Photo caption: 60th Ohio fights in the “Wilderness”
“The 60th Ohio Volunteer Infantry”
Written by Ned Lodwick, President, U.S. Grand Homestead Association
The 60th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was formed in the fall of 1861 at Gallipolis to fight for one year. It was recruited in Highland, Fayette, Ross, Clark, Brown, Adams, Gallia, and Noble Counties and was intended for the defense of the border counties of Ohio. The 60th was first stationed at Gallipolis to guard military stores. In April of 1862 they were transferred to General Fremont’s command in the Shenandoah Valley.
The Regiment’s first battle was at Stausburg, Virginia against “Stonewall” Jackson’s famed ‘foot cavalry’. In that affair the 60th fought like veterans and won a reputation as a fighting unit. They then took part in the pursuit of Jackson up the Shenandoah Valley. The march was the worst the men had ever endured but it was made without complaint.
At Port Republic the enemy was again overtaken and engaged. It was at Port Republic that the Confederate’s young and rising cavalry officer, Col. John Ashby, led a charge against the 60th and was killed. With Ashby’s death Jackson was deprived of a brave and capable officer and the fighting at Port Republic began to favor the Union forces. The battle ended with no clear victor.
At Cross Keys the Union and Confederate forces clashed again and both armies displayed most determined bravery. The 60th fought with coolness under several attacks and suffered severe losses. Following the battle the 60th was stationed at Harper’s Ferry. On September 15th 1862 the garrison at Harper’s Ferry was attacked by Confederate Gen. A. P. Hill's Corp and was surrendered without a fight.
Hill’s men tried to take the free black laborers that were with the 60th and send them south to slavery. Colonel Trimble of the 60th still armed with a loaded pistol, drew it and pointed it at the officer in command and said, “My men are unarmed but I am not. I will sell my life for these free boys! Unhand them! Guards, give way! Regiment March!” The Confederates decided to let the matter drop and the laborers stayed with the regiment. The Regiment signed paroles and had to serve that time at Camp Douglas (Federal Prison Camp) in Chicago until November 10, 1862 when they were exchanged and then shortly mustered out of service.
The paroling of captured soldiers during the Civil War was common practice by both North and South. Keeping prisoners in camps was very expensive. They had to be transported, housed, guarded, clothed, and fed. The alternative was to have the captured soldiers sign a parole, or promise, that they would not take up arms against their capturers until they were properly exchanged for captured soldiers of the other side. In the case of the 60th the entire regiment was held in a section of a federal prison camp by the Union Army until the exchange could be arraigned. Sometimes parolees were released and sent home to await exchange. Gen. Grant paroled an entire army of 32.000 after the surrender of Vicksburg and sent them home to await exchange.
With a core of veterans, the 60th was re-organized in the spring of 1864. The Regiment joined Gen. Ambrose Burnside’s 9th Corp, part of the Army of the Potomac. They arrived in Virginia on April 25th at nearly the same time as now Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The 60th would now take part in Grant’s Overland Campaign and would fight at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, the Crater, the assault on Petersburg, Hatcher’s Run, and the pursuit of Gen. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. The final action of the 60th was to march on the first day of the Grand Review in Washington D.C. to the cheers of the public and the salutes of the Army’s top officers.
The 60th served until July 25, 1865. During the war the one year regiment lost 1 officer and 9 enlisted men killed in battle and 2 officers and 30 enlisted men killed by disease for a total of 42 lost. The three year regiment lost 3 officers and 110 enlisted men killed in battle and 130 enlisted men killed by disease for a total of 243 lost.
For more information: www.ohiocivilwar.com