18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years) (First Organization) (1861-1864)

Also Known As: Eighteenth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years) (First Organization)

Updated: January 15, 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. They served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. The 18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry mustered into service as a three-year organization at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 4, 1861. Before arriving at Camp Dennison, the regiment had begun to organize at Camp Wool, at Athens, Ohio, beginning in August 1861. The 18th Regiment had previously organized for three months service, but officials requested that the regiment's members reenlist for three years service. The soldiers that did reenlist became the nucleus of the new 18th Regiment.

On November 6, 1861, the 18th departed Camp Dennison for Louisville, Kentucky, arriving the following day. At Louisville, the regiment joined General William T. Sherman's command. The 18th proceeded down the Ohio River to West Point, Kentucky, before moving to Elizabethtown, Kentucky on November 15, 1861. At this location, officials placed the 18th into a brigade of the Army of the Ohio with the 19th Regiment Illinois Infantry, the 24th Regiment Illinois Infantry, and the 37th Regiment Indiana Infantry. The brigade remained at Elizabethtown for one month, before advancing to Bacon Creek, Kentucky, where the command drilled for two months.

In early February 1862, the 18th advanced with its brigade to Bowling Green, Kentucky. Confederates occupied the city, but these men withdrew the day before the Northerners arrived. The Union force captured a sizable amount of supplies, but the Southerners burned an even larger quantity before evacuating Bowling Green. On February 23, 1862, the Army of the Ohio, including the 18th Ohio, advanced to Nashville, Tennessee, arriving at this location three days later.

The 18th remained at Nashville with its brigade for approximately three weeks, before departing for Huntsville, Alabama on March 18, 1862. Confederate forces withdrew and destroyed bridges to impede the Union advance. The Southerners, however, chose not to engage the Northerners. On the march, officials ordered the 18th Regiment to reconstruct a 260-foot bridge across Stones River in Tennessee. Using only axes, the organization reconstructed the bridge in just eight days.

On April 10, 1862, the 18th arrived within ten miles of Huntsville with the remainder of its division. The Northerners advanced on the city beginning at 3:00 AM and easily subdued the Confederate garrison. The Northerners captured three hundred enemy soldiers, seventeen locomotives, 150 railroad cars, and a sizable quantity of supplies. For several days, officials detailed the 18th to operate the trains and to deal with supplies as they arrived. The regiment next advanced to Tuscumbia, Alabama, before moving to Athens, Alabama to protect the railroad from the Confederates. The 18th next moved to Decatur, Alabama. On May 1, 1862, officials ordered the regiment back to Huntsville to aid other Union forces coming under Confederate attack. The regiment skirmished with a detachment of Southerners on the march to Huntsville, having three men killed and several more wounded.

On May 31, 1862, the 18th joined the remainder of its brigade at Fayetteville, Tennessee, before advancing on Chattanooga, Tennessee. Union artillery batteries shelled the city's Confederate garrison before the Northerners withdrew to Huntsville. The 18th next advanced to Battle Creek, Alabama, marching to this location via Stevenson, Alabama. The regiment skirmished with a Confederate force at Battle Creek, before entering camp and building fortifications at this location.

On July 11, 1862, the 18th departed Battle Creek for Decherd, Tennessee. The regiment remained in Tennessee for the rest of July and August, 1862, visiting the communities of Elk River, Cowan, Tullahoma, and Manchester. The organization also guarded the railroad between Tullahoma and McMinnville. On August 29, 1862, Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry attacked a stockade manned by the 18th's Companies A and I and the 9th Regiment Michigan Infantry's Company D. Although severely outnumbered, the Northerners successfully defended the fortification, killing or wounding approximately one hundred enemy soldiers, while suffering no casualties.

In early September 1862, the 18th joined the Union's Army of the Ohio's pursuit of Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee, which was advancing through Kentucky and threatening Ohio's southern border. Officials ordered the regiment to remain at Nashville, Tennessee, to defend this city, while the remainder of the army continued the pursuit. At this location, authorities brigaded the 18th Ohio with the 69th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the 11th Regiment Michigan Infantry, and the 19th Regiment Illinois Infantry, creating the 29th Brigade of the Army of the Ohio. Upon the defeat of Bragg's Confederates at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky (October 8, 1862), the remainder of the Army of the Ohio returned to Nashville. In late December 1862, the Union's Army of the Cumberland (formerly the Army of the Ohio), including the 18th Ohio, advanced against the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Ohio regiment participated actively in the resulting Battle of Stones River (December 30, 1862-January 2, 1863). On the engagement's first day, the 18th was positioned south of the Cedar Woods and successfully pushed Confederate sharpshooters from the field. On the following day, the regiment was on the Union right. Confederate forces drove the Northerners back, but reinforcements stabilized the Union line. On the battle's final day, the 18th was on the Union left. This portion of the line crossed Stones River and assaulted the Confederate right. Southern reinforcements helped drive the Northerners back across the river. In this assault, the 18th had four officers and thirty-two enlisted men killed and an additional four officers and 143 men wounded. After the battle, the 18th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. EIGHTEENTH REGT. OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Before Murfreesborough, January 4, 1863.

I have the honor to report that on December 30 the Eighteenth Ohio Volunteers, under my command, with Capt. A. Fenton, acting major, and Lieut. A. W. S. Minear, adjutant, took position with the reserve on the left of the center wing.

At 1 p.m., under your orders, I took position in the woods to the west of the Wilson pike, joining with the left of the right wing. At the instance of the commander of the left flank regiment of the right wing, I relieved three of his companies, then deployed as skirmishers and engaging the enemy. My skirmishers soon started the enemy, and would have cleared the woods but for an order received from the right not to advance our part of the line; whereupon I fell back to the first position, preserving an alignment with my right. At 5 p.m. I was relieved by the Eleventh Michigan, and I moved to the rear, where I remained all night.

On the morning of the 31st I again took position with the reserve, but was soon ordered forward to support the battery. At --a.m. I was ordered to take position in rear of the position and fronting to the rear, it having been discovered that the enemy had turned our right. No enemy appearing at that point, I was ordered to take position again on the hill to support the battery. I found the battery men much endangered by the enemy's skirmishers to the right. I deployed a company and soon removed them.

I was then ordered to take position in the woods on the left, the enemy having made his appearance in that direction. When moving to that position, a very considerable consternation was observed among our forces, many of the regiments moving to the rear. Observing that a regiment still held the position, I moved rapidly to its rear; that regiment was lying down, so that my men were enabled to remain in their rear and engage in the firing. This position was rendered necessary, other regiments having moved into the only available position on the right and left. By the combined efforts of the forces there, the enemy was driven from the woods, but very soon a piece of artillery was brought into position against us. I hastened to where our battery was, to ask that it might be brought to bear against the enemy's piece that was then doing fearful havoc among our ranks. I learned that for want of ammunition none of our pieces were available. In the midst of this terrible fire I received your order to fall back, which I did, my men preserving perfect order.

During this engagement Capt. A. Fenton, who was acting major, and whose services proved of inestimable value, fell, wounded, and was placed on a horse and started to the rear; since that nothing has been heard of him, and I have reason to fear that he has fallen into the enemy's hands. After falling back, as ordered, to the point near the Nashville pike, I received your order to take a position in line with the Nineteenth Illinois, and in rear of a line formed, as I understood, by a part of Gen. Rousseau's command. We had scarcely taken our position when the enemy engaged the first from the enemy. Anticipating the movement, I caused my men to lie down, and cautioned them to hold their fire until the enemy closed on the. The first line passed over my men, closely followed by the enemy. My men, observing well the caution I had given, poured a well-directed fire into the enemy, which checked them; but soon their second line pressed upon me, when I, with the rest of the line, fell back.

Immediately on the appearance of the enemy, the Nineteenth Illinois was moved to another position on his flank, so that no other regiment remained on the line with me. I moved to the rear gradually, returning the enemy's fire, until I found myself on open ground, when I ordered my men to move double-quick to a point covered from the enemy's fire, where I rallied my men and reformed my ranks, which has become somewhat broken in the retreat.

Just as I had accomplished this, Gen. Rousseau ordered me to charge the woods again, encouraging the men to charge by taking the lead in person. The men, already breathless from fatigue, approached the close woods, but slowly, yet in perfect order, notwithstanding the enemy from the cover of the woods met us with a withering fire. My men bravely charged upon the hidden enemy and drove them back into the woods, where they held them at bay for some twenty minutes. Seeing that I was unsupported, and standing against a much stronger force, and that some 50 of my command had already fallen, I ordered a retreat, returning to the same place from which I had started under Gen. Rousseau's order.

In this engagement Capt. P. E. Taylor fell, mortally wounded; also Lieut. Minear, adjutant, fell, severely wounded. I was then, with the balance of the brigade, withdrawn from the field for that day.

My command was not actually engaged again until the afternoon of the 2d instant. I took position in rear of the battery in our center about 4 o'clock, when the enemy appeared to our left. I was ordered by Gen. Negley to move to the support of the battery on the left, and to take covering behind the buildings near the position. When I arrived there, I saw the enemy's columns advancing under cover of the woods to our left, the head of his column almost to the creek. I immediately deployed my column and moved my line forward to a fence, from which my men sent a well-directed fire against the enemy.

At this point Capt. J. M. Welch, who was acting major, was carried from the field, severely wounded; also Sergt. L. D. Carter, aiding me as adjutant. Seeing that our fire brought the enemy to a halt, and that our forces were advancing, I ordered my men forward across the stream, which was promptly under execution when I discovered the enemy moving on our right in the woods in heavy force, evidently intending to attack us on our flank. I immediately ordered a halt, and rallied my men who had not already crossed the stream, leaving those who had crossed, as I supposed, to the command of Capt. Welch, of whose wounds I was not informed. I rallied my men, getting many men from other regiments, and moved toward the woods on the right. Finding my ranks very imperfectly formed, I called a halt to allow the men a moment's rest, and to prepare my ranks for a change bayonet. Just as I halted, a regiment arrived in my rear and passed on. Just then I received an order from Gen. Palmer to move forward, which I did, taking position on the right of the other regiment. The line soon pressed the enemy back, discovering which I moved my line forward; but finding that the other regiment did not advance, I caused my bugler to sound a retreat, so as to align my forces with the other regiment. Just as the line was moving to the rear, a man on the right called out, "They are flanking us from the woods on the right." This caused some of the men to retreat hastily. I hastened to the open ground, from which I saw that the report was false, when I rallied those that had fled, and returned to the woods again. We continued to reply to the enemy's fire until darkness set in, when I withdrew, other forces having arrived to hold the ground.

In this charge Capt. George Stivers, a most valuable officer, fell, mortally wounded. The behavior of all my officers in these various engagements was such as that I may only say every one did all that he could, or that any one in his position could have done, and as to my men, I can praise no one above another. All did well alike, except three or four cowards, who deserted their posts and went back to Nashville.

I hereto append a list of our loss.

Your obedient servant,

JOSIAH GIVEN, Lieut.-Col., Comdg. Eighteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Col. T. R. STANLEY, Cmdg. Twenty-ninth Brigade.

The 18th remained encamped at Murfreesboro until late June 1863, when the Army of the Cumberland embarked upon the Tullahoma Campaign (June 24-July 3, 1863), an advance into southern Tennessee and northern Alabama. In early September 1863, the 18th joined the Army of the Cumberland's advance against Bragg's Army of Tennessee at Chickamauga, Georgia. On September 19 and 20, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga raged between the two armies. In this Union defeat, the 18th Regiment saw limited action on the battle's first day but did launch several charges against the Confederates on the engagement's second day. On the night of September 20, the Army of the Cumberland retreated from the battlefield and marched for Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Army of Tennessee pursued the Northerners and laid siege to the city. 

During the Chattanooga Campaign, the 18th participated in several engagements with the Confederates. The first large-scale encounter occurred on October 25, 1863 at the Battle of Brown's Ferry. A Union force drove off the Confederate defenders at Brown's Ferry, opening a small and tenuous supply line for the besieged Northerners in Chattanooga. After this engagement, the 18th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. EIGHTEENTH REGT. OHIO VOLUNTEERS, Chattanooga, Tennessee, October 28, 1863.

LIEUT.: I have the honor to report the part taken by the forces under my command during the recent expedition to Brown's Ferry, 9 miles by the river below this place.

On the 25th instant I was ordered by Gen. Smith to have ready fifty pontoon boats and one ferry-flat to transport and ferry troops; to organize parties to man them; to superintend, and have all ready to move the following day. To do this required the building of some ten additional boats and the making of one hundred and fifty oars and row-locks, all which was being done under the direction of Capt. Fox, of the Michigan Mechanics and Engineers. I detailed 100 men from my own regiment, under command of Capt.'s Grosvenor and Cable, and requested details of river men from other regiments, which were furnished as follows: From the Thirty-third Ohio and Second Ohio, under command of Lieut. McNeal 88 men; from the Thirty-sixth Ohio, under command of Lieut. Haddow, and from the Ninety-second Ohio, under command of Lieut. Stephenson, each 44 men. I directed boats' crews to consist of 1 corporal and 4 men, and each two boats to be under command of a sergeant, each detail to be under command of a commissioned officer. I afterward added a large flat, in which I carried 60 men. The pontoons each carried 25 men besides the boats' crews, making in the whole fleet fifty-two boats and 1,600 men.

It was nearly night of the 26th before the boats were all ready, and far into the night before we were supplied with oars, and had it not been for the energy of the Michigan Mechanics and Engineers we would not have been supplied at all. The boats were, however, loaded, and at the appointed hour, 3 o'clock in the morning of the 27th, we left the shore and rowed to the other side of the river, passing through the opening made for us in the pontoon bridge. Keeping near the right bank, we floated down stream until the rear had well closed up, when we pulled steadily and silently under the shadow of the trees near the right bank, until opposite the point of Lookout Mountain, where the current, setting strongly toward the mountain, threw us some distance from shore, but we quickly, however, regained our place, and thus glided past the enemy's pickets on the left and part of our own on the right without being discovered by the enemy. We were seen by the enemy posted near Lookout Creek, but after some conversation among themselves they concluded it was only drift. I had provided one of the flats for Gen. Hazen, and Capt. McElroy, of the steamer, gave me a select crew to man her, and in that I took passage with Gen. Hazen and staff, following the first boat. The moon was so obscured by clouds that we were favored in that respect, but the perfect order and stillness with which we moved prevented discovery.

I had divided the boats into two fleets, one half under direction of Lieut. McNeal, to make the landing at Brown's Ferry, the other half under Capt. Grosvenor to land at the gap above, our guide having pointed out to me the two gaps. I landed on the right shore above the upper one, and gave directions to each as they came down to make the proper landing, which was easily done without alarming the enemy, as the boats came down close to that shore. I was gratified to see how silently they came; how well they had obeyed my order. The leading boat landing, the others quickly followed, all unloading the armed men, who quickly gained the top of the bank, surprising the enemy's pickets, the boats quickly, according to previous arrangements, crossing to the right shore, coming down and up to the Brown's Ferry landing, which point I had also at this time reached, where the remainder of the forces were in waiting, who, being properly counted off into boat loads, were quickly and regularly loaded, and thus the whole force were ferried, 5,000 men, in less than one hour. There was no confusion. Every officer and man did his whole duty, did it fearlessly, willingly, and well, although there was sharp firing by the enemy, and bullets were flying thick both on the river and the shore where we were loading into the boats.

Having thus crossed the whole infantry force, and daylight having come and my men being exhausted with their efforts, the boats were all tied up to shore in line ready. I ordered breakfast for most of the men, keeping, however, a sufficient number of boats running to carry officers' messages, and gave directions to Capt. Cable to fit up the ferry-flat, and cross two pieces of artillery, which he did, taking command in person under fire of the enemy's artillery, which had in the meantime commenced throwing shells into our midst. While going over with the first piece of artillery, a shell passed a few feet over their heads; a little farther on another plowed the waters just above and passed under the boat, but neither the enemy's fire nor fatigue detained them from their work. After breakfast and a short rest, I was directed to make a road up the bank, on the south side, to be ready for the bridge, which was in process of construction by Capt. Fox. After completing that work, thus relieving the armed men from other than their appropriate duty, I ordered my men to camp, remaining, however, in person until nearly night.

I am much indebted to Capt. Grosvenor, to whom I had intrusted much of the details before starting, and the immediate command of the upper fleet, for the perfect manner in which he carried out my orders, and the system and coolness displayed in the crossing and landings. Capt. Cable and Lieut.'s McNeal, Haddow, and Stephenson were equally cool, ready, prompt, and active. These officers, without exception, obeyed my orders strictly and aided me throughout. Much of the success which characterizes the expedition is owing to their efforts. My thanks and commendation are no less due to the brave men, the sergeants, corporals, and privates under their command, who so gallantly disregarded danger and put forth their utmost strength to such good purpose. They did not have arms in their hands to repay the enemy in kind, nor charge upon the enemy to excite and nerve them, but stern duty was well performed regardless of danger.

I regret to record the loss of 3 men of the Thirty-third Ohio. Corpl. John W. Gillilin, Company I, was killed; Private Henry Pierce, Company B, mortally wounded; Private Elijah Conklin, Company C, slightly wounded.

Your obedient servant,

T. R. STANLEY, Col.

Lieut. CAMPBELL TUCKER, A. D. C. and A. A. A. G. to Chief Engr. of Dept.

Following the siege, the 18th remained at Chattanooga, building sawmills, hospitals, boats, and warehouses, until October 20, 1864, when the organization mustered out of service, as its members had completed their three years of service. The regiment traveled to Camp Chase at Columbus, Ohio, where officials discharged the command's soldiers on November 9, 1864. Approximately one hundred of the 18th's soldiers reenlisted in early 1864 and helped to form a new 18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Second Organization).

During the 18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry's term of service, seventy-six men, including four officers, died on the battlefield. An additional 108 men, including one officer, succumbed to disease or accidents.

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"18th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years) (First Organization)," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 23 Oct 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1175>

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