48th OVI attack Louisiana Redan (Fort) at Vicksburg, Mississippi.
“The 48th Ohio Volunteer Infantry”
Written by Ned Lodwick, US Grant Homestead Assoc., Georgetown, Ohio
The 48th OVI was formed February 17th, 1862 at Camp Dennison. Brown County had soldiers in Company B, G, H, and K. The 48th fought at Shiloh, Chickasaw Bayou, Port Gibson, Vicksburg, Sabine Crossroads, and Ft. Blakely, Alabama.
The Georgetown Village Band volunteered in whole to be the 48th’s band and received new horns from the town before they left. At Shiloh, their first battle, it got so rough that they put down their horns and picked up rifles. Two members of the band, Privates Wm. Purdy and E. Henry were killed that day. The horns were never recovered and the band fought as infantry the rest of the war.
At Shiloh, Col. Sullivan told his soldiers to shoot any officer they saw not doing their duty in battle and later told his officers to shoot any man not doing his duty. It’s not surprising that few officers or enlisted men of the 48th left their formations. Charge after charge was repulsed. It is claimed that Confederate Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston was killed by some member of the 48th OVI.
The 48th Ohio was engaged in several battles of General Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign fighting in Union victories at Port Gibson, Jackson, Champion Hill, and the Big Black River. At Vicksburg on May 19th, 1863 the 48th attacked the Louisiana Redan (a fort) with initial success but an overwhelming Confederate counterattack forced them to withdraw from their new position. Their flag was left behind after the retreat from the Louisiana Redan. Color guardsman Isaac Cumin and a handful of volunteers retrieved it in a gallant assault, and won the Medal of Honor, despite a severe bayonet wound.
At Sabine Crossroads on April 8, 1864 during the ill fated “Red River Campaign” the entire Regiment was captured but hid their flag. They were sent to a prison camp in Texas to await exchange. During their confinement the flag was buried, sown into the lining of an officer’s coat, and hidden under sick soldiers in the camp hospital. Eventually, on October 1864, the 48th was exchanged for a captured Confederate regiment and were to be released and sent back north. They were under the protection of the Confederates until they reached Union lines. As they boarded a steamer to return north they pulled the flag out of hiding and held it aloft to flutter in the breeze. They played “The Star Spangled Banner” on hidden hand made instruments and marched proudly onto the steamboat. The Confederates could do nothing but watch and shake their heads.
The regiment soon returned to action in Alabama. The 48th were to play a pivotal role in the assault and capture of Ft. Blakely near Mobile, Alabama on April 9th, 1865. The regiment was much reduced in size to less than 150 combatants by this time and the 48th Ohio Battalion Infantry was formed on July 24, 1865 with the remaining men from the 83rd and 114th OVI. Even this consolidation brought the force to only 400 men fit for duty.
After the Confederate surrender the 48th served as the garrison of Galveston and Houston, Texas until May 9, 1866. During their service in the war the 48th lost 3 officers and 54 enlisted men in battle and 3 officers and 120 enlisted men firm disease.