| Company D History
Source: Paper read by Lt. Luther Timberlake at 26th OVVI reunion in 1890
as printed in The Ohio Soldier, Vol .4 no. 9, 12/6/1890 and William Wesley Gist, " The Battle of Franklin", as printed in the Tennessee Historical Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 3, Oct. 1920 ( Thanks to Evan Kuntsley for submitting the Gist article.)
| Co. D, Twenty-Sixth Ohio
Sketch of Its Organization and Service; Its Personnel, Then and Now
" Fall in, fall in, fall in, Co. D for roll call- 113 in all...Out of all this number only 29 were mustered out with the company at Victoria, Texas on October 21, 1865; 24 were mustered out by reason of expiration of term of service prior to the close of the war; 29 were discharged from hospital on account of wounds received in battle, or because of other disabilities; 4 resigned; 13 died of wounds received in battle, or of disease; 5 were killed in battle; 3 died in rebel prisons; but saddest of all, 4 were missing.
Names, places and dates of the killed in battle- Stephen J Lighthiser, Nov. 25, 1863, at Mission Ridge; Horace C Starrett and Thomas J Mercer, near Kenesaw mountain, Ga., June 23, 1864; Wilson S Rusk, at Spring Hill, Tenn., Nov. 29, 1864; David Woolman, at Lovejoy station, Ga, Sept. 3, 1864
Those who died in rebel prisons were John W Neely, at Danville, Va., Jan. 31, 1864; James H Martin, at Danville, Va., June 10, 1864; Ephraim Pettit, at Richmond, Va., Feb. 14, 1864.
The names of the missing were Martin Snyder, at Franklin, Tenn., Nov. 30, 1864; Silas V Easte, at Chickamauga, Ga., Sept. 20, 1863; Timothy A Benedict, at Chickamauga, Ga., Sept. 19, 1863.
To attempt to pen a sketch on the personal history of each member of the company on this occasion would be burdensome and out of place; but some possessed personal peculiarities that can with propriety and out to be mentioned here. It may be truthfully affirmed that all were patriots, and that not one officer or man went for money, fame or pleasure, but all had a common cause, the suppression of the rebellion.
And here we embrace the opportunity of sketching briefly the manner in which the company was raised. It will be remembered by the boys and many of their friends that the company was raised to the maximum number by the uniting of two parts of companies, one from Richland county and the other from Morgan, the fraction from Richland county being the larger of the two.
Its history up to that time was as follows: Captain William H Seaton and Lieut. Andrew H Fletter, assisted by other interested members of the company, had succeeded in raising and bringing into camp about 75 men. This organization began at Olivesburg, in April, 1861, and was intended for the three months' service, but the state's quota was filled for the three months' service before the organization was complete.
Immediately upon the call for three years' men they resumed their work, and right heroically did they endeavor to full up the company for the three years' service. William H Seaton, having had some experience in the Mexican war, by common consent, was chosen captain. The company was moved to Mansfield and rendezvoused in the market house, and boarding engaged at the Welden hotel. Shortly after this Andrew H Fletter, with a number of recruits from the town of Ontario, Richland county, joined his forces with those of Captain Seaton, with the understanding that Fletter was to be first lieutenant. About the 1st of June this fractional company reported to Columbus. Peter Starrett, Thomas J Cusick and Jacob Myers had assisted in the organization of this company.
The Morgan county fraction was something quite different from this. It had reported to Camp Chase some weeks before this with 100 men and three officers ready for their commissions, all derssed in splendid gay uniforms. And but for the treachery of the man elected as our captain, we would have gone into service as the first Morgan county company for three years. Sickness was the cause assigned by the would-be captain for the shameful manner in which he treated his men. But drunkenness and cowardice are supposed to be the real causes. He, in company with Captain Seaton, who no doubt had the completion of his company in view, went to the adjutant general and had our company disbanded.
A few of the men were pleased and threw up their hats in the wildest kind of glee, not being any more patriotic or courageous than the captain. But a large majority of the men, good and true, were maddened to frenzy by the dishonor and insult. There was but one thing left us now, and we made the attempt. As the last resort, we rallied all the men we could and held a new election, which resulted as follows: 69 votes for Luther Timberlake for captain; the same number for Charles H Bean for first lieutenant, and John W Woodward was chosen second lieutenant by the same number of votes, that being the entire number of votes polled. We reported to the adjutant general the condition of our new organization, and asked to be mustered into service immediately, but were refused on the ground that the company was not full. He would allow us three days to fill it up.
We made a herculean effort to make up the maximum number, but being away from home, and without money, we failed. And then came the saddest thing to us in our war record. The company was disbanded in spite of us. And after all this, 26 of us, rather than return to our homes without having seen service, joined Captain Seaton's company from Richland county with the express understanding that Charles H Bean was to be made first lieutenant, he having held the same office in the old company, and the writer of this sketch [ Lt. Timberlake] to be first sergeant and receive the first commission issued in the company after we entered the service, which promise was shamefully broken.
On the 8th day of June, 1861, we were mustered into the United States service by Captain John C Robinson, 103 enlisted men and three commissioned officiers, namely, William H Seaton, captain; Charles H Bean, first lieutenant, and Andrew H Fletter, second lieutenant. From this time forward our history, interest and destiny were to be one.
Captain Seaton was a military man, tall and erect, with a commanding voice, and had much better discipline among his men than he had government over himself. Charles H Bean was a kind hearted, affable fellow, but without much force of body or mind, and succumbed to the inevitable. TJ Cusick, our second orderly sergeant, was a nervous, excitable creature, and whenever a gun was fired he would call out: 'Fall in, Co. D, and sling on your traps and calamities!' Israel Gregg was the most practical abstainer in the regiment. Whenever whisky rations were issued he would exact his ration to the last drop, and then throw it on the ground, saying no man should get drunk on his whisky.
But if there was a gallon of applejack concealed in an out-of-the-way distillery in Kentucky or Tennessee, David Shoup could scent it with the unerring certainty of a blood hound on the trail of a negro in a Georgia swamp. And it was acknowledged by all taht Samuel Dutro and W S Hershey were better experts in finding honey in the south than Sampson was among the slain lions of the Timnath vineyards. Wm. H Bevan could see further in the dark, and keep awake longer than any man in the company, while Benedict, Sayers, Ferree, Parsons and many others were men of sterling worth and unflinching integrity.
William A Leadenham, who thought himself killed at Stone river with a fragment of bursted shell, crawled on all fours over the bank to the hospital, but cam back in an hour laughing, saying he was more scared than hurt. On examination at the hospital it was found that the clothes were torn from his back- blouse, shirt and all, but the skin was not touched nor a drop of blood drawn.
William Neely, whose ear was partly shot away at Stone river, remained in close proximity to the enemy at Chickamauga after being ordered to retreat, saying he wanted to kill the man who had marked him nine months before.
I believe that every man in the company was patriotic and courageous enough under ordinary circumstances to have faced the enemy's fire and stood there, and not have done as the colored man who ran while under fire, but was arrested and while on trial the prosecuting attorney said to him, ' You have disgraced yourself and all your friends.' But he replied, ' I would rather be disgraced forever, and all my friends than to be dead a minute.'
Those who died and were killed during the war closed their eyes to carnal warfare, and ended their earthly marches at Spring Hill, Kenesaw Mountain, Franklin, Charleston, W.Va., Chatttanooga, Danville, Camp Erwin, Huntsville, Nashville, Fayettesville, Chickamauga, New Orleans, Weston, Missionary Ridge, New Albany, Lovejoy Station and Bardstown and were buried in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Lousiana and Texas. The bodies of the most if not all these, have been gathered into the national cemeteries, where the plowshare of the ruthless farmer, the pick of the miner, or the tramp of animals will not disturb theri bones but where they will sleep and rest securely till the morning reveille when the voice of the angel and the trump of God shall awaken them to sweeter music than that which lulled them to sleep.
Benjamin F Clauson, the strongest in the company, and perhaps in the regiment, was the first to die. His death occurred at Fayettesville, W. Va., Dec. 29, 1861, of camp fever. Robert Jump died the next day at Weston, Va. James H Johnson, James H Hoffman, Wilson S Rusk and Horace C Starrett died or were killed near the close of the war, after serving long and faithfully, and anticipating their speedy discharge or the end of the war, and their return to home and friends. To be thus suddenly cut down in the morning twilight of their hopes is sad to think about; but such are the cruelties of war. But the war is over; its sufferings, partings, and sorrows are among the things of the past, and are well nigh forgotten in the abundance of peace and prosperity that the great Ruler of nations and Father of us all has bestowed upon our beloved land.
But what of the ninety-seven who were mustered out, resigned or discharged and came home? A number of them barely made their escape from hospitals, battlefields, and prison pens, and came home to die, surrounded by the ministry of friends, and no doubt many a valuable life was saved by the loving prayerful attentions of a mother, wife or sister. And now after a lapse of twenty-five years we can onoy count the names and addresses of about thirty-five of these men...
And what shall I say in conclusion to these surviving comrades of the greatest civil war that ever was waged against popular government?
Rather than see your flag trailed in the dust, and your constitution, the magna charta of your civil and religious liberties, abolished, your fair name and glorious history tarnished and dishonored, your homes invaded, your patriotism, intelligence and courage insulted;
rather than have the greatest and best republic of ancient or modern times overthrown by rebel hordes--- or rather, by a great army, drilled, equipped, and armed for that purpose, officered by as able and skillful generals as the world could furnish, influenced and impelled by by the maddened dream of a great slave empire built upon the ruins of your country---
rather than have the hopes of the oppressed of all nations, and the struggling desire for constitutional liberty among the restless and dissatisfied governments of the old world perish forever in the downfall of this, the most hopeful experiment of popular government the world ever witnessed---
you , many of you were then beardless boys and only acquainted with the pursuits of civil life, rushed to arms and fought with a will and a kill that astonished the nations of Europe.
| William Wesley Gist, Co D, Battle of Franklin, as printed in the Tennessee Historical Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 3, Oct. 1920 and in the The National Tribune, March 28, 1907, p.6, col. 3)
“… A mile or so before the line reached Spring Hill my regiment, the Twenty-sixth Ohio, was halted to guard a crossing. My company, however, was marching as “flankers” and was not halted, forming a part of the skirmish line after the town was reached. The regiment was so depleted that fewer than a hundred men were left to guard the road.
… After dark Wagner’s division remained in line east of Spring Hill close to the village. We had not eaten anything since early in the morning and we were not allowed to build a fire or speak above a whisper. Indeed, we got nothing to eat the next day either. We could plainly see the Confederates walking about their campfires perhaps a half mile away, but they seemed nearer. … In our advanced line the situation seemed precarious indeed. Our orderly sergeant had been shot through the body and left in a hut out in front, after his watch had been secured. We could not help thinking of him lying there dying, or perhaps dead. Near daybreak our division, without the sound of bugle or drum or rattle of musket, moved back to the Franklin pike and formed the rear guard in the retreat.
… It fell to Wagner’s division to act as rear guard inasmuch as we had the advance the previous day. …” (3, p.217-219)
“… I want to say that I probably saw as much of the battle of Franklin as any one man. This may seem at first glance like boasting, but there is no boasting in it. I actually saw little of the fight. No one man saw much of it. I did not see the battle from the standpoints of Gens. Schofield, Cox, Stanley or Opdycke or Capt. Rice, but they did not see the battle from my standpoint either. My regiment, the 26th Ohio, occupied the extreme right of the two brigades left out in front through the blunder of someone. My company was D, and since the regiment had only a few over a hundred in line, I was pretty close to the extreme right of the advanced line. Our position was of necessity a little closer to the fortifications than the center was, and when we fell back we naturally reached the fortifications first. I crossed the breastworks just east of the locust grove so often mentioned. The works were then practically deserted. We stopped there and began firing. I fired several shots before the rebels got up to our hastily constructed fortifications. I cannot tell how the line gave way. Men seemed to be leaving the works on each side of me, and back I went. I went as far as the Carter House. Then there was movement that sent us back to the front, and this movement seemed spontaneous. I was with those who restored the line. I remained on the firing line until 10 o’clock or later. After the last charge had been made and we had waited to see whether the fighting would be renewed, I leaned my head against the works. I was so thoroughly exhausted that I soon fell asleep. At last one of the picket line shook me and woke me up. Then I was astonished to find that our army had crossed the river, and only a picket line was keeping up the firing. As I passed behind the Carter House my heart was moved by the large number of wounded lying there. They did not seem to realize that they were to be left to the care of the enemy.
I have given this personal narrative to show that I was in the fight from start to finish. I fired about 200 shots from my Enfield.” (William Wesley Gist, Private, Co. D, 26th Ohio, “The National Tribune,” November 23, 1905, p.3, cols.3 & 4)
“Philip James, Co. I, 26th Ohio, Cortland, Neb., … He took part in that battle (Franklin), and had the honor of commanding a company of that grand old regiment, the 26th Ohio, as First Sergeant. They were in front of the works at the extreme right of the line, and when the rebs were advancing, four to six lines deep, the Colonel commanding the brigade was asked what should be done. He answered, “Fight ‘em! Fight ‘em!” They had only time to fire one volley after the pickets came in before the rebs were upon them, and they went back to the works in a jiffy, most of them staying there until ordered back, Gen. Cox to the contrary notwithstanding.” (“The National Tribune,” February 28, 1907, p.6, col.5)
“… I was a member of the 26th Ohio. My regiment was on the right of Lane’s Brigade in front. We could plainly see Hood’s army forming in battle array. The sight was dramatically impressive. I was in the whirl of battle that soon broke upon us, and saw as much as anyone could see. We all realized that someone had made a blunder, and the moments of suspense, as we faced that magnificent battle line, were something awful. Nothing worthy the name of a fight or even skirmish took place in front. Our line broke when the rebs were close to us, and they followed us at full speed. We could not shoot, and they did not take time to do so. In going back I passed thru the edge of the famous locust grove, and reached the works near the Carter House. My recollection is that the works were practically deserted at the place where we crost (sic). We stopt (sic) and began to fire rapidly, and soon the smoke of battle covered everything. In a few minutes our line gave way, as did the line at the pike, and I went behind the Carter House. I did not see the famous charge of Opdycke’s Brigade except so far as I was part of it. I never heard any statement to the effect that Wagner’s Brigades went back to the river until nearly 20 years after the fight.
We should keep clearly in mind the situation at the critical moment of the fight. When Wagner’s Brigades fell back to the works their lines naturally contracted, and the men crowded toward the pike. What was the situation one minute after the Confederate line broke our center? The two brigades that had held the works and Wagner’s two brigades had fallen back from 25 to 50 yards within the works, and Opdycke’s Brigade was charging up the pike to restore the line. Now, does anyone who ever saw a battle believe that two brigades retired without orders from that disorganized crowd to the river, while the other three brigades restored the line? Is it not more reasonable to suppose that parts of the five brigades restored the line, while all five brigades had their representatives in the disorganized crowd at the river? …
During the fight that raged for two or three hours near the center we fought without organization. The commands were all mixed up. The officer’s brought us ammunition, spread it before us, and we fired as rapidly as possible.” (William Wesley Gist, Cedar Falls, Iowa, “The National Tribune,” March 28, 1907, p.6, col.3)
|Richland Co. Statute located in downtown Mansfield, Ohio|