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Robert E. Lee directed expedition through county -- before the Civil War

Dozens of Facts About Butler County and the Civil War, 1861-1865

Robert E. Lee directed expedition through county -- before the Civil War

(This the 10th "Dozen of Facts About Butler County and the Civil War," a series of random columns related to brief comments on Butler County’s role in the Civil War, 1861-1865. The columns are in conjunction with the observance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, 2010-2015. The reprint edition of Jim Blount’s 1998 book, The Civil War and Butler County, is available at several outlets, or by contacting Books in Shandon, 4795 Cincinnati-Brookville Road (Ohio 126), Shandon, OH 45063, or phone 738-2962 or 523-4005.)

Compiled by Jim Blount

Two prominent Civil War leaders -- Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee -- had brief experiences in Butler County before the Civil War. Lincoln spoke in Hamilton from a train Sept. 17, 1859, before becoming a successful presidential candidate the next year. Lee, a career soldier, passed through the county seven years after graduating from the U. S. Military Academy at West Point. After Virginia, his home state, seceded, his U. S. Army resignation was accepted April 25, 1861, allowing Lee to accept a Confederate appointment.     

  

109. Robert E. Lee led a military expedition through Butler County. But it wasn’t during the Civil War. Then a 28-year-old lieutenant, he directed a small federal force on a peace-keeping mission when it appeared Ohio and Michigan would go to war. The dispute involved the boundary between the states in the Toledo area.

Lee's engineers -- whose 1835 northern advance was along what is now Cincinnati-Dayton Road -- were sent to survey the controversial strip of land. The Toledo War concluded June 15, 1836, when President Andrew Jackson signed a congressional act that set Ohio's northern boundary and enabled Michigan to become a state. The act recognized the boundary claimed by Ohio. Congress granted Michigan Territory the Upper Peninsula, then part of Wisconsin Territory. Michigan became the 26th state Jan. 26, 1837.

110. Both Civil War presidents -- Abraham Lincoln (U. S.) and Jefferson Davis (CSA) -- were Kentucky natives, but were elected from other states, Lincoln from Illinois and Jefferson Davis from Mississippi. The Civil War rivals had little in common, except their Kentucky births about 100 miles apart. Davis was older by about eight months.

111. Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin on his father’s farm in Hardin County (today in LaRue County, Ky.). He was seven years old in 1816 when his family moved to southern Indiana. In 1830, when he was 21, he and his family moved to Illinois. Davis was born in what is now Fairview, Todd County, Ky., June 3, 1808. In 1811, he moved with his parents to Louisiana and in 1812 to a plantation near Woodville, Wilkinson County, Miss.

112. Lincoln, according to the Congressional Directory of the U. S. Congress, "attended a log-cabin school at short intervals and was self-instructed in elementary branches." Davis had several years of formal education, starting with Mississippi country schools; St. Thomas College, Washington County, Ky.; Jefferson College, Adams County, Miss.; Wilkinson County Academy; Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.; and graduation from the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, in 1828.

113. Lincoln, according to the Congressional Directory of the U. S. Congress, "attended a log-cabin school at short intervals and was self-instructed in elementary branches." Davis had several years of formal education, starting with Mississippi country schools; St. Thomas College, Washington County, Ky.; Jefferson College, Adams County, Miss.; Wilkinson County Academy; Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky.; and graduation from the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, in 1828.

114. Lincoln’s only military service was a brief term in the Black Hawk War in 1832. Davis had extensive military service, plus heading military committee in the U. S. Congress. Davis started his military career in the Black Hawk War in 1832. He a first lieutenant in the First Dragoons from 1833 until resigning in 1835, when he returned to raising cotton on his plantation, ‘Brierfield,’ in Warren County, Miss. Davis resigned from Congress in 1846 to command the First Regiment of Mississippi Riflemen in the war with Mexico. Davis was appointed Secretary of War by President Franklin Pierce, 1853-1857. He was commissioned major general of the Mississippi militia in January 1861.

115. Lincoln, a lawyer, was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1834, 1836, 1838 and 1840. Davis didn’t serve in state government. Lincoln was a lawyer. Davis was an unsuccessful candidate for Mississippi governor in 1851. Davis was employed alternately as a soldier and in public offices, elected and appointed.

116. Lincoln served one term in Congress. He was elected as a Whig to the U. S. House of Representatives and served from March 4, 1847, until March 3, 1849. He didn’t seek re-election in 1848. Davis had several terms in both the U. S. House and the U. S. Senate.

Davis, a Democrat, served in the U. S. House from March 4, 1845, until June 1846, when he resigned to take command of a regiment during the Mexican War. He was appointed to the U. S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Jesse Sleight; subsequently elected and served from Aug. 10, 1847, until Sept. 23, 1851, when he resigned. He chaired the Committee on Military Affairs (30th through 32nd congresses). He was appointed secretary of war by President Franklin Pierce 1853-1857. He elected as a Democrat to the U. S. Senate and served from March 4, 1857, until Jan. 21, 1861. On that date, Davis withdrew with other secessionist senators. He had been chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia (35th and 36th congresses).

117. Lincoln married Mary Todd, also a Kentucky native, Nov. 2, 1842. Davis was married twice. His first wife, Sarah Knox Taylor (daughter of Zachary Taylor), died Sept. 15, 1835, after only three months their June 17 wedding. Davis and Varina Howell were married Feb. 29, 1845.

118. Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth and died early the next day. He is buried in Springfield, Ill., his home when elected president in 1860. Davis died in New Orleans Dec. 5, 1889, and is buried in Richmond, Va., capitol of the Confederacy.

119. David Banker, a young farmer from Poasttown in northern Butler County, was a private in the Ohio Union Light Guard Cavalry, on duty at the White House when Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theater in Washington, D. C. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who believed he was helping the South. Lincoln died the next day, April 15. Much of the fighting had ended six days earlier when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant April 8 at Appomattox Courthouse, Va.

120. Local clergy had to make last-minute changes to their Easter sermons in 1865 after President Abraham Lincoln died as a result of being shot on Good Friday.

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