Thursday, May 28, 2020

The First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Its Impact on the Civil War - Part II

Some additional notables who served in the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Mexican War.

August V. Kautz - West Point 1852.  Colonel 2nd Ohio Cavalry, later brigadier general and led a division in the Army of the James.  Major general of volunteers.  Served on the board that investigated the Lincoln assassination conspirators.

Ferdinand Van Derveer - Colonel of the 35th OVI, later brigadier general.

George P. Webster - Major in the 25th OVI, Colonel of the 98th Ohio, and killed in battle at Perryville.  Ancestor of former FBI director William Webster.

Carr B. White - Colonel of the 12th OVI.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pioneer Cemetery

Close by to where I now work is Cincinnati's oldest cemetery.  Known variously as Columbia Church Baptist, Columbia Pioneer, and Pioneer Memorial, it is the final resting place for 180 people, including Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War veterans.  Maintained (poorly I might add) by the Cincinnati Parks Department, the cemetery is located across from Lunken Airport.  It has honeysuckle invading the fence lines, garlic mustard in patches, stones that need to be reset, other stones that need to be cleaned, and a regular and effective mowing schedule.  I have reached out to the parks three times now to suggest a friends group be formed, but no reply from our beloved city employees.

There are also newer veteran stones at the cemetery, placed in a plot near the walkway leading to the steps.  This was a project done by a local young man, who also was able to designate two parking places for wounded veterans.  Alas, two of the stones have incorrect information, and they are just placed on the ground, and there is a larger memorial stone with information about the groups involved in getting these newer stones placed.  After three attempts to reach out to them about the plan for these stones and this plot, and the fact that two of them are incorrect, I finally received a very non-committal reply about how they did the research (poorly as the men with incorrect stones are listed correctly on their older veterans stones, and a check of the rosters verifies this, as well as their graves registration cards), and nothing about the plan for the stones.  Terrible.

There will be more posts on this cemetery as I work on trying to get more awareness going and try to create some sort of support organization.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Its Impact on the Civil War - Part I

During the Mexican-American War Ohio raised five infantry regiments along with fifteen companies, as well as provided troops for the 15th United States Infantry and the Mounted Riflemen.  Reading through the various rosters is like a Who's Who of minor Civil War personalities, but perhaps none more so than the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment.  I might surmise that this single regiment of volunteers may have had a legacy unlike any other volunteer unit from the Mexican War.

Here are a few of the men who had an impact during the Civil War.  More in Part II.

James P. Fyffe - Colonel of the 59th OVI, led a brigade at Stones River.

James George - Colonel of the 2nd Minnesota.

Thomas L. Hamer - While Hamer did not survive the Mexican War, he did leave a lasting legacy.  It was Congressman Hamer who nominated one Hiram Ulysses Grant to West Point.

James F. Harrison - Colonel of the 11th OVI.  West Point 1845.  Was with President William Henry Harrison when he died, as well as William H. Lytle when he was mortally wounded at Chickamauga.  

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Mexican-American War Fish Story

Flag of Company D, Edward Hamilton, Captain.
In doing some research for the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry today, I came across two accounts of a fight that took place between the volunteers from Ohio, and their comrades in arms, but not apparently comrades in fish, from Baltimore.  From the Niles National Register we have first the story from the Marylanders' point of view:

The following letter is from the camp of the Baltimore volunteers on the Rio Grande:

Camp Belknap, August 2, 1846.

Our battalion is joined to one from Ohio, which forms a regiment, and this in connection with two other regiments from Ohio, comprises a brigade. There are also regiments from Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee, quartered at this same camp, which is situated on a high bluff of land, from which we can see thousands of tents, and hear the drums beating the reveille.

Yesterday, Lafayette Hands, Andrew Metteer, and some of our boys went over to Barita, and returned in rather high spirits. As they were returning home, some one gave Andrew Metteer a catfish, which Col. Mitchell, of Ohio, who is Colonel of the whole brigade, claimed as his own, and ordered three of his men to take it from him. On the men seizing him, in compliance with the orders of their commander, Metteer drew a dagger and stabbed two of them. Colonel Mitchell then rushed on Metteer with a drawn sword and inflicted several severe gashes on his head, from the effects of which he fell as if dead. Layafette Hands then seized the Colonel, wrested his sword from him, and chased him with it for some distance around the camp, until another sword was handed him, when they had a regular sword fight, lasting some minutes, until the Colonel's sword broke, and he again ran, finally escaping to his own quarters. He then gave immediate orders for his men to turn out, armed with ball cartridge, when out Captain gave similar orders, and marched the Chesapeakes down to meet them. When we arrived, Captain Stuart, who in the absence ordered out the battalion, and we were all full of fight, and I verily believe that our 600 Baltimorians could have whipped the whole 2 500 Ohioans. Dan Wells had taken dead aim at the Colonel, and would have blown him sky high, had it not been for Charles Ehrman, who struck his musket. The Colonel then claimed the command of the whole brigade, and ordered us to out camp, which order we were compelled to obey. Colonel Watson was at Barita, where we immediately sent after him, and on his arrival he started for the camp of Colonel Mitchell, to demand an exploration of his conduct. On his arrival there, however, he was told that the Colonel had started for Matamoras to report to Gen. Taylor, but Colonel Watson is now after him, and I do not know how the spree will end.

And the perspective of one Buckeye:

The Ohio State Journal publishes the following letter from one of the Ohio volunteers in the army in Mexico:

Dear Brother:

Be not the least surprised if you should see me in Cincinnati in the course of six weeks.  When I volunteered it was to fight, and not to be idle for a year.  But I now find the regulars are to be able to defend any post of danger.  Gen. Taylor says that one regular is worth five volunteers, and that he only wants volunteers for a stand-by.  It would seem that we are kept merely to do the drudgery; and such is the case.

We had quite an affair a short time since.  Colonel Mitchell as commandant of this post, ordered a volunteer from Baltimore to bring him something.  The volunteer pained no attention to his order.  Our colonel then commanded him a second time to perform the service.  The volunteer turned upon his heel, and replied that "he would see him d--d first."  I was close by doing duty, when Col. M. ordered me and five other cadets to arrest the Baltimorean.  He immediately placed himself in a defensive position, and drew a knife, swearing at the same time that he would cut the first man that dared to come near him.  Lieut. Col. Weller then approached and ordered us to "stand back"when all party got to fighting.  So you see we have had one fight at least.

Our whole regiment and the Baltimore regiment were then all ordered out.  But as we had but sic men on the ground, and as the colonel's tent was about two miles from our encampment, out colonel was disarmed and carried to the ground by a superior number of stout fellows, where they laid him down.  Two of them were about to stab him, when I backed by our boys, jumped into the melee and released our commander from the ruffians.  By this time the field was full of soldiers and the Baltimoreans left.  I presume the case will undergo investigation.

Affectionately your brother,
A. Moss

Fish story aside the First Ohio did become involved in battle of Monterey, sans fish.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Fighting Kautzs - Albert

Albert Kautz in 1870
While not as famous as his brother August, Albert would serve with some distinction during the Civil War and beyond.

Albert Kautz was born in Georgetown, Ohio on January 29th, 1839, one of seven children of Johann Georg and Dorothea and the youngest son.  When Albert was five, the family moved to Levanna (near Ripley, Ohio) where they grew grapes on the hills for wine and tobacco on the river bottoms.

Albert entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland at the age of fifteen in 1854 and graduated as the Civil War began in the spring of 1861.  He received a leave and returned to Brown County to visit family and friends.  While home some local families asked Albert to teach their daughters how to properly use firearms.  Being so close to the Ohio River and the slave state of Kentucky many people thought everyone should be able to defend themselves and their property.  Kautz became enamored with and later married one of the ladies he was teaching, Mary Ester Hemphill, of Ripley.  She was the sister of Joseph Hemphill who would also become an admiral in the U.S. Navy.

On June 20th, 1861, Kautz was serving on the USS Flag.  The Flag was part of the naval blockade off the coast of Savannah, Georgia.  The Flag captured the Confederate blockade runner Hannah Balch and Kautz was ordered to sail her to Philadelphia as a prize of war.  On June 25th, the Hannah Balch was in turn captured by the more powerful Confederate privateer, CSS Coffee.  Albert and his six crewmen were taken as prisoners of war and held until November of 1861.  Only 22 years old at the time of his capture, Kautz developed a system of exchange that would allow the return of Union prisoners for Confederate prisoners and vice versa.  He received a parole and had talks with the leaders of both sides, including Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln.  He eventually put in place the exchange policy that would free thousands of prisoners throughout the war.  In his case, Kautz was released with 368 enlisted men and two other officers for the similar number of Confederate prisoners.  One of the other Union officers was Lieutenant. John L. Worden of USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia fame.

Kautz's next duty was aboard Admiral Farragut’s flagship the USS Hartford in the Gulf of Mexico.  Kautz took an active part in the attack and surrender of New Orleans. He was part of the landing party when Farragut ordered the mayor (John Monroe) to lower the Louisiana state flag from the top of the Customs House roof.  Monroe refused, citing fear of the angry crowd as his reason.  Kautz volunteered to remove the flag and with the escort of marines pushed their way through the ‘howling crowd’. Once atop the Customs House, Kautz lowered the Louisiana flag and replaced it with the United States flag.  In Kautz’s words, “The crowd grew more active and as our landing party only numbered three officers, fifteen sailors, and a dozen marines we were victorious but retreated hastily to the Hartford.”

Kautz was given his own command and promoted to lieutenant commander shortly after the New Orleans adventure.  As master of the steam sloop Juniata he captured the much larger British steamer Victor off Havana, Cuba on May 28th, 1863.  The Victor was carrying supplies bound for the Confederate Army.

His next promotion was as the commander of the USS Winooski.  The Winooski was in Farragut’s fleet that attacked Mobile Bay on August 5th, 1864.  

After the Civil War, Kautz continued climbing through the ranks at several naval installations and aboard several ever increasingly powerful warships.  In 1898 he was a rear admiral in the Pacific Fleet and was in command of the American forces in the Samoan Islands.  He was instrumental in suppressing the insurgent forces under the native leader, Mataafa, and securing a lasting peace on the islands.  Kautz’s success in Samoa propelled him to his promotion to Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet with the battleship USS Iowa as his flagship.  He served in that position from early 1900 until his retirement in 1901.

During his many years of service his wife lived in her family home, the brick Hemphill House, which still stands on Front Street in Ripley.  Albert returned to that house when on leave but upon his retirement the couple moved to Florence, Italy.  The admiral died on February 6th, 1907, and in March of that year the cruiser USS Baltimore returned his ashes to the United States.  Rear Admiral Albert Kautz is buried in Arlington National Cemetery beside his wife, his brother August, and their close friend, Phillip Sheridan. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Fighting Kautzs - August

August Valentine Kautz
Much is made of the Fighting McCooks, often stated (incorrectly) as fourteen men, sons of Daniel and John McCook, who fought during the Civil War.  There is also the "tribe of George" who had sons who served as doctors during the war.  Seventeen men in total served the Union, many who would give their lives for the cause of preserving the United States.  But there is also another "tribe" from Ohio, the sons of Johann Georg (John George) Kautz and Dorethea Elizabetha Lowing, sons who served with some distinction during the war.

Johann Kautz, known to his friends and family as George, was born in 1800 in what is now Baden-Wurtemburg.  Oldest of six brothers and sisters, he married Dorethea in 1821.  Their eldest son, August, was born in Baden while the remaining children were born in the United States.

Dorethea would pass away in 1874, leaving Johann as a widower for his remaining days.  Johann would live until February 22nd, 1888.  The couple is buried in the Pisgah Ridge Cemetery, near Higginsport, in Brown County, Ohio.

August Valentine Kautz - Born on January 5th, 1828 in Ispringen, Baden, August Kautz would have a long career of military service.  While some sources indicate that he immigrated with his parents in 1832, the birth of his brothers Frederick in Baltimore in 1829 and John in Cincinnati in 1831 indicate that the family immigrated in 1828.  August would enlist in the First Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Mexican-American War.  After the war he would enter West Point and graduate in the Class of 1852 with such classmates as George Crook, Alexander McCook, David Stanley, and Henry Slocum (among others).  Kautz would go on to serve in the Pacific Northwest with the 4th United States Infantry, being wounded twice during the Rogue River Wars.  In 1857 Kautz ascended Mt. Rainer, speculated by some to be the first white man to climb the mountain.  However, as he did not summit the crest, having stopped at the crater rim, the climb is noted as being “incomplete.”  

When the Civil War broke out, Kautz was still in the Pacific Northwest, but made his way east shortly after the war started.  He was a captain in the 6th United States Cavalry with McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign.  He became colonel of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry and was instrumental in the pursuit of John H. Morgan’s command during the Great Raid of 1863, commanding a brigade at Buffington Island.  Late in 1863 he would serve under Burnside at Knoxville.  Kautz would be promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in April 1864 and would lead cavalry operations (and co-lead the Wilson-Kautz Raid) in the Army of the James under Ben Butler while commanding a division.  Kautz would be nominated by Lincoln and receive a promotion to major general of volunteers in February 1865.

After Lincoln was assassinated Kautz served on the trial board before becoming commander of the Department of Arizona.  He later commanded the Department of the Columbia, achieving the rank of brigadier general (regular rank).  He would leave the service via retirement in 1892 and live in Seattle until he died on September 4th, 1895.  He is buried in Arlington.

Next post will cover the rest of the Kautz brothers.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Frederick Kautz, Tobacco, and the 59th

Frederick Kautz (left) with his brother August (seated) and Phil Sheridan
Frederick Kautz was born in Baltimore, Maryland on November 6th, 1829.  He was the younger brother of August (brigadier general during the Civil War) and Albert Kautz (later a rear admiral).  A younger brother (George) served in the 39th Illinois while another younger brother (John) served in the 1st Kentucky and later the 82nd Ohio.  Frederick lived in Georgetown, Ohio from 1833 until 1844, when he moved with the family to Levanna, Brown County, on the Ohio River.  He would have been one of the younger children in the Dutch Hill School while one Hiram (Ulysses) Grant was a student.  

Kautz was fifteen years old when he moved to the Levanna farm.  He worked at planting grapes on the hillsides for the vineyard and Broadleaf tobacco on the bottom land.  Kautz took special interest in the tobacco and worked on the family farm until he was 21.  
In 1850, Frederick and his brother George joined in the California gold rush.  Kautz spent three years in California, eventually becoming the sutler for his brother August’s regiment at Fort Oxford, Oregon and Fort Steilacoom, Washington Territory.  

Kautz moved back to Brown County in 1859 and bought a 163 acre farm near Higginsport, Brown County.  He raised horses, corn, and wheat on his farm, but his cash crop was Broadleaf tobacco. 

In October 1862 he enlisted as captain of Company G, 59th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He served three years and fought at Stones River, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and throughout the Atlanta Campaign until discharged with the regiment in Nashville on November 1st, 1864.

White burley tobacco is the center point of the Brown County flag
Kautz returned to his Higginsport farm on a furlough some time in the spring of 1863.  During that time he found his farm manager pulling some strange lighter-colored tobacco plants out of the seed beds (a small highly fertile and protected plot where young tobacco plants grow until large enough to transplant into the field) and discarding them.  Kautz told him to save some of those lighter plants and see what they would become.  This was a wise decision because when the plants grew and the leaves were cured they produced a much lighter and milder smoking tobacco.  This new variety of tobacco became known as White Burley.  It won first prize at the 1867 St. Louis World’s Fair and sold for 75 cents per pound when Broadleaf tobacco sold for seven cents.  White Burley was the beginning of the development of the United States cigarette industry.  Frederick Kautz’s discovery of White Burley changed the agricultural landscape of Brown County and drove its economy until the late 1990s.  If one can tell the difference between cigar and cigarette smoke one can tell the difference between Broadleaf and White Burley tobacco.  It is a White Burley plant on the Brown County flag.

As an effective officer Captain Kautz rode at the head of his company during most of the major battles fought in Tennessee and Georgia.  Kautz died in 1909 in his beloved Brown County, Ohio.  He is buried at Pisgah Ridge Cemetery next to his wife, Lucinda.

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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