|Company A- Butler (Co.) Pioneers|
|Sources: Jim Blount, Journal News, 5/21/1997; A History and Biographical Cyclopedia of Butler Co. Ohio, 1882.|
|Memorial Monument located in downtown Hamilton, Ohio. A top the monument is the Billy Yank statute. Inside the monument are enscribed the names of all Butler Co. soldiers who fought in the Civil War, including those of Company A, the Butler Pioneers.|
Company A was organized under the leadership of Capt. James WC Smith in April, 1861. The Butler Pioneers were primarily from the City of Hamilton and vicinity. Over 300 men from Butler County enlisted in April of 1861. While awaiting their turn to be called to duty, they trained in the streets of Hamilton.
By mid- May the ranks had risen to 900 men, and they were sent to Columbus for mustering in into various regiments . However, due to a mix up, they were sent back to Hamilton. Finally, on June 9, 1861 the Butler Pioneers returned to Fort Jackson, Columbus and became Company A of the 26th OVI.
As recorded in the Butler Co. History and Cyclopedia:
"The Butler Pioneers, after spending a week in the hotels of Hamilton, and being drilled in the streets, removed to Camp Hamilton, or the Fair Grounds, on the 23d of April. They were the first troops there. The ladies of Hamilton had presented them with a splendid flag, accompanied with an eloquent and patriotic speech from Mrs. RYAN. Captain J. W. C. SMITH made an appropriate response.
On arrival at camp they found the change any thing but pleasant. The first two or three nights were very Cold for that season of the year. They had but little straw for bedding, and but few of the soldiers were so fortunate as to have blankets of their own. The unfortunate shared with the fortunate, and it was laughable to see a half dozen trying to sleep under one blanket. The consequence was a great deal of shivering, only a little sleep, and a great deal of catching cold. They were not forgotten by the ladies of Hamilton, lending blankets and supplying a shirt to each, and the farmers brought in immense quantities of straw. The halls and cattle stalls of the Fair Grounds were suitably fitted up for sleeping apartments, and after this the volunteers rested well. The eating department was conducted by Straub, Reutti & Co., for thirty-five cents per day, and tables were put up so that four hundred could eat at a time.
This was a three-months company, and as the complement had been filled it did not go out to the war..."
The situation the Butler Pioneers found themselves in at this point was replicated throughout the north. The situation would soon be remedied as it became apparent that 3 month enlistments would be inadequate for the task at hand.
" [Ohio] Gov. DENNISON had, on or before the 20th of May, accepted Captain J. W. C. SMITH'S Pioneers as one of thirty-three companies outside of the regular regiments...
"At Camp Hamilton the Pioneers had some amusement in hanging Jeff. DAVIS in effigy. The ceremonies were imposing. Jeff. was appropriately represented as a negro, and was upborne by four men at the head of a squad of about fifty, ably commanded by Benjamin Franklin STEVENS, as captain, and Thomas Benton HART, as lieutenant. The procession moved from camp at 2pm for Hamilton, marching through the principal streets. It halted at Squire WILES's , who pronounced the sentence of the law upon Jeff. He was not worthy of a soldier's death by being shot, but must be hung by the neck until dead. The procession then returned to camp and proceeded to put the sentence of the court in execution. An Adams officiated as hangman. The drop soon feel, and Jeff. was suspended between heaven and earth, dying without a struggle. Shouts went up from the multitude, groans were given for all traitors, and cheers for the Union." p. 212
As recorded in the history of Butler Co. Ohio ( p. 207- 212) , the impetus and event that led to the formation of the company was the fervent response across the northern states to the attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston SC harbor. See below:
" The Intelligencer of this city, in its next issue after the fall of Sumter, says:
"The news of the fall of Sumter, and the call of the President for 75,000 volunteers to defend the country against the organized forces of traitors and rebels, has fired the Northern heart to a pitch of indignant enthusiasm never before equaled since the days of the Revolution. From every city, town, village, and hamlet comes up the enthusiastic response to the call of the government for aid to sustain the integrity of the Union, and uphold its Constitution and laws. The public sentiment of the North is assuming a unanimity of tone and temper that will strike terror to the hearts of the traitors of the Southern Confederacy and their misguided dupes. It is wonderful what a revolution a few days have wrought in public opinion in the free States of the republic. The partisan has emerged in the patriot, and now Democrat and Republican alike feel and proclaim that the honor of the stars and stripes must be preserved at all hazards; that the very existence of the government is involved in enforcing obedience to its legally constituted authorities, and in holding possession of its public property. Judging form all we see and hear at home and abroad such now seems to be the almost \universal sentiment. The daily papers are literally filled with telegraphic dispatches from every quarter, giving brief notices of the proceedings of public meetings of the people, which show that the North ins waking up to a sense of the awful peril in which our institutions are involved by the great rebellion, and that is rushing with one accord to the rescue."
For the next Monday a war meeting was called at Beckett's Hall. It was organized by the appointment of Josiah SCOTT as president, Israel WILLIAMS as vice-resident, and E.A. DALTON as secretary. It was largely attended by persons of every shade of sentiment, Democratic and Republican.
John W. WILSON, A. F. HUME, Minor MILLIKIN, N. C. MCFARLAND, Thomas MILLIKIN, John H. FALCONER, Israel WILLIAMS, John S. WILES, and Ransford SMITH addressed the meeting, urging it to sustain the Union and maintain the dignity of the United States flag. By all the speakers party was forgotten, and only the country remembered. Judge SCOTT in alluding to the very natural repugnance which all feel against going to war with their countrymen, said substantially, "Why is it worse to war against a domestic than against a foreign foe? Foreign nations may have no cause for gratitude toward us, but these rebel States, who owe all their prosperity and greatness to the fostering hand of the general government-like the viper warmed into vitality in the bosom of its benefactor-have turned their deadly fangs upon their own country with the wicked design of destroying it. What punishment can be too severe for such ingratitude and outrage?"
The following resolution was introduced by John W. WILSON, and was passed unanimously-the meeting numbering two thousand five hundred persons:
"Whereas, War has been commenced against the government of the United States, and the honor of our national flag tarnished by being lowered to traitors,
"Resolved, That we will, with all the means in our power, maintain the government and flag of the United States."
On motion of E. G. DYER, a committee of three from each ward of the city, for the purpose of organizing military companies and procuring arms, was appointed. The names of the committee were as follows:
First Ward-Thomas STONE, S. K. LIGHTER, W. C. ROSSMAN.
Second Ward-Captain HUMBACH, Captain VAN DERVEER, H. H. WALLACE.
Third Ward-E. G. DYER, C. MORGANTHALER, R. L. WESTON.
The following resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, That it is expedient for the present Legislature to appropriate one million dollars for furnishing and equipping the military of this State, and our senator from this district and our representative from this county be requested to five their aid and support to the passage of the same."
The meeting, with three cheers for the Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws, then adjourned.
The next week a more formal meeting was held. Owing to the short notice which was given for the previous one many of our citizens were unable to attend, and scarcely any from the country. The following call was issued:
MEN OF BUTLER,
At a mass-meeting of the citizens of Hamilton, the undersigned were appointed a committee to invite every man in Butler County to meet in Hamilton, on Wednesday, April 24, 1861, to take counsel together, and adopt such measures as may be deemed advisable in this alarming crisis of our country. Armed rebels have stolen the property of the general government, have attacked and battered down one of its strong forts, and taken a gallant garrison prisoners, have trampled and tailed our glorious flag in the dust, and now, in the pride of their success and madness of their treason, are making preparations to capture and destroy the Capital, at Washington, and to utterly overthrow and subvert our government.
We, therefore, invite every man in Butler County, without distinction of age, sect, religion, or party, to meet in Hamilton on the day above named, and take such measures as may be thought advisable to aid our government to suppress and punish treason, to protect our Capital, to wipe out the insult offered to our glorious flag, and to sustain and defend our blessed and beloved Constitution. Distinguished speakers will be present and address the meeting. Come one, come all!
Thomas MILLIKIN, Alex F. HUME, John W. SOHN, William S. PHARES, E. A. DALTON, H. H. WALLACE, Committee.
It was duly held, and was large and enthusiastic. A national salute was fired in the morning and again at noon, and the stars and stripes were gayly floating from hundreds of houses all over the city. At one o'clock the meeting was organized by appointing as president, Judge Fergus ANDERSON; vice-presidents, Robert GIBSON, Fairfield; John K. WILSON, St. Clair; Robert BECKETT, Hanover; James S. CHAMBERS, Milford; William H. ROBERTS, Oxford; Colonel William STEVENS, Reily; Absalom Mckain, Morgan; Samuel DICK, Ross; John S. WITHEROW, Wayne; James ROSSMAN, First Ward, Hamilton; Thos. CONNAUGHTON, Second Ward; Christopher MORGANTHALER, Third Ward; secretaries, Israel WILLIAMS, Fred. LANDIS.
The following committee on resolutions was then appointed: Thomas MILLIKEN, N. C. MCFARLAND, Alex, F. HUME; Ferdinand VAN DERVEER, W.H. MILLER, Milton COOPER, Wm. H. SMITH, George JACOBY, Abraham P. COX, and John S. EARHEART.
While the committee were preparing resolutions the meeting was addressed by Messrs. GAYLORD, CHRISTY, GILMORE, L. D. CAMPBELL, and others, during which the committee on resolutions returned with the following preamble and resolutions, through their chairman, Thos. MILLIKIN, who remarked in presenting them that they were principally copied from the resolutions adopted at the great Union meeting held in New York City a few days before.
"Whereas, The Union of the States, under the guidance of Divine Providence, has bee the fruitful source of prosperity and domestic peace to the country for nearly three quarters of a century; and
"Whereas, The Constitution, framed by our Revolutionary fathers, contains within itself all needful provisions for the exigencies of the government, and in the progress of events, for such amendments as are necessary to meet new emergencies; and
"Whereas, An armed combination has been formed to break up the Union by throwing off the obligations of the Constitution, and has, in several of the States, carried on its criminal purpose, and finally, by assaulting Fort Sumter, a fortress of the United States, occupied by a slender but heroic garrison, and capturing it by an overwhelming force, after a gallant defense, thus setting the authority of the government at defiance and insulting the national flag; and
"Whereas, The government of the Untied States, with an earnest desire to avert the evils of civil war, has silently submitted to these aggressions and insults with a patient forbearance unparalleled in the annals of history, but has at last deemed it due to the public honor and safety to appeal to the people of the Union for the means of maintaining its authority, of enforcing the execution of the laws, and of saving our country from dismemberment, and our political institutions from destruction; therefore,
"1. Resolved, That we are sacredly bound by every sentiment of honor, of affection, of duty, and interest to maintain and preserve our national government, the most equal and beneficent hitherto known among men, unbroken and unsullied for our generation, and to transmit it to our posterity; and that to the maintenance of this sacred trust, and in support of that government, we devote all that we possess, and are prepared to shed our blood and lay down our lives.
"2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, the basis and the safeguard of the Deferal Union, having been framed and ratified by the original States, and accepted by those which subsequently became parties to it, is dinging upon all; and that any resumption by any one of them of the rights delegated to the federal government, without first seeking a release from its obligations through the concurrence of common sovereignty, is unauthorized, unjust to all the others, and destructive of all social and political order.
"3. Resolved, That when the authority of the Federal government shall have been re-established, and peaceful obedience to the Constitution and laws prevails, we shall be ready to confer and co-operate with all loyal citizens throughout the Union, in Congress, or in convention, for the consideration of all supposed grievances, the redress of all wrongs, and the protection of every right, yielding ourselves, and expecting all others to yield to the will of the people, as constitutionally and lawfully expressed.
"4. Resolved, That it is the duty of all good citizens, overlooking past differences of opinion, to contribute by all means in their power to maintain the Union of States, defend the Constitution, to preserve the national flag from insult, and uphold the authority of the general government against all acts of rebellion everywhere, which, if longer unresisted and unpunished, would inevitably end in breaking down all the barriers erected by out fathers for the protection of life, liberty, and property, and involve the country in universal anarchy and confusion.
"5. Resolved, That we urgently insist that the representative in Cong4ress form this district shall, at the session thereof to meet on the 4th of July next, cordially and promptly support and vote for all proper measures, and all necessary appropriations of money and supplies of men to enable the general government to execute its laws and maintain the rightful authority of the Constitution, and to suppress and punish the present rebellion and treason in the South, and to punish treason in every State and territory in the whole Union.
"6. Resolved, That we deny the right of any State to assume the position of armed neutrality as between the federal government and any State of States in rebellion against its authority; and to refuse to furnish its proper quota of men to aid the federal government to enforce its laws and maintain the authority of the Constitution everywhere in the Union, when properly and legally called upon by the President so to do; and we deny the right of any State to refuse to allow the federal government to transport its soldiers over its territory for any lawful purpose, an to any place in the Union; and we condemn and denounce the conduct of all such States as have refused to respond to the call of President Lincoln for volunteers to suppress the rebellion in the South and to allow the volunteers of other States to pass over their territory, as recreant to their duty, and as affording aid and comfort to rebellion and treason.
"7. Resolved, That as soon as it is authorized by law, we request that our county commissioners shall levy a tax of sufficient amount upon all the property in the county to furnish all needful support to the families of volunteers during their absence in the service of their country.
"8. Resolved, That we recommend that all able-bodied men in the county shall immediately form themselves into military companies, procure arms, elect officers, and thoroughly drill themselves, and stand ready to obey any call of their country that may be made upon them for their services.
"9. Resolved, That we disapprove of all attempts to control by violence the honest expression of opinion by any of our citizens upon the exciting subjects of the day, but we recommend that in the present excited state of our country all abstain from discussions calculated to excite ill feeling or party prejudice.
"10. Resolved, That Major ANDERSON, by his prudence prior to the attack upon Fort Sumter, and for his gallant and heroic defense of that fort, is entitled to the thanks and admiration of the whole country."
A large and enthusiastic meeting of the citizens in the neighborhood of Jones's Station was held on Monday evening, April 22d. Milton COOPER was chosen chairman and J.C. LONG, secretary. A call for funds for the purchase of a flag, etc., was promptly responded to, after which the following preamble an resolutions, presented by C.F. WARREN, were read and unanimously adopted as expressing the sentiments of the meeting:
"Whereas, A state of war exists and the destruction of our government is threatened by a band of armed traitors; therefore, be it
"Resolved, That as loyal citizens we will use all the means in our power to sustain the government and the honor of that flag under which we have lived for eighty years in unexampled prosperity. That banner, which like one of old proclaimed wherever it was seen a great cause before it, and a powerful nation behind it, must be sustained, and no less honored and respected-the nation's pride and citizens' defense.
"Resolved, That we look upon the reasons of the rebels as only pretexts of usurping the government, maturing a treason of thirty years' standing, which was nipped in the bud in 1832, and must be again met in 1861, and taught to know that the patriots of this country will never yield the birthrights handed down to them by their fathers either to foreign or domestic foes.
"Resolved, That while we hail the people of all nations seeking home on our soil as brothers, so long as they assist in defending our flag, we are no less ready to take up arms against traitors whenever or form whatever section they may appear."
After the adoption of the resolutions Mr. G. W. JONES being called for, replied in a few remarks, in which he expressed his regret at the unhappy condition of our country, and his determination to defend it at any cost. The meeting concluded with three hearty cheers for the Constitution , the Union, and the enforcement of the laws.
The citizens of Port Union and surrounding country met at the hall, on Saturday evening, April 20, 1861 and organized by calling Philip NASH to the chair, and appointing A.J. FOSTER, secretary.
The objects of the meeting were made known by E. BONE in a brief address, stating the condition and demands of the country, after which Dr. REED presented the following preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
"Whereas, Wicked and designing persons have sought and obtained control of the government of some of the States of this Union, which States are now in rebellion against the general government; and
"Whereas, It is uncertain what effect the prompt and energetic measures now being inaugurated by the administration to put down the same may have upon some of the remaining loyal States; and
"Whereas, Threats have repeatedly been made that in the event of the border slave States seceding and joining their fortunes with those who are trampling our country's flag in the dust, that the cities, towns, and country along the Southern boundary of our State will be overrun and made the special objects of their hatred; therefore, be it
"Resolved, That we have heard of such threats with profound regret, and while we deprecate war, with its terrors and devastating consequences, we will not shrink from its rugged issues when forced upon us.
"Resolved, That we pledge our fortunes, our honor, and our sacred lives to defend the stars and stripes, and protect our country from all lawless raids, come from whatever source they may. And be it further
"Resolved, That to more fully carry out the foregoing resolutions, we will form ourselves into a home protecting company, and that we appeal to the patriotism of our fellow-citizens, and cordially invite them to join with us in preparing and being prepared to meet whatever emergency may be forced upon us."
Patriotic remarks were made by D. STILES, J. M. THOMPSON, Dr. REED, and others, taking strong grounds in favor of protecting the whole country, and sustaining the government against all enemies at home and abroad."