39th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (1861-1865)

Also Known As: Thirty-ninth 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 39th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Recruitment initially occurred at Camp Colerain, near Cincinnati, Ohio. At this location, the regiment's first seven companies mustered into service on July 31, 1861. On August 2, 1861, the organization moved to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, where the final three companies mustered into service early in the month.

On August 18, 1861, the 39th departed Camp Dennison for St. Louis, Missouri, where the regiment joined General John C. Fremont's command and encamped at near the fair grounds. The 39th was the first regiment from Ohio to enter Missouri. On September 6, 1861, nine of the 39th's companies advanced to Macon, Missouri on the North Missouri Railroad. Company K remained on garrison duty at St. Louis. Upon reaching Macon, officials ordered four companies to St. Joseph, where these units guarded the North Missouri Railroad for the next five months. The five companies at Macon--Companies C, D, F, G, and H--advanced with other Union forces to Lexington, Missouri and then to Kansas City, Missouri, arriving at this final location on September 22, 1861. Three weeks later, these Union soldiers departed Kansas City and advanced through Pleasant Hill, Osceola, and Greenfield, reaching Springfield, Missouri on November 2, 1861.

On November 9, 1861, the Northerners departed Springfield and reached Sedalia, Missouri six days later. On December 8, 1861, the command moved to Syracuse, Missouri, where the Union soldiers encamped for the remainder of December 1861 and for January 1862. On February 2, 1862, these soldiers marched for St. Louis, passing through Booneville, Columbia, Fulton, Danville, and St. Charles. The five companies of the 39th encamped at Benton Barracks in St. Louis on February 19, 1862 and reunited with the regiment's other five companies. Three days later, the entire 39th boarded steamers and sailed to Commerce, Missouri, reaching this location two days later. The regiment then joined General John Pope's advance upon New Madrid, Missouri and the assault upon Island No. 10. Pope's command reached New Madrid on March 3, 1862. Upon capturing the town and seizing the island from Confederate forces, the Northerners boarded steamers on April 13, 1862 and sailed down the Mississippi to the vicinity of Fort Pillow, Tennessee. On April 17, 1863, Pope's command sailed to Hamburg Landing on the Tennessee River and joined the Union advance upon Corinth, Mississippi. The 39th participated in the siege of Corinth from April 29 to May 30, 1862.

Following the Union's occupation of Corinth on May 30, 1862, the 39th pursued the retreating Southerners to Booneville, Mississippi, before returning to and entering camp at Corinth. On August 29, 1862, the regiment moved to Iuka, Mississippi, where officials stationed four companies of the 39th. Two companies garrisoned Eastport, and the four remaining companies guarded various points along the local railroad line. On September 11, 1862, the entire 39th joined a larger Union movement against Confederate General Sterling Price's command, which had seized Iuka. The Northerners drove Price's soldiers from the city in the battle of Iuka and pursued the retreating Southerners for two days, before returning to Corinth. On October 3 and 4, 1862, at the Battle of Corinth II, the 39th helped to defend successfully the town from a Confederate attack.

In late 1862, the 39th advanced with General Ulysses S. Grant's command to Oxford, Mississippi, before moving to Jackson, Tennessee on December 18, where the regiment sought to locate Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry. At the Battle of Parker's Cross Roads (December 31, 1862), a Union force, including the 39th, defeated Forrest's command. The 39th returned to Corinth on January 9, 1863 and entered winter encampment.

On April 19, 1863, the 39th joined a Union expedition into the Tuscumbia Valley in Tennessee. The goal of this mission was to cut supply lines to Confederate Braxton Bragg's army at Chattanooga, Tennessee. The regiment soon returned to Corinth and, on May 12, 1863, traveled to Memphis, Tennessee. On October 18, 1863, the 39th began a march to Prospect, Tennessee, traveling through Corinth, Eastport, Lauderdale, and Pulaski. At Prospect, many of the regiment's men reenlisted. The re-enlistees received a thirty-day furlough to their homes in Ohio. Upon returning to the front, the 39th entered camp at Athens, Alabama. On April 11, 1864, the organization advanced to Decatur, Alabama..

On May 5, 1864, the 39th Ohio embarked upon Union General William T. 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 Resaca, Dallas, Kennesaw Mountain, Nicojack Creek, Chattahoochie River, Atlanta, Jonesborough, and Lovejoy's Station. The Union military occupied Atlanta on September 2, 1864, bringing the campaign to a victorious conclusion for the North. The 39th's commanding officers issued the following reports regarding the campaign:

HDQRs. THIRTY-NINTH REGT. OHIO VET. VOL. INFTY., Near East Point, Ga., September 7, 1864.

CAPT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this regiment from May 1, 1864, up to and including the occupation of Atlanta, in obedience to Special Orders, No. 102, headquarters Fourth Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, dated September 4, 1864:

May 1, 1864, the regiment broke camp at Decatur, Ala., at 6 a. m. and marched fifteen miles in the direction of Huntsville, Ala. 2d, marched eighteen miles to a point one mile east of Huntsville. 3d, marched twenty-two miles to Big Spring. 4th, marched seven miles to Woodville Station, and took cars for Chattanooga, where we arrived at 12 midnight. 5th, marched at 2 p. m., crossing Mission Ridge, and camped nine miles from Chattanooga. 6th, marched six miles, passing battle-field of Chickamauga, and camped at Lee and Gordon's Mills. 7th, marched eight miles, passing through Ship's Gap. 8th, marched twelve miles to Snake [Creek] Gap. 9th, marched twelve miles through Snake [Creek) Gap, our advance skirmishing briskly; when near Resaca formed double column, and advanced to within some 300 or 400 yards of the railroad, under a fire of case-shot and shells from the enemy's works; withdrew to a ridge just out of range, where we remained until sunset, when we returned to the gap and threw up a line of intrenchments, where we remained until the 13th. Advanced to within a mile of the enemy's works at Resaca, with brisk skirmishing. Remained in line of battle supporting a battery, until the morning of the 16th, skirmishing almost constantly; loss, I enlisted man killed and 2 wounded. 16th, marched six miles, crossing the Oostenaula River at Lay's Ferry. 17th, marched twelve miles, starting at 7 p. m. 18th, marched six miles to Adairsville, and starting again at 9 p. m. marched till 3 a. m. 19th, marched to the railroad near Kingston, where we remained until the 23d, when we marched eight miles southward, crossing the Etowah River four miles west of Kingston. 24th, marched to Van Wert, eighteen miles. 25th, marched twelve miles eastward. 26th, marched through Dallas and went into position, facing east. 27th, worked all night making intrenchments. 28th, 1 man wounded. 29th, Heavy firing all night; 1 man killed and 1 wounded. 30th, still skirmishing. 31st, heavy skirmishing; Capt. John V. Drake, Company H, mortally wounded, and 2 enlisted men wounded.

June 1, withdrew from the line beyond Dallas, and moved five miles northward. 2d, marched to Pumpkin Vine Creek. 3d, built a line of works on east side of creek. 4th, built another line of intrenchments. 5th, moved six miles toward Acworth. 6th, marched eight miles to Acworth, where we remained until the 10th, when we marched to Big Shanty, six miles. 11th, moved to the front and threw up our line of works, where we remained (with a loss of 2 men wounded the 14th) without changing our position materially until the 18th, when we advanced our line nearly half a mile, with a loss of 1 man killed and 1 wounded. 19th, moved across the railroad to the base of Kenesaw Mountain and built a line of intrenchments, where we remained under an annoying fire until the morning of July 3; loss, 3 men killed and 3 wounded.

July 3, marched twelve miles toward Sandtown. 4th, encountered the enemy's skirmishers, near Nickajack Creek, and drove them to their works about one mile east of Ruff's Mill. At 6.30 p. m. charged in line of battle, accompanied by the Twenty-seventh Ohio on our left, and carried the works, with a loss of 5 enlisted men killed, and 3 officers and 28 enlisted men wounded. Col. Edward F. Noyes was wounded by musket-ball through left ankle, rendering amputation necessary. During the night reversed the works we had taken. 5th, marched eight miles toward Sandtown and remained near the Chattahoochee River until the 9th, when we marched to Marietta, about seventeen miles. 11th, marched to the Chattahoochee River near Roswell. 11th, crossed the river and threw up an intrenchment about half a mile beyond, where we remained until the 17th, when we advanced to Nancy's Creek. 18th, marched to Peach Tree Creek. 19th, marched to Decatur. 20th, marched three miles toward Atlanta. 21st, moved to a point one mile and a half south of the Georgia Railroad, being placed in reserve to the Seventeenth Corps. 22d, at 12.30 p. m. skirmishing suddenly commenced in our rear. A few minutes thereafter we were ordered to move to the rear at a double-quick and report to Gen. Fuller, at an old field in rear of the ambulance and supply trains. Passing the trains a few hundred yards we formed in line below the crest of a small ridge. As soon as the Twenty-seventh Ohio was formed on our right the order was given to advance; a few paces brought us to the crest of the ridge and in full view of the enemy advancing across the open field in our front; a spirited charge was made by our regiment with the Twenty-seventh Ohio, driving the enemy in confusion into the woods. We captured Col. Nisbet, commanding the brigade in our front, 1 captain, 1 adjutant, and 13 men, in this charge. Our position at this time was such that we were subjected to a severe enfilading fire, and a column of the enemy appearing on our right flank, we were ordered to retire to the ridge from which we had charged, reforming our line as directed under a heavy fire from our front and right flank. Our ammunition being nearly exhausted, orders were issued to the regiment to lie down and reserve their fire, but the enemy occupying higher ground on our right was still enabled to keep up a destructive fire upon us. We remained some twenty minutes in this exposed position, when the direction of our line was changed by retiring our right, and a supply of ammunition procured. The fire of the enemy gradually slackened, and at about 4 p. m. the force of the enemy's assault having expended itself and our trains having been removed to a place of security, the enemy withdrew from our front, and shortly after we were withdrawn to a new line about half a mile in the rear of the position our brigade had first taken. We maintained our line some hundred yards in advance of our first position until the close of the engagement. During the night we threw up a line of intrenchments. Our loss in this engagement was 15 enlisted men killed, and 5 officers and 98 enlisted men wounded. 23d strengthened our works; sent out working parties to bury the rebel dead, having brought off our own the evening previous. Remained on this line until the 27th, when we withdrew from our works on the left flank at 1 a. m. and marched to the right of the army. Advanced about half a mile and lay on our arms until morning under fire of the enemy's skirmishers. 28th, advanced a few hundred yards and threw up a strong line of earth-works about two miles from Atlanta. During the engagement on our right were obliged to take shelter on the outside of our works from an enfilading fire from a rebel battery in the rear.

Remained on this line exposed to an irregular fire of musketry and heavy shells until the 7th of August, when we advanced about 200 yards to a new line. 8th, moved half a mile to the front at 6 p. m. and worked all night throwing up intrenchments. Occupied this line till the 16th, exposed almost constantly to a fire of musketry and frequent shelling from the enemy's works; loss, 6 men wounded. 16th, moved back to the second line, and remained till the 24th, when we returned to the front line, which we held until the morning of the 26th, when we withdrew one mile and took position on retired line, facing north, and strengthened the works; marched all night toward Sandtown. 27th, marched ten miles toward the La Grange railroad. 28th, marched six miles and camped one mile from railroad. 29th, moved out at 6.30 a. m. and worked until night destroying the railroad in the vicinity of Fairburn. 30th, marched from 7 a. m. until 11 p. m., reaching a point within one mile of Jonesborough. 31st, threw up a line of breast-works on the right flank of our line, facing south.

September 1, strengthened our works. 2d, marched in pursuit of the enemy through Jonesborough to near Lovejoy's Station. 3d, received official information of the occupation of Atlanta by our forces. Moved with our division to cover a road on the right flank of our army, where we remained until the 5th, when we moved two miles to the rear and threw up works. 6th, marched to our old camp near Jonesborough. 7th, marched eight miles toward East Point. 8th, marched to East Point and camped.

Our loss during this campaign has been 24 enlisted men killed (not including those mortally wounded) and 8 officers and 158 enlisted men wounded, with 2 enlisted men missing in action. Total loss, 192.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. S. JENKINS, Maj. Thirty-ninth Ohio, Cmdg. Regt.

Capt. J. H. BOGGIS, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

HDQRS. THIRTY-NINTH OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Near Atlanta, Ga., July 26, 1864.

CAPT.: In compliance with Special Field Orders, No. 45, headquarters Left Wing, Sixteenth Army Corps, under date of July 25, 1864, I have the honor to report the part taken by this regiment in the engagement of the 22d instant.

The First Brigade, Fourth Division, was in reserve in the rear of the left of the Seventeenth Corps. About 12.30 p. m. I was ordered by Col. Morrill, commanding brigade, to move to the rear at a double-quick and report to Gen. Fuller, in the old field where the trains were parked. Sharp skirmishing was at that time going on to our left and rear. The regiment was moved as directed as speedily as possible. Reaching the field the line was formed facing south, the left wing refused to take the general direction of the line of the Second Division, Sixteenth Army Corps, already in position on our left. This position left us retired somewhat under the crest of the hill. The rest of the brigade coming up soon after, and being formed, a company was sent forward as skirmishers. They advanced but a short distance when they were driven back by the enemy's line of battle then advancing on us. As soon as the skirmish company had taken its place in line, bayonets were fixed and the line moved forward, the Twenty-seventh Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry being on our right. Reaching the crest of the hill, and coming in sight of the enemy, the double-quick was taken and a spirited charge made on their line, which had advanced some distance into the open field. They were driven back in disorder to the woods, and by the time we reached a small ravine in our front, had retired to a second ridge. The ground over which we passed was clear of all obstructions, and the line easily preserved. Before reaching the woods I discovered the enemy firing on us from the right and rear, and for this reason deemed it prudent to halt at the edge of the woods. On communicating this fact to Gen. Fuller I was ordered by him to face by the right, file right, and present a front to the flank fire. In endeavoring to execute this movement the regiment was thrown into some disorder, and in order to rectify this I gave the order to face about and retire to the crest of the hill, when the line was reformed without much difficulty, though the enemy's fire was severe. We had held this position some time, keeping up a steady fire to our right and front until many of the men were entirely out of ammunition, when I ordered the regiment to lie down and reserve the fire until a supply could be obtained. I think we must have remained in this exposed position for some fifteen or twenty minutes before the cartridges could be got to us. We held this position, our line some hundred yards in advance of our first position during the entire engagement, or until about 4.30 o'clock, when we withdrew in good order across the field, and formed on the right of the Fifty-second Illinois Volunteers.

The conduct of officers and men was entirely satisfactory.

The loss of the regiment in this engagement was as follows: 5 officers wounded, 15 enlisted men killed, 98 wounded, and 5 missing.

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

H. T. MCDOWELL, Lieut.-Col., Cmdg. Regt.

Following the Atlanta Campaign, the 39th encamped at East Point, Georgia 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, reaching Galesville, before entering camp at Marietta, Georgia.

In mid-November 1864, the 39th Ohio 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 until reaching Savannah, where the organization participated in the Union's siege lines of the city's Confederate garrison. The Union military occupied Savannah on December 21, 1864, with the 39th entering camp at Thunderbolt. During this campaign, the 39th destroyed miles of railroad track, including along the Macon and Savannah Railroad and the Savannah and Florida Railroad.

In late January 1865, the 39th Ohio embarked upon General Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign. In South Carolina, the regiment participated in several skirmishes with Confederate forces, including a stiff engagement at River's Bridge and near Cheraw. The organization also destroyed miles of railroad track along the Charleston and Augusta Railroad and the Columbia and North Carolina Railroad. In early March 1865, the 39th entered North Carolina, arriving at Fayetteville in the middle of the month. The regiment participated in the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina from March 19 to 21, 1865. Following this Union victory, the organization moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina, before advancing to Raleigh, North Carolina. On April 25, 1865, the 39th moved to Jones's Station, North Carolina, before quickly returning to Raleigh. The 39th's commanding officer issued the following reports regarding the campaign:

HDQRS. THIRTY-NINTH OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Rivers' Bridge,

February 4, 1865. I have the honor to report that on February 2, while the regiment was following the Twenty-seventh Ohio on the road to Rivers' Bridge, I received an order to move in line through the swamp with the right of the regiment near the road until within about fifty yards of the front line and there halt. This order was executed with some difficulty in consequence of the almost impassable condition of the swamp, the water in many places being more than knee-deep and full of fallen timber and undergrowth. The regiment remained in position until 10 p. m., when it was relieved by the Sixty-fourth Illinois Infantry and moved to camp about one mile to the rear, where it remained until about 3 p. m. February 4, when the regiment in obedience to orders moved toward the bridge, following the Eighteenth Missouri Infantry. After moving about half a mile, filed to the left on a plank road through swamp nearly to the Salkehatchie River, where the command again had to wade the swamp for some distance. Crossing the river on logs, formed and on the left of the Third Brigade, the Sixty-fourth Illinois Infantry forming on our left; Company K was deployed as skirmishers in front of the regiment. After remaining in this position a short time the line advanced through the swamp until it passed through the timber and arrived on open ground, where it was halted. After being read justed it again advanced under a fire from the enemy's skirmishers across an open field and through a narrow belt of timber, where it was halted and a rail barricade erected. Remaining there a short time the line changed direction, facing north, forming on the right of the Sixty-fourth Illinois Infantry. During the night the regiment intrenched itself in this position.

While I cannot say that any one deserves particular mention I must say that all officers and men conducted themselves in manner alike creditable to themselves and their command.

The casualties are as follows: Eight enlisted men wounded.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

DANIEL WEBER, Maj. Thirty-ninth Ohio Infantry, Cmdg. Regt.

Lieut. H. W. GODFREY, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

HDQRS. THIRTY-NINTH OHIO INFANTRY, March 25, 1865.

I have the honor, in obedience to orders received, to forward report of operations of this command on the 21st of March, 1865, as follows:

The regiment moved with the division, taking a road in a northeasterly direction; moved about two miles; formed line on the right of the Third Brigade, facing nearly west; moved forward in line through a swamp and dense thicket to elevated ground, where the enemy had been posted behind a barricade of rails and logs, from which he had been driven by the skirmish lie. After reaching this point the line moved at a double-quick in order to secure some pieces of artillery posted about 300 yards to the front, which the enemy had been using, but he succeeded in getting them off. The line hated after reaching the hill and was readjusted. Soon the enemy was seen to advance in line, but after a sharp fight was driven back in a few minutes. The regiment then moved by the flank to the rear and left about half a mile, where it took position on a hill and intrenched.

The casualties are as follows: 3 killed, 17 wounded, and 4 missing. Number of officers engaged, 18; men, 300.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

DANIEL WEBER, Maj. Thirty-ninth Ohio Infantry, Cmdg. Regt.

Capt. L. S. AMES, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Following the surrender of General Joseph Johnston's Confederate army in late April 1865, the 39th marched to Washington, DC, where the organization participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865. On June 5, 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 9, 1865, the 39th mustered out of service at Louisville. The regiment then proceeded to Ohio, where officials discharged the unit's members at Camp Dennison, allowing the men to return to their homes.

During the 39th Ohio's term of service, sixty-four men, including two officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 132 men, including three officers, died from disease or accidents.

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"39th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 14 Oct 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1242>

APA Style

"39th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved October 14, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1242

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