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.
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. They served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. On August 29, 1862, the 96th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry mustered into service at Camp Delaware, at Delaware, Ohio. The men in the regiment were to serve three years. Most men came from Ohio's 8th Congressional District.
On September 1, 1862, the 96th departed Delaware for Cincinnati, Ohio. The regiment traveled on the Cleveland and Columbus Railroad and the Little Miami Railroad, reaching Cincinnati on September 1. That same evening, officials ordered the 96th to Covington, Kentucky, where it remained until September 8, when it moved closer to Newport, Kentucky during the siege of Cincinnati. On October 8, the regiment advanced to Falmouth, Kentucky, where it remained until October 20, when the regiment departed for Nicholasville, Kentucky. On the advance to Nicholasville, the regiment encamped for a few days each at the Kentucky communities of Cynthiana, Paris, and New Lexington. The 96th stayed at Nicholasville for approximately one week, when it moved to Louisville, Kentucky. On November 19, the regiment boarded steamboats for Memphis, Tennessee, where it arrived on November 27.
On December 21, the 96th sailed down the Mississippi River with other Union troops under the command of William T. Sherman. The Northerners disembarked at Milliken's Bend, Louisiana on December 25. The regiment advanced to Dallas Station on the Vicksburg, Shreveport, and Tensas Railroad, where it destroyed the railroad bridge over the Tensas River and approximately one mile of track. The 96th returned to the transports the following day, having marched fifty miles in just two days in addition to destroying the railroad bridge and track. On December 23, the Union force moved to Johnson's River on the Yazoo River and then advanced to Chickasaw Bayou, where the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou occurred from December 26 to 29, 1862. Following this Union defeat, a portion of the Northern force, including the 96th, went to Arkansas Post, Arkansas, arriving on January 10, 1863. The Battle of Arkansas Post occurred here from January 9 to 11, with the 96th having ten men killed and twenty-six wounded in the two days of the battle for which the regiment was present. Following this Northern victory, the 96th arrived at Young's Point, Louisiana on January 25. Over the next six months, the regiment participated in the Union assault on Vicksburg, Mississippi, which finally fell to the Northerners on July 4, 1863.
On July 5, the 96th marched to Jackson, Mississippi, where it participated in the Northern siege of this city until its capture on July 17. The regiment then marched to the Mississippi communities of Bryan's Station and Dry Creek, eventually returning to Vicksburg, where it remained until August 26, when it departed for Carrolton, Louisiana by steamboat. At Carrolton, the 96th conducted several scouts and expeditions, before moving to Brashear City, Louisiana on October 6, where it participated in the Teche Campaign. During this campaign, the regiment fought in the Battle of Grand Coteau on November 3, 1863. The 96th had nine men killed, thirty-three wounded, and sixty-eight soldiers captured in this Union defeat. The regiment eventually moved to Algiers, Louisiana, across from New Orleans, Louisiana, on December 13. On December 18, the 96th boarded ships and sailed for Texas.
The 96th spent the first months of 1864 in Texas, primarily conducting foraging missions. On March 1, the regiment departed Decrou's Point, Texas for Algiers. The 96th next participated in the Red River Campaign under General Nathaniel Banks. The regiment fought in the Battle of Sabine Crossroads on April 8, 1864, having six men killed, twenty-four wounded, and twenty-six captured. The battle and the wider campaign was a disastrous loss for the Union. The 96th only reached safety after retreating to Morganza, Louisiana on the Mississippi River. Following the Battle of Sabine Crossroads, officers of the 96th submitted the following report:
HDQRS. NINETY-SIXTH REGT. OHIO VOL. INFTY., Grand Ecore, La., April 12, 1864.
SIR: I have the honor to report that this regiment, under the command of Lieut. Col. A. H. Brown, left Natchitoches at 7.15 a. m., April 6, by order of Col. Vance, commanding Second Brigade, our position immediately behind the Eighty-third Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was the first regiment of our brigade, the First Brigade of our division being in advance; marched 16 miles and went into camp at 4.30 p. m. in pine woods. Left camp April 7, at 6 a. m., our regiment in front of the division, by order of Col. Vance, commanding Second Brigade, the Third Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, in advance; reached Pleasant Hill and went into camp at 2 p. m., having marched 19 miles. Left camp at Pleasant Hill at 6 a. m. the morning of the 8th, our regiment in rear of brigade, by order of Col. Vance; marched 5 miles; were halted, and our regiment ordered to remain behind and guard the ammunition train and Mercantile Battery, and advance with them when ordered forward. About 12 m. the regiment was ordered to the front by Capt. Dickey, assistant adjutant-general to Gen. Ransom. After advancing rapidly about 4 miles, an order came from the rear from Capt. White, chief of artillery on Gen. Ransom's staff, to halt the regiment and guard the battery as ordered by Gen. Ransom. Upon the return of Capt. Dickey from ordering up the Eighty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry we moved forward again under his orders, he assuring Lieut.-Col. Brown that Capt. White was acting under former orders, and for us to be in front at the earliest moment practicable. Arriving in front we were assigned our position by Gen. Ransom in person, upon the left of the Nineteenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry. In about twenty minutes the Eighty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry arrived and was put in position on our right, with the Sixteenth Indiana Cavalry* in front. After remaining in that position a very few moments after the arrival of the Eighty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry we were ordered by Gen. Ransom in person to advance, with skirmishers in front, to a fence in front of the cavalry. A few moments after our arrival at the fence the enemy in immense numbers made their appearance in our front. The regiment at once opened fire upon them, and after two attempts on their part to carry our position, drove them entirely from the field before us. In about fifteen minutes, and when the enemy had disappeared from our front, we were ordered to fall back by Col. Vance, commanding Second Brigade, and had moved in good order about 150 yards to the rear, when a large body of the enemy that had turned the right flank of our first line were seen advancing rapidly to intercept us. The regiment at once formed a line to confront them, delivered an effective volley, and was reloading, when an aide-de-camp gave peremptory orders to withdraw beyond the enemy's advancing flank at double-quick, as the regiments on our left had already been cut off. This movement was carried out in as good order as the uneven ground would admit of, though for the entire distance we were exposed to an enfilading fire. At the crest of the hill we faced about on the line separating the cleared land and timber, and as Col. Vance had received a severe wound in the breast and fallen into the enemy's hand, Lieut.-Col. Brown assumed command of the brigade. Under his direction the further progress of the enemy was stubbornly disputed, and a battery considerably advanced from our lines, having become unserviceable and its safety endangered by the enemy's near approach, was successfully removed under cover of our fire. It being evident that the rebels were advancing in heavy force on our right, the brigade was formed by Lieut.-Col. Brown, in the immediate presence of Maj.-Gen.'s Banks and Franklin, and by their consent moved to the new point of danger. Here we advanced in line of battle, with skirmishers in front, but the enemy had already gained the cover of the thick underbrush, and from their ambush threw a heavy fire into our front and left. This was followed on their part by a vigorous charge, and their longer line considerably outflanking ours we were forced to retire from the field.
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
After staying for a time encamped at Morganza, the 96th moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where it remained until July 20, 1864. On that date, the regiment moved back to Algiers, where it boarded transports, on July 30, for Dauphin's Island, Alabama, arriving here on August 3. The 96th participated in the sieges of Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan, with the Confederate soldiers in each fortification capitulating on August 8 and August 23 respectively. The regiment returned to Morganza on September, encamping here until November 1, when the 96th moved to the mouth of the White River in Arkansas. On November 18, 1864, due to the small number of men left for duty, Special Order No. 21 consolidated the companies of the 96th Regiment into four new companies and also added one company from the 42nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, creating the 96th Battalion Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
The 96th Battalion remained at the White River until February 4, 1865, when it moved to Kennersville, Louisiana and then to Mobile Point, Alabama on February 16. The battalion participated in the Union movements around Mobile, Alabama, including the capture of Spanish Fort on April 8, 1865 and the seizure of Mobile itself on April 12, 1865. After the city's capture, the 96th conducted expeditions to Namahubbal Bluffs and McIntosh Bluffs, returning to Mobile on May 9.
Following the Confederacy's demise in April 1865, the 96th mustered out of military service at Mobile, Alabama on July 7, 1865. The battalion then traveled to Camp Chase at Columbus, Ohio via New Orleans, Louisiana, Cairo, Illinois, and Cincinnati, Ohio. During its term of service, the 96th Regiment and the 96th Battalion marched a combined 1,683 miles, rode trains 517 miles, and sailed 7,686 miles for a grand total of 9,886 miles. At discharge, the battalion numbered just 427 men, including the company that had joined the regiment from the 42nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment and battalion had a combined forty-eight men, including two officers, killed on the battlefield and an additional 291 soldiers, including five officers, die from disease or accidents.