Written by Ned Lodwick, US Grant Homestead Assoc. Georgetown, OH
Brig. Gen. Jacob Ammen of Brown County led 100 Ripley men out of town to join the 12th Ohio only eight days after the surrender of Ft. Sumter.
Regiments were formed by the Governor chartering a Colonel and Lt. Colonel to form a regiment of 1,000 men. The Colonels would get 10 influential men to recruit 100 men each and promise them a Captaincy. None of the officers were required to have military experience! Doctors, lawyers, teachers, politicians, and preachers were prime recruiters and later officers. Whole churches or small towns might join one company. Sixty Civil War veterans are buried at Pisgah Ridge Cemetery and 24 of them served in Co. B 34th OVI under Capt. C.W. Boyd, owner of the lumber yard in Levanna.
Being rural, Brown County never came up with 1,000 men at one time to form a “County Regiment”. The most men from Brown County in a regiment was 300 in the 48th, 59th, and 70th. There were 200 in the 12th, 34th, and 89th. Another 100 were in the 4th Independent, 7th, and11th Cavalry, the 27th, 47th, 50th, 60th, 61st Infantry. Others were in the artillery, navy, and other cavalry and infantry regiments.
Recruiters received $2.00 for each man they could sign up. They were at all gatherings of the public. Town meetings, band concerts, socials, dances, and church services were prime recruiting grounds.
Brown County’s young men continued to step forward and volunteer to fight for the Union. The many regiments containing Brown County soldiers were stationed in most of the regional armies of the Union. Some are assigned to the Army of the Potomac while others were to become part of the Army of the Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, and James. Because they were so widely dispersed the Brown County soldier would be in nearly every major battle in the Civil War and in many of the lesser known battles and skirmishes.
These regiments with Brown County influence would prove to become some of the best units in their respective commands. At Shiloh, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, Atlanta and in campaign after campaign they played major roles in the Union efforts and are generally considered among the best fighting regiments in the army.
Why were our regiments so good? I think the enlisted men of all areas of Ohio were about equal but this area had an advantage in the quality of their officers. This area was settled by veterans of the Revolution, 30 years later their sons fought in the War of 1812. and 30 years after that their sons fought in the Mexican War under Gen. Hamer. A strong family military tradition was formed. The Civil War was only 13 years later so the privates, corporals, and sergeants of the Mexican War were 38-45 year old doctors, lawyers, teachers, politicians, and preachers with some military experience and prime candidates to be officers. Not every area of the country had so many Mexican War veterans. Only 2,000 Ohio Volunteers served in the Mexican War. Thomas Hamer raised 1,000 men for the War against Mexico from Clermont, Brown, and Adams Counties. They played a strong role in several battles of the Mexican War and the experience they gained would make them crucial to the Union success.
When Ft. Sumter was fired upon on April 12, 1861 a patriotic fever swept though Brown County. Union meetings were held on public squares, in churches, and town meeting halls. Elected officials and other prominent citizens fanned the fire and volunteer after volunteer signed recruitment papers. President Lincoln had called for 75,000 volunteers to serve 90 days to crush the rebellion. Most knowledgeable people thought that was plenty of soldiers and time to complete the task. The new recruits were farm boys and store clerks. They had no idea what to expect from war, but they had the ‘fever’ and they would soon be soldiers.
Raw recruits marched on the squares and at the fairgrounds, drilled by veterans of the Mexican War. Day by day they took on a military look, just a little at first but they more and more. Eventually they would march out of their home towns and go into training camp in Columbus. Our local volunteers were members of the 12th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The 12th was the first Ohio Regiment to leave the Camp Chase and march to war. They would fight at Carnifax Ferry, South Mountain, Antietem, and Cedar Creek.
The next article of this series will look at the first regiment to leave training camp in Ohio and march off to war, the 12th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.