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 22nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This organization enrolled between April 16, 1861 and May 12, 1861. Companies A and C organized at Chillicothe, Ohio on April 16, 1861 and April 21, 1861 respectively. Companies B and H formed at Athens, Ohio on April 21, 1861 and May 2, 1861 respectively. Company G organized at Portsmouth, Ohio on May 12, 1861. Company E originated at Batavia, Ohio on April 23, 1861. Company F formed at Washington Court House, Ohio on April 20, 1861. Company I formed at Felicity, Ohio on April 24, 1861. Company K organized at Greenfield, Ohio on April 26, 1861. The State of Ohio formally mustered the companies into service for three months of duty from May 27 to June 10, 1861, with the effective muster date being April 27, 1861. The companies mustered into service at Camp Jackson at Columbus, Ohio.
On May 30, 1861, the 22nd Regiment departed Columbus via train for Parkersburg, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). As the regiment passed near Raysville, Ohio, an accident occurred on the train, resulting in the deaths of four soldiers. At Parkersburg, the 22nd fortified Jackson's Hill and the approaches to a bridge over the Kanawha River. After several days, the organization moved to the Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) communities of Burning Spring and Elizabethtown, where the regiment protected civilians from Confederate guerrillas. The 22nd captured some of these men and sent them to the Union prison camp, Camp Chase, at Columbus, Ohio. These were the first prisoners housed at Camp Chase. The 22nd next moved to Three Forks, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where the organization dispersed a group of Confederate soldiers. The regiment then advanced to Glenville, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) to assist the 7the Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry against Southern forces. The 22nd participated in several expeditions from Glenville to eradicate Confederate guerrillas from the region. The regiment also guarded railroads, bridges, and tunnels from Southern forces.
In early August 1861, the 22nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry received orders to return to Ohio. On August 19, 1861, officials mustered the regiment out of duty at Athens, Ohio. During its term of service, the regiment had four men killed in a railroad accident and two men wounded on the battlefield.