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 83rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Officials recruited seven of the organization's ten companies from Hamilton County, with the remaining three coming from Butler County. The 83rd formed at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, in August and early September 1862.
The seven companies from Hamilton County departed Camp Dennison on September 3, 1862 for Covington, Kentucky, to help protect Cincinnati from Confederate General Kirby Smith's anticipated attack. The regiment primarily served on picket duty at Fort Mitchel and Camp King, before officials relocated the companies along the Alexandria Pike in support of the Beechwood Battery. After several days along the Alexandria Pike, the 83rd withdrew to Camp Orchard, where the three companies from Butler County joined the organization on September 12, 1862. The 83rd now included 1,010 men.
On September 18, 1862, the 83rd joined an expedition, led by General Quincy A. Gillmore, to Cynthiana, Kentucky. The campaign's primary objective was to pursue the Confederates retreating from the vicinity of Cincinnati. The Northerners found no Southern forces and, on September 25, 1862, arrived at Camp Schaler, where the 83rd joined General Green Clay Smith's command. On October 15, 1862, the 83rd advanced to Paris, Kentucky and joined the First Brigade, Tenth Division, of the Army of the Tennessee. On October 28, 1862, the Tenth Division departed Paris for Louisville, Kentucky, spending two weeks at Nicholsville, Kentucky while on the march.
On November 23, 1862, the 83rd and the rest of its division sailed from Louisville for Memphis, Tennessee. On December 20, 1862, the regiment sailed down the Mississippi River as part of general William T. Sherman's advance against Vicksburg, Mississippi. The 83rd Ohio arrived at Milliken's Bend on December 25, 1862, and the organization's brigade immediately advanced towards a bridge of the Vicksburg and Shreveport Railroad that crossed the Tensas River. The brigade destroyed this and two other bridges, as well as burned a large quantity of cotton. The brigade returned to Milliken's Bend on December 26, 1862. On the following day, Sherman's force sailed up the Yazoo River to the Old River. The Northern force, including the 83rd, engaged a Southern army at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou (December 26-29, 1862) in Mississippi. The 83rd saw limited action in this engagement. Despite outnumbering the Southerners two-to-one, the Northerners suffered eight times the casualties as their Confederate counterparts. The resulting Southern victory prompted Sherman to withdraw his force.
On January 11, 1863, Sherman's command attacked a Confederate force at Arkansas Post, Arkansas. The Southerners defended Fort Hindman. The 83rd Ohio participated in the assault and was the first Union regiment to place its colors on the wall of the fortification. The 83rd had approximately one-fifth of its members killed or wounded in this Union victory.
The 83rd Ohio remained at Arkansas Post for several days, principally destroying the fort, before traveling to and entering winter encampment on January 23, 1863 at Young's Point, Louisiana. Numerous members of the regiment succumbed to disease during the next several months.
In mid-April 1863, the regiment broke camp and advanced down the Mississippi River to Perkins's Plantation, five miles below New Carthage, Louisiana. The 83rd reached Perkins's Plantation on April 25, 1863 and crossed the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg, Mississippi by April 30. The regiment immediately advanced towards Vicksburg and engaged a Confederate force in the vicinity of Port Gibson, Mississippi on May 1, 1863. After a fight that lasted the entire day, the Southern units withdrew, and the 83rd and its division continued its advance to Vicksburg via Willow Springs, Mississippi and Raymond, Mississippi.
On May 16, 1863, the Union army encountered a Confederate force at Champion Hill, Mississippi, twenty miles east of Vicksburg. The 83rd helped drive Confederate pickets from the field. Sixteen soldiers from the regiment assisted the 17th Ohio Independent Battery of Ohio Volunteer Artillery in firing its guns due to a lack of artillerists. After two hours of fighting, the Southerners withdrew to a new position one mile in the rear. The Union force pursued the retreating Confederates, but the Southerners evacuated their new line under cover of darkness the night of May 16.
The Union military attacked a new Confederate position at Big Black River Bridge on May 17, 1863. The 83rd was situated in the center of the Northern line and was among the first regiments to breach the Southern fortifications, driving the Rebels to Vicksburg. On May 22, 1863, the 83rd participated in an assault on Confederate lines at Vicksburg. The Southerners repulsed the attack and inflicted eight percent casualties on the Ohio regiment. After this failed assault, Union General Ulysses S. Grant ordered the Northern military to lay siege to the Confederate force inside of Vicksburg. The siege lasted until July 4, 1863, when the Confederate commander, John C. Pemberton, surrendered the city to Grant.
During the Vicksburg Campaign, the 83rd Ohio's commanding officer issued the following report:
HDQRS. EIGHTY-THIRD REGT. OHIO VOL. INFANTRY, Camp before Vicksburg, Miss., May 25, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit, according to instructions of this date, a condensed statement of the movements of my command since its last departure from Milliken's Bend, La.
On April 14, the Eighty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with the remainder of the First Brigade, marched from Milliken's Bend to Oak Grove plantation.
On the 15th, marched through Richmond, La., to Holmes' plantation, and went into camp at that point on the 16th.
On the 22d, this regiment proceeded, under special orders, to Smith's plantation (5 miles farther south), and reported to Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand, commanding Thirteenth Army Corps. Was there employed on provost and police duty until April 27, when it rejoined the First Brigade, and was transported to Perkins' plantation, 8 miles below New Carthage, La.
On the 28th, re-embarked, and moved down the Mississippi River within sight of Grand Gulf, bivouacking on the Louisiana shore.
On the 29th, marched by land below Grand Gulf, after the failure of the gunboats to silence the batteries at that point.
On the 30th, were transported by gunboat to the Mississippi shore, below Bayou Pierre, and shortly after midnight marched toward Port Gibson without halting. Took post for action to support the right wing of the Thirteenth Army Corps.
May 1, maneuvered all day without getting under fire until near 2 p.m., when Companies A and F, as skirmishers, supported by the remainder of the regiment in line, drove the Fifth Missouri (rebel) Regiment from a wooded hill in our front, and made a demonstration on a heavy howitzer battery, which turned its fire upon them for about two hours without inflicting any damage. For want of support on the right, the regiment (and the brigade at the same time) afterward fell back, having sustained no greater loss than 3 men very slightly wounded, and having taken 10 or 12 prisoners, who were immediately sent to the rear.
On the 2d, at daybreak, I advanced skirmishers, the regiment following in line on the left of the Sixteenth Indiana, and entered the town of Port Gibson without resistance.
On the 3d, advanced to the bridge over Bayou Pierre, near Willow Springs on the Vicksburg road.
On the 7th, advanced beyond Rocky Springs.
On the 9th, advanced to Big Sandy Creek.
On the 10th, advanced beyond Cayuga, Miss.
On the 12th, made a detour to the left, and drove in the enemy's pickets on Fourteen-Mile Creek, about 6 miles from Edwards Depot.
On the 13th, moved again to the right, and bivouacked on Burrows' plantation, about 8 miles from Utica.
On the 15th, marched toward Raymond, and maneuvered in the direction of Edwards Depot until about 9 a.m. of May 16, when the enemy appeared in force at Midway Hill.
My regiment immediately formed line on the left of the Sixteenth Indiana, on a commanding eminence, supporting Blount's (Seventeenth Ohio) battery, before which the enemy fell back. My command advanced with the brigade slowly, but securing ground as it went, until checked by artillery commanding the road directly in front, strongly supported by infantry. A rapid and heavy fire, principally directed upon my regiment by reason of its position, was kept up for several hours, though my skirmishers, by their spirited and effective fire, prevented any movement of the enemy's infantry upon my front. Availing myself of the crest of a ridge, I was able to protect my men so successfully as to lose but 3 men in the course of several hours under grape, canister, and shell, at short range. Among these, however, I regret to name Sergeant [Ernest] Warden, of Company F, a brave, intelligent, and faithful soldier, whose skull was crushed by a fragment of shell, and whose loss is much to be deplored.
The enemy, though superior in numbers, fell back during the night, and we advanced on the morning of the 17th at the best speed of which the men were capable, passing through Edwards Depot, and reaching Black River in season to charge the left of the enemy's intrenchments at the time they were being most heavily driven on the right, and participating in the capture of the Sixteenth [Sixtieth] East Tennessee (rebel) Regiment and some 100 stragglers besides, who fell into the hands of the First Brigade. With renewed satisfaction I am able to say that this success was bloodless, not costing us a man.
Sleeping that night in the intrenchments, we crossed Black River about 9 a.m. Of May 18, and moved directly upon Mount Alban, the Tenth Division in advance. Finding that point unoccupied, we moved by a circuitous route to the left, and bivouacked that night (18th) about 2 miles from the main forts covering the Vicksburg and Jackson Railroad.
Advancing on the morning of the 19th, the line of battle was formed within half-musket shot of the rebel pickets, in an orchard on the left of the Jackson Railroad, and by steady advances gained nearly a mile to the front with severe skirmishing, in which my regiment had to sustain a loss of 20 in killed and wounded, part of which was by artillery from the forts.
On the 20th, the fighting was confined to the pickets, and but one or two slight casualties occurred, Gen. Benton's brigade taking the front to relieve our tired men. In the evening of that day [21st] it was officially announced to me that a general assault was ordered for 10 o'clock the next morning, May 22, in which the Tenth Division, being in reserve, would merely support Gen. Carr and I was ordered to hold the men in readiness accordingly. At the appointed time I detached the several companies of my command from each other as much as possible, to avoid drawing the enemy's fire while passing over the ridge between me and Gen. Benton, two companies moving around it by the right flank. Having closed on the new line without loss, my regiment occupied the center of the brigade the Twenty-third Wisconsin in support.
Almost immediately upon the advance of Gen. Benton to the assault, several staff officers came to demand re-enforcements, and within a very few minutes my regiment, being ordered to advance, had closed upon the enemy's works under a destructive fire, planted their colors on the glacis of the fort nearest them, and maintained the same line with the Eighteenth Indiana the foremost of Benton's brigade, and immediately on their left. By a vigorous fire they for a time prevented any serious reply from the enemy in front, but five companies being moved to the right to watch the rifle-pits on that side, were soon exposed to an enfilading artillery fire from the forts, both to the right and left, and suffered from it to a considerable extent, though not so much as some other regiments which seemed less expert in taking advantage of the ground for cover. This position was maintained–indeed, there could be no retreat–until dark when I was ordered to retire to the ravine occupied by me in the morning, which was accomplished in safety, bringing off my colors and such of my wounded as had not previously been removed. Most of my dead were also brought off, though in a few cases this was impossible.
My loss in this affair was 24 killed and wounded.
All which is respectfully submitted.
I have the honor to bet your obedient servant,
F. W. MOORE, Col. Eighty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Lieut. R. CONOVER, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., First Brigade.
Following Vicksburg's capture by Northern forces, the 83rd joined the Union advance against Confederate General Joseph Johnston's army at Jackson, Mississippi on July 5, 1863. General William T. Sherman's nearly surrounded the Southerners in Jackson by July 10, 1863. After a one-week siege, Johnston's Confederates evacuated the city. The 83rd participated in the siege and, upon its successful conclusion for the North, returned to the vicinity of Vicksburg.
On August 24, 1863, the 83rd Ohio departed Vicksburg for Carrollton, Louisiana, where the regiment remained in camp, except for a brief expedition to Donaldsonville, Louisiana, for nearly six weeks. On October 3, 1863, the 83rd embarked upon the Teche campaign, advancing up the Teche River to New Iberia, Louisiana. The Union force next traveled via Opelousas, Louisiana to Barre's Landing, Louisiana on the Bayou Cortableau. On November 1, 1863, the 83rd and the other Northern forces withdrew via Grand Coteau, Louisiana to Carronero Bayou. Confederates attacked the Union force at Carronero Bayou on November 3, 1863, driving the Northerners back. Accompanying a forage train, the 83rd was not in camp when the fight erupted, but the regiment quickly returned to the scene of the engagement and slowed the Confederate assault until additional Union reinforcements arrived, driving the Southerners from the field. The 83rd had fifty-six men killed, wounded, or captured in this fight.
Despite the victory, the Union force, including the 83rd, retreated to New Iberia, where the command remained in camp for approximately one month before moving to Berwick, Louisiana. From Berwick, the 83rd accompanied a wagon train to Algiers, Louisiana, before rushing to Fort Jackson, where African-American troops purportedly were mutinying. The regiment stayed at Fort Jackson for four weeks, before moving to New Orleans, Louisiana. Officials quickly ordered the command to Madisonville, Louisiana, where it joined the Second Brigade, Third Division of the Thirteenth Corps. On February 25, 1864, the 83rd proceeded to Franklin, Louisiana, where the organization transferred to the First Brigade, Fourth Division of the Thirteenth Corps.
On March 13, 1864, the Fourth Division embarked upon the Red River Expedition. Traveling via Natchitoches, Louisiana and Pleasant Hills, Louisiana, the Union force encountered and engaged Richard Taylor's Confederates at the Battle of Sabine Cross-Roads on April 8, 1864. The 83rd played a pivotal role in the battle, repulsing two Confederate attacks and also, in conjunction with the 96th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, covering the Union retreat.
After the Battle of Sabine Cross-Roads, the 83rd Ohio's commanding officer issued the following report:
HDQRS. EIGHTY-THIRD Regt. OHIO VOL. INFANTRY, Grand Ecore, La., April 12, 1864.
CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Eighty-third Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, under my command from the time it left Natchitoches until the close of the battle of Sabine Cross-Roads: My regiment, together with the rest of the Fourth Division, Thirtieth Army Corps, by order of Col. W. J. Landram, commanding, left Natchitoches at 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday, the 6th instant; marched some 15 miles on the Pleasant Hill road, and encamped for the night.
On the morning of the 7th, the division moved soon after 6 o'clock, and reached Pleasant Hill at 1.30 o'clock, a march of 19 miles, but by reason of a heavy shower the teams did not arrive until 7 o'clock in the evening. Friday, 8th instant, division was ordered to march at 5.30 o'clock, but my regiment was detailed as guard for the ammunition train, which did not leave till an hour later, and at noon the rear of the train had not advanced more than 6 or 7 miles. About 12 m. Capt. Dickey, assistant adjutant-general, ordered me to assemble my regiment which was as guard through the train, and move to the front as fast as possible to support the balance of the division. I immediately started with the rear guard and assembled the regiment as I passed the train, and moved rapidly through the train and troops to the front about 8 miles; upon arrival was ordered by Maj. Lieber, of Gen. Banks' staff, to move my regiment to the right of the road diagonally toward the woods and form in line of battle. Immediately upon reaching the point designated, Gen. Ransom ordered me to fix bayonets and advance in line of battle into the woods to support a battery. He conducted the regiment to its position, and ordered to stack arms and unsling knapsacks, and to throw out a company to protect the right flank. Soon after, by order of Col. Vance, 2 men were advanced as skirmishers. At about 3 o'clock received a order from Gen. Ransom to advance through the woods and take a position at the edge of the field to the right of the Ninety-sixth Ohio. The enemy were advancing through the field in line of battle, and the regiment opened fire the moment they had gained the designated position. There was no infantry to the right of the Eighty-third. The enemy outflanked our line, and was closing in upon our right, when Capt.–, of Gen. Ransom's staff, ordered me to take the regiment from the right and move it by the left flank to support the center, which was wavering. I asked him, as we were outflanked upon the right, to allow me to change the front of my regiment diagonally to the line of battle, and endeavor to hold my position and protect the right, but he assured me that the last order must be obeyed, and I immediately moved my regiment by the left in good order to the position to which he guided me, but found that the line we were to support, with the exception of a portion of the Chicago Mercantile Battery, had fallen back to the crest of the hill, to which line the regiment also fell back, by order of Gen. Ransom. Here a stand was made, but after a short time were compelled to fall back with the cavalry and artillery over the crest of the hill, where we were supplied with ammunition. Under command of Lieut. Col. A. H. Brown, commanding the brigade, my regiment and the Ninety-sixth Ohio changed front perpendicular to the line of battle and advanced about 300 yards to the right of the line and threw forward skirmishers 50 yards, who were immediately engaged, when a line of rebels concealed among the bushes arose not more than 50 yards from the left flank of the line. The line, whose right flank we were endeavoring to protect, was falling back, and our two regiments, under a front, flank, and reverse fire, were of no further service to protect the line, and to avoid being surrounded fell back. An imperfect line was again formed, but soon broken by retreating cavalry. The same attempt was repeated, but with little success. After passing the line of battle of the Nineteenth Corps about 400 men from my own and other regiments were formed in line and moved to the left of the road to support the line of battle. About 8 o'clock the regiment was assembled at division headquarters, and at 10 o'clock, by order of Gen. Cameron, moved in the direction of Pleasant Hill. The loss of the regiment in killed, wounded, and missing was 3 officers and 26 men.
I have the honor to be, captain, your obedient servant,
W. H. BALDWIN, Lieut.-Col., Cmdg.
Lieut. H. P. AYRES, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
The Northerners withdrew to Pleasant Hills the night of April 8, 1864, remaining in lines of battle the following day. Taylor's Confederates did not attack, and the Northerners withdrew to Grand Ecore, Louisiana, reaching this new destination on April 11. By April 25, 1864, the Union command had retired to Alexandria, Louisiana.
While at Alexandria, the 83rd principally worked constructing a dam, but on May 2, 1864, the regiment, a company of cavalry, and fifty wagons departed the community on a foraging mission. The Union force encountered a detachment of Confederates. In the ensuing skirmish, the Northerners forced the rebels to withdraw and seized numerous wagons of corn. On May 13, 1864, the 83rd marched from Alexandria via Yellow Bayou and Markesville to Fort Taylor, four miles from Simmsport, Louisiana. The regiment crossed the Atchafalaya River on May 20, 1864 and arrived at Morganza, Louisiana two days later. On May 28, 1864, the Ohioans traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the men remained encamped for nearly two months.
On July 21, 1864, the 83rd Ohio departed Baton Rouge for Algiers and Morganza, where the regiment bolstered the Union garrison at this final location for the remainder of the summer and most of the autumn, carrying out periodic expeditions in the surrounding Louisiana countryside.
In December 1864, the 83rd moved to Natchez, Louisiana, where officials combined the organization with the remnants of the 48th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On April 8, 1864, Confederate forces at the Battle of Sabine Cross-Roads had virtually destroyed the 48th Ohio, and this regiment was dissolved into the 83rd. On January 28, 1865, the new regiment advanced to Kennerville, Louisiana before traveling to New Orleans.
The 83rd soon departed from New Orleans via ocean steamer for Barrancas, Florida. At this location, the regiment joined the Third Brigade, Second Division of the Thirteenth Corps. On March 11, 1865, the Second Division advanced to Pensacola, Florida and, nine days later, joined a campaign against Mobile, Alabama. The division reached Fort Blakely on April 2, 1865 and engaged in a siege of Confederate forces inside of Mobile. On April 9, 1865, the 83rd participated in an attack on several Confederate fortifications at Mobile, driving the Southerners from their strongholds. In this assault, the regiment captured two forts, eight cannons, two mortars, two flags, eight hundred soldiers, and other arms and supplies. The 83rd had thirty-six officers and enlisted men killed or wounded.
On April 21, 1865, the 83rd entered Mobile but withdrew to ships later that same day. On April 22, the regiment advanced to Selma, Alabama, where the organization performed provost-guard duty until May 12, 1865, when the Ohioans returned to Mobile. On June 13, 1865, the 83rd boarded ships for Galveston, Texas, where it remained until July 26, 1865, when the organization sailed for New Orleans. From this Louisiana city, the 83rd traveled up the Mississippi River to Cairo, Illinois, arriving on August 3, 1865. The regiment next boarded railroad cars, reaching Cincinnati, Ohio two days later. On August 10, 1865, the 83rd mustered out of service at Camp Dennison.
During the 83rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry's term of service, fifty-six men, including four officers, died on the battlefield. An additional 163 men, including two officers, succumbed to disease or accidents.