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43rd 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 43rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Recruitment occurred at Camp Andrews, at Mount Vernon, Ohio, and the regiment mustered into service on February 7, 1862. The organization's first colonel was J.L. Kirby Smith, a nephew of Confederate General Kirby Smith.

On February 21, 1862, the 43rd departed Mount Vernon for Missouri, where the regiment joined the Ohio Brigade, consisting of the 43rd, 27th, 39th, and 63rd Regiments Ohio Volunteer Infantry. By early March 1862, the 43rd had arrived at New Madrid, Missouri and participated in the capture of this city on March 13 and 14. The Ohio Brigade next advanced with General John Pope against Island No. 10, an island in the Mississippi River. Following this Union victory, the regiment helped capture a Rebel force at Tiptonville, Tennessee. Officials next ordered the 43rd to try to capture the Confederate garrison at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, but General Henry Halleck countermanded these directives, sending Pope's command to Corinth, Mississippi to help the Union's Army of the Tennessee to overcome this city's enemy garrison. The regiment served in the siege lines around Corinth throughout May 1862, until the Northern force occupied the town on May 30.

Following the Siege of Corinth, the 43rd then entered camp at Clear Creek, Mississippi. On August 20, 1862, the regiment advanced towards Iuka, Mississippi and then to Bear Creek, Mississippi, where the organization performed garrison duty until September 11, 1862. The 43rd next joined general William S. Rosecrans advance against Iuka and defeated the city's enemy garrison at the Battle of Iuka on September 19. The Northern force pursued the retreating Confederates as far as Cripple Creek, Mississippi. Rosecrans's command then proceeded to Corinth, where the organization engaged enemy forces at the Battle of Corinth II on October 3 and 4, 1862. On the engagement's second day, the 43rd was positioned near Battery Robinett and repulsed a Confederate assault, while Union soldiers fled from the onslaught. The regiment had one-fourth of its engaged soldiers killed or wounded in the repulse of this attack.

In late 1862, the 43rd advanced with General Ulysses S. Grant's command to Oxford, Mississippi, before moving to western Tennessee, where the regiment spent the winter of 1862-1863 battling Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry. In April 1863, the 43rd advanced into northern Alabama, attempting to drive Confederate forces from the region. After this expedition, the regiment returned to western Tennessee, where the organization spent the summer of 1863 guarding supply and communication lines for the Union forces advancing upon Vicksburg, Mississippi. In October 1863, the 43rd advanced with General William T. Sherman's command towards Chattanooga, Tennessee, but before reaching this location, officials assigned the regiment to repair railroad track between Columbia, Tennessee and Decatur, Alabama. Upon completing this assignment, the 43rd and the rest of the Ohio Brigade entered camp at Prospect, Tennessee.

In December 1863, nearly every member of the 43rd 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 joined the Ohio Brigade and advanced against Decatur, Alabama, driving the Confederate garrison from the town. The brigade remained encamped at Decatur until early May 1864.

On May 1, 1864, the 43rd Ohio embarked upon Union General William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. The goal of this expedition was for Northern forces to capture the important manufacturing center of Atlanta, Georgia. The regiment fought in many of the largest engagements of the campaign, including the Battles of Resaca, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, and Atlanta. The 43rd also successfully defended Sherman's supply train from Confederate General Joseph Wheeler's cavalry at the Chattahoochie River. The regiment did not lose a single wagon to the enemy horsemen. The Union military occupied Atlanta on September 2, 1864, bringing the campaign to a victorious conclusion for the North. The 43rd's commanding officer issued the following reports regarding the campaign:


SIR: In compliance with recent orders, I have the honor to report that on the morning of the 22d instant this regiment, with five companies of the Ninth Illinois Mounted Infantry and one section of Battery C; First Michigan Artillery, all under my command, left Roswell, escorting a train of 400 wagons of the train of the Army of the Tennessee. As the advance of the train neared Decatur it was discovered that the enemy was cannonading the village, and afterward that he was in possession of it. The head of the train was turned to the right down a cross-road leading to the rear of the Twenty-third Corps, except a small portion belonging to the Seventeenth Corps, which, moving with difficulty, was turned to the right down a by-road a mile farther to the rear. At the crossing first named the troops distributed through the train were accumulated and disposed for defense: except three companies of the Ninth Illinois, Maj. Kuhn, commanding, which moved on to assist Colonel Sprague with his brigade, retiring from Decatur by the same road. The entire train passed in safety, and the enemy making no demonstration my command followed it a quarter of a mile, when it rejoined the brigade already in position.

Respectfully your obedient servant,

WAGER SWAYNE, Col. Forty-third Ohio Infantry.

Lieut. A. C. FENNER, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

HDQRS. FORTY-THIRD OHIO VOLUNTEERS, Near Jonesborough, Ga., September 6, 1864.

SIR: In compliance with recent orders, I have the honor to submit the following detailed report of the operations of this command since May 1, 1864:

On that day the regiment moved from Decatur, Ala., as part of the Second Brigade, Fourth Division, Sixteenth Corps, the Second and Fourth Divisions composing the Left Wing, Gen. G. M. Dodge commanding. It still serves in the same organization. Crossing the Tennessee and turning east the regiment marched, via Huntsville, to Woodville May 4, and moving thence by rail, arrived next day at Chattanooga, Tenn. Marching south at once to Rossville, Ga., and thence to Gordon's Mills, the command became part of the column designed to move upon Resaca, under Maj.-Gen. McPherson. Turning east from the vicinity of La Fayette on the night of May 7, the regiment, having the advance, seized the pass known as Ship's Gap, and moving thence with the command next day into Snake Creek Gap, participated without casualty in the reconnaissance before Rosaca May 9. When the demonstration on Rosaca was resumed the regiment did duty in the front line May 13 and part of the 14th south of the town, and afterward until the evacuation north of the town in support of the Fifteenth corps. This service was severe, the men remaining in line and relieving each other as skirmishers, almost without intermission for four days. In the performance of this duty Lieuts. Cornelius McCaffrey and John W. Thompson received severe flesh wounds, and of enlisted men 4 were killed and 18 wounded, whose names have been already presented in the reports of casualties. The skirmishers of this regiment were of the first who entered the village of Resaca. By the route of the main army the regiment reached Kingston May 19, at which place Company K, Capt. J. H. Rhodes, was detailed to guard the ordnance train, on which duty it remained until the 21st of June. From Kingston, May 25, the regiment entered Dallas next day, and the following morning took position in the line, and maintained a detail of two companies of skirmishers until the withdrawal of the army from before that place on the morning of the 1st of June, suffering a loss meanwhile in the person of Lieut. Milo Wilkinson, mortally wounded, and of 9 enlisted men wounded, whose names have been presented as before mentioned.

The Fourth Division being detailed to guard trains the regiment remained on the right flank of the army until the 6th of June, when it marched to Acworth, and leaving Acworth, June 10, participated in the gradual advance upon Kenasaw Mountain, without severe loss, 10 enlisted men wounded being the aggregate of casualties after leaving Dallas until July 3, when the position was evacuated by the enemy. Leaving at the same time the front of Kenesaw, and moving with the command to the right flank of the army, on July 4 the regiment developed the enemy's skirmish line near Ruff's Mill, and reached the Chattahoochee July 7, in the vicinity of Turner's Ferry.

The two following days were employed in marching, via Marietta, to Roswell, near which place, on the afternoon of the 10th, the command forded the Chattahoochee and fortified a tete-de-pont. July 17, the army moving on, the regiment was detached to remain at Roswell and hold the bridge and ford over the Chattahoochee, which it did without incident until the 22d. At this place Company G, temporarily commanded by Lieut. Robert McNary, was detached for the protection of the division supply train, with which it has since remained. Escorting the supply train of the Army of the Tennessee it moved to the vicinity of Decatur, arriving just after the brilliant defense of that village by the rest of the brigade, under Gen. John W. Sprague, to which alone it is indebted for the safe delivery of its charge. Re-entering Decatur and afterward assisting to destroy the Augusta railroad, on the night of the 26th of July the regiment moved with the command to the right of the main army, and next day took its place in the main line, and remained there, doing frequent skirmish and pioneer duty, for four weeks, suffering an aggregate of casualties of 2 men killed, 16 wounded. and 7 missing, the latter on the occasion of an advance of the whole line on the 4th of August.

On the afternoon of the 24th of August the regiment was withdrawn and employed that night and the next day in constructing earth-works to serve as a flank line during the withdrawal of the army. Taking its place in the movement, and marching via Campbellton, the regiment helped to destroy the Atlanta and Montgomery Railroad, near Fairburn, August 29, and the next evening reached the vicinity of Jonesborough, where it was present, but not engaged, during the operations of the 30th ultimo and of the 1st of September. Moving the next day through Jonesborough, the regiment assisted in the destruction of the Atlanta and Macon Railroad, and went into camp near Lovejoy's. There, on the day following, after four months of labor, dangers, and exposure, which, without impairing its patriotism, had exhausted its strength, it welcomed an order officially announcing the close of a campaign that had already yielded the fruition of its hopes.

I cannot close an account of the campaign without referring to the faithfulness of Lieut. Col. W. F. Herrick, Capt. John S. Hamilton, and Lieut. John P. Kinney, adjutant, all continuing on duty when often suffering from actual disease. Capt. John H. Rhodes, when there was but one field officer with the regiment, relieved me with cordial and efficient service.

Capt. Peter Hewetson, when both the medical officers of the regiment had been removed for duty elsewhere, gave, to my great relief, his efficient aid as acting assistant surgeon through several weeks of laborious campaign. Rev. R. L. Chittenden, chaplain, has been unwearied in all the kindly usefulness of his calling; and only necessity that mention here be special, prevents a list of others who met the trying requirements of the campaign with a full measure of performance.

A higher tribute is due to the suffering and the dead. The last sacrifice to freedom has been freely made, and wounds just less than death have been borne as brave men can. Last winter all but a fraction of the enlisted men renewed their pledge of service, knowing all its meaning. In carrying out that pledge the hard trials of war have been met freely, but these only have been called to show the full honor and devotion of that act; they have shown it with their bodies and their lives. More than this cannot be written. Lieutenant Wilkinson, rising regularly from the ranks, uniformly meritorious, and a Christian gentleman, had hardly received his first commission when, the seal of death was set to it.

For your further information I append a consolidated report of casualties, showing an aggregate loss of 3 officers and 72 men killed, wounded, and missing during the campaign.*

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant

WAGER SWAYNE, Col., Cmdg. Forty-third Ohio.

Lieut. A. C. FENNER, A. A. A. G., 2d Brig., 4th Dir., 16th Army Corps.

Following the Atlanta Campaign, the 43rd remained at Atlanta for a few weeks before joining the Union’s pursuit of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s army, which was advancing through northern Georgia, northern Alabama, and southern Tennessee in the direction of Nashville. The regiment marched through northern Georgia and briefly entered Alabama, reaching Gaylesville, before returning to Atlanta. At Atlanta, officials assigned the 43rd to the Second Brigade, First Division, Seventeenth Army Corps.

In mid-November 1864, the 43rd Ohio joined General Sherman's "March to the Sea." The ultimate goal of this campaign was for the Union military to seize Savannah, Georgia. The regiment saw no real combat on this campaign until reaching Savannah, where the organization participated in the Union's siege lines of the city's Confederate garrison. The Union military occupied Savannah on December 21, 1864, with the 43rd entering camp at Dillon's Bridge.

In late January 1865, the 43rd Ohio embarked upon General Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign. In South Carolina, the regiment participated in several skirmishes with Confederate forces, including a stiff engagement at River's Bridge. In early March 1865, the 43rd entered North Carolina, arriving at Fayetteville in the middle of the month. The regiment participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina from March 19 to 21, 1865. Following this Union victory, the regiment moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina, before advancing to and entering camp at Raleigh, North Carolina.

Following the surrender of General Joseph Johnston's Confederate army in late April 1865, the 43rd marched to Washington, DC, where the organization participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865. The regiment proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, taking the Baltimore and Ohio railroad to Parkersburg, West Virginia and then boarding a steamer and sailing down the Ohio River the remainder of the way. On July 13, 1865, the 43rd mustered out of service at Louisville. The regiment then proceeded to Ohio, where officials discharged the unit's members, allowing the men to return to their homes.

During the 43rd Ohio's term of service, sixty-five men, including four officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 191 men, including two officers, died from disease or accidents.

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