June 17, 1863
In 1863, due to the declining number of volunteers, the United States government instituted the Conscription Act. Under this directive, which was also referred to as the Enrollment Act, the federal government required states to furnish a certain number of soldiers based on each state's population.
In 1863, due to the declining number of volunteers, the United States government instituted the Conscription Act. Under this directive, which was also referred to as the Enrollment Act, the federal government required states to furnish a certain number of soldiers based on each state's population. States only had to implement conscription–a draft–if they could not secure their required number of soldiers through other recruitment efforts. The legislation also allowed drafted men to find someone else to serve in their place or to pay a fine of three hundred dollars to avoid military service. In response to the Conscription Act, draft riots erupted across the North, with the most notable one occurring in New York City, New York during the summer of 1863. Smaller uprisings erupted in other locations, including in Ohio.
The most notable anti-draft event to occur in Ohio was the Battle of Fort Fizzle. On June 5, 1863, a group of Holmes County residents attacked Elias Robinson, a draft official traveling through the area to enforce the Conscription Act. A detachment of men, under the command of Captain James Drake, from the Provost Marshal's Office, arrested four of the attackers, but local residents quickly freed the arrested men. Officials in Columbus, the state capital, dispatched Colonel William Wallace and 420 soldiers from the 15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry to restore order and to enforce the draft.
On June 17, 1863, the soldiers arrived in Holmes County. They discovered approximately 900 men fortified in Fort Fizzle. Fort Fizzle was a makeshift fort that was located on the farm of Lorenzo Blanchard on French Ridge in Richland Township. The men were armed with guns, and some sources claim that they also had four artillery pieces, but this is unlikely. The soldiers advanced upon the fort. The defenders fired one volley at the attackers and then dispersed. The soldiers wounded two of the rioters, and the soldiers pursued the resisters.
On June 18, local Peace Democrats, led by Daniel P. Leadbetter, negotiated a resolution to the situation. The soldiers agreed to return to Columbus if the four men who attacked Elias Robinson turned themselves in to government authorities. The men did surrender. Government officials also eventually indicted approximately forty men that they believed participated in the Battle of Fort Fizzle. Only one of these men, Lorenzo Blanchard, was found guilty.
Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Fort Fizzle included:
15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry