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.
Artillery batteries formed in Ohio became known as batteries of Ohio Volunteer Artillery. They served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. On September 13, 1862, the 18th Ohio Independent Battery of Ohio Volunteer Artillery mustered into service at Camp Portsmouth, at Portsmouth, Ohio. This organization was also known as Aleshire's Battery, named after Charles C. Aleshire, one of the battery's captains. The men in the battery were to serve three years and primarily came from Gallia and Pike Counties, Ohio.
On October 9, 1862, officials dispatched the 18th to Cincinnati, Ohio. On the next day, the battery crossed the Ohio River and established camp at Covington, Kentucky. On October 23, 1862, the organization began an advance into within three miles of Lexington, Kentucky. On November 1, 1862, the 18th encamped at Camp Clay, on the farm of former Secretary of State and Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay, located to the southeast of Lexington. The battery moved to Camp Ella Bishop, west of Lexington, on November 30, 1862. The organization remained encamped at this location until December 26, 1862, when the unit began a march to Louisville, Kentucky, arriving on December 30, 1862. In late January 1863, the 18th boarded the transport Bostona No. 2 and sailed to Nashville, Tennessee, reaching this city on February 7, 1863. The battery joined the 1st Division, 14th Army Corps and remained at Nashville until February 21, 1863, when the unit advanced to Brentwood, Tennessee on the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad. On March 2, 1863, the organization moved towards Spring Hill, Tennessee, traveling through the Tennessee communities of Franklin and Columbia. As the 18th approached Spring Hill on March 4, 1863, the unit engaged Confederate forces, driving the enemy from the battlefield. The next morning, the battery and four infantry regiments advanced to Thompson's Station, Tennessee on the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad. Skirmishing occurred throughout the march, and upon reaching Thompson's Station, the Battle of Thompson's Station erupted. Confederate forces withstood a Union assault, prompting the Northerners to retire to Franklin. After the engagements at Spring Hill and Thompson's Station, the 18th's commanding officer issued the following report:
HDQRS. EIGHTEENTH BATTERY, OHIO VOL. ARTILLERY, Franklin, Tenn., March 8, 1863.
SIR: In obedience to instructions from you, I have the honor to make the following report of the part my command took in the action of the 4th and 5th instant: On the morning of the 4th, Col. Coburn's brigade, consisting of the Thirty-third and Eighty-fifth Indiana, the Twenty-second Wisconsin, and the Nineteenth Michigan Regt.'s of Infantry, and my battery, together with the Ninth Pennsylvania and parts of the Second Michigan and Fourth Kentucky Cavalry, under the command of Col. Thomas J. Jordan, of the Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, proceeded on the turnpike leading toward Spring Hill and Columbia. My battery was divided, one section being in the rear of the wagon train, commanded by Lieut. [W. R.] Morgan.
When about 3 miles from Franklin, the enemy's cavalry was discovered in line of battle on the right of the pike, about half a mile distant. Col. Coburn immediately ordered me to take position, with the four guns in advance, on the high ground on the left of the pike, which I did. He then ordered me to open upon them. I opened upon their line, and, after a few rounds, they moved off to the left of the pike, where a battery of four guns began to play upon my battery, but I could not discover its position until I rode down next to the pike. I then asked Col. Coburn's permission to move two of my guns down next to the pike, as I thought it the better position to play upon their battery. He told me to do so, which I did, and with a few rounds from these guns disabled one of their pieces, and their battery retired. Lieut. Morgan then came up with section, and Col. Coburn ordered me to put it into position on an elevation on the right of the pike, which I did, and ordered him to commence firing upon the enemy's cavalry as it retired.
Col. Coburn then ordered me to advance, with my four guns, on the left of the pike. I advanced these guns about 600 yards, and came into position, and also shelled the retiring enemy with them.
From the direction which a part of the enemy's cavalry took, Col. Coburn thought it possible we might be flanked on the left, and ordered me to move Lieut. Morgan's section so as to protect our left flank.
While moving these guns, the axle-tree of one of the guns broke down, and I sent Sergeant Roseburgh to Franklin, with orders to repair it immediately and join me with it again, if possible. Col. Coburn then ordered me to move all of my battery, so at to protect our left which I had done, and occasionally fired a shell into the enemy as they appeared in squads in the woods. We then advanced about a mile and encamped for the night.
I reported to Col. Coburn on the evening of the first day that I had about 120 rounds of ammunition, inclusive, to the piece. I reported the same to him on the morning of the 5th also.
Early on the morning of the 5th, we advanced toward Spring Hill, the position which my battery occupied in the column being different from that of the preceding day. Lieut. Morgan was in the advance, with the cavalry, with one piece, while I was preceded by one regiment of infantry, with the other four guns of my battery. After advancing about 1 mile, skirmishing with the enemy's cavalry commenced. Our skirmishers drove them about 3 miles, to the gap this side of Thompson's Station, where we were opened upon by one of the enemy's batteries, so placed upon the right in our advance as to command the pike. I judged this battery to be composed of 18-pounder guns.
Col. Coburn ordered me into position on the hill to the left of the pike, with three guns of my battery. I put three guns into position on this hill, under the command of Lieut. Morgan and Sergeant [A. S.] Bierce, and commenced to play upon the enemy's battery, when these guns were opened upon by a second battery to the right. Col. Coburn then ordered me to put my other two guns, under the command of Lieut. [J.] McCafferty, on another hill on the right of the pike. I got these guns into position as soon as possible, and commenced to engage the enemy's battery to our right. In about fifteen minutes after these guns had opened, the enemy opened upon us a third battery of four heavy guns to our left, so as to cross-fire my two batteries, or, rather, my whole battery. The three guns on the left, under the command of Lieut. Morgan and Sergeant Bierce, were supported by two regiments, I think the Eighty-fifth Indiana and Nineteenth Michigan Regt.'s, and the two guns on the right, under the command of Lieut. McCafferty, were supported by two regiments, I think the Thirty-third Indiana and Twenty-second Wisconsin Regt.'s, and also cavalry.
Under this fire of their artillery I had engaged them about an hour, when I reported to Col. Coburn that my ammunition would soon be expended, to which he replied, "Hold your position as long as it lasts, and fire slowly, and try and make every shell count." Shortly after this, I heard him order the Thirty-third Indiana Regt. to charge the battery to our right, and in a few moments after the Thirty-third had crossed the fence to our right, I saw the battery which they went to charge retire and noticed, behind a stone fence next to the hill which they occupied, their infantry, or cavalry dismounted, concealed. When the Thirty-third arrived within about 60 yards of this stone fence, those troops which were concealed behind it fired into them, and, greatly outnumbering them, returned the charge and repulsed them, driving them back to my right, where the Twenty-second Wisconsin was in line.
I then discovered that my two guns, under the command of Lieut. McCafferty, were being charged by two regiments of the enemy coming from behind the church and railroad depot in my front, and I ordered Lieut. McCafferty to open upon them with canister.
Col. Jordan then came to me and ordered me to withdraw my guns from the left-that they were being charged by infantry and cavalry-which I did immediately, and moved them into the pike, and then rode back to the guns on the hill on the right, commanded by Lieut. McCafferty.
Col. Jordan then ordered me to withdrawn these guns also, and fall back to the hill where we fought the first day, and cover the retreat, and he would send his cavalry to support me, he fearing that we would be flanked by cavalry. When I rode back to the guns on the right, commanded by Lieut. McCafferty, Col. Coburn brought a regiment of infantry on my left to support me. They fired but one volley, and fell back in disorder. Col. Coburn then went to my right again, and I saw him no more. As the two regiments that charged this battery came close, I fired double-shotted canister into their ranks. I did not withdraw these guns until the infantry had all left, and do not think that the charge of the enemy was more than 60 yards from me when I ordered Lieut. McCafferty to retire. The charge of the enemy on the left almost surrounded him as he came down the hill into the pike.
After all my battery had arrived safely in the pike, in obedience to orders from Col. Jordan, I was retreating, when some one came to me and told me that Brig.-Gen. Gillbert was on a hill (pointing it out to me), and desired to see me. I halted by battery and reported to him, and he ordered me on to Franklin, and afterward over the river.
During the first day we met with no loss. The second day our loss was 2 men missing. We had 1 horse killed and 3 wounded, and 1 sergeant's horse and equipments missing.
During both days the officers and men of my command behaved gallantly. The officers dismounted, and were at their guns during the whole time of action.
The conduct of the cavalry, under the command of Col. Jordan, during the whole time, and particularly the retreat, was unexceptionable. Had it not been for their repeated efforts to drive back the enemy, neither my battery nor the wagon train could possibly have been saved.
All of the above, general, I most respectfully submit.
I am, sir, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES C. ALESHIRE,
Capt., Cmdg. Eighteenth Battery, Ohio Volunteer Artillery.
Brig. Gen. A. BAIRD,
Cmdg. Third Division, Army of Kentucky.
HDQRS. THIRD Brig., FIRST DIV., RESERVE CORPS, Murfreesborough, Tenn., August 13, 1863.
The statement that the artillery held the ground till after the infantry retired, is unfounded in fact. On the right, the infantry held the very spot covered by the battery two hours after it left the field.
Col., Cmdg. Brigade.
Daily skirmishing between the Confederate and Union soldiers occurred at Franklin until April 19, 1863, when the Battle of Franklin erupted. Officials stationed the 18th inside of Fort Granger, allowing the battery to strafe the entire battlefield. The Northerners repulsed the Southerners' attack. The battery remained at Franklin, garrisoning the city and drilling, until June 2, 1863, when the unit marched to Triune, Tennessee. On June 11, 1863, Confederate forces attacked Triune. Although the 18th had to withdraw its position, the Union soldiers repulsed the attack.
In late June 1863, the Army of the Cumberland, including the 18th, embarked upon the Tullahoma Campaign. On June 27, 1863, the battery participated in the Battle of Shelbyville, Tennessee. The Army of the Cumberland drove Confederate forces from the city and captured five hundred prisoners and four artillery pieces. On July 1, 1863, the 18th encamped at Shelbyville and, three days later, moved to Wartrace on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad.
On August 12, 1863, the 18th advanced towards Estell Springs on the Elk River, arriving the following day. Officials ordered two-thirds of the battery to move to Tullahoma, leaving the final section at Estell Springs. By September 7, 1863, the organization had reunited at Estell Springs and began a movement to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Five days later, the 18th advanced towards Chickamauga, Georgia. On September 18, 1863, the battery skirmished with Confederate forces near Chickamauga Creek, driving the Southerners back to their original line. Over the next two days, the 18th participated in the Battle of Chickamauga. The unit held its position on the engagement's first day, but Confederates forced the organization to withdraw on the second day. The battery joined the Union retreat towards Chattanooga, Tennessee, with officials ordering the organization to guard Rossville Road Gap. Confederate forces attacked this position on September 21, 1863, with the Union soldiers repulsing the assault. The next morning, the 18th retreated to Chattanooga.
At Chattanooga, authorities positioned the 18th on Stringer's Ridge. On October 5, 1863, the battery engaged in a prolonged artillery duel with Confederate forces on Lookout Mountain. The two sides continued to shell each other for the next fifty-five days. On November 24, 1863, the battery shelled the Southerners during the Battle of Lookout Mountain. The organization did not participate in the Battle of Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863), which ended the Confederates' siege of Chattanooga.
The 18th encamped at Chattanooga until December 1, 1863, when the battery traveled by train to Nashville, Tennessee. The organization encamped at Camp Brough, named for Ohio's governor, at Nashville during the winter of 1863 and 1864 and the spring and summer of 1864. On October 6, 1864, the battery advanced towards Chattanooga, arriving on October 21, 1864. The unit began a return trip to Nashville on November 17, 1864, reaching this location four days later. On December 15 and 16, 1864, the 18th fought in the Battle of Nashville. This Union victory ended Confederate General John Bell Hood's invasion of central Tennessee. The battery joined the Northern pursuit of the retreating Southerners.
On January 8, 1865, the 18th encamped at Chattanooga, remaining at this city until May 3, 1865, when the battery advanced to Resaca, Georgia. The organization remained at Resaca until June 20, 1865, when officials ordered the unit to Camp Dennison, Near Cincinnati, Ohio. The battery mustered out of service at Camp Dennison on June 29, 1865.
During the 18th Battery's term of service, the organization had two men killed on the battlefield and twenty-one soldiers die from disease or accidents.