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68th 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 68th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Volunteers from Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Fulton, and Williams Counties formed the regiment at Camp Latta at Napoleon, Ohio, beginning on November 21, 1861. Defiance, Paulding, Fulton, and Williams Counties each provided one company, while Henry County offered the remaining six companies to comprise the regiment.

The 68th remained at Camp Latta until January 21, 1862, when the organization moved to Camp Chase at Columbus, Ohio. On February 7, 1862, the regiment advanced to Fort Donelson, Tennessee, arriving on February 14. The 68th participated in the subjugation of this Confederate fort and then entered camp at Dover, Tennessee.

On March 15, 1862, the 68th Ohio marched to Metal Landing, Tennessee and then traveled by steamer to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. At this new location, the regiment's members experienced severe illness, depleting the organization's ranks from approximately one thousand men to 250 soldiers available for duty. The 68th did not engage Confederate forces at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6 and April 7, 1862, being ordered to stay in the rear guarding supply and ordinance trains. The regiment did join the Union advance against Corinth, Mississippi in May 1862 but did not participate in the siege, as officials had these Ohioans digging entrenchments and building roads and bridges.

Following the Union's occupation of Corinth, the 68th Regiment marched to Bolivar, Tennessee, where the organization, along with the 23rd Indiana Infantry Regiment, repaired a railroad bridge over the Hatchie River. The 68th spent the next several months guarding the railroad, before joining the Army of the Tennessee's advance against Iuka, Mississippi. On this expedition, the regiment did not participate in the Battles of Iuka or of Corinth II but did join the Union's pursuit of the retreating Confederates and engaged the enemy at the Battle of Matamora. The 68th concluded 1862 on a campaign through central Mississippi against the city of Vicksburg, but a Confederate victory at Holly Springs, Mississippi prompted the termination of this movement. The regiment entered winter encampment at Memphis, Tennessee.

In the spring of 1863, the 68th moved down the Mississippi River to Lake Providence, Louisiana, where the Ohioans helped to dig the Lake Providence Canal. Union officials hoped that this canal would allow Union ships to bypass Vicksburg, allowing Northern gunboats to shell this city from the south. During this time, the 68th also helped to construct a canal at Walnut Bayou. On April 10, 1863, the regiment moved to Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, where the organization helped build a road to Richmond, Louisiana. While the regiment engaged in this work, four of the organization's members, Lieutenant J.C. Banks, Private John Snyder, Private Joseph Longberry, and Private William Barnhart, sailed a steamer down the Mississippi River past the Confederate cannons at Vicksburg. The men successfully carried out their mission under the cover of darkness on April 21, 1863.

On April 23, 1863, the 68th marched to Grand Gulf, Louisiana. The regiment crossed the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg, Mississippi and joined the Union advance to Vicksburg. The 68th fought in the Battles of Thompson's Hill, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, and Big Black River Bridge, before besieging the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg. The regiment attacked the Confederate lines at Vicksburg on May 18, 1863 and at Fort Hill on May 22, 1863. Following the assault on Fort Hill, officials assigned the 68th to the Army of Observation at Big Black River Bridge. The organization participated in an expedition towards Yazoo City, Mississippi in late June and also, following the Union's seizure of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, an attack on Confederate forces at Jackson, Mississippi. After the Battle of Jackson, the 68th escorted six hundred Confederate prisoners to Vicksburg.

In mid-August 1863, the 68th departed Vicksburg for Monroe, Louisiana. On this expedition, illness struck the regiment severely. When the organization returned to Vicksburg, one-third of these Ohioans entered the hospital. In October 1863, the 68th joined the Seventeenth Corps on a movement that culminated in a skirmish at Bogue Chitto Creek, Mississippi. In early February 1864, the regiment participated in the Meridian Expedition and engaged Confederate troops on February 5, 1864 at Baker's Creek, Mississippi. After this campaign, the 68th returned to Vicksburg.

In March 1864, the 68th's members who had reenlisted in late 1863 and early 1864 proceeded on a furlough to their homes in Ohio, traveling via Cairo, Illinois. The soldiers returned to duty in early May 1864. The regiment sailed from Cincinnati, Ohio to Cairo and then to Clifton, Tennessee. The organization then marched via Huntsville, Alabama, Decatur, Alabama, and Rome, Georgia to Acworth, Georgia. At this final location, on June 10, 1864, the 68th joined Union General William T. Sherman's campaign against Atlanta, Georgia.

During the Atlanta Campaign, the 68th fought in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the Battle of Nicojack, the Battle of Atlanta, the Battle of Jonesborough, and the Battle of Lovejoy's Station. Following the Union's occupation of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, the regiment entered camp at Eastpoint, Georgia.

In mid-September, the 68th joined the Union's pursuit of Confederate general John Bell Hood's army, which was advancing through northern Alabama towards Nashville, Tennessee. The regiment marched as far as Gaylesville, Alabama, before returning to the vicinity of Atlanta.

On November 15, 1864, the 68th embarked upon General William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea." The command engaged in no noteworthy battles or skirmishes on this march to Savannah, Georgia, except for a brief encounter with the Georgia Militia along the Oconee River. Upon reaching Savannah on December 10, 1864, the regiment joined the Union's siege of this city. The siege ended in a Northern victory on December 21, 1864, and the 68th Regiment entered Savannah that day, establishing camps at Warren Park and at Oglethorpe Park.

The Ohioans remained in Savannah or its vicinity until January 5, 1865, when the 68th sailed to Beaufort, South Carolina and embarked upon General Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. The regiment marched through the South Carolina communities of Orangeburg, Columbia, Winnsboro, and Cheraw, experiencing no combat. Upon entering North Carolina, the 68th marched, via Fayetteville and Goldsboro, to Raleigh. On this march, the 68th saw no significant combat. Upon Confederate General Joseph Johnston's surrender in late April 1865, the regiment proceeded, via Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, DC., where the organization marched in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865.

The 68th spent the last week of May at Tenleytown, in Washington, D.C., before traveling to Louisville, Kentucky. The regiment engaged in drill at this city until July 10, 1865, when officials mustered the organization out of service. The 68th proceeded to Camp Taylor, at Cleveland, Ohio, where the command's members received their discharges on July 18, 1865.

During the Civil War's course, fifty men, including two officers, from the 68th Ohio died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 250 soldiers, including one officer, succumbed to illness or accidents. The regiment's members set foot in every seceded state except for Florida and Texas. These Ohioans also marched over seven thousand miles and traveled by train or steamboat over six thousand miles.

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