Journal-News, Wednesday, May 5, 1999
War foes united by Miami association after 'Bloody Shiloh' in April 1862
By Jim Blount
Soldiers who survived the fight and correspondents who witnessed it quickly fell into the habit of calling it "Bloody Shiloh," as though the adjective were part of the proper name of the battle.
Blood had been spilled in the Civil War for almost a year when the rival armies collided April 6-7, 1862, on the banks of the Tennessee River, about 450 miles southwest of Butler County.
Nothing in that year had rivaled Shiloh for the extent of dead, wounded and missing. The ghastly toll topped 23,700 men.
When it ended Monday afternoon, April 7, the plight of the wounded -- more than 16,000 in the combined armies -- was the first concern.
It was a warm April in Tennessee, and the bodies and animal carcasses on the battlefield also posed problems for the survivors.
Major-General Ulysses S. Grant ordered burial parties to identify and bury the Union soldiers who fell at Shiloh. The Confederate dead -- many impossible to identify -- were buried in mass trenches.
Joel Allan Battle, adjutant of the 20th Tennessee Confederate Infantry Regiment, was an exception. He was buried in a coffin made of cracker boxes under a crude marker by his friends -- who also happened to be his enemies at Shiloh.
"Thus did the brother-love from old Miami reach across the gulf of war," wrote Dr. Alfred H. Upham in telling of Battle's burial in Old Miami: The Yale of the Early West (1909).
"It was Tuesday morning, April 8, 1862. The 41st Illinois and the 31st Indiana (regiments) were encamped on opposite sides of a crude roadway through the woods about a mile from Pittsburg Landing," said Upham, who was Miami's president from 1928 until 1945.
"Out of a tent on the Indiana side staggered Clifford Ross, a bit unsteady from the scalp wound," Upham said. Two Union soldiers, who had been carrying the body of a Confederate soldier, stopped to rest, "laying their burden at Ross's very feet," Upham wrote.
Ross, from Terre Haute, Ind., "drew back the edge of the blanket" and "looked straight into the sightless eyes of that jolliest of all, Joe Battle," who had died in the fighting April 7.
Battle, from Lavergne, Tenn., had been graduated from Miami University in Oxford in 1859. The Tennessee native had studied law at Cincinnati Law School from 1859 until 1861, when he returned home to join the 20th Tennessee. The regiment was commanded by his father, Colonel Joel A. Battle, who was captured at Shiloh.
The startled Ross -- a student at Miami from 1858 to 1860 -- had been a friend of Battle's while both were in Oxford.
Ross took charge of his friend's body and began searching for other Miami men in blue to assist with the burial and marking of the grave.
Among those who assisted Ross were J. C. Lewis, an 1860 Miami graduate who had been wounded April 6 while fighting with the 41st Illinois, and John R. Chamberlin, an 1858 Miami graduate and a member of the 81st Ohio Infantry Regiment. (Chamberlin had been superintendent of Hamilton schools, 1859-61, before entering the Union army.)
Battle's "coffin was rudely constructed of cracker boxes" by the slain soldier's college pals. "The monument was a massive oak, beneath whose branches the shallow grave was hollowed out," Upham wrote. "Name and date were burned into a board, which was nailed to the tree."
"I believe no more brave and noble soul left its body on that bloody field," blue-coated Clifford Ross said of his gray-clad friend from their college days in Oxford.
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, May 12, 1999
Realistic training costly for Civil War soldiers
By Jim Blount
Soldiers become accustomed to hardships and shortages imposed by enemy actions, or by an overburdened supply system. But they don't expect their lives to be complicated by their own officers.
An example of the latter was described by Private Alfred Demoret of Company F, 93rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in his brief history of the regiment's Civil War service.
The Ross Township soldier said the 93rd was near Lexington, Ky., Sept. 1, 1862, with no enemy in sight. It was a good time for some vigorous combat training for the raw regiment. Apparently, it was too realistic for one officer.
"While we were being put through the manual of arms," Demoret wrote, "some lunatic of an officer (who evidently became panic-stricken at our apparent preparations to receive the enemy) ordered our baggage burned, which we had left behind, and haversacks, blankets and knapsacks, with all extra clothing, went up in smoke."
The 93rd needed the training. Demoret said the 960-man regiment "had received one week's instruction in military tactics at Camp Dayton" before "being hurried to the front with other new regiments" to help repel a Confederate invasion of Kentucky. The 93rd ferried across the Ohio River into Kentucky Aug. 23, 1862, and arrived in Lexington 24 hours later.
Pvt. Demoret witnessed death for the first time as his regiment marched from Louisville toward Frankfort, Ky., in October 1862. His introduction to the horrors of war came in a skirmish near Claysville, Ky., during maneuvers leading to the Battle of Perryville "Here was the first one the writer saw killed in battle, and we well remember how the cold chills would creep up our back as we looked at the ghastly sight, little dreaming that in a very short time we could spread our blanket down with the dead on every side and sleep as soundly as though upon a couch of down. But such is human nature," he wrote.
In November 1863, Demoret witnessed such a macabre incident the night before the Battle of Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga.
"The night was cold and frosty, and just a few feet from where the writer lay was a dead rebel with a blanket spread over him. Sometime during the night, hearing a noise in that direction, we peered out from under our blanket and saw a comrade stealthily pull the blanket from the lifeless form, walk away a few steps and roll up in it, probably thinking it would do him more good than it was doing the dead reb," he wrote in his booklet, The 93rd OVI, Recollections of a Private.
Before returning home June 16, 1865, other battles involving the 93rd OVI included Stones River, Chickamauga, Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Jonesboro, Franklin and Nashville.
Butler County contributed three companies (C, D and F), or about 300 men, to the regiment. Much of the local contingent was from the Ross Township area.
Officers recruited from Butler County included Colonel Daniel Bowman; Majors Alfred A. Phillips and Robert Joyce; Captains Henry H. Wallace, John R. Gallup, John E. Chatten, Joseph B. Brock, Timothy Regan and Henry Richards.
Also First Lieutenants George K. Shaffer, Alex W. Scott, Daniel V.Bonnell, Charles T. Sutphen, Robert B. Millikin and John W. Gregg; and Second Lieutenants Bennett C. Wilcox, Arthur C. Morgan and Isaac R. Anderson.
Demoret said Company F, which started with 93 men, suffered 25 deaths in battle and to disease.
During the regiment's service, eight officers and 241 men were discharged for disability; four officers and 204 men died of disease or as a result of combat. Among other casualties, 252 men were wounded once, 30 twice, and eight wounded three times.
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, May 19, 1999
Jacob Jackson, drummer boy, served for life
By Jim Blount
Jacob Jackson was a drummer as a youth and as a senior citizen while serving his community and nation. By the age of 30, he and his drum were familiar sights in the annual Memorial Day observance. He was a fixture in local parades into his 90s.
Jackson was born Sept. 16, 1841, in Hamilton, and, except for military service, was a lifelong resident of the city. He began his public service career as a boy.
As a youth, he was a torch boy for the Minks, a volunteer fire-fighting company in Rossville (which merged with Hamilton in 1855).
In the era before street lighting and illuminated advertising signs, firemen needed help when alarms sounded during the night. Boys carrying torches ran before the hand-operated fire engines to light the way through dark, unpaved streets.
President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers in April 1861 as the Civil War erupted with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston, S. C.
That summer, 19-year-old Jackson joined the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment as it formed at the Butler County Fairgrounds. He was a drummer boy in the Butler County unit that left Hamilton Sept. 26, 1861.
"While much has been written of youngsters serving as drummer boys, older soldiers performed the same duty," said Civil War historian James I. Robertson Jr.
Also, during battle, their duties weren't performed in relative safety behind the lines. Drummers served at or close to the front, exposed to shot and shell, and capture in enemy breakthroughs.
With buglers and fifers, the drummers sounded orders and commands for companies (about 100 men) in camp, on the march and during combat. They were vital to army communications.
With the 35th OVI, Jackson participated in the battles of Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and the march to Atlanta. In August 1864, with the regiment, he began the return trip to Hamilton and discharge.
As a civilian, Jackson was a volunteer with the Hamilton fire department until it switched to paid full-time firefighters. He became the full-time engineer of the Ones, a West Side fire company, when it operated Neptune, a steam engine.
"He took a personal pride not only in the appearance of his engine," a reporter said, "but also in its reliability when it was called to a fire." He was a captain when he retired from the fire department, but Jackson didn't stop working. He continued to serve the community, first as an employee in the Hamilton municipal electric plant and finally as caretaker of the Soldiers, Sailors and Pioneers Monument.
Jackson's drummer duties didn't end after his three years in the Civil War. "He continued drumming on each Memorial Day," a newspaper explained, "stepping out lively, beating a quick tempo, to lead hosts of comrades to the annual tribute to departed heroes of the Civil War."
As Jackson aged, "sometimes he rode on Old Neptune, her brass glistening, her wheels rumbling as a pair of prancing horses hauled this steam pumper, the pride of the Hamilton fire department with which Mr. Jackson served 40 years," the Journal recalled.
His last parade appearance was May 30, 1933.
In 1934, the Journal said the Memorial Day parade would be observed without Jackson because of his "advanced age and infirmities." The newspaper said Jackson would be there in spirit, "perhaps his fingers will beat a silent march tempo on the arm of his chair, an unconscious action habit -- because Jackson was a drummer."
He died Sept. 20, 1934, four days after his 93rd birthday anniversary.
# # #
Journal-News, Wednesday, May 26, 1999
Cars raced in Hamilton in 1909
By Jim Blount
Speeds of 38 to 39 miles an hour wouldn't generate much excitement at Daytona or Indianapolis where recent winning performances and time trials have been in the 145 to 232 mph range. Although slow by 1990s standards, they were winning times in motor sport competition at the Butler County Fairgrounds 90 years ago.
The Sept. 10, 1909, event was one of the earliest, if not the first of its kind in Butler County. That was less than two years before the first Indianapolis 500. The 1911 Indy inaugural was won by Ray Harroun, who averaged 74.6 mph.
In the 1909 Hamilton races, an Oldsmobile won the novelty contest, covering two and a half miles in four minutes 35 seconds. A Packard won the two-mile free-for-all in 3:04.8; a Stoddard-Dayton captured first in the two-mile match race in 3:08.5; and an Oldsmobile took the stock car handicap in 3:05.
Those performances pale in comparison with the winning average of 161.551 miles an hour for NASCAR's 1999 Daytona 500, and the 145.155 mph for the victor in the 1998 Indianapolis 500-mile competition.
Only one accident was reported during the seven-race 1909 local event. A man riding a motorcycle across the track during a race was struck by a car. He suffered severe bruises.
There also was a mishap on the way to the Hamilton races. Two Cincinnati drivers -- perhaps involved in some pre-race competition -- collided at Schenck's Station (now Ohio 4 and St. Clair Avenue), disabling one of the vehicles. A newspaper said the Buick "was completely wrecked" when it ran into an embankment on the unpaved two-lane road. The driver was identified only as Webb, with no first name.
The other car -- reported as a Stoddard-Dayton driven by H. Hisey -- not only continued to the track, but won the two-mile match race. The same car and driver finished second in both the two-mile free-for-all, and the two and a half mile novelty race.
A 10-mile motorcycle race was won by Schaub, identified as a Hamilton man whose first name wasn't listed. He completed the contest in 15 minutes 29.4 seconds.
"The motorcycle event was the only real race of the day," said the Journal. "That was interesting sport and brought out the only genuine enthusiasm."
That was the only compliment paid the event by the reporter, who said "the others were simply auto exhibitions." The writer said it was "about the biggest lemon ever handed the eager amusement-loving public of Hamilton."
"A lot of chauffeurs of Cincinnati wanted some easy winter money, so they concluded to give a few races in a few cities," the newspaper said. "That the races were a huge joke was the expression heard from the hundreds as they left the fairgrounds."
The person or group directing the races was known variously in news reports as the Tri-State Auto Association and the Hamilton Racing Association. Entries were to be sent to H. P. Hilyard at the Howard Hotel in Hamilton.
"The backers of the affair did not really know they were going to give the races until one hour before they started," the Journal said.
"The angel was slow in coming over with the cash for the fairgrounds, and the fair directors never turned over the keys for the grounds until after 1 o'clock," the newspaper explained. "Then a band was secured and more cash advanced, and later several cars arrived and it was decided to give seven big auto events."
"But if you have ever seen Oldfield and Christie, and many present had had that pleasure, the auto races Saturday were the one big joke of the late summer season," observed the disappointed reporter.
# # #