With the American Civil War's outbreak, neither the North nor the South had sufficient military forces to conduct a war. Both the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, at first, relied upon volunteers either to form or to bolster their respective militaries.
With the American Civil War's outbreak, neither the North nor the South had sufficient military forces to conduct a war. Both the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, at first, relied upon volunteers either to form or to bolster their respective militaries. Typically, individual states would recruit and send volunteers to their respective federal governments. Initially, many states relied on militia forces. Historically, every British colony in North America had established a militia. The militia usually consisted of adult, able-bodied men, who would rally to defend the colonies and, following the American Revolution, states during military crises. By the start of the American Civil War, unfortunately for both the Confederate States of America and the United States of America, most state militias were in a decline and unprepared for a major war.
In Ohio, Governor William Dennison hoped to supply the United States government with men and supplies from the Ohio militia. Ohio's militia system was virtually nonexistent by 1861. While militia forces played a vital role in Ohio's history from the American Revolution to the War of 1812, most major military threats to Ohio's security ended with the War of 1812. Following this conflict, the federal government quickly removed most Native Americans further west, and in the decades immediately following the war, no European or other major power attacked the United States. Facing no serious internal or external threats, most states, including Ohio, allowed their militia organizations to weaken. Most militia groups became mere social organizations and did not actively practice or study military maneuvers or tactics.
Dennison quickly discovered that Ohio's militia system could not play an active role in the American Civil War. Following the Battle of Fort Sumter and President Abraham Lincoln’s call for seventy-five thousand volunteers to return the seceded states to the Union in April 1861, Ohio's governor sent Jacob Cox, a state politician, and George McClellan, a former United States Army officer and current businessman, to Ohio's arsenal to assess the availability of weapons and supplies. Cox and McClellan found three or four crates of smoothbore muskets, a number of inoperable six-pound cannons, and some mildewed horse harnesses. Upon learning of the dire condition of the state's military supplies, Dennison still encouraged Ohioans to reestablish militia units to defend the state from Southern attack and to assist the federal government in reuniting the nation.
Ohioans quickly responded to the governor's and the federal government's call for troops. Among Ohio's earliest regiments was the 14th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This organization enrolled between April 19, 1861 and April 23, 1861. Company A organized at Toledo, Ohio on April 22, 1861. Company B formed at Toledo, Ohio on April 20, 1861. Company C organized at Bryan, Ohio on April 19, 1861. Company D formed at Defiance, Ohio on April 23, 1861. Company E formed at Stryker, Ohio on April 22, 1861. Company F originated at Napoleon, Ohio on April 22, 1861. Company G formed at Antwerp, Ohio on April 22, 1861. Company H organized at Wauseon, Ohio on April 22 1861. Company I formed at Waterville, Ohio on April 22, 1861, and Company K at Toledo, Ohio on April 23, 1861. On April 25, 1861, officials dispatched the 14th Regiment to Camp Taylor, near Cleveland, Ohio, where the State of Ohio formally mustered the regiment into service for three months of duty on May 18 and May 20, 1861, with the effective muster date being April 27, 1861.
On May 22, 1861, the 14th Regiment departed for and arrived at Columbus, Ohio, where the regiment’s members received their weapons. Also on May 22, 1861, the 14th OVI proceeded to Marietta, Ohio via Zanesville, Ohio. At Marietta, the regiment stayed at Camp Putnam and received military training. On May 27, 1861, officials sent the 14th to Parkersburg, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where the regiment protected the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. On May 29, 1861, the 14th OVI advanced to Clarksburg, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where the regiment continued to guard the railroad. On June 2, 1861, the 14th traveled by train to Webster and then marched thirteen miles to Phillippi, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). The regiment participated in the Battle of Phillippi on June 3, 1861, the Battle of Laurel Hill on July 8, 1861, and the Battle of Carrick's Ford on July 14, 1861. The 14th lost a combined eight men killed and many more wounded in these battles. Following the Battle of Carrick’s Ford, the 14th Regiment returned to Laurel’s hill, where it served on garrison duty until July 22, 1861, when officials ordered the regiment to Toledo. The 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment arrived at Toledo on July 25, 1861, and authorities mustered the regiment out of service on August 13, 1861.
During its term of service, the 14th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry had eight men killed on the battlefield, and a small number of additional men died from disease.