Photo caption: 47th OVI attack Fort McAllister at Savannah, Georgia
“The 47th Ohio Volunteer Infantry”
Written by Ned Lodwick, US Grant Homestead Assoc., Georgetown, Ohio
The 47th Ohio was formed at Camp Dennison on April 27, 1861 to serve 3 years. It was made up of four companies of German speaking immigrants and six of English speaking. Company F was recruited by Thomas T. Taylor, Brown County’s Prosecuting Attorney, from Georgetown and the surrounding townships. Taylor recruited 80 men but when it came time to leave town only twenty four joined Captain Taylor. Some local Copperheads (southern sympathizers) laughed and jeered at the small procession. Eventually, he raised the 100 men needed for a full company.
The regiment was first sent to West Virginia where they were constantly in skirmishes with the rebels. On September 10, 1861 they were engaged in their first battle at Carnifax Ferry. The 47th preformed bravely. They wintered in the mountains near Gauley Bridge. Transportation and shipment of supplies was nearly impossible through the mountains and the 47th suffered through the harsh weather without overcoats or tents.
On December 30th, 1862 the regiment boarded steamers and joined General Grant’s campaign against Vicksburg. Their first duty was to help dig the canal that was to divert the Mississippi River and thus bypass Vicksburg. That plan having failed led to the next idea that was to run the gauntlet of fire from the Vicksburg batteries with gun boats and supply barges and get below the city and on dry ground. On May 2nd the Navy made a run past the city. Each barge needed a detachment of 35 soldiers to protect it from Confederate boarders. All of these troops were volunteers and many were from the 47th Ohio. The mission was a success. Nine members of the 47th were awarded the Medal of Honor for their part in the mission.
By the middle of May, Grant’s Army had defeated the Confederates in nine battles and had driven them into Vicksburg. The city was surrounded and on May 19th, 1863 an assault was ordered. The 47th was to attack Cemetery Fort. This forlorn attempt was made with great valor. The fort was protected by a 10 foot wide, 7 foot deep ditch at to base of its front wall. The men reached the ditch but could go no further through the galling fire. The Confederates rolled exploding cannonballs into the ditch and shot anyone who tried to retreat. Some of the fuses in the bombs were too long and the men of the 47th picked them up and threw them back into the fort. Finally, under cover of darkness, the 47th was able to return to Union lines. The regiment received another five Medals of Honors for this assault, bring the total to 14. No other regiment in the Union army was awarded more Medals of Honor during the war and they did it in 20 days.
The 47th would then move on to fight at Chattanooga, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, and the Battles of Atlanta. After Gen. Hood abandoned Atlanta the 47th was part of the force that pursued his army.
The regiment would then be part of General Sherman’s famous March to the Sea. By December 13, 1864 the 47th and the rest of Gen Hazen’s Division was ready to assault the last obstacle before the exhausted and starving Union army could be supplied by naval vessels off Savannah, Georgia. Fort McAllister was an earthen fort that bristled with 23 naval cannon. Nothing but a frontal attack could take the fort, so at 4:30 PM the command “Forward” was given. In ten minutes the fort was taken and the city of Savannah was as good as captured.
The 47th now marched through the Carolinas. The Confederate commander, Gen. Joe Johnston, said he knew the war was lost when Gen Sherman could advance his army through swamps and over flooded rivers 9 miles a day, building roads and bridges as they advanced. At Bentonville, N.C. the 47th fought in the last great battle of the Civil War on March 19-21, 1865. Now Colonel Thomas Taylor was in command of the 47th at Bentonville and was able to realize one of his dreams. Early in the war he had written his wife Netta that he, “dreamed of leading his men into the cannon’s mouth with sword upraised.”
During their service in the war the 47th lost 2 officers and 80 enlisted men in battle and 1 officers and 136 enlisted men form disease. Total of 219.