan, the raider. It followed him for twelve hundred miles through three states, marching twenty-four hours a day.

In fact, so pervasive was a strong Civil War spirit in Cleveland that there was not a regiment mustered in the state which did not contain men from the banks of the Cuyahoga.

Related links:
The Cuyahoga County Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument
The Last Civil War Veterans From Cuyahoga County
Whatever Happened to Camp Cleveland?
The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Three Ohio Civil War Veterans Who Became President

By Dennis Keating
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved


Five Ohio-born Civil War veterans later became President of the United States. William Tecumseh Sherman might have been a sixth, but he famously refused to be nominated. The first was Ulysses S. Grant, the victorious hero and general in chief who captured three Confederate armies and who served two terms as the 18th President succeeding Andrew Johnson, the assassinated Abraham Lincoln’s second Vice President. Grant, of course, deserves separate treatment by himself and also began his Civil War career in Illinois, not Ohio.

Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President, was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison (“Old Tippecanoe”), the first president to die in office. Benjamin Harrison, son of a U.S. Congressman, moved to Indianapolis to practice law with the brother of General Lew Wallace (of Ben-Hur fame) and was more associated with Indiana than Ohio. He commanded the 70th Indiana Volunteers and distinguished himself at the battle of Peach Tree Creek outside Atlanta in 1864 against Hood. He won the Republication nomination in 1888 over the U.S. Senator from Ohio, John Sherman, the general’s brother. He defeated incumbent Grover Cleveland, who had been the first Democratic president elected since the Civil War, even though he had received fewer popular votes. He was defeated in his re-election bid in 1892 by his predecessor, Grover Cleveland. Curiously, Harrison’s granddaughter by his second wife would marry the great grandson of President James Garfield.

This article will recount the Civil War experiences of the remaining three Ohioans and also add some information about their presidencies, two of which were cut short by assassination.

Rutherford B. Hayes

Rutherford B. Hayes

A graduate of Kenyon College and Harvard Law School, Hayes was a Cincinnati lawyer in 1861. He and his home guard company, mostly comprised of members of the city’s Literary Club, enlisted, with Hayes becoming a captain, in the 23rd OVI, commanded by William Rosecrans. Hayes would later succeed him as colonel of the regiment (with two companies from Cleveland). A diarist, he wrote almost daily about his experience.

The 23rd saw its first action in September 1861 in West Virginia. On May 10, 1862, serving under Jacob Cox in West Virginia, Hayes suffered the first of four wounds that he received during the war. James Monroe is the only other American president who was wounded in battle.

Transferred to the Army of the Potomac under George McClellan, Cox’s Kanawha Division led the attack at Fox’s Gap at South Mountain on September 14, 1862, where Hayes was again wounded leading the 23rd. Hayes was subsequently promoted to brigade commander in the Kanawha Division. His next action was to pursue John Hunt Morgan in his July 1863 cavalry raid in Ohio, engaging him shortly before his capture at Buffington Island.

Back in West Virginia and now serving under fellow Ohioan George Crook, Hayes’s brigade took part in the 1864 campaigns in West Virginia and then in the Shenandoah Valley under Generals David Hunter and Phil Sheridan. At Kernstown in July, Hayes was credited with enabling Crook’s force to escape from Jubal Early. During the course of this battle, Hayes received his third wound. He also was a hero at Opequon (Third Winchester) in September, taking over command of his division when its commander was wounded. Hayes’s troops then participated in Crook’s successful flanking movement at Fisher’s Hill. Hayes and his wife Lucy named their fifth son, born a week following this battle, after George Crook.

Elected to Congress on October 18, 1864, Hayes was to play a more humbling role the next day at Cedar Creek. His division was routed by John Gordon’s surprise attack and Hayes was wounded for the fourth time (and had his horse killed under him). After Sheridan’s successful counterattack and rout of Early, Hayes was promoted to major general. He was preparing to attack Lynchburg when Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

After serving in Congress, Hayes returned home to be elected Governor of Ohio in 1867, serving three terms and helping to found Ohio State University. At the Republican convention in Cincinnati in 1876 (the centennial anniversary of the United States), favorite son Hayes won the nomination over two contending rivals. He won the presidency that fall over Democrat Samuel Tilden, reform governor of New York, in one of the most controversial elections in American history. Despite Tilden’s edge in the popular vote, on a straight party line vote (including Garfield’s), a special Congressional commission awarded disputed elections in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina to Hayes, giving him 185 electoral votes to Tilden’s 184.

Opponents called Hayes “Rutherfraud.” Allegedly, Democrats did not dispute this outcome based on an agreement that Hayes would withdraw the remaining federal troops from the South, formally ending Reconstruction. Hayes did. In addition, he used federal troops to end the 1877 railroad strike and unsuccessfully campaigned for civil service reform. With his wife’s approval, he banned alcohol in the White House, earning her the nickname “Lemonade Lucy.” True to his campaign pledge, he served only one term.

James A. Garfield

James A. Garfield

The last president born in a log cabin (in Orange, now Moreland Hills), a graduate of Williams College, Garfield was a college president and Ohio state senator (rooming in Columbus with future fellow general, Jacob Cox) when the war began.

After being rebuffed in his attempts to be elected colonel of two Ohio volunteer regiments, he was appointed by the governor to head (and recruit) the 42nd OVI. With a small force of Ohio and Kentucky volunteers, Garfield defeated a similar Confederate force in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky in January 1862. This resulted in his promotion to Brigadier General, commanding a brigade in Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio. Serving as the rearguard, it was not engaged in the second day’s battle at Shiloh.

Elected to Congress in the fall of 1862, his next military assignment was to replace the chief of staff of the Army of the Cumberland (now commanded by William Rosecrans, former commander of the 23rd OVI), who had been killed at the battle of Stone’s River. Garfield was instrumental in the successful Tullahoma campaign that forced Braxton Bragg’s army out of Chattanooga. At Chickamauga, Garfield gained fame by leaving the departing Rosecrans, after Longstreet’s breakthrough on the second day, and riding to join George Thomas on Snodgrass Hill.

Promoted to Major General, Garfield resigned from the army in December 1863 to take his seat in Congress as its youngest member. A leader in the postwar Republican party, he became a dark horse compromise candidate at the 1880 Republican Chicago convention that denied Ulysses Grant a third presidential nomination. Instead, Garfield was nominated on the 36th ballot. His unlikely running mate was New Yorker Chester Arthur, the collector of customs previously fired by Hayes for incompetence and corruption.

Garfield barely beat former Union Civil War hero Winfield Scott Hancock in the popular vote, but easily won the electoral college vote. Garfield is the only minister and the only member of the U.S. House of Representatives ever directly elected president.

During his brief time as the 20th president, Garfield was occupied with the conflict between party patronage demands and reformer opposition. While awaiting a train in Washington, D.C., accompanied by Secretary of State James Blaine and Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, on July 2, 1881, Garfield was shot in the back by a disappointed office seeker, Charles Guiteau. Due to blood poisoning caused by his doctors’ probing for the bullet that entered his body, Garfield died after lingering for 79 days. Ironically, his successor – Chester Arthur, the party hack – signed the Pendleton Act, creating civil service reform.

Garfield is buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland. The Garfield Monument there was dedicated in 1890.

William McKinley

William McKinley

At the age of 18, William McKinley of Poland (near Youngstown) enlisted as a private in the regiment commanded by Rutherford B. Hayes – the 23rd OVI. Befriended by Hayes, McKinley, now a sergeant and quartermaster, gained renown at the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 by carrying rations under fire to Ambrose Burnside’s Ninth Corps. McKinley later became a staff officer, ending his military career in the Shenandoah Valley as a major.

Postwar, McKinley became a lawyer in Canton and then Stark County prosecutor. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives during 1877-1891. He was best known for the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890, arguably leading to the Democratic landslide election victory that year and causing the 1893 Depression.

McKinley was elected Ohio Governor in 1891 and left in 1896 to run for president, with Cleveland industrialist and U.S. Senator Mark Hanna as his campaign manager. Hanna was a powerful fundraiser and also employed new advertising techniques in McKinley’s successful front porch campaign against Democratic western populist William Jennings Bryan (who delivered the “Cross of Gold” speech arguing for a free silver currency standard).

The 25th president was the last Civil War veteran to hold this office. During his first term, despite his opposition to demands for the liberation of Cuba from the Spanish empire, after the sinking of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbor, McKinley presided over the Spanish-American War. This led to the conquest of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines by the U.S. In the Philippines, the U.S. then had to fight another war lasting 14 years to subdue native guerillas opposed to the American occupation. The United States also annexed Hawaii.

With war hero and former New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt as his new running mate, McKinley easily won re-election in 1900 over Bryan in a rematch. On September 5, 1901, at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, McKinley was shot at a public reception by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, a former Cleveland resident. He died from gangrene after complications from surgery eight days later, allowing Teddy Roosevelt to become president, to the great dismay of Mark Hanna. One of James Garfield’s sons served as the Secretary of the Interior under Roosevelt. In memory of McKinley who wore one daily, the red carnation was later named Ohio’s state flower.


Armstrong, William. 2000. Major McKinley: William McKinley & the Civil War. Kent State University Press.

Perry, James M. 2003. Touched With Fire: Five Presidents and the Civil War Battles That Made Them. New York: Public Affairs.

Peskin, Allan. 1978. Garfield: A Biography. Kent State University Press.

Williams, T. Harry. 1965. Hayes of the Twenty-third: The Civil War Volunteer Officer. New York: Knopf, Presidential Museums.

Click on any of the book links to purchase from Amazon. Part of the proceeds from any book purchased from Amazon through the CCWRT website is returned to the CCWRT to support its education and preservation programs.

Ulysses S. Grant in Georgetown, Ohio – The Indispensable Man’s Boyhood Home

By Daniel J. Ursu
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2017, All Rights Reserved

If you believe, as I and many others do, that the Civil War would not have been won by the North but for U.S. Grant, then a visit to his boyhood home in our own State of Ohio at Georgetown, about ten miles north of the Ohio River and 40 miles east of Cincinnati, will be inspiring, informative and worthwhile.

I made the trip on March 11, 2017 in conjunction with renowned Civil War historian Ed Bearss’ presentation to the U.S. Grant Homestead Association “Grant in the Wilderness” in Georgetown’s historic Gaslight Theater. This venue has become virtually a Mr. Bearss annual pilgrimage to Georgetown this time of year.

Ulysses S. Grant in 1843

On a sunshiny but brisk winter day sans snow, the small town was certainly evocative of what it must have been like during Grant’s childhood. In his Memoirs Grant states “I was born on the 27th of April, 1822, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio. In the fall of 1823 we moved to Georgetown, the county seat of Brown, the adjoining county east. This place remained my home until the age of seventeen, when in 1839, I went to West point.”

Smartly preserved, the two-story red brick home itself sits a few blocks from the town square at a slightly lower elevation relative to the square. It is open to the public. As told by Ulysses, his father Jesse R. Grant “carried on the manufacture of leather and worked at the trade himself” at the tannery, a stout, white structure that is now a private residence across the street, easily visible but not open to the public.

Ulysses S. Grant’s boyhood home in Georgetown, Ohio

Quite apparent from the visit: Ulysses himself did not enjoy tannery work at his father’s business. Paradoxically, scholars assert that his work at the family business created a lifelong aversion to bloodshed – ironic in light of his future role in command of Union Armies at many of the most violent battles of the Civil War. He was labeled by some of the press and other critics of the time as a “butcher.”

On view in Grant’s home are the original quarters and bedroom where the family slept, as well as a later addition in which Ulysses had his own bedroom. His father Jesse was in Grant’s words “from my earliest recollection, in comfortable circumstances, considering the times,” and the home is furnished and decorated with period objects reflective of that standing. A visitor can easily imagine sitting in one of the rooms in the early 1800s on the south side of the home and looking through windows at the scene of the tannery’s prosperous business activity unfolding across the street.

Two other themes of Grant’s early life stood out as part of visiting the home. First, U.S. Grant as a boy thoroughly enjoyed horses and became an expert equestrian – that being one of the only distinguishing features during a mostly lackluster academic career at West Point. In wartime, his personal mount figured prominently in at least two battles. At Belmont, Grant was courageously the last man at the end of an organized retreat as his troops evacuated down steep banks to the Mississippi River onto awaiting steamboats. Grant skillfully maneuvered his sliding horse bottom down on the bank and onto a single, narrow wooden plank – and then at a trot into the waiting vessel – all within firing range of Confederate General Polk and his troops. On another occasion, during an intense rainstorm at the start of the Battle of Shiloh, muddy footing unfortunately caused his mount to collapse and fall heavily on Grant’s foot. The injury necessitated that the General be on crutches for the remainder of the battle.

Second, young Grant also enjoyed the nearby Ohio River, escaping there for recreation whenever he could elude his duties at the tannery. He also must have observed the many commercial vessels using this all-important transportation artery of the time. I have been involved in many a discussion at our Roundtable on Grant’s prowess in amphibious operations and his strategic understanding of the use of rivers to his military advantage. This advanced level of skill was exceptional and unique for a non-naval military officer of the time. One cannot discount that his frequent boyhood trips to the Ohio River might well have subconsciously embedded this later war talent into his psyche.

Ulysses S. Grant (left) and Alexander Hays (right) in 1845 during their journey to Mexico to serve in the Mexican-American War

A statue of U.S. Grant proudly overlooks the town square where the North’s most important General and future 18th President must have passed on foot innumerable times. The statue is modest but impressive, much like the man himself.

Most of what can be seen in the Georgetown area related to U.S. Grant is nurtured by the previously mentioned U.S. Grant Homestead Association. The organization can be further explored online at If you visit Georgetown, check ahead as times vary when Grant’s home is open.

Related link:
U.S. Grant Boyhood Home Rededicated

Sources: (Click on any of the book links to purchase from Amazon. Part of the proceeds from any book purchased from Amazon through the CCWRT website is returned to the CCWRT to support its education and preservation programs.)

Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. I, Fort Sumter to Perryville, 1958; Vintage Books, a Division of Random House, New York, NY.

Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U.S .Grant & Selected Letters 1839-1865, 1990 edition; Library of America, New York, NY.

Wiley Sword, Shiloh: Bloody April, 1974, reprinted 1983; Morningside House, Inc., Dayton, OH.

Lincoln Visits Cleveland

By Dale Thomas
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2008, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Charger in the spring of 2002.

Abraham Lincoln at about the time of his trip to Cleveland

On the way to Washington, three days after his 53rd birthday, President-elect Abraham Lincoln stopped overnight in Cleveland for his only visit to the city. (Three days later in Montgomery, Alabama, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated President of the Confederacy.) To feel the immediacy of the times, the story is best told directly from the pages of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that was then an evening newspaper. These accounts are quoted over a two-day period beginning on Friday evening, February 15, 1861.

Here lies a people, who, in attempting to liberate the Negro, lost his or her own freedom.

As we go to press the city is astir in anticipation of the arrival of the President elect. Thousands of strangers are in from the country to greet him. He will leave the Pittsburgh train at Euclid depot, and will travel through the ‘Street of Palaces’ to the Public Square…

We are sorry that mud paves our streets and mutiny dwells in the camp of the Republicans on this occasion. The mud can be endured…but mutiny, which has been the death of the old Whig party, divided the Democratic Party, and now threatens the existence of the dominant party… Peace be with thee, Whigs and Wide Awakes! Let the President leave town and then– (!)

As the reader has already suspected, the Plain Dealer had little sympathy with the Republican Party in those bygone days.

“Flags are flying from the many liberty poles about the city. Numerous buildings are decorated with the stars and stripes and the streets look quite gay. The mud, however, is awful. The rain last night softened it up and some of the streets through which the procession will pass are a perfect mush. Some forty young Republicans are prepared to form an escort on horseback to Mr. Robert Lincoln, the ‘Prince of rails,’ in case the clouds are not too threatening.” The weather did not cooperate, but Lincoln’s eldest son still rode with them.

“A very flattering reception was given to the President-elect in this city, and we are happy to state by citizens, without respect of party… Euclid Street was alive with teams and people…and during a portion of the afternoon it alternately rained and snowed. Artillery and Dragoon [troops] were drawn up in line…The Grays were stationed to keep the platform and station house clear of the crowd. Mr. Lincoln alighted from the train… A smile illuminated his countenance as he passed through the crowd (a friend insists on calling it a disagreeable smirk) and he bowed stiffly and angularly as he passed along.”

Despite the weather, Lincoln rode with his wife and sons in an open carriage pulled by four white horses. The parade started at the railroad station where today East 55th Street crosses Euclid Avenue. Wagons carried workmen from local industries, “one of which bore a portrait of the President, and another this inscription, ‘We forge bonds for the Union.’ As the procession moved down Euclid Street, the throng was immense.”

Along the way, Lincoln stopped his carriage and climbed out to hear music performed by a brass band, and then, carried by her father, a little girl “presented Mr. Lincoln with a handsome bouquet for which he rewarded her with a kiss…”

The Weddell House Hotel where Lincoln spent his night in Cleveland. He addressed the crowd the next day from its second floor balcony.

When the procession arrived at the Weddell House both Bank and Superior streets were “densely thronged with people.” Lincoln, along with his family and entourage, spent the night in the Weddell House, the best hotel in Cleveland. Among those going to Washington, John Milton Hay, Lincoln’s assistant private secretary, later married a Clevelander and spent some time in the city before becoming Ambassador to Great Britain and then Secretary of State under William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Coming up from his wholesale business in the Flats, John D. Rockefeller probably stood in the rain like the others to hear Lincoln address the crowd. The Rockefeller Building, constructed by the Oil Tycoon in 1903, stands at the corner of Superior Avenue and West 6th Street where Lincoln spoke from a balcony in 1861. A plaque marks the historic spot of Lincoln’s speech, ignored by most pedestrians on their way to work or a football game.

“Fellow-citizens of Cleveland and Ohio,” Lincoln said, looking down at the crowd. “We have come here upon a very inclement afternoon. We have marched for two miles through the rain and mud. Your large numbers testify that you are in earnest about something. Do I desire that you should think this extreme earnestness is about me? I should be exceedingly sorry to see such devotion, if that were the case. But I know it is paid to something worth more than any one man, or any thousand, or ten thousand men—devotion to the Constitution; to the Union and the Laws; to the perpetual liberty of the people of this country… There is one feature that gives me great pleasure; and that is to learn that this reception is given, not alone by those with whom I chance to agree, politically, but by all parties… If Judge Douglas had been elected President of the United States, and had this evening been passing through your city, the Republicans ought, in the same manner, to have come out to receive him. If we don’t make common cause and save the good old ship, nobody will pilot hereafter.”

Lincoln finished his brief speech and then mingled with well-wishers. “The workmen at the Newburgh Rolling Mill presented Mr. Lincoln with a T-rail of their manufacture, which was courteously received.” Stepping forward, Mr. McIlrath turned around and “backed up to Lincoln’s back, and reaching over patted the President elect on the head, saying ‘I am taller than the President.’”

Besides reporting on the celebrations, the Plain Dealer made note of other occurrences at the corner of Bank and Superior.

“The ardent and admiring devotees of ‘Old Abe’ gave him more attention than they did their pockets last night…” Among those who were robbed was “E. F. Gaylord, gold watch ($125) and cash ($50)… We will report the rest when they come in. No Democrats in the above list.”

“Saturday was as fine a day as could be desired for the trip of the Presidential party to Buffalo and formed a delightful contrast to the previous day… There was a very large crowd at the depot when the train started, to whom Mr. Lincoln waived an adieu from the rear platform.”

A band played “Hail Columbia” amidst shouts of “Goodbye Uncle Abe” and “God bless you.” When the train pulled out of the station, like an omen of things to come, “Wm. Hazen had his hand shot off whilst firing a salute.”

The Underground Railroad in Ohio

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2019-2020, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the December 2019 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.

Our speaker this evening will be focusing on Colored Troops during the Civil War. As many of you know, he also portrays a personage involved with the Underground Railroad. So, it seemed a natural for this evening’s history brief to focus on the Underground Railroad and especially in Ohio.

The Underground Railroad can trace its beginnings to 1804. A system for runaway slaves to escape the South was begun by General Thomas Boude, who served in the Revolutionary War and purchased a slave named Stephen Smith and brought him to Columbia, Pennsylvania. Stephen was soon followed by his mother, who had escaped to find her son. A few weeks later the slaveowner appeared and demanded the return of her slaves. The Boudes refused, and when the other townsfolk gave their support, it was decided going forward as a town to champion the cause of fugitive slaves.

By 1815, this sentiment had spread to Ohio, and soon methods were being explored to help slaves escape. The term “Underground Railroad” came into usage about 1831. There were many secret “roads” along the Ohio River to rescue slaves. At this time, a slave named Tice Davids eluded his pursuers along the Ohio River near Ripley, Ohio southeast of Cincinnati. Davids dove into the water with his slaveowner following close behind in a rowboat, but Davids disappeared from view. The owner became frustrated and gave up his search, stating that Davids “must have gone off on an underground road.”

The Rankin house in Ripley, Ohio
Owned by ardent abolitionist, John Rankin, the Rankin house was one of the most famous stations on the Underground Railroad and is now a National historic Landmark.

This term caught on. In about 1835, antislavery workers began using this metaphor and started to use railroad terminology for their activities: tracks, trains, agents, stationmasters, conductors and stations. Paths of escape were labeled “tracks.” Helpers were known as “conductors” or “stationmasters.” Groups of runaways were “trains,” and homes for hiding them were “stations” or “depots.”

The Underground Railroad was begun by what we call today a “grass roots” movement. But, when professional slave catchers were sent to recover runaway slaves, the system became an elaborate network of secret contacts between free blacks and white sympathizers to move runaways safely and efficiently to the North and then to Canada. However, it could not become an organized business because of the fact that its activities were technically “illegal.”

Branches of escape existed in every state, but extensive networks blossomed in Ohio due to its central location on the Mason-Dixon Line and its border with two important slave states of Virginia and Kentucky. In part because of this geography, Ohio became one of the most successful Underground Railroad states. The Ohio River was extremely important to runaways, and over half of them used it. There were 23 railroad access locations along the Ohio, five departure points on Lake Erie and about 3,000 miles of track in between. Ohioans were credited with operating one of the most effective systems for aiding runaways and was especially critical to those in and coming through Kentucky.

Map showing routes on the Underground Railroad
The extensive network of Underground Railroad tracks in Ohio can be seen.
Map compiled from The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom by Wilbur H. Siebert.

Ohio’s importance was also borne out by statistics. The total known voluntary railroad workers in the North numbered about 3,200, and roughly 1,500 of those were in Ohio – nearly 50%! Major stations were in Marion, Mansfield and Salem with numerous smaller stations throughout the state.

A monument to the Underground Railroad in Oberlin, Ohio
Oberlin played a prominent role in abolitionism and in the Underground Railroad.
No runaway slave in Oberlin was ever returned to bondage.

At first, most runaways were men, but later many women also escaped. Travel was usually by foot, but when women and children started appearing in greater numbers, escorts and vehicles were provided. Conductors carried the runaways in covered wagons, closed carriages and farm wagons specially equipped with hidden compartments. Some were even put in boxes and shipped as freight by rail or boat. Movement usually took place at night for security. When traveling by foot, fugitives were guided by the North Star or the many northward tributaries of the Ohio River. Stations had to be relatively close to make the journey during a night’s long march.

The Cozad-Bates House in Cleveland, Ohio
The Cozad-Bates House reputedly was a station on the Underground Railroad.

For instance, about 16 abolitionists from Salem, Ohio established their homes as stations. Many used secret rooms, hidden staircases, root cellars, false walls and basements to conceal fugitives. Church members were heavily involved, although because of the illegal nature of the endeavor, the churches themselves were not formally involved. For instance in Salem, the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, Wesleyan Methodists and Presbyterian churches had important members in what was known in Salem as the “Western Anti-Slavery Society” headquartered in Salem. Members provided shelter, clothing, food, medical care and transport for black fugitives.

An antislavery newspaper began in nearby Lisbon in June of 1845 and was soon transferred to Salem in September. It was called the “Anti-Slavery Bugle” with its motto “No Union With Slaveholders.” The final issue came out on May 4, 1861, fittingly 22 days after the start of shelling on Fort Sumter and the beginning of the Civil War itself.

Related link:
The Southbound Underground Railroad