RUTLAND TWP. — The 12th and final Meigs County Bicentennial Marker was unveiled on Wednesday evening during a ceremony in Rutland Township.
The marker pays tribute to Civil War soldier William McKnight, who is buried in Miles Cemetery near where the marker is placed.
Bicentennial Ambassadors Brielle Newland and Cooper Schagel told of McKnight during the ceremony.
McKnight was born in 1832 in New Brunswick, Canada, and later moved to Rutland Township with his parents and siblings. He was a blacksmith by trade.
In 1855, McKnight married Samaria Braley and they had seven children. In 1862, McKnight decided to join the Army. He was mustered two months later with Company K of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry as 2st Sergeant.
“During his time in the Army, William fought in Kentucky and Tennessee, while other members of his regiment fought Morgan’s Raiders in Ohio. McKnight desperately wanted to join the other men in Ohio, but his superiors refused.
He later found out that while Morgan’s men were traveling through Meigs County some had stayed in his own home. McKnight wrote a letter to his wife, expressing his anger of the situation.
“I would have given anything that I possessed to have been home when Morgan was there, for I know you would feel dreadful streaked to say nothing of the rest of the trouble you must have had. I would have liked to have been with the Capt. and would have been had I been permitted to do so. It seems to me, a very unfortunate circumstance to have been obliged to remain with the camp when there was work at home. The invader at my own door and here I must stay at the pleasure of my superiors,” wrote McKnight.
In 1864, McKnight was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Later that year he was killed in the Battle of Cynthiana in Kentucky, leaving behind his wife and six children.
His remains were returned to Meigs County and buried in Miles Cemetery, near the location of the marker.
Newland explained what sets McKnight apart from some of his fellow soldiers.
“What sets William McKnight apart from many of this fellow soldiers is that historians have found most of the letters that held his correspondence with his family and were made into a book,” said Newland.
Do They Miss Me at Home was edited by Donald C. Maness and H. Jason Combs and includes 108 letters mostly written by McKnight to his wife between 1862 and 1864 when he was with the 7th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.
In the letters, McKnight wrote about what he went through as a soldier and the battles he participated in. He also wrote about many heart wrenching topics from his duty to serve his country to desperately missing his family and wishing for more letters.
Information on McKnight provided by Bicentennial Ambassadors Brielle Newland and Cooper Schagel.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.