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NINTH OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
When the news of the fall of Sumter reached Cincinnati, the Germans immediately held a meeting at Turner Hall, for the pupose of raising a German regiment. The assembly was addressed by Judge J. B. Stallo, Colonel A. Moor; (1) Colonel Robert L. McCook and others. Two hundred men were soon enrolled, and three days later there were fifteen hundred ready to be mustered into the service; but, as the companies were not allowed to exceed ninety-eight men, many were rejected and compelled, reluctantly, to return to their homes.
On the 22d of April, 1861, the regiment was mustered into the service, by Captain Gordon Granger, (2) United States Army, at Camp Harrison, near Cincinnati, and May 18th it marched to Camp Dennison. Here the regiment was reorganized and mustered into the service for three years, and was the first three years' organization from the State of Ohio. In consideration of this the ladies of Columbus presented a very fine bass-drum to the regiment. It was mustered in with one thousand and thirty-five officers and men, exclusive of the band, which consisted of twenty-four musicians.
On the 16th of June the Ninth left the State, and on the 20th entered Western Virginia, with the first of General McClellan's re-enforcements for Morris's command. The regiment marched from Webster to Philippi, a distance of fifteen miles, in three hours, and thence moved to Buckhannon, and met the enemy's outposts at Middle Fork Bridge. They were soon routed, and the troops advanced to Rich Mountain, where the Ninth was engaged, and sustained its first loss - one killed and two wounded. (3) The advance continued across Rich Mountain into Tygart's Valley, through Beverly and Huttonsville to Cheat Mountain. From here the regiment was ordered back to Beverly, and thence via Webster and Oakland across the Alleghenies to New Creek, on the Potomac, arriving July 27th.
Here the regiment performed very heavy guard duty, one company being detached as an outpost at Cumberland, Maryland, and another at an important railroad bridge across the Potomac, three miles beyond New Creek. About this time the Ninth was brigaded with the Fourth and Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry and Howe's battery of the Fourth United States artillery. On the 22d of August five companies of the Ninth were sent back to Huttonsville and Elkwater, where they had hardly arrived when with other troops they were ordered to Frenchtown. The march was continued to Bulltown, where they joined the other half of the regiment, which had left New Creek on the 27th of August, and reached Bulltown, via Clarksburg and Weston, on September 2d. upon the concentration of the forces at Sutton, the regiment moved to that point, and was assigned to the Second Brigade, consisting of the Ninth, Twenty-Eighth, and Forty-Seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and a Company of Chicago Dragoons. On the 7th of September the army broke camp, and on the morning of the 10th drove the Rebel cavalry out of the village of Summerville, and at three o'clock P. M., arrived in front of the fortifications near Carnifex Ferry. (4) In the engagement which ensued, the Ninth lost two killed and eight wounded. The army followed the retreating Rebels and occupied Big Sewell Mountain, (pg. 73) but, on account of the difficulty in transporting supplies, the troops fell back to a point about six miles east of Gauley Bridge, and the Second Brigade encamped on the right bank of New River, at Camp Anderson. During the month of October there were frequent skirmishes with the Rebels, who had their sharpshooters and masked battery posted among the rocky hills on the opposite side of the river, and in these little engagements the Ninth lost a few killed and wounded.
The Ninth left Camp Anderson November 24th, and proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, arriving December 2d. It camped at Jeffersonville, Indiana, for a few days, and then moved to Lebanon, Kentucky, where the Ninth, together with the Thirty-Fifth Ohio Infantry and Second Minnesota, formed the Third Brigade, First Division, Army of the Ohio. On the 1st of January, 1862, the division moved toward Columbia, and from there advanced to Camp Hamilton, twelve miles from Zollicoffer's intrenchments, arriving January 17th. (5) The regiment participated in the battle of Mill Springs, (6) and made a decisive charge, completely routing the Rebels. Ever after the battle of Mill Springs the Ninth Ohio and the Second Minnesota were attached to each other by the strongest friendship. Perfect harmony of feeling existed between them, and each was always watchful for the honor of the other. (7) On the 10th of February the division marched via Crab Orchard, Danville, Lebanon, and Bardstown, to Louisville. The patriotic ladies of Louisville presented to the Ninth Ohio, Second Minnesota, Tenth Indiana, and Fourth Kentucky, each a beautiful National Flag, as a reward for their gallantry at Mill Springs. Immediately after the presentation, the division was embarked on steamers, and was conveyed down the Ohio and up the Cumberland to Nashville, Tennessee; arriving March 2d.
About the middle of March the Army of the Ohio left Nashville for Pittsburg Landing, (8) but as Thomas's division was held in reserve, the Ninth did not arrive on the battle-field until the 8th of April. In the advance on Corinth the regiment performed its full share of duty in the trenches, and on the picket line. After the evacuation of Corinth, it joined the pursuit of the Rebels, but soon returned and camped near the town. (9) On the 22d of June the Ninth marched via Iuka to Tuscumbia, Alabama, and while in camp there received an elegant regimental flag, presented by the Council of Cincinnati in the name of the city. On the 27th of July the camp was broken up, and the command moved toward Decherd, Tennessee. It was on this march that General Robert L. McCook, (10) commanding the Third Brigade, First Division, was ambuscaded and shot by a party of guerrillas; and the command of the Third Brigade devolved upon Brigadier-General James B. Steedman.(11)
The division concentrated at Decherd, and after enjoying a few days rest joined the general movement of the Army of the Ohio northward. After enduring many hardships, occasioned by forced marches, excessive heat, and scarcity of water, the army reached Louisville, September 27th. On the 3d of October a forward movement commenced, and on the 8th, Steeedman's brigade rested nearly all day within hearing of the guns at Perryville. Late in the evening it was ordered to the field, and for about an hour was exposed to a heavy fire from the Rebel batteries; but, as they were badly managed and did not have the correct range, the loss was small. (12) The Ninth followed the retreating Rebels as far as Crab Orchard, and from there marched via Lancaster, Danville, and Lebanon, to Bowling Green.
Steedman's brigade now consisted of the Ninth and Thirty-Fifth Ohio, the Second Minnesota, the Eighty-Seventh Indiana, and the Eleventh Regulars, and Battery I, Fourth United States Artillery. It was posted at South Tunnel, and assigned the duty of cleaning out the tunnel, in hope to open railroad communication with Nashville. The men worked hard and continually, day and night, from the 8th to 26th of November, when the tunnel was opened and trains were able to run through. The brigade was next ordered to Pilot Knob, to guard the railroad and the fords of the Cumberland, opposite, and below Saundersville. It moved to Gallatin, Tennessee, December 26th, and during the battle of Murfreesboro' (13) guarded the fords of the Cumberland, that connected with the Lebanon Pike. After scouting the country up the Cumberland as far as Hartsville, the brigade marched to Nashville, January 14th, 1863, and was engaged in (pg 74) scouting and reconnoitering from the Murfreesboro' Pike to Franklin, and as far south as Chaplin Hills, until March 6th, when tents were pitched at Triune.
Here the Ninth was engaged in erecting strong works, and was frequently instructed in brigade and division drill. It occasionally joined scouting and foraging expeditions, and its efficiency was greatly increased by a supply of Springfield rifled muskets. This improvement was mainly due to the efforts of Governor Tod and Quartermaster-General Wright, of Ohio. Another cause of gratification to the boys of the Ninth, was the arrival in camp of a newly recruited regimental band. Comfortable huts were erected for their accommodation as soon as it was known they were coming, and their arrival was greeted by hearty shouts of welcome.
On the 24th of June the troops again advanced. (14) The weather had been very favorable and the roads were in excellent condition; but on the morning of the 24th a heavy rain set in , and continued for seventeen consecutive days. The Ninth participated in the movement on Hoover's Gap and Fairfield, and on the evening of the 29th led a heavy reconnoitering party within six miles of Tullahoma. Upon the evacuation of Tullahoma the army followed the Rebels over continuous mountain ranges to the banks of the Tennessee. The regiment in the Third Division (General Brannon's,) (15) of the Fourteenth Corps (General Thomas's,) crossed the river at Battle Creek on rafts; marched over Sand and Raccoon Mountains through Lookout Valley by way of Trenton Gap, over Lookout Mountain and down to McLemon's (16) Cove, arriving September 10th. Two days later the division moved to the support of two advanced divisions, toward Dry Gap. On the 17th, the division marched with the bulk of the Fourteenth Corps, down the Chickamauga toward Gordon's Mills, and thence toward Rossville. As rapidly as possible, and without rest or interruption, the troops pushed on during the whole night preceding the battle. The fences on both sides of the road were on fire, and the blinding smoke greatly increased the hardships of that night's march. The leading brigade of the division became engaged about daylight, and the Third Brigade soon after. It was commanded by Colonel Van Derveer, who succeeded General Steedman.(17)
At the beginning of the action (18) the regiment was in charge of an ammunition train I the rear, and did not come up until the battle was raging. Passing the place where the Regular Brigade of Baird's division had lost its guns, the Ninth pressed forward and boldly charged for the captured guns. They were posted nearly a quarter of a mile off, and were well protected by the Rebel fire, and by a cross-fire of our own guns; but without faltering, the regiment dashed on, drove the Rebels back and recaptured the battery. It did not stop to rest here, but joined the brigade in time to repel Longstreet's forces. On the second day of the battle the regiment participated in the famous bayonet charge of Van Derveer's brigade; (19) and in the afternoon, while holding the hill on which the right of General Thomas's corps rested, it once more drove the Rebels back at the point of the bayonet. (20) When nightfall closed the struggle, the supply of ammunition was completely exhausted, and the men had been compelled to gather cartridges from the boxes of the dead and wounded. The loss of the Ninth in the two days' battle was equal to one-third the loss of the entire brigade. The regiment went into action about five hundred strong, and lost in killed, wounded, and missing, eleven officers and two hundred and thirty-seven enlisted men.
The army occupied Chattanooga, and for some time the Ninth, in common with other regiments, suffered from want of sufficient rations. In the reorganization of the army under Thomas, Van Derveer's brigade was assigned to General Baird's command, and denominated Second Brigade, Third Division, Army of the Cumberland.
In the assault on Mission Ridge, (21) Baird's division was on the left, near to Tunnel Hill. The open ground between the timber and the foot of the ridge was crossed by the troops on the double-quick, under a heavy fire of musketry and artillery, and the ascent began. After wonderful exertions the summit was reached, and the Rebels routed. As the National troops were resting after their labors, the Rebel forces on Tunnel Hill moved against a battery of five guns which Van Derveer's brigade had captured. The Ninth Ohio and the One Hundred and (pg 75) First Indiana immediately formed, and though greatly outnumbered by the Rebels, repulsed them three times, when they abandoned the attack. In this engagement the regiment lost two killed and twelve wounded.
On the 30th of December the Ninth started in charge of a battery and provision train for Calhoun, and returned to Chattanooga, January 8th, 1864. It moved to Ringgold, Georgia, and participated in a heavy skirmish at Crow's Valley, February 25th. During the months of March and April the Ninth remained encamped at Ringgold, and on the 5th of May joined the grand forward movement under General Sherman. It participated in the battle of Resaca, May 15th, and on the 20th entered on its last march against the enemy, moving from Kingston to the Etowah River.
As the regiment's term of service expired May 27th, 1864, it was ordered to Ohio for muster out. Up to the last moment it stood within range of the enemy's guns, and from the very outer picket line it was relieved by General Thomas, in person, and started for Cincinnati. All along the road stood their fellow-soldiers who cheered most heartily as the regiment moved away' and not any less hearty were the farewells returned by the boys of the Ninth Ohio. The regiment received an enthusiastic reception at Cincinnati, and was mustered out of the service at Camp Dennison on the 7th of June, 1864.
Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the Civil War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers, (reprint of the 1895 edition, Robert Clarke Company, Cincinnati) Volume 2, pages 72-75.
(1) Later Colonel of the Cincinnati German 28th OVI.
Endnotes ©2001 David M. Smith
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