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42nd 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 42nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Organization occurred at Camp Chase, at Columbus, Ohio. The regiment’s Companies A, B, C, and D mustered into service on September 25, 1861, Company E on October 30, Company F on November 12, and Companies G, H, I, and K on November 26. Future United States President James A. Garfield served as the 42nd’s first colonel.

On December 15, 1861, the 42nd departed Camp Chase, taking the railroad to Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon arriving at this location, the regiment boarded a steamer and sailed up the Ohio River to Catlettsburg, Kentucky, arriving here on December 17. The organization quickly advanced with McLaughlin’s Squadron of Ohio cavalry and with the 14th Regiment Kentucky Infantry to Green Creek, Kentucky. On December 31, 1861, the entire Union force moved towards Paintville, Kentucky, occupying this community on January 8, 1862. On the following day, Colonel Garfield led 1,100 infantrymen, including the entire 42nd, and six hundred cavalrymen in pursuit of retreating enemy forces. On that evening, the Northerners briefly engaged the enemy, driving the Southerners from Abbott’s Hill. On January 10, 1862, the Union command continued the pursuit and engaged the Confederates at Middle Creek, three miles from Prestonburg, Kentucky. Despite being outnumbered more than two-to-one, Garfield ordered his men to attack the center and the Confederate right, prompting the enemy to withdraw from the field after a prolonged fight. On the following day, the Northerners occupied Prestonburg, before returning to Paintville.

On February 1, 1862, the 42nd boarded boats and sailed up the Big Sandy River to Pikeville, Kentucky. On March 14, 1862, the regiment with other Northern units seized Pound Gap, Kentucky. The Union force spent the next few days skirmishing with Confederate guerrillas, before marching for Louisville, Kentucky on March 18. Upon reaching this new location on March 29, 1862, the 42nd entered camp.

In May 1862, the 42nd boarded railroad cars and traveled to Lexington, Kentucky. The regiment then joined Brigadier-General George W. Morgan’s command and marched to Cumberland Ford, where officials brigaded the organization with the 16th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the 14th and 22nd Regiments Kentucky Infantry. On May 15, 1862, the brigade crossed the Cumberland River and entered camp at the junction of the roads leading to Cumberland Gap and to Rogers’s Gap. On June 5, 1862, General Morgan led his troops against Confederate troops at Rogers’s Gap. The 42nd participated in several skirmishes upon reaching this location. On June 18, 1862, the Northerners attempted to strike a Confederate force at Big Spring, but the enemy withdrew as the Union soldiers approached. Morgan ordered his command to Cumberland Gap later that same day, with Confederate soldiers again withdrawing as the Federals approached.

The 42nd Ohio entered camp near Yellow Creek and spent the next six weeks participating in various expeditions. The regiment skirmished with enemy soldiers at Baptist’s Gap and at Tazewell during this time and, on August 5, 1862, confronted the advance units of Confederate General Kirby Smith’s army, which had launched an invasion of Kentucky. On August 6, Smith’s army forced the 42nd’s brigade to withdraw from Tazewell to Cumberland Gap. The Southerners greatly outnumbered the Northerners, prompting the Union force to withdraw from the gap. The 42nd marched through the Kentucky communities of Manchester and Proctor, before crossing the Ohio River into the regiment’s home state at Greenupsburg, Kentucky.

In Ohio, the 42nd encamped at Portland for two weeks. On October 21, 1862, the regiment advanced to Gallipolis, Ohio. The organization crossed the Ohio River and traveled up the Kanawha River to Charlestown, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia). On November 10, 1862, the 42nd returned to Ohio, moving to Cincinnati, where officials sent the regiment down the Ohio River and down the Mississippi River to Memphis, Tennessee, reaching this final location on November 28. At Memphis, the regiment joined the Ninth Division, Thirteenth Army Corps.

On December 20, 1862, the 42nd boarded ships with the remainder of General William T. Sherman’s command, disembarking at Johnston’s Plantation on the Yazoo River. One week later, Sherman’s command assaulted the Confederate defenses at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The 42nd engaged the enemy on December 27, 28, and 29, 1862, but the Northerners failed to seize the city. The Union command withdrew to Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana. On January 4, 1863, the Northern soldiers sailed up the White River to the Arkansas River, where the men disembarked at Arkansas Post. Sherman ordered his soldiers to seize Fort Hindman. The 42nd led the Union assault on the fortification. In this victory, the North seized the fort, seven thousand prisoners, and a sizable quantity of stores and weapons.

On January 24, 1863, the 42nd arrived at Young’s Point, Louisiana, where the regiment spent a few days helping to dig a canal that would allow Union gunboats to bypass Confederate artillery fire from Vicksburg. On March 10, 1863, the 42nd relocated to Milliken’s Bend, where the organization spent one month resting and practicing drill.

In late April 1863, the regiment embarked upon General Ulysses S. Grant’s final assault upon Vicksburg. The 42nd crossed the Mississippi River with most of Grant’s command at Bruinsburg, Mississippi. On April 30, May 1, and May 2, 1863, the 42nd participated in the Union assault upon Port Gibson, Mississippi. On the battle’s second day, the 42nd launched three assaults against the Confederates but failed to drive the enemy from the field. On May 2, the Northerners occupied the town and continued their advance on Vicksburg. The 42nd participated in the Battles of Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge, suffering few casualties. From late May to late June 1863, the regiment served in the Union’s siege lines around Vicksburg, launching periodic assaults against the Confederate defenses. On June 27, 1863, the 42nd left the siege and marched to the Big Black River to prevent enemy reinforcements from reaching the beleaguered Confederates at Vicksburg.

Following Vicksburg’s capitulation to Union troops on July 4, 1863, the 42nd joined General Sherman’s advance against Jackson, Mississippi. After the North’s seizure of the Mississippi capital, the regiment entered camp at Vicksburg. In early August 1863, officials ordered the 42nd to the Department of the Gulf. The organization arrived at New Orleans, Louisiana on August 15, 1863 and embarked upon the Western Louisiana Campaign on September 6, 1863. The 42nd marched with the Union command through the Louisiana communities of Brashear City, Vermillion Bayou, Opelousas, and Berwick Bay. On November 18, 1863, the regiment returned to Brashear City, before moving to Thibodeaux, Donaldsonville, and Plaquemine, reaching the last location on November 21, 1863. At Plaquemine, the 42nd entered winter encampment.

On March 24, 1864, the 42nd marched for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the organization performed provost-guard duty. On May 1, 1864, the regiment advanced to Clinton, Louisiana, where the organization engaged a Confederate force for seven hours, eventually prompting the enemy to retreat. On May 16, 1864, the 42nd arrived at the mouth of the Red River and moved to Simmsport, Louisiana on the Atchafalaya River. The regiment joined General Nathaniel P. Banks’s command and marched to Morganza, Louisiana. From this location, the 42nd participated on several expeditions and had one minor skirmish with enemy soldiers.

On July 15, 1864, the 42nd arrived at the mouth of the White River on the Mississippi River. The regiment crossed the Mississippi River into the State of Mississippi, capturing two small Confederate detachments. The 42nd next sailed up the White River to St. Charles, Louisiana, where the organization helped construct fortifications and joined one expedition. On August 6, 1864, the 42nd returned to Morganza and, one month later, returned to the White River.

On September 15, 1864, officials ordered the regiment’s Companies A, B, C, and D to Camp Chase in Ohio, where authorities mustered the units out of service on September 30, 1864. The regiment’s remaining six companies moved to Duvall’s Bluff, Arkansas, where officials mustered out Companies E and F on November 25, 1864 and the rest of the companies on December 2, 1864. At this time, 101 men still had time remaining on their enlistment. Officials formed these men into a new company and assigned it to the 96th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

During the 42nd Ohio's term of service, fifty-nine men, including one officer, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 181 men, including three officers, died from disease or accidents.

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