Ohio’s Civil War ‘by the numbers’

By Lorna Hart - [email protected]

PORTLAND — Numbers are an important part of historical facts, and John Haas, manuscript curator for Ohio History Connection, was on hand Sunday after the Buffington Island Battlefield Memorial Service to share some “Civil War Ohio Numbers.”

Morgan’s Raid, for which the battlefield is remembered, necessitated a Morgan’s Raid Claim Commission to process claims for damages and theft of civilian property. A total of $576,225 was paid out in 1863 dollars and included payment for 2,500 horses stolen by the raiders. There were a total of 4375 claims files, $428,168 for Confederate damages and $148,057 for Union damages.

Haas shared more information about “Ohio Numbers,” including total enlistments, casualties, generals, flags and Medal of Honor recipients.

“Numbers are contentious,” Haas said. “It is difficult to get an entirely accurate total of many things associated with the Civil War when there are so many factors to consider, many sources of information and records have been lost over time.”

Ohio had between 303,000 and 346,000 enlistments during the Civil War; most historians consider 320,000 to be a substantiated total. This made Ohio third in the nation in enlistment numbers, behind New York and Pennsylvania, and No. 1 in per capital enlistments.

Haas explained the reason for the wide disparity between the two figures and why 320,000 is most likely closer to the correct amount. The Ohio Roster of Civil War enlistments is widely used to determine numbers, but some enlisted more than one time, and each enlistment was recorded as a new one. Four thousand U.S. Navy gunboat troops were not listed in the roster, along with U.S. Army regulars from Ohio who enlisted in other states. The roster does not include U.S. Colored Troops totaling 5,000 or the Squirrel Hunters who numbered 15,000. The Hunters were civilian men from Ohio who assisted the Union in defending Cincinnati.

Reported causalities were 35,000: 11,000 killed in combat, 19,000 died of disease, 3,000 were POWs and the remainder died in accidents not related to combat. Thirty-thousand soldiers were permanently disabled. As an aside, there were no causalities among the 15,000 Squirrel Hunters.

There were 229 generals from Ohio and include Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman and Gen. James Birdseye McPherson. One-hundred fifty of the 229 were given the honor because of meritorious service during the war.

Ohio had the most Civil War battle flags, with more than 250. Many of them are lost to history.

There were 144 Ohioans who received the Medal of Honor. All 22 men who took part in what has become known as the Great Locomotive Chase, a military raid in northern Georgia during the American Civil War, were from Ohio. All but two were among the recipients. It is unknown why the remaining two did not receive the honor.

These numbers give a glimpse into Ohio’s place in the Civil War.

Lorna Hart can be reached at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2551

By Lorna Hart

[email protected]