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 19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This organization enrolled between April 22, 1861 and April 27, 1861. Company A organized at Canton, Ohio on April 27, 1861. Company B formed at Youngstown, Ohio on April 27, 1861. Company C organized at Warren, Ohio on April 24, 1861. Company D formed at Morgan, Ohio on April 25, 1861. Company E originated at New Lisbon, Ohio on April 24, 1861. Company F formed at Chardon, Ohio on April 24, 1861. Companies G and K organized at Akron, Ohio on April 22, 1861 and April 27, 1861 respectively. Company H organized at Salem, Ohio on April 22, 1861. Company I formed at Ashtabula, Ohio on April 27, 1861. The State of Ohio formally mustered the regiment into service for three months of duty on May 9, 1861, with the effective muster date being April 27, 1861.
Upon forming, each company reported to Camp Taylor at Cleveland, Ohio. In mid May, officials dispatched Companies A and B to Bellaire, Ohio to guard a ferry. On May 27, 1861, the rest of the 19th traveled via train to Camp Jackson at Columbus, Ohio and then to Bellaire. In the meantime, on June 3, Companies A and B moved to Glover's Gap and Mannington, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), before rejoining the regiment at Bellaire on June 20, 1861. On June 21, the 19th sailed to Parkersburg, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), arriving on June 23. Two days later, the regiment traveled by train to Clarksburg, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where the organization joined General George McClellan's Army of West Virginia. On June 29, the army left Clarksburg, reaching Buckhannon, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) on July 2, 1861 and Roaring Creek, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) on July 7, 1861. On July 11, 1861, the Army of West Virginia, including the 19th, engaged Confederate forces at the Battle of Rich Mountain. The regiment performed well, withstanding a Southern attack on the organization's flank.
On July 23, 1861, officials ordered the 19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry to Columbus to be mustered out of service. The regiment's various companies mustered out of service between August 27 and 31, 1861. During its term of service, the regiment had one man die due to disease.