Born on September 17, 1811, in Marietta, Ohio, John Brough had a difficult childhood. His father died when Brough was only eleven years of age.
Born on September 17, 1811, in Marietta, Ohio, John Brough had a difficult childhood. His father died when Brough was only eleven years of age. His father was an immigrant from England, while his mother was a Pennsylvanian by birth. Brough's father died when he was eleven years old. His mother apprenticed Brough at the local newspaper, the Marietta Gazette, when he was just twelve years old. He also received some limited schooling in Marietta's schools. In 1825, he relocated to Athens, Ohio, where he joined the staff of the Athens Mirror, a local newspaper, as a reporter. Brough used some of his salary to enroll in Ohio University part time, although he did not graduate from this institution.
With a slew of journalistic experience, at twenty years of age, Brough purchased the Washington County Republican, a Democratic Party-supporting newspaper in Marietta. Brough was a devout Democrat for most of his life, principally because he objected to the economic policies of the competing political party, the Whig Party. Whigs especially supported high tariffs and a federal regulated monetary system. Brough blamed the Whigs for the Panic of 1837, a severe economic downturn, despite the panic resulting principally from Democratic economic policies. In 1833, Brough sold his Marietta newspaper and purchased with his brother, Charles Henry Brough, the Lancaster Eagle, a newspaper in Lancaster, Ohio. The Eagle was one of the most influential Democratic newspapers in Ohio.
As owner and editor of the Eagle, Brough began to develop political connections, which soon caused him to embark upon a career in politics. From 1835 to 1837, he served as the clerk of the Ohio Senate. In 1838, voters in Fairfield and Hocking Counties, Ohio elected Brough to the Ohio House. As a representative, Brough became the chairman of the house committee on banks and currency. Due to his knowledge of financial issues, Ohio voters elected Brough as Ohio's state auditor in 1839. He remained in this position until 1845, having to step down after he did not win reelection in 1844. With the nation and Ohio still gripped in the Panic of 1837, many voters blamed the Democrats for the economic downturn, including Brough, and chose to elect Whigs to office in their place. During his time as auditor, Brough managed to keep inflation low, helping Ohioans weather the economic downturn.
While living in Lancaster, Brough met and married Achsa Pruden. The couple had two children before Achsa Brough's early death. In 1843, Brough remarried. His new wife, Caroline Nelson, was from Columbus, Ohio, and Brough met her while serving as auditor in Ohio's capital city. The couple eventually had five children.
Upon losing reelection in 1844, Brough and his brother purchased the CincinnatiEnquirer, another prominent Democratic-supporting newspaper. Brough moved his family to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he served as the journal's editor from 1844 to 1848. Brough became the president of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad in 1848, and he eventually relocated his family from Cincinnati to Cleveland, Ohio.
As the American Civil War approached, Brough became a War Democrat, a member of the Democratic Party who supported Northern attempts to reunite the nation. He soon joined the Union Party, a new political party consisting of War Democrats and Republicans who opposed the South's secession. The Union Party selected Brough as its Ohio gubernatorial candidate in the election of 1863. The party chose Brough over the incumbent David Tod. In all likelihood, the party chose Brough over Tod due to Unionist unhappiness with some of Tod's military appointments. As governor, Tod was permitted to appoint officers in the state's various regiments of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Numerous prominent Ohioans sought appointment to these various positions, and Tod undoubtedly offended those people that he did not choose, possibly costing him his party's nomination. Brough ran against Clement L. Vallandigham, a Peace Democrat, Copperhead, and eventual commander of the Sons of Liberty. Due to his support of the Northern war effort, Brough easily won the election, garnering more than 100,000 more votes than his competitors. Brough received the largest margin of victory of any governor of any state in any gubernatorial election before the Civil War.
Upon becoming Ohio's twenty-sixth governor on January 11, 1864, Brough sought to aid the Union war effort. Brough succeeded in enacting a two mills property tax to support soldiers' families. Known as the Relief Law, this legislation also permitted counties and cities to levy an additional 1.5mill tax to assist these same people. In February 1864, Brough, hoping to bring the war to a conclusion, also devised a plan to increase the number of soldiers available to the Union military. Brough proposed providing several Ohio Militia units to the federal government for active duty. These units would primarily protect Ohio's southern border from Confederate invasion. Brough's proposal resulted from Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's raid into southern and eastern Ohio in the summer of 1863 and anti-war protests, including the failed gubernatorial campaign of Vallandigham, that same year. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton rejected Brough's plan. On March 15, Brough again lobbied Stanton. In a lengthy letter, Brough wrote, "Passing events in Ohio and in Canada point to a pressing danger of raids upon us from that quarter; while our southern frontier, including that of Indiana, is undoubtedly to be the object of an assault by Morgan and his forces, as soon as their preparations are completed." Stanton, again, rejected the plan.
In April 1864, Brough and the governors of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin met together and lobbied the federal government jointly to accept militia forces from each state for active duty. On April 21, they sent their formal proposal to President Abraham Lincoln:
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, April 21, 1864.
To THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES :
I. The Governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin offer to the President
infantry troops for the approaching campaign, as follows :
II. The term of service to be one hundred days, reckoning from the date of muster into the service of the United States, unless sooner discharged.
III. The troops to be mustered into the service of the United States by regiments, when the regiments are filled up, according to regulations, to the minimum strength the regiments to be organized according to the regulations of the War Department ; the whole number to be furnished within twenty days from date of notice of the acceptance of this proposition.
IV. The troops to be clothed, armed, equipped, subsisted, transported, and paid as other United States infantry volunteers, and to serve in fortifications, or wherever their services may be required, within or without their respective States. V. No bounty to be paid the troops, nor the services charged or credited on any draft.
VI. The draft for three years service to go on in any State or district where the quota is not filled up; but if any officer or soldier in this special service should be drafted, he shall be credited for the service rendered.
JOHN BROUGH, Governor of Ohio.
O. P. MORTON, Governor of Indiana.
RICHARD YATES, Governor of Illinois.
W. M. STONE, Governor of Iowa.
The governors believed that these militiamen would free soldiers currently serving in forts or guarding other important sites in Northern states for duty with the Union's invading armies in the Confederacy. Hopefully this surge of men, known as Hundred Days' Men, would allow the North to defeat the South in one hundred days or less while keeping Northern states safe from Confederate attack and anti-war unrest.
On April 23, 1864, Governor Brough received news that the federal government had accepted the governors' proposal. Between April 25, and May 2, rumors circulated across Ohio of a general unhappiness with General Order No. 12 and potential unrest, but on May 2, 1864, no protests occurred, and 38,000 militiamen reported for active duty--eight thousand more men than Governor Brough had proposed sending for federal government use. On May 3, Brough issued the following proclamation, thanking the militiamen for their patriotism:
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Columbus, May 3, 1864.
To THE NATIONAL GUARD OF OHIO:
The Commander-in-Chief [Governor Brough] cordially and earnestly thanks you for your noble response on yesterday to the call made for the relief of our army, and the salvation of the country. This manifestation of loyalty and patriotism is alike honorable to yourselves and your noble State. In the history of this great struggle it will constitute a page that you and your descendants may hereafter contemplate with perfect satisfaction.
The duty to which you will be assigned, though comparatively a minor one, will be none the less beneficial to the cause of the country. While you hold fortifications, and lines of army communications, you will release veteran soldiers, and allow them to strengthen the great army that is marshaling for the mightiest contest of the war. In this you will contribute your full measure to the final result we all so confidently anticipate, and so much desire the end of the rebellion, and the restoration of peace and unity in the land.
There is no present imminent danger that calls you from your peaceful avocations. But, it is necessary that we enter upon the spring campaign with a force that will enable us to strike rapid and effective blows when the conflict opens. Though we have met with a few reverses this spring, the general military situation is everywhere hopeful, and those in command of your armies were never more confident, But we can not permit this war, in its present proportions, to linger through another year. It is laying a burden upon us which, by vigorous and united exertion, we must arrest. It is true economy, as well as the dictate of humanity, to call to the termination of this contest a force that will be sufficient for the purpose. Time, treasure, and blood will alike be saved in augmenting our forces, and making the contest short and decisive. The hope of the Rebel leaders is in the procrastination of the war. In this a political party in the North sympathizes with them, and is laboring, by the same means to secure a political triumph at the expense of the unity and future prosperity of the Nation. The first we must subdue with our arms within the hundred days, and then we can turn upon the other and win over it a more peaceful, but not less glorious victory.
I am not ignorant of the sacrifices this call imposes upon you, nor of the unequal manner in which it imposes the burdens of the war. You must reflect, however, that hitherto we have experienced comparatively little of the inconveniences and depression consequent upon a state of war. If a part of these come home to us now, we can well afford to meet, for so short a time, the tax imposed upon us, especially when the sacrifice gives promise of materially hastening the close of the contest. The burden must necessarily be unequal, for the Union men of this country must work out its salvation. The disloyal element is not to be relied upon either to encourage our armies, or to aid in the crushing of the rebellion. You are, in this particular, not unlike your ancestors who achieved the independence of your country against a foreign enemy on the one hand, and the tories of the revolution on the other.
Remember then, that like unto those who wrought out your nationality, through adversity that you have not yet experienced, the greater the sacrifice the higher the honor of those who are called to preserve it.
Fully comprehending the effects of this call upon the industrial interests of the State, I would not have made it, had I not been fully impressed with the necessity of an increase of our forces, as the most effective means of hastening the close of the contest and the advent of peace. I have done what I conscientiously believed to be my duty in the present position of affairs, and you have responded in a manner that challenges my admiration, and will command the gratitude of the country.
Go forth, then, soldiers of the National Guard, to the fulfillment of the duty assigned to you. I have entire confidence that you will meet all its requirements with fidelity and honor. The prayers of the people of the State will follow you; and may your return be as glorious as your going forth is noble and patriotic.
Despite the quick arrival of these militia units, several organizations refused to serve under federal government control. To assuage these men's fears, Governor Brough offered other service opportunities. For example, Brough offered one regiment that had no desire to serve under federal authority the choice of working as prison guards at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. Brough telegraphed the commanding officer:
The Guard will be promptly mustered out at the end of the hundred days. The faith of the Government and the State are both pledged to this. The regiment can serve in the State if it wants to do so. We want a regiment at Camp Chase to guard Rebel prisoners and patrol Columbus. No other regiment wants to do it. Men who refuse to muster will be held to this service. The muster into the United States service is a mere form to make the payment from the Government instead of the State.
The regiment immediately agreed to serve under federal control and completed its military duty outside of Ohio's borders.
Of all of the militia organizations called for duty, only one unit refused to serve. Governor Brough immediately made an example of this organization, removing it from Ohio's militia rolls.
GENERAL HEAD-QUARTERS, STATE OF OHIO,
SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 314.
ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Columbus, May 26, 1864.
Company B, Captain Wendell Mischler, Fortieth Battalion, National Guard, is hereby dishonorably dismissed from the service of the State of Ohio, with forfeiture of all pay and allowances, or having refused to come to the relief of the Government, under the recent call of the President for one hundred days troops.
The National Guard of Ohio, by its promptness in responding to said call, has won an immortality of honor, and justice to it demands that all recusants should be promptly punished, and the Guard relieved from the odium of so disgraceful a course of action. To the honor of the Guard, it is announced that the above company was the only one among the forty-two regiments sent to the field that lacked faith in the honor of their State and adopted country, and refused to fly to the relief when the fate of the country was trembling in the balance.
They can return to their homes and say to their friends and neighbors that they have regarded their country and its safety as secondary to their own personal ease and security; and that in the hour of most imminent peril to that Government which had received and protected them when aliens, they basely betrayed their trust, and refused to follow their gallant comrades to the field of honor and of danger.
No member of said company will be allowed to enlist in any other company of the National Guard, under any circumstances whatever, as men who wish to be soldiers in peace and citizens in war, will not be allowed to disgrace the Guard, or peril the State and Nation by their presence and example.
By order of the Governor: B. R. COWEN, Adjutant-General of Ohio.
While he first objected to the use of these men, Secretary of War Stanton quickly welcomed the additional soldiers. Upon the end of these men's one hundred days of service, even President Abraham Lincoln acknowledged the militiamen's valuable service:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON CITY,
September 10, 1864.
The term of one hundred days, for which the National Guard of Ohio volunteered having expired, the President directs an official acknowledgment of their patriotism and valuable service during the recent campaign. The term of service of their enlistment was short, but distinguished by memorable events in the Valley of the Shenandoah, on the Peninsula, in the operations of the James River, around Petersburg and Richmond, in the battle of Monocacy, in the intrenchments of Washington, and in other important service. The National Guard of Ohio performed with alacrity the duty of patriotic volunteers, for which they're entitled, and are hereby tendered, through the Governor of their State, the National thanks.
The Secretary of War is directed to transmit a copy of this order to the Governor of Ohio, and to cause a certificate of their honorable service to be delivered to the officers and soldiers of the Ohio National Guard, who recently served in the military force of the United States as volunteers for one hundred days.
[Signed] ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
While Brough had hoped this surplus of men would result in Confederate defeat in one hundred days or less, the South's downfall did not occur in this time limit. Nevertheless the surge in men did provide the federal government with additional soldiers who helped the Northern military win several important victories during the summer of 1864, bringing the Confederacy closer to collapse.
During his administration, Brough's health declined. Because of his health, he chose to not seek reelection. Complicating his health issues, Brough fell and sprained his ankle. The injury eventually developed gangrene, contributing to Brough's death on August 29, 1865. With approximately four months left to Brough's term, the lieutenant governor, Charles Anderson, became governor.
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"John Brough," Ohio Civil War Central, 2021, Ohio Civil War Central. 24 Oct 2021 <http://www.www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=222>
"John Brough." (2021) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved October 24, 2021, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=222