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75th 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 75th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Volunteers from the Cincinnati area formed the 75th Regiment on December 18, 1861, at Fort John McLean. Nathaniel Mclean, son of a former judge and the fort's namesake, served as the regiment's first colonel.

The 75th first traveled to Grafton, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), arriving there on January 29, 1862. On February 17, 1862, the regiment advanced to Huttonsville, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), at the foot of Cheat Mountain, reaching this destination on March 1, 1862. On April 6, 1862, the 75th and the other regiments in its brigade embarked upon an expedition to Staunton, Virginia, which involved marching over the Alleghany Mountains. The march proved difficult, with the men experiencing disastrous weather and deep mud. The force stopped at Monterey Court House, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), until the men at the rear of the column could free themselves and the detachment's supplies from the mud.

While at Monterey Court House, the Confederates attacked the Northern force on April 12, 1862. The 75th Regiment, being in the advance, received the brunt of the attack. In this two hour-long engagement, the Union force emerged victorious, driving the Confederates from the field.

Several days after this battle, the Union command entered the Shenandoah Valley via Buffalo Gap. Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson's twenty thousand troops immediately pursued the three thousand Northerners. The Union command retreated to McDowell, Virginia, (modern-day West Virginia), at the base of Bull Pasture Mountain.

In the morning hours of May 8, 1862, Jackson's Confederate army advanced on McDowell. Despite greatly outnumbering the Northerners, the Southerners did not attack. Union commanders ordered the 75th Ohio and the 25th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry to assault the Confederate line. Fighting raged until nightfall, when the Union retreated. The 75th had eighty-seven men killed or wounded in the Battle of McDowell. Among the killed were Color-Sergeant Enoch Gordon and Sergeant-Major L.L. Stewart, while Captain A.L. Harris received a severe wound.

The Northerners retreated to Franklin, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where the soldiers joined General John C. Fremont's command. Jackson's Confederates engaged the Union soldiers for ten days, as the Southerners attempted to breach the Northerners' line. Failing in their objective, the Rebels returned to the Shenandoah Valley.

Fremont's command, including the 75th Regiment, followed the Southerners into the valley, and engaged a Confederate force at Cross Keys, Virginia on June 10, 1862. In the ensuing Battle of Cross Keys, the 75th spent most of the day in the reserve but did launch an assault against the Rebels late in the afternoon. In this engagement, the Union lost a significantly larger number of men killed, wounded, or captured, but the Southerners withdrew the night of June 10.

Following the Battle of Cross Keys, the 75th joined a new Union army, the Army of Virginia, under the command of Major General John Pope. Officials organized this force to protect Washington, D.C., while the main Union command in the Eastern Theater–the Army of the Potomac–advanced on Richmond, Virginia in the Peninsula Campaign. Following the Army of the Potomac's defeat in this campaign, the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia embarked on a northward advance. On August 8, 1862, the forefront of the Confederate army engaged the Army of Virginia at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia. The 75th saw limited action in this Union victory. The Southerners soon continued their northern advance, with the Army of Virginia finally locating the Rebels at Manassas, Virginia. In the Battle of Bull Run II (August 28-30, 1862), the Confederates defeated the Northerners, sending the Union command retreating towards Washington, DC. Stationed on the Union left, the 75th participated in all three days of the battle but was especially engaged on the afternoon of the engagement's final day. The regiment had eleven men killed, thirty-eight soldiers wounded, and twenty captured.

At Washington, DC, officials dissolved the Army of Virginia, with its units, including the 75th Regiment, joining the Army of the Potomac. While most of this Northern force pursued the Army of Northern Virginia through Maryland, culminating in the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862), the 75th remained in the fortifications at Washington, defending the city.

When the Army of the Potomac advanced into Virginia during the autumn of 1862, the 75th joined the movement. The regiment was present at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia (December 11-15, 1862) but did not engage enemy forces in this fight. The 75th entered camp at Brook's Station, Virginia. The Army of the Potomac next engaged the Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia (April 30-May 6, 1863). The 75th played an active role in the engagement, in the span of a single half hour having 150 men killed or wounded. Among the dead was the regiment's commanding officer, Colonel Robert Reilly. After the battle, the 75th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. 75TH Regt. OHIO VOL. INFANTRY, May 9, 1863. GEN.: Agreeably to your order, I beg to submit the following report:

About noon on the 2d instant, the Seventy-fifth was ordered to the right, to support the First Brigade.

At 4.15 p.m. a volley was fired on our right flank by the One hundred and fifty-third Pennsylvania. From information received, found it was occasioned by the appearance of rebel cavalry.

About 5.20 p.m. heavy firing commenced on our right. Col. Reily immediately wheeled the Seventy-fifth to the right, and ordered column to be deployed; but before the same could be properly accomplished, a portion of the First Brigade broke through our ranks, considerably retarding the movement. The regiment was, however, formed in good order, and, after firing 3 rounds, men falling fast, and heavily pressed by overwhelming numbers, the order was given by Col. Reily to about-face, which was twice repeated by me before the regiment faced to the rear. They then retreated in good order, ready to form on the first support, and were rallied by you personally about 6.15 p.m., and reformed.

I have the honor to be, general, your most obedient servant,

B. MORGAN, Capt., Cmdg. Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers.

Gen. N. C. McLEAN, Cmdg. 1st Division, 11th Army Corps.

Following the Union's defeat at and withdraw from Chancellorsville, the 75th returned to its old camp at Brook's Station. On June 12, 1863, the regiment joined the Army of the Potomac's pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia, as this Confederate organization launched an invasion of the North. The Union command intercepted the Southerners at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the Battle of Gettysburg occurred from July 1-3, 1863. In this engagement, the 75th originally served in the Union reserve force but entered the fray the very first day, being driven through Gettysburg by the advancing Rebels. The regiment remained engaged for the duration of the battle and had thirty-six men killed, 106 wounded, and another thirty-four soldiers taken prisoner. After the battle, the 75th's commanding officer issued the two following reports:

Hdqrs. Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers, July 5, 1863.

Sir: In compliance with orders received at these headquarters, I beg leave to submit the following condensed report of the part taken by the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the battle of July 1, 2, and 3:

Marched from Emmitsburg with about 160 officers and men on the morning of July 1, leaving 100 enlisted men and 3 commissioned officers to scout the country in the neighborhood of the Greencastle road.

Arrived at Gettysburg at about 1 p. m., and was sent immediately to the northwest part of the city and placed in line of battle ready to meet the enemy on the right center of Second Brigade, First Division; was ordered forward in line of battle to receive the attack of the enemy. Advanced to the edge of the woods, when both flanks, being unsupported and exposed to an enfilading fire, were compelled to fall back with heavy loss in killed, wounded, and missing; rallied again the few men left, and fell back to the hill, which we now occupy.

Here, by the return of a part of the scouting party before mentioned, the number increased to 91 officers and men.

July 2 was spent in skirmishing with the enemy's sharpshooters until about 4 p. m., when we were again ordered to prepare for action, and the Seventy-fifth was placed at the stone wall south of the hill, with the Seventeenth Connecticut immediately on our left. Just before the attack was made, the Seventeenth was thrown to the extreme right of the line, and the space at the wall where they had been was left unoccupied, excepting by a few of the Twenty-fifth Ohio Volunteers. About dusk the enemy attacked the regiment in front and on the flank and rear at nearly the same time, having come through the space which had been vacated by the removal of the Seventeenth Connecticut Volunteers. From this attack but few escaped, and those only in the darkness and smoke; the greater portion were no doubt made prisoners.

But little transpired on the 3d, excepting a heavy artillery fire, which we were exposed to during the day, and constant skirmishing with the enemy's sharpshooters in the buildings on the outskirts of the town, from which they fired with much effect, wounding quite a number of the regiment during the day.

Hoping this imperfect report will be sufficient for the present, I remain, colonel, your obedient servant,

A. L. HARRIS, Col., Comdg. Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers.

Col. Noble, Comdg. Second Brigade, First Division.

Jacksonville, Fla., April 7, 1864.

Sir: In compliance with your request, I lay before you the following facts in regard to the different positions and the part taken by the Second Brigade, First Division, Eleventh Corps, in the battle of Gettysburg:

I assumed command of the brigade late in the afternoon of the 1st of July, and took my position, by order of Gen. Ames, at a stone wall on the right, and nearly at right angles with the Baltimore road, throwing a heavy line of skirmishers into the edge of the town.

During the night a few random shots were fired; but early in the morning of the 2d the enemy attacked my skirmishers, firing from behind the fences and a brick-kiln on the right, and from the houses on the left. This continued until near sundown, when the positions of the different regiments of the brigade were changed to that designated in the diagram* yesterday.

In moving the Seventeenth Connecticut Volunteers to the extreme right and front of my line, their place at the wall was left vacant, thus endangering the left flank of the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the right flank of the Twenty-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Before I could make any arrangements to remedy this breach in the line, the attack of the enemy on Cemetery Hill was made, and I was forced back by superiority of numbers, with heavy loss.

After the repulse of the enemy, I took up a position at the stone wall in the rear of and parallel with the one occupied the previous day, my left resting on the Baltimore road.

Before day on the morning of the 3d, I was ordered to move to the right along the wall until I joined the First Brigade, and to throw a strong line of skirmishers to the front, which was done. At daylight my skirmishers commenced a heavy fire upon the skirmishers of the enemy, which they replied to with vigor. This was kept up the entire day, in which my command suffered severely.

Early on the morning of the 4th, I was ordered by Gen. Ames to throw my brigade forward into the town, which I did, finding but few of the enemy remaining, who were easily made prisoners. I may safely add that the Second Brigade was the first to enter the town of Gettysburg after the battle. While in the town, Col. Noble arrived, and assumed command of the brigade.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. L. HARRIS, Col. Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers.

Capt. J. M. Brown, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

On August 6, 1863, officials dispatched the 75th Ohio to Charleston, South Carolina. Arriving at Charleston on August 12, six days later the regiment moved to the frontlines at Morris Island, South Carolina. The 75th participated in an unsuccessful assault on the Confederate's Fort Wagner. In this engagement, the regiment had two men killed and five others wounded. The 75th joined the Union's siege of this fortification, with Fort Wagner surrendering to the Northerners on September 7, 1863. Numerous members of the 75th contracted illnesses during the siege, with several of the sickly men perishing.

After the capture of Fort Wagner, the 75th Ohio moved to Folly Island, South Carolina, remaining at this location until February 22, 1864. The Ohioans next advanced to Jacksonville, Florida, where the men established a camp. On April 25, 1864, officials dispatched the 75th on an expedition to the headwaters of the St. John and Kissinnee Rivers in Florida. The mission's goal was to seize the secret harbors of Confederate blockade runners. During the raid, the regiment destroyed cotton, resin, tar, turpentine, and salt furnaces. The men also seized five hundred head of cattle from Confederate civilians.

After this expedition, the 75th returned to their camp at Jacksonville, but officials soon ordered the regiment back to the St. John's River headwaters, where a sizable number of Unionists resided. Confederates were terrorizing these loyalists. The 75th attained minimal success in this mission and returned to Jacksonville to help protect the city from a Southern attack. The Union military successfully defended Jacksonville from several days of Confederate assaults, with the 75th having six men captured.

Hoping to destroy the Confederate force near Jacksonville, on July 6, 1864, officials ordered the 75th Regiment to the Baldwin Crossing of the Florida Railroad, near the Cedar Keys Railroad. The regiment began the mission by moving up the St. John's River, disembarking at the Black River. From here, the regiment weaved its way across the Florida countryside until arriving at the Florida Railroad where the track crosses the St. Mary's River. The 75th destroyed the railroad bridge over the river, along with a large amount of trestlework. The command also destroyed two thousand barrels of resin on the night of July 16, 1864. The movement was successful, prompting the Southern force to withdraw. On July 17, the Union military took control of the Confederates' former camps.

The Southerners hoped to regain the area now under control of the Union military and constant skirmishing occurred for the next month. Hoping to end this fighting, on August 14, 1864, Union officials dispatched the 75th on an expedition against the Confederate rear. The Southerners drove the Ohio regiment from the battlefield, prompting the Northerners to withdraw to Gainesville, Ohio, reaching this city on August 17. Confederates attacked the regiment at Gainesville. After two hours of fighting, the 75th's members ran out of ammunition. Hoping to save themselves, the Ohioans rushed the Confederate line. The action was somewhat successful, with approximately one-half of the men escaping to Jacksonville. In this engagement, the 75th had six men killed, thirty wounded, and 124 soldiers captured. After this expedition, the commanding officer of the 75th issued the following report:

HDQRS. SEVENTY-FIFTH OHIO VOL. INFANTRY, Magnolia, Fla., August 23, 1864.

MAJ.: In obedience to instructions from headquarters District of Florida, dated August 13, 1864, I left Baldwin at daylight on the morning of the 15th instant, with 15 commissioned officers and 158 enlisted men of the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and one piece and 12 enlisted men of Company A, Third Rhode Island Artillery.

I proceeded by the way of Darby's Station to point on New River west of Trail Ridge, said to be spanned by a bridge. Here I captured a part of the enemy's picket-post, but found no bridge. I destroyed the fort and returned to Trail Ridge, where I arrived about 6 p. m. Here I was joined by Col. Noble's command.

Taking with me my wagons (three) and caissons, with the drivers, together with the cooks, smiths, &c., of my own regiment, making an addition of 15 men, I took up my line of march for Starke, where, owing to the bad state of the roads, I did not arrive till 2.30 o'clock on the morning of the 16th instant. I found Capt. Morton, with 2 commissioned officers and 87 enlisted men of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, with some 12 or 15 loyal Floridians who had joined me for the expedition. I encamped here for the remainder of the night, and after destroying a lot of Confederate commissary stores and six cars, I resumed my march at 7.30 a. m., taking the way by Santa Fe Lake, as the Santa Fe River was reported by my guide, Mr. Sykes, to be unfordable. I arrived at Gainesville about 6.30 on the morning of the 17th instant, having marched all the previous night in order that I might secure a crossing over Hatchet Creek on the bridge, which, if broken down by the enemy, would have stopped my march in that direction, as the channel was deep and the banks bad for crossing. I found Gainesville occupied by one company of the enemy, numbering about 70 men, who were dislodged by Company B, of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry. As my horses were very much in need of rest and forage, I assigned the different parts of the command to their places, with orders for the men to keep on their own accouterments, slip the bridles from the horses and feed them. At the same time had the cooks to make coffee, al remaining close to their places.

My position was as follows: Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry near the center of the town, my piece of artillery in their rear, and the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry in the rear of the artillery near the Florida Railroad, all in open lots, while I threw out pickets on all sides, both mounted and dismounted.

At about 7 a. m., having been in the town about half an hour, the officer of the rear guard now on picket south of the town informed me that the enemy were rapidly approaching from that direction in heavy force. I made immediately preparations for defense, facing my command to the rear, throwing the right flank of the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry to the left, resting on a swamp and thicket, and the left flank to the right, also resting on a swamp and thicket, while the howitzer was placed near the road, close to the center of the line. The Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry being dismounted, except Company I, which was sent to the north of town, took the fill of the Florida Railroad and the neighboring fences for protection, while the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry was held in reserve. This disposition was not complete when the enemy made a furious attack, which I repulsed as soon as possible. The enemy was checked in front, but he immediately surrounded me with his whole force, thus compelling me to send Company B, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, to the rear of the town, and throw portions of the Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry on both the right and left flank, thus weakening my first line. By this disposition the enemy were held in check until 9 a. m., when the chief of my field piece reported that he was nearly out of ammunition, and would be able to hold his position only a few minutes longer. During this time Company B, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry, had charged the enemy several times in rear of the town, thus keeping him in check in that quarter; but nearly half my horses having been disabled by the enemy's fire, both infantry and artillery, and my men being pushed from their cover, I concluded that my only safety was in retreat, cutting my way out the Waldo road, and if possible join Col. Noble's command, which I supposed to be between Starke and Magnolia. I gave Lieut.-Col. Morgan and Capt. Morton to understand what I intended to do, and had them assist as much as possible in forming the command, many of which were on foot. When my force was called in from the line it was closely followed by the enemy, so that no time was given to form the command in proper order before the column started. Here an unexpected accident occurred. Capt. Morton, doubtless by mistake, led by one of the guides, took the road I followed him and overtook him, and by making a detour around the town was again on the Waldo road, but the horses of the piece (the caisson having been abandoned in town, the horses being disabled) were entirely exhausted and the piece was captured by the enemy some 1 or 2 miles from town on the Waldo road. While being detained in my endeavors to get the gun away, the enemy again surrounded me, and appeared in strong force in front. I here turned off the road with some 38 men and 3 officers that were with me, took and easterly direction, not following any road, until I struck the Bellamy road about 15 miles from Gainesville, skirmishing with the enemy the greater portion of the way. As I expected to find Col. Noble with his command between Starke and Magnolia, I followed this road until night, when the guide informed me he could not strike Col. Noble's trail without getting lost. I rested three or four hours and then continued on the same road, and arrived at Magnolia next morning.

The advance, under Lieut.-Col. Morgan, were forced to leave the Waldo road by the enemy and to take the Lake City road, which they followed until nearly west of Waldo, when they turned east, crossing the railroad near Fort Harley, and taking the woods reached Magnolia about 11 a. m. next day. Lieut.-Col. Morgan's horse being disabled, he was compelled to abandon him and take to the swamps, and is probably a prisoner.

I had, during the night of the 16th, gathered about 200 blacks, consisting of men, women, and children, together with some wagons and about 40 horses and mules, nearly all of which were retaken by the enemy.

I found no citizens capable of bearing arms at home, and was told by the contrabands that they had gone to Waldo or Gainesville the day before, taking their arms and horses.

Many of my horses were unserviceable when I left Baldwin, owing to constant use during the summer and the short rations of forage, but I took them, hoping to be able to fill their places with better ones.

My loss, as far as known, is as follows:

Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry: Lieut. Col. Benjamin Morgan, Maj. George B. Fox, Capt. J. B. Alter, Company A; Capt. W J. Rannels, Company I; First Lieut. R. F. Hall, Company A; First Lieut. J. F. Kempton, Company B; First Lieut. I. C. Price, Company C; First Lieut. B. Sprung, Company F, missing; Capt. Thomas F. Davenport, Company H; First Lieut. A. M. Knowlden, Company I; Second Lieut. D. J. Cline, Company H, wounded and prisoners. Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry: Capt. Morton, Company D; First Lieut. Mulligan, Company D, missing.

Enlisted men Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteer Mounted Infantry: Company A, killed, 1; wounded, 5; missing, 6. Company B, killed, 1; wounded, 2; missing 14. Company C, killed, 1; wounded, 4; missing, 28. Company E, missing, 14. Company G, wounded, 1; missing, 25. Company H, wounded, 1; missing, 4. Company I, missing, 9. Company K, wounded, 1; missing, 9.

Enlisted men Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry: Company B, killed, 1; wounded, 9, missing, 23. Company D, killed, 1; wounded, 4; missing, 19.

Enlisted men Third Rhode Island Artillery: Company A, missing, 12.

The enemy was apprised of my coming on Monday, and had made all necessary preparations for his defense by calling in his troops to meet him at Waldo, and assembling his militia at that point. His exact strength I was unable to learn, but think it not less than 600, and probably not more than 800, nearly all mounted, with three pieces of artillery.

The enemy fought with determination, and as he had me entirely surrounded, was confident that his superior force would decide the victory in his favor.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. L. HARRIS, Col. Seventy-fifth Ohio Volunteers.

Maj. EDWARD L. ROGERS, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Seven enlisted (5 of the Seventy-fifth and 2 of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry) have returned since this report was made.

On September 26, 1864 the 75th launched a new expedition. The Ohioans made their way to the headwaters of the St. John's River, where the soldiers captured an entire company of the 2nd Regiment Florida Cavalry, along with the Southerners' horses and arms. The 75th lost no men during this foray.

In October 1864, officials ordered the 75th's Companies A, B, and C back to Columbus, Ohio where these organizations mustered out of service. In November 1864, Companies D, G, and F followed suit.

On December 8, 1864, the 75th's remaining men, along with the 107th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, advanced to Hilton Head, South Carolina and continued on to the Charleston and Savannah Railroad. This movement prompted the Confederate commander of Savannah, Georgia to dispatch soldiers to intercept the Northerners, helping another Union force under the command of General William T. Sherman to seize Savannah.

After the Union's seizure of Savannah, the 75th returned to Jacksonville, where officials mustered the organization's remaining companies out of service on January 17, 1865. Several of the 75th's members immediately reenlisted in the Veteran Battalion, under the command of Captain William Rannells. This organization remained at Jacksonville before relocating to Tallahassa, Florida for most of the summer of 1865. In August 1865, the Veteran Battalion mustered out of service.

During the 75th Ohio's service, at least 114 men, including four officers, died from wounds. An additional 103 men, including two officers, died from disease or other causes.

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