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79th 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 79th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Volunteers from Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, and Warren Counties formed the regiment. Clermont County supplied one company of sharpshooters; Clinton and Warren Counties each provided four companies, while Hamilton County offered a single company. Recruiting for the 79th began in July 1862, but the first nine companies did not formally muster into service at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, until September 1, 1862. The tenth company, the sharpshooters from Clermont County, did not join the regiment until June 1863.

On September 3, 1862, officials dispatched the 79th Ohio into Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. Northern authorities expected an attack against Cincinnati from Confederate General Sterling Price's army, operating in the vicinity of Lexington, Kentucky. The attack did not materialize, and after several days, the 79th advanced to Crittenden, Kentucky in search of the Rebels. The regiment next marched to Louisville, Kentucky, where the organization joined General Nathaniel Buell's Army of the Ohio. In early October 1862, the 79th and the remainder of its division advanced to Frankfort, Kentucky, driving Confederates from General Braxton Bragg's command before them. The 79th remained encamped at Frankfort until November 1, 1862, participating in periodic expeditions against General John Hunt Morgan's Confederate force operating in the region.

Upon departing Frankfort, the 79th Ohio advanced to Bowling Green, Kentucky, joining General William S. Rosecrans's Army of the Cumberland. Upon reaching the organization's destination, the 79th's members enjoyed a few days of rest, before advancing to Gallatin, Tennessee via Scottsville, Tennessee. At Gallatin, a measles outbreak took the lives of several of the 79th's soldiers.

The 79th Ohio remained principally at Gallatin from late 1862 until February 24, 1863, although the regiment conducted routine expeditions guarding railroad track and supplies and; attacking enemy guerrillas at the Tennessee communities of Buck's Lodge, Lavergne, Edgefield, and Nashville. While at Lavergne, Company K, the sharpshooters from Clermont County, joined the 79th in June 1863, and while encamped at Nashville in early 1864, Company F rejoined the regiment. This company had served as the headquarter guard for General Ambrose Burnside at Knoxville, Tennessee since late 1862.

In late February 1864, the 79th Regiment transferred to the Eleventh Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. The Ohioans marched from north-central Tennessee to the Lookout Valley in southeastern Tennessee and northern Georgia. Officials ordered this movement in preparation for Union General William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, as Northern forces attempted to capture this important Georgia city. Before the campaign began, the regiment transferred to the Twentieth Corps.

The 79th embarked upon the Atlanta Campaign on May 2, 1864. The organization remained as part of the reserve force at the Battles of Buzzard's Roost and Dug Gap, avoiding any fighting. During the Atlanta Campaign, the 79th fought in the Battle of Resaca, the Battle of Dalton, the Battle of Cassville, the Battle of Dallas, the Battle of Pine Mountain, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the Marietta Operations, the Battle of Peachtree Creek, the Battle of Atlanta, and the Battle of Jonesborough. The regiment suffered extremely in the campaign. At the battle of Peachtree Creek, the 79th was the second Union regiment engaged in the conflict. The organization repulsed several Confederate attacks but lost approximately one-half of its men killed or wounded. Seven of the regiment's color bearers were killed or wounded in this engagement. The 79th began the Atlanta Campaign with six hundred men. At the campaign's end, with the Union's capture of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, the regiment consisted of just 182 men available for duty.

After the Atlanta Campaign, the 79th's commanding officer issued the following report of the regiment's activities:

HDQRS. SEVENTY-NINTH OHIO INFANTRY, Near Atlanta, Ga., September 22, 1864.

SIR: In compliance with orders from brigade headquarters, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Seventy-ninth Regt. Ohio Infantry Volunteers in the operations of the army from the inception of the campaign, which had for its object the possession and occupation of the city of Atlanta, Ga., to its conclusion, which has just been so triumphantly crowned with success. In the absence of any recorded facts of these operations, it will be a somewhat difficult matter to prepare at this time a report perfectly satisfactory to ourselves or to you. We shall endeavor, however, to meet the demands of the order in as good a manner as possible under the circumstances:

The regiment, under command of Col. Henry G. Kennett, broke camp at Wauhatchie, Tenn., on the morning of the 2d of May, at 6 o'clock, in good condition and fine spirits, marching on that day a distance of seventeen miles, to Lee and Gordon's Mills. As it is not deemed essentially necessary to consume space by giving a particular account of each day's operations relating to this command, we shall confine ourselves to those only which are esteemed of especial importance; consequently shall pass over the period from the 3d to the 13th, inclusive, with the simple remark that nothing of unusual moment occurred in our own experience, though fighting commenced in some of the other divisions of the army as early as the 5th. The night of the 13th found us in position on a ridge at a point bar where the main wagon road crosses the railroad leading from Dalton south, and to the right of the Fourteenth Corps. Remained in the same position all the succeeding day, skirmishing to some extent the whole time. On our left the battle was raging fiercely, but did not envelop us. The following morning the Second Division, Fourteenth Corps, relieved us, and we were shifted around to the left of the Fourteenth and Twenty-third Corps. When we reached a certain point in the road we were formed, in conjunction with the other regiments of the brigade, in column by battalion, and ordered to assault the enemy's works, which consisted of a fort of four field pieces (the key to their position), strongly supported by infantry well protected by formidable earth-works. Our brigade had the advance of the storming column, the several regiments composing it being disposed as follows: The Seventieth Indiana first in order; then followed the One hundred and second Illinois, Seventy-ninth Ohio, One hundred and twenty-ninth and One hundred and fifth Illinois. We advanced in moderately fair order, the thick undergrowth of pines preventing, however, to a considerable extent, the preservation of a compact and uniform line. The fort, together with the pieces it contained, was taken. Our loss in the assault reached 7 killed and 50 wounded. A portion of the regiment remained on the hill near the fort until relieved at about 10 o'clock at night. We bivouacked till morning in proximity to the front line held by our army. During the night the enemy evacuated the rest of their works, leaving the Union forces in ample possession of the position. The following day was principally occupied in performing the solemn rites of burial to the slain in their country's cause. At 6 p. m. of the 16th we again commenced a forward movement, passing as we advanced the Coosa[wattee] and Oostenaula Rivers, striking the enemy's rear guard on the night of the 18th. On the morning of the 19th continued our march for about a mile, when we came upon his skirmishers. Promptly forming in line of battle, we advanced cautiously another mile and halted, when we were admonished by a few shells dropping near that the enemy was in the vicinity. Up on a careful investigation as to the posture of affairs, it became evident that he was in our immediate front in full force, rendering our situation rather hazardous. By a dexterous movement of Maj.-Gen. Butterfield, commanding, we turned off to the right in order to be in nearer supporting distance of the residue of the corps. At about 4 p. m. the other two divisions came up and we all boldly advanced together by a number of beautifully executed maneuvers across an open field into a dense wood, pressing the enemy closely through the town of Cassville. Failing to force an engagement, we gave up the pursuit at dark and moved back about a mile, where we went into camp. On the 23d resumed the march, crossed the Etowah, and reached Burnt Hickory the following day, where earthworks were thrown up. Moved out about 7 a. m. of the 25th, advancing leisurely until noon, when word arrived that one division of our corps had found the enemy in strong force and was then engaging him. This had the effect of increasing our rate of travel until we came into the immediate neighborhood of the enemy, formed in order of battle in the second line, the brigade being on the extreme right. Advanced thus under a heavy fire of shell and solid shot to within a hundred yards of the enemy, who was ensconced behind earth-works. Here the regiment became isolated from the brigade, having moved too far to the right, and marched forward in line, past our own skirmishers across an open field to a fence in the edge of a wood, changed direction to the left, advanced again, halted, then withdrew from the front line by the left flank, rejoining the rest of the brigade, and bivouacked for the night. The operations of the army around Dallas continued until on or about the 4th of June. There were several engagements on the right and left, but we did not get into any action, our part of the programme being simply to hold our position, which underwent a number of changes which it will not be necessary here particularly to notice. On the 4th of June the enemy was discovered to have evacuated his position. Pursuit was promptly inaugurated on the part of our forces, and the 6th brought us to a point about two and a half miles from Acworth, where we threw up a line of works and remained until the 15th. On the 15th advanced in the neighborhood of two miles, formed in order of battle, and moved upon the enemy, driving in his pickets and closing up to within 100 yards of his main line of works, and held the position until 10 p. m., when we were relieved and transferred to another part of the line farther to the left. Our loss here was 1 commissioned officer and 15 enlisted men wounded. On the 17th the enemy again executed one of his grand movements to the rear a maneuver which seemed to be a distinguishing feature in his military tactics, obviously occasioned, however, by the able and superior generalship which has continually displayed itself throughout the campaign and formed its chief characteristic. The enemy continued his retreat and we our pursuit. On the 22d we supported a battery, having 1 man killed. From this to the 3d of July, at which date the enemy made good another retreat, leaving us in possession of the town of Marietta, was occupied in operations around Kenesaw Mountain, the regiment furnishing daily its proportion of the pickets. It did not become actually engaged, but suffered some loss in skirmishes to about 12 in number wounded. From the 3d to the 17th was principally consumed in maneuvering for position and in getting the enemy across the Chattahoochee. At 3 p. m. on the 17th crossed the Chattahoochee, advancing toward Atlanta, the goal for which we set out, and at about 11 a. m. on the 20th reached and crossed Peach Tree Creek. Formed in column by division, and rested in a corn-field under cover of a hill, occupied by a portion of the Fourth Corps. Moved by the flank from this point, under a heavy skirmish fire from the enemy, down Peach Tree Creek about half a mile, and near Howell's Mill. Here we again rested in line of battle until about 3.30 p. m., when we were suddenly aroused by the enemy advancing upon us immediately in front, and in two and four lines. The order "forward" was given and promptly put into execution. We gained the crest of the hill, at the foot of which we had been lying, meeting the enemy in two and three lines, repulsing him with terrible slaughter. During the battle the regiment built a strong line of works, completing them by dark, and resting behind them for the night. The 21st was employed in burying our dead. Our loss was 10 killed and 48 wounded. This was the first open field fight the enemy had given us from the beginning of the campaign. On the 22d, the enemy having evacuated their position in our front, we resumed our action upon the city, which was continued until we reached a point about two miles distant, where we halted and constructed a line of breast-works, hovering about the city. We continued near the city until the 25th of August, when we were relieved from the position in the immediate vicinity of the rebel stronghold and put across the Chattahoochee. Were there encamped, when, on the 2d of September, the joyful intelligence reached us that Atlanta was entered and occupied by one of the brigades of our division, of the Twentieth Corps. The casualties in the command during the campaign are: Killed, 21 enlisted men; wounded, 5 commissioned officers, 142 enlisted men; missing, 4 enlisted men; aggregate, 172. The officers and men of my command deserve great praise for their bravery and endurance during the whole campaign, and I shall not particularize where "each was a hero of himself."

I have the honor, sir, to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

SAM. A. WEST Capt., Cmdg. Seventy-ninth Ohio.

Lieut. GEORGE W. GRUBBS, A. A. A. G., 1st Brig., 3d Div., 20th Army Corps.

The 79th remained at Atlanta recuperating from the Atlanta Campaign until November 15, 1864, when the organization embarked upon General William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea." At this time, the regiment numbered four hundred men. The command engaged in no battles or skirmishes on this march to Savannah, Georgia, but upon reaching this city, Company K's sharpshooters silenced the Southern artillery defending a fort on the Springfield Road. The sharpshooters' skills helped to allow Sherman's command to occupy Savannah on December 21, 1864.

In early 1865, the 79th embarked upon General Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. The regiment engaged Confederate forces at the Battle of Langtonville and at the Battle of Columbia. While marching through South Carolina, the 79th had fewer than thirty men killed, wounded or captured. Upon entering North Carolina, the regiment played an important role at the Battle of Averysburg, capturing three artillery pieces, one hundred stands of weapons, and thirty-one prisoners, while having one-fourth of the regiment's engaged men killed, wounded, or captured. On March 19, 1865, the 79th participated in the organization's final battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. The regiment saw limited action in this engagement but did participate in the Union's final assault, driving General Joseph Johnston's Confederates from the field.

The 79th next performed garrison duty at Goldsboro, North Carolina and then at Raleigh North Carolina, before marching, via Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, DC. The organization spent most of May and early June 1865 at Washington, where officials mustered the 79th's members out of service on June 9. The regiment proceeded to Camp Dennison in Ohio, where authorities discharged the soldiers on June 17, 1865.

During the Civil War's course, fifty-four enlisted men from the 79th Ohio died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional ninety-two soldiers, including one officer, succumbed to illness or accidents. These numbers do not accurately reflect the casualties that the regiment suffered. Nearly one thousand of the organization's men suffered battlefield wounds, resulting in their discharge from the service. In actuality, the 79th had more men wounded, killed on the battlefield, or die from disease or accidents than originally enlisted in the regiment.


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