78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (1861-1865)

Also Known As: Seventy-eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Updated: January 09, 2014

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.

Infantry regiments formed in Ohio became known as regiments of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Soldiers of Ohio infantry regiments served the Union for varying lengths of time, ranging from one hundred days to three years. One of the three-year regiments was the 78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Volunteers from Zanesville formed the 78th between October 30, 1861 and January 11, 1862.

Officials dispatched the 78th to Fort Donelson, Tennessee on the Tennessee River in early February 1862. Upon the regiment's arrival at this location on February 16, 1862, the Ohioans took care of Confederate prisoners and guarded Northern supplies. By the end of March 1862, the 78th advanced through Adamsville, Tennessee, eventually reaching Pittsburg landing, Tennessee, where the Battle of Shiloh occurred from April 6 to April 7, 1862. The regiment had one man killed in this engagement.

From April 29, 1862 to May 30, 1862, the 78th joined in the Union's siege of Corinth, Mississippi, an important railroad junction. Upon the Northern military's occupation of this city, the 78th pursued the retreating Confederates as far as Bethel, Mississippi, before moving with the 13th Regiment Illinois Infantry to Jackson, Tennessee. At Jackson, a brief engagement occurred with Confederate forces, but the Northerners secured the city and raised a United States flag on the same pole that flew the first Confederate flag in Tennessee.

Officials eventually dispatched the 78th Ohio and the 13th Illinois to Grand Junction, Tennessee. After one month at this location, the Ohio regiment relocated to Bolivar, Tennessee, where the organization took part in various expeditions, including one on August 30, 1862, which culminated in the Battle of Spring Creek. The 78th and several other Union regiments captured a Confederate outpost in this engagement. In late 1862, the Ohioans joined General Ulysses S. Grant's advance into central Mississippi, but the Northern movement terminated after Confederate forces destroyed Union stores at Holly Springs, Mississippi. The regiment spent the winter of 1862-1863 in the vicinity of Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1863, the 78th embarked upon General Grant's campaign to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi. The regiment arrived at Lake Providence, Louisiana, where the organization carved away the bank of the Mississippi River to flood Bayou Jackson, a swampy region along the river. The hope was to increase the water depth in the bayou, allowing Union gunboats to sail through the water, avoiding the Confederate cannons at Vicksburg. The gunboats would then be able to shell the Confederate stronghold from the south, where enemy defenses were considerably weaker. Before the 78th completed much work on this project, authorities ordered the regiment to Eagle Point and the Mud Bayou, where Confederate forces were close to capturing several Union gunboats. The Ohioans successfully completed this mission and then marched to Milliken's Bend, Louisiana. The organization next crossed the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg, Mississippi.

Upon crossing the Mississippi River, the 78th joined General Grant's overland assault against Vicksburg. At the Battle of Raymond, on May 12, 1863, the regiment had eighty men killed, wounded, or captured. Four days later, the 78th fought in the Battle of Champion Hill, losing 116 men killed, wounded, or captured. The organization followed the retreating Confederates to Vicksburg but did not participate in the siege of this city. Instead, on May 25, 1863, officials dispatched the 78th up the Yazoo River to watch for Confederate reinforcements under the command of General Joseph Johnston. The organization returned to Vicksburg, only to march to Bovina, Mississippi, along the Big Black River, to prevent Johnston from attacking the Union forces at Vicksburg in the rear. The 78th remained at Bovina for the duration of the siege of Vicksburg, which culminated in the Union's seizure of the city on July 4, 1863.  

Upon Vicksburg's capture, General William T. Sherman led a Union force, including the 78th, towards Jackson, Mississippi. The regiment did not participate in the Battle of Jackson, as officials ordered the command to remain at Clinton, Mississippi. On July 16 and 17, 1863, Confederate forces attacked the 78th, prompting the organization to return to Vicksburg. After this engagement, the 78th's commanding officer issued the following report:

CLINTON, MISS., July 17, 1863.

I have the honor to report that, on the night of the 15th, I received a dispatch from Gen. Sherman to be on the alert, and informing me of movements of the enemy under command of Jackson in this direction.

I immediately made the best disposition I could, with my limited forces, to give the enemy a warm reception. I threw out vedettes of mounted infantry and cavalry on four different roads. The road on which I thought the attack would be made, and on which it was made, I doubled the picket at 11 o'clock at night, and had the regiment notified to be ready at a moment's warning, and properly patrolled, to get them under arms without delay.

At 3.45 o'clock on the morning of the 16th, a lieutenant and 5 men tried to capture my outposts, but were in turn all captured and sent in. This having occurred without any firing, the regiment [enemy], not knowing of their capture, advanced in battle line in the large field in front of the picket post. Our pickets reserved their fire until the enemy were quite close, when they opened on them. As soon as this occurred, I immediately dispatched Capt. Wallar, with Company F, to support the pickets. As soon as he found our pickets being driven, he deployed forward, and immediately engaged them and checked their advance. The enemy then undertook to flank us by turning our left. I threw forward Company G (being one of my largest companies) to sustain that point, and moved with the balance of the regiment forward to support all. Fearing the pickets on the Vicksburg road would be captured, I dispatched Capt. Wilson, with Company A, to that point. At this time the skirmishing was brisk.

After maintaining our position for over three-quarters of an hour, I advanced with skirmish. Line and drove them back until I regained the position I held at the commencement. I could not advance any farther, as I had no troops under my command except the regiment I commanded, the cavalry force left for my use by Gen. McArthur having been sent to communicate with Col. Chambers and Gen. McArthur.

The enemy thought to surprise us, and failing in that, and re-enforcements having arrived, after cutting the telegraph wires, beat a hasty retreat, carrying off their dead and wounded. The force of the enemy is estimated at 1,500. We have prisoners from three different regiments.

We have no casualties on our side. The enemy is known to have 2 killed.

I wish to make honorable mention, for your consideration, of Captain Wallar, Capt. Munson, and Lieut. Stewart; also of Private [Abiram] Johnson, of Company F, who behaved in a gallant manner at the picket line when We captured their advance.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

 G. F. WILES, Lieut. Col., Comdg. Seventy-eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

 Lieut. J. B. WALKER, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

The regiment stayed at Vicksburg until late August, when it took part in General James McPherson's expedition to destroy Confederate mills near Canton, Mississippi. Upon returning to Vicksburg, the 78th traveled and went into camp at Monroeville, Louisiana.

On January 5, 1864, many of the 78th's members reenlisted in the Union military. During February 1864, the regiment participated in General William T. Sherman's Meridian Expedition. Upon this mission's conclusion, the men who reenlisted received a furlough to their homes in Ohio. Upon the furlough's conclusion, these Ohioans traveled to Acworth, Georgia, where they joined General Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. The goal of this expedition was for the North to seize Atlanta, Georgia. During the campaign, the 78th Ohio fought in the Battle of Bushy Mountain, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, the Battle of Chattahoochie River, the Battle of Atlanta, and the Battle of Jonesborough.

While the regiment passed through Rosswell Factories, Georgia, on July 16, 1864, a supposed civilian begged the command's surgeon, Major James Reeves, to aid the man's sick daughter. With hesitation, the physician agreed to do so. The man led the doctor to a secluded cave, where two hundred Union soldiers had been in hiding from Confederate forces. In the Battle of Atlanta, the 78th had 203 men killed, wounded, or captured.

Following the Union's seizure Atlanta on September 2, 1864, the 78th remained encamped at this city until mid-October, when officials dispatched the organization to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Ohioans were to guard the Atlanta Railroad, the major supply line for Union forces at Atlanta, from Confederate General John Bell Hood's army, which was advancing northward through northern Alabama and central Tennessee. As Hood advanced towards Nashville, Tennessee, authorities ordered the 78th back to Atlanta.

On November 15, 1864, the 78th embarked upon General William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea." The command engaged in no noteworthy battles or skirmishes on this march to Savannah, Georgia, except for a brief encounter with the Georgia Militia along the Oconee River. Upon reaching Savannah on December 10, 1864, the regiment joined the Union's siege of this city. The siege ended in a Northern victory on December 21, 1864, and the 68th Regiment entered Savannah that day.

The Ohioans remained in Savannah or its vicinity until early 1865, when the 78th embarked upon General Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. Following the surrender of General Joseph Johnston's Confederate army in late April 1865, the regiment proceeded, via Richmond, Virginia, to Washington, DC., where the organization marched in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865.

In late May 1865, officials ordered the 78th to Louisville, Kentucky, where the regiment mustered out of service on July 11, 1865. The organization proceeded to Columbus, Ohio, where authorities discharged the command's members.

During the Civil War's course, seventy-three men, including two officers, from the 78th Ohio died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 282 soldiers, including two officers, succumbed to illness or accidents.

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"78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 14 Nov 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1144>

APA Style

"78th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved November 14, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1144

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