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11th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry


In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

Cavalry regiments established in Ohio were known as regiments of Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Regiments formed in Ohio served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. In June and July 1863, the 11th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry formed. The organization consisted of two cavalry battalions that actually never served together as a single regiment during the Civil War.

The first battalion formed during the winter of 1861-1862 at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. Officials originally designated this organization as the 1st Independent Battalion Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. The battalion traveled to Benton Barracks at St. Louis, Missouri soon after formation. On April 4, 1862, the organization boarded steamers Robert Campbell and Sam. Gaty and headed for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, reaching this location one week later. On April 26, 1862, the battalion departed Fort Leavenworth for Fort Laramie in Wyoming. The organization arrived at Fort Laramie on May 30, 1862. Officials then ordered the battalion into the mountains to seek out Native American enemies. Authorities positioned many of the battalion's members along the North Platte and the Sweetwater Rivers, with the battalion's headquarters located near Pacific Springs and the South Pass. In July 1862, the Overland Mail Company opened another mail route across the Rocky Mountains to California along the Cherokee Trail. Officials ordered the 1st Battalion to continue to guard the North Platte and Sweetwater Rivers and also to send troops to the Cherokee Trail to protect the mail wagons. The battalion's headquarters also relocated at this time to Fort Laramie. The Ohioans engaged in constant skirmishes with Native American warriors.

The second battalion that would comprise the 11th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry organized at Camp Dennison in June and July 1863. Upon this battalion's formation, the 11th Regiment officially entered service. The second battalion participated in the Union's pursuit of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry, which launched an invasion of Indiana and Ohio during late June and early July 1863. In early August 1863, this battalion moved to Fort Leavenworth. Before departing this location for the Rocky Mountains, a portion of the battalion pursued Confederate loyalists who had sacked the town of Lawrence, Kansas but failed to catch these men. This battalion departed Fort Leavenworth in early September 1863 and reached Fort Laramie on October 13, 1863. Officials then distributed these men to numerous locations throughout the Rocky Mountains primarily to protect various mail and travel routes. During May and June 1865, officers for the second battalion issued the following reports about encounters with Native Americans:

PLATTE BRIDGE, DAK. TER., June -, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to report that on May 26 three Indians made first attempt to take herd at Sweetwater Station, but were repulsed by garrison, the Indians having 1 killed and wounded, 1 pony crippled, without any loss to our side. On Sunday, May 28, they made another attempt at herd in force estimated at twenty-five or thirty, and succeeded in getting 4 horses and 2 mules. Stampede was owing to the two mules, which were very wild and led the horses off. Indians lost one wounded. On Thursday, June 1, they made an attempt on remainder of herd, but were repulsed; and on same day cut the telegraph wire about 1,000 yards from quarters, east, carrying off about 100 yards wire. On the 27th of May about 150 Indians attacked Saint Mary's Station, and in short time succeeded in setting fire to buildings. The garrison, consisting of five men, retreated to an old well outside of quarters, where they remained until the night of the 28th, when they escaped to South Pass. The operator, Private Chavil St. Clair, took precaution enough to secure a relay sounder and a coil of fine wire, and was thus enabled to communicate with Fort Bridger. Garrison lost everything but their firearms and the clothes on their backs. Their horse equipments burnt. There were but two horses at the station; one of these the Indians got, and the other was shot to prevent its falling into their hands. Indians cut out about 400 yards of wire and burned the poles. When Indians left they moved to the south, passing up the valley of Sage Creek. The garrison did as well as it could under the circumstances, and when Indians came within proper distance fired on them briskly. Several Indians are known to have been wounded. None of the garrison injured.

H. C. BRETNEY, First Lieut., Cmdg. Company G, Eleventh Ohio Vol. Cav.

Col. T. MOONLIGHT, Cmdg. North Sub-District of the Plains, Dak. Ter.

FORT HALLECK, DAK. TER., June 14, 1865.

SIR: In compliance with special Orders, No. 7, dated headquarters Fort Halleck, Dak. Ter., June 2, 1865, I left this post with a command of thirty-one men of Company K, Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, for the purpose of reopening the mail route between this place and Fort Bridger, Utah Ter. I arrived at the crossing of the North Platte River the same evening and camped for the night. Next morning we crossed and started westward, accompanied by Capt. Lewis, of Gen. Connor's staff, and Mr. R. I. Spotswood, division agent on the Overland Stage Line. I found Sage Creek Station deserted. Four miles beyond I found two dead emigrants lying near the road, one of them being scalped. The next two stations, Pine Grove and Bridger's Pass, I also found deserted. At the fourth station, Sulphur Spring, I found the stock tenders and drivers from the above-named stations concentrated with the stock belonging to Sage Creek and Pine Grove Stations. I also learned that the stock at Bridger's Pass Station had been driven off by the Indians. Having ascertained that the depredations extended no farther west, I remained at Sulphur Spring Station until 4 p. m. next day, then detaching three men I sent them to Waskie (next station west), and leaving five men for the protection of Sulphur spring Station, I started for this post, accompanied by Messrs. Spotswood and Stewart, division agents on the Overland Stage Line, two coaches and stock for the line, camping that night at Bridger's Pass Station. Next morning I left, leaving a corporal and four men at the station; from thence to Pine Grove Station, leaving five men there; came on to the Sage Creek Station, left a corporal and four men there; from thence to the North Platte Crossing and camped for the night. Having succeeded in establishing a tri-weekly mail between the North Platte and Sulphur Spring Station, I came to this post with the balance of my command. At daylight the morning of the 8th instant the detachment at Sage Creek Station was attacked by about 100 Indians. After one hour's severe fighting they were compelled to evacuate, in consequence of a deficiency in ammunition. The men were all well mounted and accompanied by two citizens, names unknown. The moment they left the station they were completely surrounded. There ensued a desperate fight; the detachment retreated toward Pine Grove Station. The Indians followed them for eight miles, killing George Bodine and Perry Stewart, wounding and capturing Orlando Ducket, wounding Corpl. W. H. Caldwell and Private William Wilson, all of Company K, Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. The two citizens were also missing. Corporal Caldwell and Private Wilson escaped to Pine Grove Station. They and the detachment then retreated to Sulphur Spring station, taking the detachment at Bridger's Pass with them. Next morning they started back, commanded by Sergeant McFaddin, who was up the road on escort duty with ten men of Company K, Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. They found the bodies of Perry Stewart and George Bodine lying in the road horribly mutilated, the latter scalped. They also found one citizen. The other citizen and Private Ducket, of Company K, could not be found. My opinion is they were burned in Sage Creek Station, which was found burnt by the command on their return. Ten of the men have returned to this post; the balance are doing all they can to keep open the road, but the force is inadequate to cope with the number of Indians now committing depredations on the Overland Stage Line between the North Platte Crossing and Sulphur Spring Station.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. BROWN, First Lieut. Company K, Eleventh Ohio Vol. Cav., Cmdg. Detach.

Capt. J. L. HUMFREVILLE, Eleventh Ohio Vol. Cav., Cmdg. Fort Halleck, Dak. Ter.

PLATTE BRIDGE, DAK. TER., June 13, 1865.

SIR: I have the honor to report that on June 3 six Indians appeared on bank of Platte River opposite quarters, whose object appeared to be to draw men from this post. As soon as the alarm was given I dispatched a messenger to Lieut.-Col. Plumb, of the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, and ordered men to fire on Indians, which resulted in two of their horses being crippled. These shots were fired from 12-pounder mountain howitzer, which drove Indians over bluffs. On Col. Plumb's arrival I sent corporal and ten men to bluffs on north side of Platte to watch movements of Indians until the command of Col. Plumb arrived. Also one sergeant and ten men afoot in their rear to prevent their being cut off by superior forces. The mounted men saw one Indian going toward telegraph line, with the intention of cutting it. They pursued him and crippled his horse. About 2 o'clock Col. Plumb's detachment arrived. I them sent the mounted squad of corporal and ten men with him to pursued Indians. They returned about 8.30 o'clock and reported one man of this command killed, whose body was recovered and brought in to the post. Lieut. Bretney and ten mounted men were absent, having started for Saint Mary's May 31. He returned to this post June 5, 1865.

Very respectfully,

S. B. WHITE, First Sergeant, Cmdg. Post.

Col. T. MOONLIGHT, Cmdg. North Sub-District of the Plains, Fort Laramie, Dak. Ter.

On April 1, 1865, the 11th's first battalion mustered out of service at Omaha, Nebraska. The second battalion served until July 14, 1866, when this organization mustered out of service at Fort Leavenworth.

During the 11th Ohio's term of service, twenty-three men, including three officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional sixty-one men, including one officer, died from disease or accidents.

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