Bragg vs. Rosecrans at Stones River, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

By Dale Thomas
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2001, 2008, All Rights Reserved

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

The Battle of Stones River took place between December 31, 1862 and January 2, 1863. The fighting started as it had at Shiloh, the previous spring, and the casualties were similar. On the morning of New Year’s Eve, the Confederate attack surprised the Federals who were still eating breakfast. The map shows the course of the fighting during that first, bloody day. The next day saw little significant fighting, but there was no celebrating of New Year’s Day. The two armies held their ground and tended to the wounded and dead.

William S. Rosecrans

On the third day, Thomas and McCook remained in position, while Crittenden was now across the river, occupying the high ground in front of Breckinridge. Hardee and Polk were approximately where they had been at the end of fighting on the first day. Surprised that Rosecrans had not withdrawn, Bragg ordered Breckinridge to attack Crittenden. Overwhelmed and outnumbered, Crittenden’s forces retreated back across the river, but Federal artillery, high above the western bank, fired shot, shell, and canister on the Confederates who fell back after suffering heavy losses. The three-day battle ended with the Federals reoccupying the heights on the east side of Stones River.

The Battle of Stones River
Braxton Bragg

Although tactically indecisive, the Battle of Stones River was strategically a victory for the Union. The casualties on both sides totaled over 23,000 wounded, missing, and dead. After Bragg’s withdrawal from Murfreesboro, Rosecrans’ army was now in control of middle Tennessee. In need of good news after the defeat at Fredericksburg, Lincoln wrote to Rosecrans:

“(Y)ou gave us a hard-earned victory, which had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

In the Preface of his book, Stones River – Bloody Winter in Tennessee, James Lee McDonough wrote: “I was born, raised, and have lived most of my life within thirty miles of Stones River. Nevertheless, I had visited many of the famous battlefields of the Civil War before I ever tramped around the lines at Murfreesboro.” An understanding of the author’s comments can be most appreciated if you visit the battlefield today. Unlike Shiloh, where the isolation from urbanization has preserved the natural terrain, the diminutive site of Stones River has lost most of its historic topography.

Stones River National Battlefield contains only 570 acres of the nearly 4,000 acres that make up the original battleground. The land within the National Park is traced on the map with broken lines. The largest area includes the National Cemetery, where nearly half of the 6,000 dead are unknown, and the site where Thomas, commanding the Federal Center, stopped the Confederate attack on the first day. To the northeast, a smaller parcel of land contains the site of the Federal artillery that was so decisive on the last day.

What remains of Fortress Rosecrans, constructed after the battle to guard supply lines, is preserved in an area in the southeastern portion of the map. It was the largest earthen fortification built during the Civil War, but today only a remnant of the 14,000-foot wall has survived.

Almost 140 years after the battle, the land immediately to the west of the National Park is gradually being developed. The region to the south is still relatively empty, but if you travel east on the Wilkinson (Manson) Pike, the “Battleground Estates” occupy the position held by Polk at the start of fighting on the first day.

Murfreesboro’s commercial and residential development has claimed a large portion of the battlefield east of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad tracks (CSX Transportation). Beneath the urban sprawl lies much of the ground where Breckinridge lost 1,800 dead and wounded soldiers to Federal artillery. The Hazen Monument, oldest intact memorial of the Civil War, stands near the Round Forest and alongside railroad tracks that divide past from the present — gas stations, car dealerships, and fast food restaurants.

The Battle of Stones River was tactically a draw. Nevertheless, in August of 2000, urbanization, the result of Yankee commercial and industrialization since Reconstruction, appears to be the clear winner as you leave the National Park and drive north to Interstate Highway 24.

Related link:
Stones River National Battlefield

Click on the book link 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.

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.

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.”