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34th 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. Soldiers of Ohio infantry regiments served the Union for varying lengths of time, ranging from one hundred days to three years. One of the three-year regiments was the 34th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment organized at Camp Lucas, in Clermont County, Ohio, and mustered into service on September 2, 1861 at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. The organization’s members adopted the nickname “Piatt Zouaves” the 34th’s first colonel, Abraham S. Piatt, and also after the type of uniform that the men wore.

On September 15, 1861, the 34th departed Camp Dennison for Camp Enyart, on the Kanawha River, in present-day West Virginia. The organization arrived at this location five days later. On September 25, 1861, the 34th engaged and drove from the battlefield a Confederate regiment near Chapmanville, in Logan County, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). In this engagement, the Ohioans had one man killed and eight more wounded. The regiment spent the remainder of the autumn of 1861 and the winter of 1861-1862 serving as the rearguard of General William S. Rosecrans’s Union army. The 34th also conducted numerous expeditions against Confederate guerrillas in Cabell, Putnam, Mason, Wayne, and Logan Counties, in present-day West Virginia.

In March 1862, the 30th advanced to Gauley Bridge, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where the organization joined a Union advance against the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. On May 17 and 18, 1862, the regiment also engaged enemy forces at the Battle of Princeton in present-day West Virginia. In August 1862, officials assigned the 34th and the 37th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry to garrison duty at Fayetteville, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). On September 10, 1862, Confederate forces attacked the two Ohio regiments, with the Northerners retreating under the cover of darkness early in the morning of September 11. The Southerners pursued the Union force, and engagements occurred at Cotton Mountain and at Charleston in present-day West Virginia. The Northerners withdrew to Point Pleasant, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) on the Ohio River. In October 1862, after Union reinforcements arrived, the 34th helped drive the enemy soldiers from the Kanawha Valley.

From late autumn 1862 to late spring 1863, the 34th served on garrison duty in the Kanawha Valley. In May 1863, officials provided the regiment with mounts, and the organization assumed the nickname of the “Mounted Rifles.” On July 13, 1863, the 34th with two companies of the 1st Regiment Virginia Cavalry and seven companies from the 2nd Regiment Virginia Cavalry joined an expedition against the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad at Wytheville, Virginia. On July 18, the Northerners arrived at the town, and a battle erupted with a Confederate force. After a lengthy engagement, the Union soldiers captured the enemy’s artillery pieces, driving the Southerners from the battlefield. In this battle, the 34th had four men killed, thirteen soldiers wounded, and thirty-three troopers missing. During the entire expedition, the Northerners captured more than 250 horses, 360 prisoners, two artillery pieces, and a large amount of enemy supplies. The Union soldiers also destroyed between three thousand and five thousand stands of arms and one bridge. The 34th returned to the Kanawha Valley, where the organization primarily performed garrison duty for the remainder of 1863 except for a periodic expedition to Lewisburg, West Virginia.

In early January 1864, two-thirds of the 34th reenlisted in the Union military. The re-enlistees received a thirty-day furlough to their homes in Ohio. Upon returning to the front, the regiment entered camp again in the Kanawha Valley. On May 1, 1864, the 34th embarked upon another expedition against the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. The mounted portions of the regiment advanced with cavalry forces, while the dismounted part of the command marched with the 36th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On May 9, the cavalry forces arrived at Wytheville and engaged an enemy force that drove the Northerners from the field. On that same day, the infantry units defeated a Confederate force at Cloyd Mountain, near Dublin Depot. On May 10, the Northern infantrymen also defeated an enemy detachment at a railroad bridge over the New River. The Union soldiers proceeded to destroy the bridge, before withdrawing to Meadow Bluffs, West Virginia, reaching this location on May 19, 1864. The entire 34th reunited together at this location but continued to serve as separate mounted and dismounted detachments.

In late May 1864, all parts of the 34th departed Meadow Bluffs for Staunton, Virginia. The regiment passed through White Sulphur Springs and Callahan’s Stand, before engaging and defeating a small Confederate force at Panther Gap Mountain. On June 5, 1864, the organization also battled a unit of enemy cavalrymen at the Cow Pasture River and, in the days immediately following, skirmished with Confederate units at Buffalo Gap. On June 8, 1864, the 34th reached Staunton and joined General David Hunter’s advance upon Lynchburg, Virginia on the following day. The Northern force advanced through Brownsburg, Lexington, and Buckhannon, where a brief skirmish occurred. The Union command next crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Peaks of Otter, before engaging a small enemy force at Liberty on June 16, 1864. Two days later, the Northerners assaulted Lynchburg and nearly took the city. On that night, Confederate reinforcements arrived. When the battle resumed on the next day, the Northerners fought valiantly but evacuated the field the night of June 19. The victorious Confederates pursued the Union command, with a skirmish occurring at Liberty. At Salem, on June 21, Confederate forces briefly captured the Union’s artillery pieces, but the mounted soldiers of the 34th succeeded in reclaiming the guns. The Northerners finally reached the safety of Charleston, West Virginia on July 1, 1864.

At Charleston, officials dismounted the entire 34th Ohio and, on July 10, 1864, ordered the regiment to board transports for Parkersburg, West Virginia. The organization next boarded trains for Martinsburg, arriving at this community on July 14, 1864. At Martinsburg, the 34th joined a brigade of Union soldiers and advanced on Winchester, Virginia, hoping to seize this city before Confederate General Jubal Early’s army could occupy the town. To stop the Northerners’ advance, early sent a portion of his army to the city. On July 20, the 34th’s brigade attacked the Southerners, driving them from the battlefield and capturing all of the enemy’s artillery. On July 24, Early attacked the Northerners at Winchester, capturing the town from the Union soldiers. Early’s army pursued the withdrawing Northerners and attacked the Union command at Martinsburg on July 25. Again, the Northerners fled, with the 34th being the last Union regiment to depart the field.

Following the defeat at Martinsburg, the 34th crossed the Potomac River into Maryland. In mid-August 1864, the regiment reentered Virginia and engaged Early’s Confederates near Front Royal on August 11. From August 12 to August 17, the 34th skirmished with the Southerners along Cedar Creek, before withdrawing to Berryville, Virginia. From August 21 to 27, the regiment skirmished with the enemy at Halltown, Virginia. On August 28, 1864, the Ohioans advanced to Charlestown, Virginia, where the non-veterans of the 34th mustered out of service. On September 3, 1864, the regiment’s remaining members participated in the Battle of Berryville and then entered camp at Summit Point until September 19, 1864, when the organization fought in the Battle of Winchester. Following this Union victory, the Battle of Fisher’s Hill occurred on September 22, 1864. In this engagement, the 34th’s brigade captured all of the Confederate artillery. The Northerners pursued the retreating Southerners as far as Harrisonburg, Virginia, before returning to Cedar Creek. Early’s Confederates pursued the Union army and encamped at Fisher’s Hill. The Southerners attacked the Northerners at Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864. After initially forcing the Union command to withdraw, the Confederates retreated from the battlefield, when the Northerners counterattacked.

For the remainder of the autumn of 1864, the 34th encamped near Kernstown, Virginia, until returning to Martinsburg in mid-December 1864. On December 22, 1864, the regiment boarded trains for Webster, Virginia and then encamped at Beverly, Virginia on December 28. On January 11, 1865, a Confederate force attacked Beverly, surprising the Union garrison and capturing most of the Northern soldiers. The few members of the 34th that did escape retreated to Philippi, West Virginia. Officials reassigned these men to the 36th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and the 34th Ohio ceased to exist.

During the 34th Ohio's term of service, 130 men, including ten officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 130 enlisted men died from disease or accidents.

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