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12th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry


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.

Infantry regiments formed in Ohio became known as regiments of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. They served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. From May to June 1861, the 12th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry organized at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. The 12th Regiment had previously organized for three months service, but officials requested that the regiment's members reenlist for three years service. Those soldiers that did reenlist became the nucleus of the new 12th Regiment and mustered into service as a three-year organization on June 28, 1861.

On July 6, 1861, the 12th departed Camp Dennison for the Kanawha Valley in western Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). The regiment arrived at Point Pleasant, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) on July 9, 1861 and reached the Pocotaligo River five days later. On July 17, 1861, the organization fought in the Battle of Scary Creek. The 12th engaged a Confederate force for three hours, before the Ohioans ran out of ammunition and had to withdraw back to their camp on the Pocotaligo River. The regiment had five men killed, thirty wounded, and four soldiers missing as a result of this engagement. Eight days later, the 12th occupied Charleston, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) and seized a large amount of enemy weapons and ammunition at Gauley Bridge, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) on July 29, 1861.

On August 13, 1861, eight of the 12th's ten companies departed Gauley Bridge for Camp Piatt, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). Soon after arriving at this new location, these companies proceeded to Clarksburg, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). In early September, the companies, along with additional Northern units, marched through the modern-day West Virginia communities of Weston, Sutton, and Summerville, before reaching Carnifex Ferry on September 10, 1861. That day, the Battle of Carnifex Ferry erupted, with the 12th having two men killed and ten wounded in the engagement. Two days later, the companies engaged a band of guerrillas along the Gauley River, before marching to Camp Lookout in modern-day West Virginia. On October 10, 1861, these companies of the 12th arrived at Hawk's Nest, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) along the New River.

At Hawk's Nest, the two companies left at Gauley Bridge rejoined the rest of the 12th. These units had engaged in several skirmishes, including routing two hundred Confederate cavalrymen on August 25, 1861, since separating from the rest of the regiment. On November 1, 1861, the reunited 12th advanced to Loop Creek in modern-day West Virginia to drive off a Confederate force approaching Gauley. The regiment pursued the retreating Southerners as far as Raleigh Court House in modern-day West Virginia, before returning to Loop Creek. In mid December 1861, the 12th returned to Charleston and entered winter encampment.

On May 3, 1862, the 12th departed Charleston for the East River in modern-day West Virginia, where the organization joined an expedition to the New River. A skirmish erupted at the narrows of this river, sending the Union force in retreat to Princeton, then the Blue Stone River, and finally to Flat Top Mountain, which the Northerners heavily fortified. The 12th spent most of the summer of 1862 at this location, conducting periodic forays against Confederate guerrillas operating in the region.

On August 15, 1862, officials ordered the 12th Regiment to join the Army of the Potomac. The regiment proceeded to Alexandria, Virginia, arriving on August 24. Three days later found the 12th at Manassas Station, engaged, with the Union's Army of Virginia, against the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Bull Run II. In this engagement, the regiment had fifteen men killed, sixty-two wounded, and twelve soldiers missing. Following the battle, the 12th's commanding officer issued the following report:

FAIRFAX STATION, VA., August 27, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report the part taken in the action at Bull Run Bridge this day by the Twelfth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under my command.

In obedience to your order the Twelfth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry left Alexandria this morning at 4 a.m. by rail for Bull Run Bridge, where it arrived about 8 o'clock, disembarked, and formed on the railroad track on the left bank of the stream, fronting two rifle pits on the opposite side. The men were ordered to lie down behind the embankment of the road, while the Eleventh Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry was ordered to the left to prevent a flank movement of the enemy by a ford in that direction. These positions were taken while the enemy were pressing the First New Jersey Brigade, which had preceded us in the advance across the bridge, and their retiring forces mixing with ours on the narrow track produced some little delay in the movement, at the same time the enemy shelling.

Scarcely had we taken position when I received your order to advance and take position to save the bridge, if possible. The Twelfth Regiment was then filed to the right up the hill-side, facing the bridge, brought to a front, and advanced on hands and knees through the insufficient covering of grass and low shrubbery to the brow of the hill, the center overlooking the bridge, the left deflected a little to the rear, to engage the lower rifle pit and the enemy in the woods on the opposite bank of the run. The galling fire poured into their advance soon hurled them back, but in a short time a regiment was sent to outflank our right, and another our left, while a charge was made down the hill on our front. Companies A and F were at once advanced to the right and rear to defend our right. Our line of battle was now crescent-shaped, with three regiments pouring a heavy fire into it, which position was held against this great odds for two hours and a half; and had it not been for the timely assistance of the Eleventh Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry in driving back a column crossing to our left and rear we should have been surrounded, but this enabled me to draw off by the right flank in good order.*

We then formed on the brow of the next hill in our rear on a line parallel to the first. The enemy advanced his forces in the same manner as before, except that the regiments on our right moved farther to our rear, making a desperate effort to cut us off, and did succeed in passing between the regiment and Capt. H. S. Clement, with 20 men, who was sent by Lieut.-Col. Hines to the right to observe and report the enemy's movement in that direction, but fortunately he effected his escape and joined us 2 miles below. We were finally compelled to fall back to the next ridge in the rear, where a stand was made, and with the assistance of the gallant Eleventh Ohio Regiment, which did all that was in the power of men under the circumstances, put a check to their advance, and enabled us to get off our wounded and retire in good order, they covering the retreat.

The officers of my command did their whole duty, and deserve great praise for gallantry and the skillful manner in which they handled their several commands.

Lieut. Col. J. D. Hines, and Maj. E. M. Carey are deserving of special commendation, and to their individual exertion in maintaining order and their prompt assistance in handling the regiment I am in a great measure indebted for being able to withdraw in an open meadow a worn-out and exhausted regiment in the face of a foe four to one.

William B. Nesbitt, lieutenant and adjutant, and James H. Palmer, sergeant-major, are also deserving a special notice for gallantry and devotion to duty. In passing with orders along the line while the command were lying and delivering its fire they were conspicuous and greatly exposed.

The non-commissioned officers and privates of my command are deserving the highest praise for coolness, bravery, and the soldier-like manner with which they obeyed every order and endured the trials and fatigues of the day.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

C. B. WHITE, Col., Commanding Twelfth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Col. E. P. SCAMMON, Comdg. First Provisional Brigade, Kanawha Division.

The 12th retreated to Fairfax Station, Virginia and then to Alexandria, before joining the Union's pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia, as the Confederates advanced into Maryland.

The 12th crossed the Potomac River into Maryland on September 7, 1862. After a skirmish with enemy forces at Monocacy Bridge five days later, the regiment arrived at Frederick, Maryland. Two days later, the Union's Army of the Potomac, including the 12th, engaged a portion of the Army of Northern Virginia at South Mountain, Maryland. At the battle of South Mountain, the regiment made three bayonet charges and captured three Confederate flags, a large number of small arms, and over two hundred prisoners, while having sixteen men killed, ninety-one wounded, and eight soldiers missing. Following the battle, the 12th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. TWELFTH REGIMENT OHIO VOLUNTEERS, Battle-field, Summit of South Mountain, Md., September 14, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report that, after leaving our camp at Catoctin Creek this morning at 6 o'clock, we marched with the column to a point about half-way up the side of South Mountain, and some distance to the left of the National turnpike, from which point, in conformity with your order, we proceeded farther to the left and up the mountain through a pine wood, until within a quarter of a mile of the summit. Here we saw, about 300 yards in front, an infantry regiment of the enemy drawn up on the crest of the mountain. We opened fire and then charged forward. The enemy fled leaving 15 to 20 dead and wounded, and we occupied his ground. Here it was found necessary to order the regiment to lie down, in order to screen the men from the fire of the enemy, and to give time for the Twenty-third Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry to join our left, and the Thirty-sixth and Thirtieth to join our right. While these regiments were coming into position, a section of Capt. McMullins' battery, under command of Lieut. Crome, was advanced to our front, and did good service until the guns were silenced by the enemy's sharpshooters, posted in a thick wood in front. Lieut. Crome was killed while loading a piece, and nearly all his men wounded.

The Thirty-sixth Ohio had now joined us on the right and the Twenty-third Ohio on the left, when a general charge was ordered, in which my regiment gallantly dashed over the crest and into a thicket of laurel under a severe fire. In this charge we drove the enemy in great confusion and inflicted serious loss upon him, killing several with the bayonet. After pursuing about a quarter of a mile, I halted the regiment and lay some time under a sharp fire of canister and shell. Receiving your order to charge the enemy's battery, posted at a stone wall about 600 yards to our front and right, I moved the regiment forward through a dense laurel under a heavy fire, and gained the rear of the battery at a garden inclosed by a stone fence, where a severe fight ensued, in which we were completely successful. Here we captured one national color and two battle-flags. The ground was literally covered with the enemy's dead and wounded, while we took off the field about 200 prisoners, mostly Carolinians. The enemy escaped with his battery during the obstinate contest with the Caroline regiment.

I should fail to do justice to my gallant regiment were I to omit mentioning the efficient service rendered by Lieut. Col. J. D. Hines and Maj. E. M. Carey, the last of whom received a severe flesh wound in the thigh near the close of the action. To these gallant officers I am greatly indebted for assistance throughout the trying contests of the day. Nor must I fail to make honorable mention of Capt. W. W. Liggett, of Company H, who fell mortally wounded while fighting at the head of his company and of Capt. R. Wilson, who was wounded and captured, but managed to escape and take his captors. Of my adjutant, W. B. Nesbitt, and my sergeant-major, James H. Palmer, and, indeed, of every officer and every man of the Twelfth Ohio Regiment of Infantry, I can only say that they did their whole duty, and I only regret that the restricted limits of this report will not admit of a special mention by name.

Our loss, as might be expected from the desperate nature of the service performed, is unfortunately large, being about 35 killed, 100 wounded, and 30 missing. This loss is from less than 500 men.

Respectfully submitted.

C. B. WHITE, Col., Commanding Twelfth Ohio Volunteers.

Col. E. P. SCAMMON, Commanding Kanawha Division.

On September 17, 1862, the 12th also fought in the Battle of Antietam. In this Union victory that ended the Army of Northern Virginia's invasion of Maryland, the regiment had six men killed and twenty-nine more soldiers wounded. Following the battle, the 12th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. TWELFTH REGIMENT OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Camp at Mouth of Antietam Creek, Md., September 22, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to forward the following report of the movements of the Twelfth Regiment Ohio Volunteers Infantry, under my command, in the late actions along the Antietam:

Late in the evening of the 16th of September the regiment was placed in line of battle on the Miller farm, to support Lieut. Benjamin's battery. At 2 a. m. of the 17th I moved the regiment to the left and front of the bridge over Antietam, and in line with the Twenty-third and Thirtieth, and in supporting distance of McMullin's battery. We occupied this position from one to two hours, when we moved with the brigade, under command of Col. Ewing, to a ford about 1 mile down the stream. While fording the stream the enemy opened on the column with artillery, fortunately inflicting but little injury. After crossing the stream, we moved up along its bank to the left and front of the bridge over Antietam, to within supporting distance of Gen. Rodman's division. While lying in this position the enemy shelled us severely for about two hours.

By order of Col. Ewing, we were then moved forward and put in line of battle with the brigade, to charge the enemy's lines posted on and beyond the hill. Before the line moved forward to the charge, it was discovered that the enemy was moving two columns our left flank. My regiment was then ordered to form a line at right angles with the main line, to advance and engage a flanking column of the enemy, which was promptly done under a shower of shell and canister that threatened the destruction of the regiment. With a view to a better position, the regiment was withdrawn to a fence 50 yards in the rear, and put in position. Finding this position equally exposed with the former, both to musketry and artillery, the regiment was ordered back to the position just abandoned, which was held in the face of a heavy fire until ordered back by Lieut. Kennedy, acting assistant adjutant-general of the Kanawha Division, to the brow of the hill in front of the bridge, where it remained by your order during the night.

Our loss on this day was 6 killed and 24 wounded out of about 200 engaged, and occurred mainly from the enemy's artillery while engaged in holding in check the force endeavoring to turn our left.

On the 18th we were advanced to a hill in front, and threw forward a neavy line of pickets, which kept up a fire all day on the enemy's skirmishers. Our loss on this day was 1 man killed and 2 men wounded.

Among so many officers who did their whole duty it might seem invidious to particularize, but I cannot refrain making honorable mention of Lieut. Col. J. D. Hines, to whose aid I am so much indebted for the conduct of the regiment also of William B. Nesbitt, my adjutant, and Sergt. Maj. James H. Palmer. And though it may swell this report beyond a reasonable limit, I must bear testimony to the good conduct of Capts. Joseph L. Hilt, W. B. Smith, and John Lewis; of Lieuts. John Wise, J. W. Ross, T. J. Atkinson, W. A. Ludlum, H. F. Hawkes, J. A. Yordy, W. H. Glotfelter, and H. G. Tibbals; also of Sergts. W. B. Redmon, Maurice Watkins, Jonathan McMillen, and M. B. Mahoney, with others whose names cannot at present be mentioned for want of space, whom I recommend as deserving promotion. Capts. Wilson, Williams, and Pauley were absent. The first named was wounded at South Mountain. The last two were sick and in hospital.

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

C. B. WHITE, Col. Twelfth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Lieut. G. LOFLAND, Lieut. and A. A. A. G., First Provisional Brig., Kanawha Div.

Following Antietam, officials ordered the 12th to western Virginia. The regiment proceeded to western Virginia via Hagerstown, Maryland and Hancock, Maryland, where the command briefly entered Pennsylvania in search of Confederate general James Ewell Brown Stuart's cavalry. With Stuart's retreat to Virginia, the 12th resumed its march to western Virginia, arriving at Clarksburg on October 16, 1862. Nine days later, the regiment advanced to the Kanawha Valley, hoping to drive a Confederate force from the region. The 12th reached Gauley Bridge on November 14, 1862, with the Rebels having fled as the Northerners neared the town.

On December 4, 1862, the 12th marched to Fayette Court House, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) and entered winter encampment. At this location, officials assigned the regiment to the Second Brigade, Third Division of the Eighth Army Corps. On May 19, 1863, the 12th helped repulse a Confederate attack against Fayette Court House, with the regiment having two men killed, nine wounded, and eight soldiers missing. The regiment pursued the retreating Confederates as far as Raleigh Court House, before returning to Fayette Court House. On July 13, 1863, the 12th advanced to Piney Creek, West Virginia to drive out a Confederate force, but the Southerners retreated before the Union soldiers arrived. The regiment promptly returned to Fayette Court House. Four days later, officials ordered the 12th to Ohio to help capture Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry, which was rampaging through the southern portion of the state. The regiment guarded several fords on the Ohio River near Blennerhassett's Island, before returning to Fayette Court House. During the remainder of 1863, the 12th conducted two expeditions to Lewisburg, West Virginia–one in early November and the other in early December–before entering winter encampment at Fayette Court House. Following the second advance on Lewisburg, the 12th's commanding officer issued the following report:

FAYETTE COURT-HOUSE, December 18, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following report:

On the 14th instant, while the regiment was encamped at Meadow Bluff, on its return from Lewisburg, I was ordered to picket the Blue Sulphur road. I accordingly proceeded with my command to a point on that road about 2 1/2 miles from Meadow Bluff and established my headquarters in a vacant house, with pickets in advance. A few hours later, and immediately after my position had been inspected by the commanding officer of the brigade, I discovered rebels lurking in the woods in the rear of my post. I immediately made preparation to receive them, and the post was at once attacked by what afterward proved to be Thurmond's guerrillas, who fired from the cover of trees and bushes, killing 2 and wounding 4 of my command. I promptly returned the fire, and very soon drove the rebels. They retreated through the woods out of sight, leaving behind 1 killed and 1 wounds, Lieut. John T. Ross, of Captain Bill Thurmond's band. It becomes my disagreeable duty to report the bad conduct of certain men of my command who deserted their post at the very outset of the affair, abandoned their comrades in the face of the enemy, fled in consternation to the woods, and finally appeared in camp, some of them without arms or accouterments, and spreading the wildest tales of disaster and defeat.

Their names are as follows: Privates James Bowman, Jonathan V. Homan, Henry C. Parker, Jacob Smith, Martin V. Crosson, Elias Whitacre, William H. Ent, Jacob Hester, Hiram P. Kephart, Francis B. Sims, Andrew Thompson, and Eden Whitacre.

The desertion of these cowards left me with but 29 men to engage the enemy, but this small number fought manfully, and I was thereby enabled to hold the post. Later in the day I withdrew by orders from headquarters.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

HARRISON G. OTIS, First Lieut., 12th Regt. Ohio Vol. Inf., Comdg. Co. A.

Lieut. J. H. PALMER, Actg. Adjt. Twelfth Regiment, Ohio Vol. Infty.

On May 3, 1864, the 12th embarked upon a spring campaign. On May 9, 1864, the regiment engaged a Confederate force at Cloyd's Mountain, West Virginia. In this one hour-long battle, the organization had eleven men killed, sixty-eight wounded, and twenty men captured. After the engagement, the Southerners withdrew. The Ohioans quickly pursued the Confederates, with an artillery battle erupting at New River Bridge. The enemy withdrew from this engagement, and the 12th proceeded to destroy several bridges and some property along the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. In late May, the organization departed West Virginia for Virginia, arriving at Staunton on June 8, 1864. Four days later, the regiment assisted other troops under General David Hunter in destroying property and buildings at the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington. On June 16, 1864, Hunter's command, including the 12th, destroyed track and bridges along the railroad between Liberty and Lynchburg. On the following day, Hunter's organization attacked a Confederate force at Quaker Church, three miles from Lynchburg. the 12th Ohio and the 91st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry charged the enemy, driving the Southerners from the field. The 12th had eight men killed and eleven wounded. The battle continued on June 18, with the Northern units withdrawing at nightfall to Liberty. Over the next several days, the 12th continued the withdraw, eventually entering camp at Camp Piatt on June 29, 1864.

On July 2, 1864, officials ordered the 12th Ohio to Columbus, Ohio, where the regiment, having completed its three-year term, mustered out of service on July 11, 1864.

During the 12th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry's term of service, ninety-six men, including three officers, died on the battlefield. An additional seventy-nine men, including two officers, succumbed to disease or accidents.

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