Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Brothers in Cumberland's Iron Brigade

The full text of an entry I wrote for The Ninth Ohio: A Living History....

Brothers in Cumberland’s Iron Brigade

The 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry had not seen the elephant.  Missing out on Mill Springs (having been left in the rear at Somerset), not present at Shiloh or Stones River, the regiment’s service thus far had been marching, foraging, and guarding railroads, but no battlefield experience.  While on the field at Perryville with the rest of the brigade, the 35th arrived so late in the evening of October 8th as to have suffered no casualties, while the brigade only suffered 8 casualties.  Therefore, unlike the seasoned Germans of the 9th Ohio, and the experienced men of the 2nd Minnesota, the 35th was still an unknown battlefield quantity.  That would change at Chickamauga in September 1863, two years after the regiment was formed.

The 35th was raised from four Ohio counties – Butler, Warren, Preble, and Montgomery.  Over half the regiment was from Butler County, two companies from Warren, and one company from Montgomery and a company and part of another from Preble County (where the author’s third great uncle Daniel W. Cooper joined Company G before transferring to Company C as a corporal).   The regiment formed at Camp Hamilton at the Butler County Fairgrounds before moving to a more suitable location just north of downtown Hamilton.  

When the 35th marched off to war in September 1861, it was to move into northern Kentucky and guard the Kentucky Central Railroad near Cynthiana.  Being one of the first Ohio regiments in the Bluegrass State, it did not even have its National colors, something that the few pro-Union ladies of Cynthiana would rectify when they stitched and presented to Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer the 35th’s first National flag.  

Henry V. Boynton
Serving alongside the 9th Ohio for nearly three years the two regiments formed strong bonds.  Even before the 35th had proven its worth there was a camaraderie between the men.  Given the fact that approximately fifty men from Butler County were in the 9th, that many of the men in the 35th were of German heritage, and the close proximity between Cincinnati and Hamilton, it is natural that a strong bond would develop.  In March 1862 the men of the 9th and 35th were told to arm themselves with clubs and participate in a rabbit hunt.  The plan was to drive the rabbits towards the Cumberland River where then the men would be able to capture a great number of them.  Things did not go as well as planned, but the 35th apparently captured many more rabbits than the 9th.  Good-natured ribbing came about as a result, leading Robert McCook, first colonel of the 9th and now in command of the brigade, to remark to the 35th’s Major Henry Boynton, “That’s quite natural.  Your men are a set of darned hounds.  Of course you can catch rabbits.”

However, as friendly as the two regiments might have been, courtesies halted when it came to sharing certain delicacies.  While near Corinth the 9th’s sutler, knowing full well the proclivities of his unit, had ordered a large supply of sauerkraut and beer for which the 9th planned to use for a celebration.  The 9th invited the 35th to share in the sauerkraut, as Benjamin Arnold of the 35th recalled “The Thirty-fifth always stood in with the Ninth, so far as doing duty, fighting, and eating were concerned.  But when it came to beer, we were not in the deal.  So they gave us a generous share of the kraut, but when it came to the lager, they said, ‘Nein.’”

The 35th supported the 9th during the aftermath of the murder of Robert McCook, killed by guerillas while riding ill in an ambulance.  After finding out about McCook’s demise, the 9th went on a rampage, hanging locals that had been pointed out as participants, burning many homes and buildings as well.  It was Ferdinand Van Derveer who finally was able to bring order back o the 9th, but being sympathetic to the 9th’s action, would write “The rebels have been made to pay dearly for this, we burned every house within three miles of this place.”

Music was an important part of the soldier life.  When the regimental band was discharged in early 1863, there were still enough musicians in the regiment to be given a tent to practice and play.  When the 35th’s band wasn’t engaged, music often would come from the 2nd Minnesota’s noted bugle band, or the 9th’s musicians.  The 9th even enlisted privates as musicians, and the regiment made up the difference in pay for these men, as musicians were paid more than a private.

Regimental flag of the 35th presented later in the war
In the months following Stones River, Van Derveer took the opportunity to drill his men as a brigade, building an identity and a bond for every unit in the brigade.  While the 35th and 9th were on friendly terms, the 35th was not as close to the 2nd Minnesota or the later arriving 87th Indiana.  This period allowed the individual regiments to become a closely-knit brigade, allowing Van Derveer to state “Mine is acknowledged to be one, if not the best brigade in the Army of the Cumberland—But it won’t do to brag.”

I won’t go into the details of the Battle of Chickamauga but rather refer the reader to David Powell’s excellent trilogy that covers the campaign and battle.  But I will mention a few items of note.  Van Derveer’s Brigade was heavily engaged on both September 19th and 20th, being part of the defense of Snodgrass hill on the latter date.  While there were many heroic efforts made by other Federal brigades at Chickamauga, Van Derveer’s men were used repeatedly to engage the Confederates, and the brigade’s training and comradeship was exemplified through its actions and casualty lists.  At Chickamauga the 35th would lose 64 men on September 19th (killed, wounded, missing, and captured), while suffering an additional 84 men the next day, mostly in defense of the Snodgrass Hill area (where the author’s ancestor was wounded).  The 35th have seen the elephant, and had risen to the occasion.

The 35th would go on to additional glory at Missionary Ridge in November 1863 where the regiment suffered the loss of an additional 16 men.  They would continue to serve through the beginning phases of the Atlanta Campaign, from Resaca to Peach Tree Creek, and then would muster out of service on September 27th, 1864.  Men who had joined the regiment later would transfer to the 18th Ohio Infantry.

The legacy of the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry lives on in one way – Ferdinand Van Derveer and Henry Boynton were visiting the Chickamauga battlefield after the war, and while walking the ground of the actions, discussed preserving the ground for the future.  This idea would morph into the Chickamauga National Battlefield, and Henry Boynton, leader of the 35th at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge (where he would be wounded and earned a Medal of Honor), would serve as a park commissioner and be the leading force on determining where the various monuments would be placed.  If there was any question about his pride in the 35th, just look at the prominent location its monument holds on Snodgrass Hill.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

An overdue post as part of my Ohio at Perryville series....

35th Regiment Infantry. Organized at Hamilton, Ohio, and mustered in September 20th, 1861.  Moved to Covington, Kentucky, September 26th.  Assigned to guard duty along the Kentucky Central Railroad.  Headquarters at Cynthiana, until November.  At Paris, Kentucky until December.  Attached to 3rd Brigade, Army of the Ohio, November-December, 1861.  3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Army of the Ohio, to September, 1862.  3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps, Army of the Ohio, to November, 1862.  3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, Center 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to January, 1863.  3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to October, 1863.  2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 14th Army Corps, to August, 1864.

Organized by Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer in August and September of 1861. It served in Kentucky and in 1862 served in Tennessee and at Perryville.  The regiment fought at Chickamauga losing nearly 50% of its men while being one of the last regiments to leave Horseshoe Ridge.  It charged Missionary Ridge (where Henry V. Boynton earned a Medal of Honor) and served under Thomas in the Atlanta Campaign, taking part in the battles of Dalton, Resaca, Pine Mountain, Kennesaw, Peachtree Creek and several other engagements of that campaign.  The 35th mustered out of service in August, 1864, at Chattanooga. 

Counties Recruited From: Company A - Warren; Company B - Butler; Company C - Preble; Company D - Butler; Company E - Preble; Company F - Warren; Company G - Butler; Company H - Montgomery; Company I - Butler; Company K - Butler.

Strength -  Unknown.  0 killed, 0 wounded, 4 missing.

Commander - Ferdinand Van Derveer (Colonel). Born February 27th, 1823 in Middletown, Ohio.  He was educated at Farmer's Collage in Cincinnati, and had a law practice prior to the war.  He served in the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Mexican-American War, and served as a second in a duel between Carr B. White and James Perry Fyffe during the return to Ohio (both of the duelists would serve as colonels during the Civil War).  Van Derveer would resume his law practice and serve as Butler County sheriff.  He became colonel of the 35th OVI on September 24th, 1861.  He mustered out with the 35th, after serving as brigade commander.  In January 1865 he was reappointed in the army with the rank of brigadier general and commanded a brigade in the IV Corps until resigning in June of that same year.  He returned once again to his law practice,  and would serve as judge in the county court of common pleas.  Van Derveer would pass away on November 5th, 1892.  He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton, Ohio, along with dozens of his former comrades from the 35th.  Van Derveer was instrumental in the early efforts to memorialize Chickamauga as a national park.

Weapons - .69 caliber smoothbore muskets.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Medal of Honor Recipient - Close to Home

Exploring cemeteries and finding stories has been a more recent interest of mine, so forgive me for not visiting a Medal of Honor recipient that lives within a mile from where I live (as the crows flies).  Today I decided that a) I desperately needed some exercise, and b) it was a perfect opportunity to walk to the local cemetery where this man rests.

Born in 1843 in Lautenberg, in West Prussia, today part of Poland, David Urbansky (or the roster as Orbansky) emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 15.  His stated profession was cabinetmaker.  After living in New York for several years, Urbansky moved to Columbus, Ohio.

On October 28, 1861, six months after the war began, Urbansky enlisted as a corporal in the Fifty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a regiment that was under the command of Colonel Valentine Bausenwein.  (Most of Urbansky’s Company B was German speaking)

Colonel Bausenwein - picture from Ohio in the Civil War
Urbansky’s war records shows that he saw action in at least fifteen battles.  These included Fort Donelson and Shiloh.  At Chickasaw Bayou, the Fifty-Eighth participated in the one of the earliest attacks on Vicksburg, the last remaining Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.  When his superior officer was badly wounded, and stranded in no-man’s land, Urbansky, who was all of five feet three inches tall, came to his aid and, braving heavy fire, carried him back to safety.  The officer survived.  I am still researching to see who that officer might have been but I believe it was Captain Ferdinand Fix who was wounded on December 29th, 1862.

After the war, Urbansky, whose commander Captain Louis Keller, praised him as “a man of honor and bravery,” became one of 134 Ohio soldiers to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the country’s highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor in action against an enemy force, and one of only six Jewish Union soldiers to receive the recognition.  Today, Urbansky’s medal is in the collection of the National Jewish Archives, in Cincinnati.

Urbansky was discharged from the army with the rank of private (having been reduced to the ranks on April 8th, 1862, the day after Shiloh), on January 14th, 1865.  He then applied for, and quickly was granted, American citizenship.  A short time later, he married Rachel Henry, from Schenectady, New York.  They made their home, and raised their 12 children, in Piqua, a small city east of Dayton, Ohio, where David owned a successful clothing store.

After a long illness, Urbansky died, and was buried in the Cedar Hill Jewish cemetery in Piqua.  After his death, Rachel and her children moved to Cincinnati and shortened the family name to Urban.  She died in 1925, and after her burial in the Walnut Hills United Jewish Cemetery, David’s remains were re-interred by her side.

Unlike many Civil War soldiers who received their Medals of Honor through political patronage in the late 1800s, Urbansky's medal was awarded on August 2, 1879.  "The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Private David Orbansky, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in 1862 & 1863, while serving with Company B, 58th Ohio Infantry, in action at Shiloh, Tennessee & Vicksburg, Mississippi, for gallantry in actions."

Pretty cool, yes?

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Colonels of Spring Grove - William Hopkins Lathrop

As I continue to do research into various Civil War topics, I stumble across other stories and people.  I thought I had covered all the "full bird" colonels buried in Spring Grove, then come across a Confederate (covered in a previous post), and now another colonel, who commanded the 111th U.S.C.T. and died during the war.

Colonel William H. Lathrop was born May 4th, 1833 in New York and was living in Cincinnati before the start of the Civil War.  Lathrop was first commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant with the 39th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and was eventually promoted to Major.  He was later assigned to the 3rd Alabama U.S. Colored Infantry as a field officer.  The unit was later consolidated into the 111th U.S. Colored Infantry.  Lathrop attained the rank of Colonel when the 111th U.S.C.T. was formed in June 1864.  The regiment was involved in action at Pulaski, Tennessee and then ordered to defend captured territory near a railroad line at Athens, Alabama.  The soldiers built an earthworks fort that they were forced to defend when attacked by Confederate General Nathan B. Forrest.  A sharp fight erupted on September 24th that carried into the following morning.  The black soldiers feared capture to Forrest knowing that he and his men ruthlessly murdered the black soldiers who surrendered at Fort Pillow in April in what was labeled as a massacre.  Colonel Lathrop was either killed in the battle trying to defend the garrison and save his men from slaughter or died of disease at Camp Dennison, the latter indicated on the roster of the 111th.  Despite his courageous attempts the fort was eventually surrendered the following day and most of the Union defenders were captured (this action is known as the Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle).  Lathrop was initially buried near the scene of the battle but was removed and brought back to his home in Cincinnati where he was buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in March 1865. 

William H. Lathrop is buried in Section 46, Lot 30.

Friday, February 7, 2020

More on the 59th OVI

Lieutenant Colonel Granville Adolphus Frambes
I've been able to get out the last couple of weeks and find some of the gravesites of men from the 59th in Brown and Clermont Counties, east of Cincinnati.  The Find A Grave virtual cemetery for the 59th is up to 287 names now.  As I look to add pictures to Find A Grave for those men without one, I often come across other 59th OVI men in the same cemetery that I did not have on my list, an it just adds to the enjoyment of this project.  I've also been going through the 59th's roster and adding men to the list, but that often takes some effort using a few resources.  The men of the 59th, for the most part, have Anglo last names and very common first names, so searching, especially when one does not have a date of death, can be problematic.  

I am also doing some research through old newspapers with accounts of the 59th.  One source mentioned an interesting tidbit that I hope to verify - that during the election of 1863 70 of the 300 or so men who voted in the 59th that election selected Clement Vallandigham instead of John Brough for governor.  This was unusual as the vast majority of Ohio men serving in the war voted for Brough.  This election result of the 59th was reported in The Daily Gate City (in Keokuk, Iowa) on November 3rd, 1863.  If another source can be found to verify this result, it would indicate that the men of the 59th were a mixed group when it came to political persuasion and then finding out why some voted for Vallandigham would also make an interesting story.

The fine folks at Stones River National Battlefield have provided me with their file on the 59th.  There are some letters written by men of the 59th that I need to go through.  I soon hope to have the 59th's files from Shiloh and Chickamauga as well.  Putting these together will help determine if there is enough interesting material to write a regimental history of the 59th.  

More on the 59th to come as I continue to plug away!

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Colonels of Spring Grove - Philip Noland Luckett

Flag of the 3rd Texas Infantry, commissioned by citizens of Brownsville, said to have been sewn in Havana, Cuba
Tucked away in Section 36 of Spring Grove lies yet one additional colonel, Philip Noland Luckett.  His story is a bit different than the other colonels I have discussed at Spring Grove, in that he was a Confederate.  Yes Virginia, there are Confederate soldiers within Spring Grove.  Many of the Confederates buried there came from Camp Dennison, where they were being treated for wounds while being held as prisoners of war.  Those that died were buried initially at Camp Dennison before being moved to Spring Grove.

Luckett is an interesting character.  Born in Augusta County, Virginia in 1824 (some accounts say 1823), and by age six was living in Chillicothe, where his father served as county recorder.  The younger Luckett attended West Point in 1841, but left before graduating.  By 1847 Philip had moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where he would act as a surgeon in the Texas Rangers, having attended the University of Louisville Medical School some time before his move to Texas but after his exit from West Point.  

In January 1861, Luckett was voted to represent Webb and Nueces Counties in the state secession convention.  He was noted as "a handsome man...well informed and agreeable, but most bitter against the Yankees."  He would help negotiate the surrender of Federal forces in Texas, then serve as quartermaster and commissary general of the state.  By the fall of 1861 Luckett would form the 3rd Texas Infantry Regiment where he would serve as its colonel.  The 3rd did not see much action during the war, having stayed in the Lone Star State during the course of the war.  In a stop at Houston in 1863, the city's residents remarked that the Third was "the best drilled regiment in the state."  Arthur Fremantle, during a tour of Texas in April 1863, would remark:

Lieutenant-Colonel Buchel* is the working man of the corps, as he is a professional soldier.  The men were well clothed, though great variety existed in their uniforms. Some companies wore blue, some grey, some had French kepis, others wideawakes and Mexican hats. They were a fine body of men, and really drilled uncommonly well. They went through a sort of guardmounting parade in a most creditable manner. About a hundred out of a thousand were conscripts.​
During all my travels in the South I never saw a regiment so well clothed or so well drilled as this one, which has never been in action, or been exposed to much hardship.​

Luckett's pistol, presented by the citizens of Bexar County in 1861
In June 1863 Luckett was made an "acting" brigadier and commanded the Eastern Sub-District of Texas.  

In April 1864 the 3rd Texas was assigned to Brig. Gen. William R. Scurry's brigade of Walker's Texas Division.  After Scurry was killed at the Battle of Jenkins Ferry, Luckett took command of the brigade.

After the war Luckett fled to Mexico.  Returning to Texas in November 1865, Luckett was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana.  Pardoned some months later, Luckett remained in New Orleans.  His ever-delicate health shattered, he was unable to engage in business.  After his release he remained for a time in New Orleans before joining relatives in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Luckett died of bronchial disease on May 21, 1869 in the suburb of Avondale.

Luckett is buried in Section 36, Lot 57.

*Augustus Buchel, a lieutenant colonel in the Third, was a Hessian soldier who fought in the Carlist War in Spain and was knighted by Queen Maria Christina for his bravery in battle. He fought in the Turkish army and served in the Mexican War after arriving in Texas in 1845. He died while attached to a different regiment at Pleasant Hill. 


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