38th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (1861-1865)

Also Known As: Thirty-eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Updated: January 31, 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 38th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Recruitment occurred at Defiance, Ohio, and the organization mustered into service on September 1, 1861.

On September 22, 1861, the 38th departed Defiance for Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. On October 2, 1862, the regiment crossed the Ohio River and entered camp at Nicholasville, Kentucky. Two weeks later, the organization advanced towards Wild Cat, Kentucky, reaching this destination on October 19. The 38th pursued retreating Confederates through the Kentucky communities of London and Barboursville. The regiment next entered camp at Somerset, Kentucky but conducted numerous expeditions during the winter of 1861-1862, including advancing against enemy forces at Mill Springs, Kentucky. At the Battle of Mill Springs January 19, 1862), Union forces drove Confederate forces from the field, prompting the Southerners to evacuate eastern Kentucky. After this Union victory, the 38th relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, arriving on February 28, 1862.

On March 1, 1862, the 38th boarded transports and sailed for Nashville, Tennessee, where the regiment joined the Army of the Ohio. On March 19, 1862, the army departed Nashville for western Tennessee. The 38th arrived at Pittsburg Landing after the Battle of Shiloh (April 6 and 7, 1862) had concluded in a Union victory. The regiment encamped on the battlefield until late April 1862, when the organization joined the Union advance upon Corinth, Mississippi. Northern forces besieged this city from April 29 to May 30, 1862. Following the Union occupation of Corinth, the 38th pursued the retreating Confederates as far as Booneville, Mississippi, before returning to and encamping at Corinth.

On June 20, 1862, the 38th marched with the Army of the Ohio to Tuscumbia, Alabama, reaching this location on June 28. Three weeks later, the regiment moved to Winchester, Tennessee, marching through the Alabama communities of Decatur and Huntsville and arriving on August 7, 1862. From Winchester, the 38th participated on numerous expeditions into the surrounding countryside, especially in the direction of Chattanooga, Tennessee, capturing Confederate soldiers and destroying enemy supplies.

On September 1, 1862, the 38th joined the Army of the Ohio’s pursuit of the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee, which had launched an invasion of Kentucky and was advancing towards southern Ohio. The Union army reached Louisville, Kentucky before the Confederates and, on October 1, 1862, advanced against the enemy command. The two armies met at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on October 8, 1862. The 38th participated in this Union victory and pursued the retreating Southerners through southern Kentucky, before entering camp near Lebanon, Kentucky. During November and December 1862, the regiment guarded the railroad between Gallatin, Tennessee and Nashville, before moving to Tennessee's capital city in late 1862.

In late December 1862, the Army of the Ohio advanced against the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro. At the Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863), the regiment engaged the enemy each day but suffered few casualties. After this Union victory, the organization entered camp at Murfreesboro. On March 13, 1863, the 38th moved to Triune, Tennessee, where the regiment spent several months helpig to construct Fort Phelps, an earthern fortification.

On June 23, 1863, the regiment joined the Tullahoma Campaign, the Army of the Cumberland’s advance against the Army of Tennessee in southern Tennessee and northern Alabama. Upon this campaign’s successful conclusion for the North, the 38th entered camp at Winchester, Tennessee. In late August 1863, the Army of the Cumberland, including the Ohio regiment, advanced into northern Georgia. On September 19 and 20, the Northern force engaged the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia. The 38th saw no combat in this battle, as officials ordered the regiment to guard a supply train traveling from Chickamauga to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On the evening of September 20, the Union’s Army of the Cumberland began a retreat to Chattanooga. From late September 1863 to late November 1863, the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee besieged the city. On November 25, 1863, the Battle of Missionary Ridge occurred. Northern forces, including the 38th Ohio, which was located on the Union left, assailed the Confederate position on top of the ridge. The Federal soldiers drove the Southerners from the ridge. In this engagement, the 38th had seven men killed and forty-one wounded. The Union victory in this battle brought the Chattanooga Campaign to a successful end for the North. After the Battle of Missionary Ridge, the 38th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. THIRTY-EIGHTH OHIO VOLUNTEERS, Chattanooga, Tennessee, November 30, 1863.

CAPT.: In compliance with instructions from the general commanding division, I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the Thirty-eighth Regt. Ohio Volunteers, under my command, in the engagement of the 25th instant:

In all the movements made by the brigade prior to the 25th instant this regiment took part, its position being uniformly on the left on the brigade.

On the morning of the 24th instant, were ordered on picket, and at midnight were relieved by the Tenth Indiana Volunteers, and in turn relieved them at 7 a. m. on 25th instant. We then moved with the brigade to the left until close to the right of Maj.-Gen. Sherman's command, and returning took up position with our left resting on the railroad.

Were ordered by Col. Phelps, commanding brigade, to deploy Companies B and G as skirmishers to cover our left flank and center, Capt. A. Newman taking command of the skirmish line. Were then ordered forward to the edge of the timber skirting the ridge. On reaching this line, we were ordered forward, on double-quick, to a ledge of rocks, and then to lie down. I then received instructions from the colonel commanding the brigade that upon a signal from the bugle to advance on a run, to gain the cover of timber still nearer the ridge.

This order was promptly obeyed, but I found the position too much exposed to the cross-fire of the enemy's artillery on either flank, and moved steadily forward to the summit of the ridge. On gaining this we received a heavy fire of musketry from the enemy, who were slowly retiring to the left. On two occasions the enemy rallied and attempted to force us back from the hill, but in each instance they were repulsed with severe loss. With the last repulse the firing ceased, and we bivouacked on the ridge during the night (25th).

On the 26th instant, moved forward with the brigade toward Rossville and Ringgold, and with it returned to camp on the evening of the 29th.

It is useless to mention the individual gallantry of any member of my command. Every officer and soldier behaved with the utmost coolness and gallantry, both while under the fire of the enemy's batteries at the foot of the ridge and their musketry while storming their position on the summit.

I send herewith a correct list of the killed and wounded of my command, also report of arms lost and destroyed and ammunition expended.

Respectfully submitted.

CHARLES GREENWOOD, Maj., Comdg, Thirty-Eighth Regt. Ohio Vol. Infantry.

Capt. A. J. DAVIS, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

The 38th joined the Union pursuit of the retreating Confederates as far as Ringgold, Georgia, before entering camp at Chattanooga. In early 1864, many of the regiment's members reenlisted, with the re-enlistees receiving a thirty-day furlough to their homes in Ohio. Upon returning to the front, the 38th encamped at Ringgold.

On May 5, 1864, the 38th Ohio embarked upon General Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. The goal of this expedition was for Northern forces to capture the important manufacturing center of Atlanta, Georgia. The regiment fought in many of the largest engagements of the campaign, including the Battles of Buzzard's Roost, Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Chattahoochie River, Atlanta, Utoy Creek, and Jonesborough. The campaign concluded with the Union occupation of Atlanta on September 2, 1864. The 38th's commanding officer issued the following report regarding the campaign:

HDQRS. THIRTY-EIGHTH OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Camp near Atlanta, Ga., August 15, 1864.

CAPT.: In compliance with the order of the colonel commanding the brigade, I have the honor to submit the following report in brief of the operations of the Thirty-eighth Regt. Ohio Volunteers during the present campaign:

On the 10th day of May, 1864, left Ringgold, Ga., in pursuance of an order from brigade headquarters, and took up our line of march, with the balance of the brigade, for the front, where we arrived same evening, and moved into position directly in front of Buzzard Roost, the Thirty-eighth having the left of the front line. Remained in same position until the 12th, when we marched with the brigade as train escort to Villanow, where we went into camp for the night.

On the 13th moved through Snake Crook Gap, a distance of seven miles, and went into camp for the night, and on the morning of the 14th joined our division, moving up during the day to the support of troops which engaged the enemy's forces. On the morning of the 15th moved to the right and went into position on the left of the front line of the brigade. The enemy evacuating their works in and around Resaca during the night of the 15th, the regiment was among the first to enter the town on the morning of the 16th. On the 17th and 18th took part in the pursuit of the enemy. On the 19th was detailed as train guard, joining the brigade late at night in their camp south of Kingston. The 20th, 21st, and 22d wore spent in camp. On the morning of the 23d broke up camp, moved in the direction of Dallas; during the day forded the River Etowah, making altogether one of the hardest marches of the campaign. On the 24th moved out of camp, returned, pitched tents, and remained until the morning of the 26th, when we again took up the line of march, going into camp near Burnt Hickory. Passed the 27th in camp. Moved three miles to the front on the 28th; returned again to a position near Burnt Hickory; went into camp, remaining in same camp until 1st of June, supposed to be guarding during the time the army transportation.

On the 1st of June moved to the front line near Dallas, and on the 2d went into position on the extreme front. From the 2d until the morning of the 5th took part with the brigade in building works and the skirmishing which resulted from advancing our lines, which led to the abandonment by the enemy of their works. The nights of the 4th and 5th were spent in camp. The 6th we marched to a position near Acworth and went into camp, where we rested until the 10th, when we again moved out to engage the enemy, which we found in strong position about four miles from camp. The regiment took part with the brigade in the various marches, countermarches, advance moves from right to left and left to right, the digging of intrenchments, and the various skirmishes embracing the time from the 10th until the night of the 19th, when the enemy again fell back to a strong position, their flanks extending to the right and left of Kenesaw Mountain, Marietta being covered by their center. On the 19th moved up with the brigade in front of Kenesaw Mountain. The brigade was held in reserve the 20th, 21st, and 22d. On the 22d, it might not be improperly noticed, a rebel shell wounded 2 commissioned officers and 5 enlisted men, 2 of the enlisted men receiving mortal wounds. On the night of the 22d moved up on to the front line in front of the mountain, where we remained until the night of the 26th, when we moved to the right. On the 27th, with the division, supported Davis, of our corps, and his assault upon the enemy's works. Remained in position in rear of Davis until the night of the 30th, when we again moved to the right, relieving the division commanded by Gen. Geary, of the Twentieth Corps. Moved into position behind works and there remained without change until the morning of the 3d, when it was found that the rebels had again beat an inglorious retreat. Took part in the pursuit of the 3d, camped in sight of the enemy for the night, and spent the anniversary of American Independence in front of the rebel intrenchments, the rebels being inclined to make an other stand before falling back to their line of defenses on the north bank of the Chattahoochee. On the morning of the 5th, however, to our surprise, the enemy had disappeared from our front; moved in pursuit with brigade and went into position near the railroad south of Vining's Station. From the 5th to the 8th took part in the various movements of the brigade, which developed the enemy's position and forced him to cross the river precipitately during the night of the 9th. The 10th we moved camp to the left and front of Vining's Station, where we remained until the 17th of July. During the time from July 10 to the 17th the regiment was supplied with clothing and had ample opportunities, which were not neglected, to clean up. The regiment also, to a very great extent, recovered from its fatigue which the hardships of the campaign had produced; especially were the recruits of the regiment, in a worn and exhausted condition, benefitted by the rest. On the 17th of July crossed the Chattahoochee River with brigade, it being in rear of division and corps, and on the evening of the 19th advanced to a position on the south bank of Peach Tree Creek. From the 19th to the 22d took a prominent part in the movements of the brigade and army, which brought on the battle of the 20th and led to the advancement of the line to within easy range of the enemy's works, which they abandoned on the night of the 21st and fell back to their works in the immediate vicinity of Atlanta. Moved up on the 22d to a position in the direct front of Atlanta, where we built works and remained until the 2d instant, when, under orders, we moved with the brigade to the extreme right and went into position.

From the 3d to the 6th it is unnecessary to detail operations, for they are familiar to the commanding official of the brigade. It might, however, be mentioned that we supported the skirmishers on the advancement of the line on the 5th instant, and in so doing met with quite serious loss, both in commissioned officers and enlisted men. It is presumed that this report is intended to be but a brief summary or memoranda of this regiment during the campaign, hence details have not been entered into, nor the operations mentioned enlarged upon. Copious extracts might be furnished from the journals of the regiment showing the character and diversity of country over which we had passed, and full and accurate descriptions given of the various skirmishes and battles in which this regiment has taken part, either directly or in the way of support; nor is it presumed that it is expected that distinctions will be made as between meritorious officers or enlisted men, all of whom, I am only too proud to say, behaved with great gallantry under all circumstances during this campaign and bore up under the exposures and hardships incident thereto with commendable fortitude. It is believed that the heroism displayed by our soldiers in this ever-to-be-memorable campaign is unequaled in the history of the world, and is of a higher type than has yet been displayed in our efforts to crush out this great rebellion, which seeks to overthrow the best Government the world ever saw. The losses of our regiment have been as follows, to wit: In front of Resaca, 1 killed, 2 wounded; near Dallas, 1 killed, 6 wounded; Kenesaw Mountain, 1 killed, 16 wounded; near Chattahoochee River, 6 wounded, 1 missing; south of Peach Tree Creek, 2 wounded; near railroad in front of Atlanta, 1 killed, 5 wounded; the right wing of army near Atlanta, 4 killed, 41 wounded, making an aggregate of 87, 8 of whom were killed and 78 wounded and 1 missing. Of the above 5 were commissioned officers wounded, among whom were Maj. Irving, severely, and Capt. Gilbert and Lieut. McQuillen, severely. The total loss of regiment to date has been 121 killed and wounded, but the losses to 6th instant are as above stated. In closing this report I must be allowed to express my thanks to the colonel commanding the brigade and his staff for the uniform courtesy and kindness with which they have not only treated myself, but also the officers and men of my command, during the entire campaign, extending now over a period of 100 days.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

WM. A. CHOATE, Col., Comdg. Thirty-eighth Ohio Vol. Infantry.

Capt. W. F. SPOFFORD A. A. A. G., 3d Brig., 3d Div., 14th Army Corps

Following the Atlanta Campaign, the 38th entered camp for a few weeks, before joining the Union’s pursuit of Confederate General John Bell Hood’s army, which was advancing through northern Georgia, northern Alabama, and southern Tennessee in the direction of Nashville. The regiment marched through northern Georgia and briefly entered Alabama, before returning to Georgia and entering camp at Kingston on November 5, 1864. Ten days later, the 38th joined General Sherman's "March to the Sea." The ultimate goal of this campaign was for the Union military to seize Savannah, Georgia. The regiment saw no real combat on this campaign. The Union military occupied Savannah on December 21, 1864, with the 38th entering camp in the city.

In late January 1865, the 38th Ohio embarked upon General Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign. During this campaign, the regiment participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina from March 19 to 21, 1865. Following this Union victory, the 38th moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina, before advancing to Raleigh, North Carolina. the organization continued with Sherman's army to Holly Springs, North Carolina and was present for the surrender of Confederate General Joseph Johnston's army in late April 1865. During this campaign, the 38th's commanding officer issued the following report:

HDQRS. THIRTY-EIGHTH OHIO VET. VOL. INFANTRY, Goldsborough, N. C., March 28, 1865.

CAPT.: In compliance with the order of the colonel commanding the brigade I have the honor to submit the following report in brief of the operations of the Thirty-eighth Regt. Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry during the campaign from Savannah, Ga., to Goldsborough, N. C., terminating with our occupancy of the latter place:

On the morning of the 20th of January regiment left Savannah in pursuance with orders from brigade headquarters, and entered upon the great and memorable campaign which has just been so successfully closed and which has struck such powerful and victorious blows upon the reeling Confederacy. This day the command moved about seven miles, when, in consequence of the bad condition of the roads, it was found necessary to encamp and repair them; here in connection with brigade the regiment until the 25th. On the 25th, 26th, and 27th marched about ten miles each day, arriving near Sister's Ferry, Ga., on the evening of the 27th.

Here the regiment remained until the morning of the 5th of February. Nothing aside from the usual routine of camp incidents occurred during these marches. February 5, crossed the Savannah River into South Carolina and marched four miles up and nearly parallel with the river, encamping near the upper ferry. Here the regiment remained until the morning of the 7th, when the march was again resumed; this day passed through Robertsville, at which point the line of march was changed to the left; distance marched was about ten miles. On the 8th marched sixteen miles. 9th marched twenty miles; some small bridges burned and obstructions in road, which, however, caused little delay. On the 10th still encountered slight obstacles in the shape of barricades and burned bridges; to-day marched seventeen miles and encamped in the suburbs of the village of Barnwell. February 11, marched thirteen miles. 12th marched eighteen miles and destroyed 255 yards of railroad track. On the 13th destroyed the same amount of track and then marched seventeen miles, crossing the South Edisto River. 14th, marched seventeen miles, crossing the North Edisto River during day. On the 15th, 16th, and 17th marched about fourteen miles each day, traveling in the direction of Columbia, S. C. On the 17th a detour was made to the left and we crossed the Saluda River, having passed through the village of Lexington on the 16th. On the 18th marched but five miles. On the 19th marched twelve miles, crossing Broad River and destroying the railroad at Alston. 20th, marched five miles. 21st, marched fifteen miles, passing near the vicinity of Winnsborough. On the 22d marched fourteen miles, having torn up considerable railroad during the day; the direction traveled was toward Chesterville. On the 23d a detour was made to the right and was marched twelve miles in the direction of Lancaster. 24th and 25th, remained in camp awaiting the completion of the pontoon bridge across the Wateree River and the crossing of the trains. 26th, marched one mile and went in camp in consequence of the breaking of the bridge across the Wateree. 27th, was stationary in camp. On the 28th crossed the Wateree River.

March 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, marched an average of about fourteen miles each day. On the 3d the column crossed Lynch's Creek, the general direction traveled during these days being east, or toward the Pedee River. March 6, remained in camp; 7th, crossed the Great Pedee eight miles above Cheraw, and were distributed as guards along the wagon train of the division; 8th, marched twenty-four miles; 9th, marched eighteen miles; 10th, marched five miles stall going in the direction of Fayetteville, N. C. (I had forgotten to mention in the proper place that on the 8th the regiment had crossed the line into North Carolina), with every prospect of an engagement, as Hardee was reported as on a forced march to the relief of Fayetteville, and only a few miles to our left. On the morning of the 11th forward movement was resumed, the Thirty-eighth Ohio having the advance of the brigade. Some slight skirmishing soon occurred in the advance and the brigade was formed in column by regiments on left of the road to await the development of the enemy's position, the Thirty-eighth occupying the front line. It being soon ascertained that no considerable force was in front to oppose the advance, the Thirty-eighth Ohio was ordered to a crossing about a mile farther up the creek, in which direction some desultory firing was heard, and to serve the double purpose of a picket and reconnaissance. At the crossing above referred to the bridge was found burned and a party of rebel cavalry posted on the opposite side. Company F was immediately deployed as skirmishers and advanced into position near the creek. After some inconsiderable firing upon both sides the enemy retreated; no casualties on either side. The road now being clear, the train to Fayetteville. In obedience to this order the regiment returned to the main road and followed the train to the city, arriving there about 4 p.m. March 11.

The regiment remained in Fayetteville during the 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th. On the 16th, at 1 a. m., left Fayetteville, crossed the Cape Fear River, and marched twelve miles in the direction of Goldsborough, and acting as guard for train. March 17, marched eight miles, crossing Black River. 18th, marched six miles. 19th, marched twelve miles, being still with the train. On the 20th marched about six miles, and on the 21st, in connection with balance of the brigade, arrived near the Neuse River, west of Goldsborough, which was then in our possession, and the campaign was virtually closed. The Thirty-eighth did not participate in any of the late battles near Goldsborough, being on duty with the train the entire time.

The hardships and privations of this great campaign have been many and great, and yet the men of this command have borne up under the most trying and perplexing circumstances, with a heroism and power of endurance unequaled in the annals of the word. Officers and men have vied with each other in the well doing of their work, and it is impossible to make distinction for meritorious conduct. All have done nobly and well their duty.

In concluding this brief and imperfect report, I beg leave to express my thanks to the colonel commanding the brigade, and to each member of this staff, for the uniform courtesy and kindness with which he has treated, not only myself, but also the officers and men of my command during the entire campaign.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES M. GILBERT, Capt., Cmdg.

Capt. JOSEPH B. NEWTON, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., 3d Brig., 3d Div., 14th Army Corps.

Following Johnston's surrender, the 38th returned to Raleigh and then marched to Washington, DC, where the organization participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865. On June 15, 1865, the regiment proceeded to Louisville, Kentucky, taking the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Parkersburg, West Virginia and then boarding a steamer and sailing down the Ohio River the remainder of the way. On July 12, 1865, the 38th mustered out of service at Louisville. The regiment then proceeded to Cleveland, Ohio, where officials discharged the unit's members on July 22, 1865, allowing the men to return to their homes.

During the 38th Ohio's term of service, 140 men, including eight officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 229 men, including two officers, died from disease or accidents.

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"38th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 19 Sep 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1240>

APA Style

"38th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved September 19, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1240

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