by arohmiller - April 22nd, 2014
Bob Minton (right), Ohio Civil War 150 Advisory Committee member presents the 2014 Civil War 150 Heritage Award to Dave Bush, Friends and Descendents of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison chair, during a ceremony on May April 5, 2014 at the island.

Bob Minton (right), Ohio Civil War 150 Advisory Committee member presents the 2014 Civil War 150 Heritage Award to Dave Bush, Friends and Descendents of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison chair, during a ceremony on May April 5, 2014 at the island.

Marblehead, Ohio – The Friends and Descendents of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison are pleased to announce that the Ohio Civil War 150 Advisory Committee has awarded them with the 2014 Civil War 150 Heritage Award. The award was presented at the group’s annual work day on April 5th in conjunction with Civil War Trust’s Park Day.

“The Friends have been working to save this important site for over a decade.” said committee member Bob Minton, Commander of the Army of the Ohio Civil War Reenactors, during the ceremony. “The Civil War 150 Advisory Committee is proud to present this award in appreciation for your ongoing commitment to reintroduce the prison into public memory and continued efforts to preserve Ohio’s Civil War history.”

The Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison formed in 2001 as a non-profit historic preservation organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the Johnson’s Island Military Prison Depot. In 2002 the Friends purchased 17 acres of the prison site, permanently preserving this National Historic Landmark. The group was the recipient of the 2012 Brian C. Pohanka Preservation Organization of the Year Award by the Civil War Trust.

“I am proud that our group was chosen as a recipient of this award,” said Dave Bush, Chair for the Friends. “This award is a reflection of the countless hours our volunteers have spent ensuring that this site affords research, interpretative, and educational use for future generations and is truly a lasting impact.”

Approximately 80 volunteers were on hand to see the presentation during a break in the national Park Day sponsored by Civil War Trust, History™ and Take Pride in America. This is the ninth consecutive year volunteers have helped improve the appearance of this Civil War prison site, located in Sandusky Bay. Volunteers spent the day clearing brush, winter dead fall and developing walking trails across the site.

To learn more about the Friends, visit their website at

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: David Bush at 419-618-0151.


Participate in the “Ohio Village Soldiers’ Aid Fair: A Civil War Sanitary Fair”

by arohmiller - March 12th, 2014


The Ohio Civil War 150 Advisory Committee invites you to participate in a reconstruction of 1864 history. In keeping with our theme of “The Home Front,” the Ohio Historical Society is planning an “Ohio Village Soldiers’ Aid Fair: A Civil War Sanitary Fair” at Ohio Village on Memorial Day weekend, May 24-25 2014. There will be a period-correct fair in the Village itself, and inside the Historical Center will be a place for counties, regions, historical societies, Civil War Roundtables, and others, to “show their stuff.”

The 1860s Sanitary Fairs, sponsored by the United States Sanitary Commission, collected money and goods for the troops in the field, the hospitals, and the Soldiers’ Home in Cincinnati. Two Sanitary Fairs were held in Ohio: at Cincinnati in December 1863-January 1864, and in Cleveland from February-March 1864. Booths from church groups, Soldiers Aid Societies, Union Clubs, and school groups featured handmade items, clothing, toys, floral arrangements, and more. Some were intended for display only, some for sale or raffle, with the money going toward relieving the wants and sufferings of the soldiers, and to cause them to feel that their sacrifices and labors were appreciated, and to let them know they were still within the circle of home affection and sympathies.

How can your group participate? If your society or group has any or all of the following:

• A Civil War era relic, letter, photograph, &c.;

• A tabletop display about your county, society, or group;

• A representative sample of hand-work, such as quilting or embroidery;

• A display of Civil War flag preservation or fund raising for a monument;

• Anything about your non-profit group that will reach a great many people!

There will be no charge for a display table unless your group is selling items, in which case Ohio Historical Society must charge a vending fee. These displays will be indoors, therefore protected from weather and locked up at night. Half and full tables are available for both Saturday (10-5) and Sunday (12-5).

The general theme for this re-imagined Sanitary Fair is Ohio: The Home Front, which can include such [subtexts] as “Greene County in the Civil War” or “Presbyterians of Jefferson County” or “Oberlin Students in Wartime” – the field is open. Let’s represent all sections of our great state and show the world that we treasure our history, and that we commemorate Ohio’s key role on not only the battlefields, but also at home! If you would like to participate, please contact Amy Rohmiller at or 614.297.2609 with your information and indicate which size table (half or full) you would like to reserve.


Ohio’s Impact on the War: Supplying the Military

by arohmiller - December 23rd, 2013

Written by Catherine Wilson

Ohio’s manufactures, transportation systems, regiments of troops, and financial assistance helped the North to win the war.  While reading about the state’s political impact, I noticed several authors who said that Ohio was a microcosm of the entire country; it combined north and south, east and west, rural and urban, foreign and native, manufacturing and agricultural interests; and made them work together successfully.

Manufacturing was concentrated primarily in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, with a few other counties contributing.  By 1850, explains Stephen Maizlish in The Triumph of Sectionalism, Ohio was first in the country in corn production, and second in wheat.  Eighty percent of all pork products in Ohio were processed in Cincinnati, which was 27 percent of all meat products of the West.  In 1853, Ohio exported more agricultural products to the rest of the country than the United States exported overseas, if cotton and tobacco were excluded.  None of this was produced with slave labor either; however, cotton and tobacco were grown in Ohio, in limited quantities.

Miles Greenwood of Cincinnati was an inventor and industrialist, who transformed his factory into a “virtual arsenal,” according to Carl Becker in For the Union.  He was the only contractor in the West to supply cannon to the government; other Ohio foundries produced artillery shells and case shot, as well as rifles and black powder.  Greenwood also pursued innovation in his big guns, such as breech loading and using iron for casting cannon rather than bronze.  The Miami Powder Company, at Goe’s Station in Greene County, manufactured black powder during this time; according to rumor, the factory supplied its products to both sides in the conflict.

Transportation was another of Ohio’s “pluses.”  Of course the natural waterways, such as rivers and Lake Erie, were always useful, as far back as settlers started arriving. Starting in the 1820s, canals were a manmade source of transport; these were mostly supplanted by railroads in the 1850s.  By 1860 Ohio had more miles of railroad track than any other state.  Cincinnati was just behind New York and Philadelphia in manufacturing output according to the 1860 census; Cleveland’s industrial development was behind this at the time of the Civil War, but was coming into its own as a shipment point as well as for shipbuilding.  Both were well connected by natural and manmade networks, to markets and resources, to raw materials and finished products.

Ohio supplied the third most troops of any state, behind New York and Pennsylvania.  There were almost 320,000 men (and likely a scant number of women) serving in 230 cavalry and infantry regiments, plus 26 light and 2 heavy artillery batteries and 5 sharpshooter companies.  Several more Ohioans served in regiments from other states, such as Kentucky, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Indiana, and Kansas.  In 1860, the total male population in Ohio between the ages of 15 and 49 was 582,201; adding the males between 50 and 59 makes this pool of potential soldiers 645,745 strong.  The ones not off in the field were likely in agriculture or manufacturing, both major sources of supply for the troops.

Other tangible and intangible supplies for Ohio soldiers included news from home, supplied by relatives, friends, and local newspapermen, or packages of “home comforts” like food or blankets.  Ladies’ Soldier’s Aid Societies all over Ohio were a major source of civilian contributions to hospitals and camps throughout the Western theater.  Supplies could take the form of direct benefits such as these, or infrastructure items such as rail track that transported them to various fields of battle and raw material for weapons from steel mills and iron furnaces back home in Ohio.

Quartermasters: Supplying the Military

by arohmiller - December 16th, 2013

Written by: Roger Micker

After April 14, 1861 the logistics for the U.S. Army changed dramatically. Following the attack on Fort Sumter and President Lincoln’s call for enlistments, the number of troops swelled from 16,000 to 500,000 over the next two years. Significant responsibility for the success, or failure, of a campaign could be determined by the operations of the Quartermaster. Generals who led campaigns into enemy territory in earlier wars had to take into consideration the time and distance between their positions, target, and supply depots. For example, one of Napoleons chief concerns was how to remedy food spoilage and its consequences.

Through 1860 and the start of the war the Quartermaster Department was plagued with issues such as: an inefficient chain of command, fraud, shoddy uniforms and equipment, and broken down horses. After routine drilling and marching, uniforms and brogans would fall apart at the seams. Most tents provided little shelter from rainfall. The quality of materials purchased by the Army went unchecked. The Quartermaster General who oversaw expenditures of over $35 million in 1861 was expected to provide depots for the army to fight a campaign effectively. With the increasing size of the military that figure would increase by approximately $100 million in 1862.

According to the Guidelines for The Quartermaster Department, 1861, the quartermaster is responsible for: “… transportation by land and water for all troops and war material; supply tents, camp, and garrison equipage, forage, lumber, and all materials for camps; constructing or repairing roads, bridges, and railroads; construct barracks, hospitals, wagons, ambulances; provides harness, builds or charters ships and steamers, docks, and wharves; and clothes the army.”

Soldiers were requisitioned a uniform and accoutrements from the quartermaster. Each army of the military was generally assigned 3,000 wagons and 600 ambulances along with 50,000 horses and mules. Each animal, valued around $110, consumed 25 pounds of feed per day. When necessary the cost for public modes of transportation by rail or water had to be included in the department’s expenditures.

For transportation fuel, the quartermaster’s annual purchases would normally be for over half a million bushels of coal and about 20,000 cords of wood. According to the Guidelines “… at least 200 miles of fencing … to make bunks, cots, and coffins” were needed. Additional expenses were necessary for: officers’ “mileage”; buildings; burials; veterinarians; mechanics; laborers; and salaries for contrabands working as teamsters, cooks, or laundry workers.

Clerks (who could make up to $100 a month), police, spies, scouts, and corps quartermaster fell under the responsibility of the Quartermaster General. White workers were paid $25 a month, contrabands $10 a month. At the request of the quartermaster, payments for goods, services, and supplies were made by the Treasury Department.

The Commissary Department provided the rations for each soldier and laborer. The food was procured by public contract and transported under the guidance of the Quartermaster General. On the average, each soldier was expected to receive 3 pounds of food per day. A ration generally could consist of various amounts of: pilot bread (hard tack), pork, bacon, salt, beef, coffee, peas, and vegetables. The cost for a single ration was 20 cents. In one month, it was estimated that one army consumed 20,000 bushels of potatoes. The preserving and preparation of food was considered so valuable that a good cook could be worth 10 physicians.

The Quartermaster General position was established in 1775. Prior to the appointment of Montgomery Meigs to the position, the department was at the mercy of many unscrupulous contractors. Compounding the problem of fraud, contracts for domestic and foreign for tens of dozens of various types of arms were fulfilled.

Ohio’s industries and agricultural centers provided necessary goods for the military. Since 1844 Goodyear produced soldiers’ gum blankets. In Steubenville, tailors sewed depot jackets and trousers. Bakeries in Cincinnati were one of the chief sources for providing pilot bread. (The Henry Varwig bakery produced 3 million pounds of hard tack). The contract (for soap) with Proctor and Gamble helped that company to survive.

Imagine being in Meigs’ position in 1862 when he was faced with the prospect of sending, and supporting, McClellan’s 100,000 plus Army of the Potomac on its Peninsula campaign. The failure of the campaign could not be blamed for a lack of supplies and transportation.

For Further Reading:

Second Only To Grant: Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs by David Miller.  The Quartermaster Review, 1928.


Ohio’s Impact on the War Series: Why Th

by arohmiller - November 26th, 2013

Written By: Sfc. Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard

Why did Civil War soldiers fight? What made them endure the hardships of Army life, the terror of battle and the loss of friends? Over 300,000 Buckeyes served during the Civil War, and if you could travel back in time and ask each of them why they chose to serve you might get that many different answers.

When the war began certainly the overwhelming majority of men who enlisted where caught up in the patriotic spirit of a nation which had just been attacked. “TO ARMS! TO ARMS!” Read one recruiting poster in northwest Ohio, “Rally to our flag! Rush to the field! Are we cowards that we must yield to traitors? Are we worthy sons of heroic sires? Come one, come all! Let us march, as our forefathers marched, to defend the only democratic Republic on earth!”

The patriotic spirit would soon be overcome by reality. While many soldiers wrote home bravely seeking a scrap with the enemy, their tone soon changed after “seeing the elephant” for the first time. “The horrors of the battlefield on Tuesday, I would not wish to convey to your mind, if I could – I would rather banish it from my own.” wrote Captain Albert Langworthy of the 49th Ohio after the battle of Shiloh.

Many men left their homes in the hope that the Army could provide a better way of life. Not unlike today’s military, the thought of financial rewards in trade for a few years of service were worth the risk to many men. An enlistment or reenlistment bonus, along with the idea of a steady pay check, was intriguing to many men trying to start a life or support a family. One such recruit in January 1864 was Peter Neiderkohr from the Seneca County village of Berwick and my great-great-great-great uncle. A married father of a young son, Peter could not speak a word of English. His brother in law, John Youngpeter was already serving in Company D, 49th Ohio, and he hoped the bonus money given to him for signing up would better his young family. He would not get the chance to have that better life, as he was killed at the battle of Pickett’s Mill just four months later.

While the financial benefit and the patriotic spirit brought many men into the Army, the friendships and brotherhoods the men developed with their fellow soldiers kept them going. The terror of combat certainly bonded them, but the routine duties of a soldier’s life cemented that bond. These men marched together, shared tents together, cooked together, prayed together, sang songs together, and stood on picket duty together. They did this in the heat and cold, rain and snow, the brightest of days and darkest of nights. “Fight over cards and rotgut whiskey, but share the last drop in their canteens,” although a line by John Wayne’s character Captain Kirby York in the 1948 movie Fort Apache, it is a fitting description of the brotherhood that develops while in the military.

In January 1906, Martin Riegle, of Bluffton and a veteran of the 49th Ohio, wrote his old comrade James Gilpin of Garber, Oklahoma. The letter explains itself and shows the devotion of comradeship during the Civil War and after. “When I think back to the 27th of May 1864, when you so kindly, and at the risk of your own life a thousand times or more as you know, the bullets, grape and canister were sweeping everything before them, yet you took me off the bloody field, while nearby me lay poor Dory Jackman, whom you also so nobly helped, but alas you could not rescue both of us. … James I won’t forget you. No, not while my memory survives me right. … I thank you for your kindness and hope our friendship will last us through this life and help to know each other in the great beyond, which is only just a little way before us. God bless you dear comrade and yours, write me when you can, good bye. Martin Riegle.”