21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years Service) (1861-1865)

Also Known As: Twenty-first Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years Service)

Updated: February 07, 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 21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Organization occurred at Findlay, Ohio, and the regiment mustered into service on September 19, 1861. The 21st 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 21st Regiment.

In late September 1861, the 21st advanced to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, before encamping at Nicholasville, Kentucky on October 2, 1861. Ten days later, the regiment advanced to McCormick's Gap, Kentucky, where the organization embarked upon an expedition against enemy forces. At Ivy Mountain, Kentucky, the 21st flanked a Confederate position, easily driving the Southerners from the field. In November 1861, the regiment arrived at Louisville, Kentucky. In December of that same year, the organization, now serving as part of the Army of the Ohio in General O.M. Mitchel's division, marched to the Green River and entered winter encampment. During late February 1862, the 21st advanced with the Army of the Ohio to Bowling Green, Kentucky, forcing Confederate soldiers from the town. The army next proceeded to Nashville, Tennessee, arriving on March 13, 1862.

On March 19, 1862, Mitchel's division, including the 21st, occupied Murfreesboro, Tennessee. On April 4, 1862, the division advanced for Huntsville, Alabama. On April 11, the Union command attacked the city's Confederate garrison. In this Northern victory, the federal soldiers captured three hundred enemy soldiers, sixteen locomotives, and a sizable number of railroad cars. From Huntsville, Union officials dispatched the 21st on numerous expeditions to destroy bridges and other important sites across northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. On one such excursion, a portion of the regiment destroyed a railroad bridge over the Tennessee River at Stevenson, Alabama. On April 20, 1862, the 21st's Company H escorted enemy prisoners to Nashville. On the return trip to Huntsville, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry captured the entire company. On May 28, 1862, the remainder of the regiment advanced to Athens, Alabama.

The 21st returned to Nashville on September 2, 1862, where Confederate forces besieged the city's Union garrison until Northern reinforcements from the Army of the Ohio arrived in October 1862. On December 26, 1862, the regiment joined the Union's Army of the Cumberland's advance upon the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee at Murfreesboro. The Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863) erupted, with the 21st engaging enemy forces each day of the battle. The regiment was first stationed in the center of the Union line, before moving to the left. On January 2, 1863, the 21st crossed Stones River and stormed the Confederate right. The regiment captured three artillery pieces--the only cannons that Union soldiers captured in this entire battle. The 21st had forty-seven men killed, seventy-six soldiers wounded, and seventeen more captured in this engagement. The regiment's commanding officer issued the following report regarding the battle:

CAMP TWENTY-FIRST OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY, Near Murfreesborough, Tenn., January 10, 1863.

SIR: I respectfully submit to you the following report of the action of my regiment in the battle of Stone's River:

After a march occupying three days, during which skirmishing with the enemy was fierce and continuous, by your order I bivouacked my regiment upon the field on the evening of December 29, ultimo, in its brigade position.

On the morning of December 30, ultimo, my regiment was thrown into position with reserve corps, on the right center.

Sharp picket fighting occupied the day, and on the morning of December 31, ultimo, the enemy made his appearance on the center and right wing. The battle raged with uninterrupted fury, and we lay upon the field during the night. I cannot picture to you the gallant conduct of my men during the fight of the 31st ultimo. Officers and men universally fought with desperation and bravery.

January 1, the enemy refused to show himself in force on the center, and at nigh we again slept on the field.

January 2, indicated fight. At 3 p.m., by your orders, my regiment took position to support Gen. Van Cleve's division, on the left. At about 4 p.m. the enemy, in force, showed his front in pursuit of our retreating troops. Lying down in line, we watched the approach of the enemy, exulting over his fancied success. A charge was ordered, and, although my regiment was much impeded by the disorganized flight of infantry, artillery, and riderless horses, my regiment reached the opposite bank of Stone's River and engaged the enemy. The struggle which ensued was desperate and bloody. We succeeded in driving him beyond his line of artillery, which he left on the field as trophies. The enemy was completely routed, and night closed pursuit, leaving us in possession of a battle-field 2 miles in extent.

I could mention many instance of individual heroism. Capt. Caton, Company H, gallantly bore the colors across the river in the charge. Capt.'s McMahon, Canfield, and Alban were conspicuous in the struggle.

Lieut. Wiley, of Company C, commanding Company A, fell, mortally wounded. Lieut.'s Knaggs, Allen, and Bumpus fell, severely wounded, while cheering their men to the charge.

Lieut.-Col. Stoughton and Maj. Walker deserve all praise for their efficient and prompt action during the fight. Indeed, all vied with each other in the performance of their several duties.

I herewith append a list of the killed, wounded, and missing, for whom amid our cheers of victory, let us not forget to drop a soldier's tear.

Very respectfully, &c.,

JAMES M. NEIBLING, Col., Comdg. Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Vol. Infantry.

Col. JOHN F. MILLER, Comdg. Seventh Brigade, Eighth Div., Fourteenth Army Corps.

The 21st remained encamped, except for a periodic expedition, at Murfreesboro from January to late June 1863. On June 24, 1863, the Army of the Cumberland, including the Ohio regiment, embarked upon the Tullahoma Campaign (June 24-July 3, 1863), an advance into southern Tennessee and northern Alabama. Following this advance, the 21st entered camp at Decherd Station. In early September 1863, the regiment 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 21st engaged the enemy both days and, on the second day, repulsed five Confederate assaults, even after Northern units on each flank had fled. As darkness fell, the enemy launched two final attacks. Out of ammunition, the regiment repulsed the first assault with bayonets, but the Southerners overwhelmed the command in the second charge, capturing 115 men. In the entire battle, the 21st had fifty-one men killed, 101 men wounded, and 116 soldiers captured. Union officers issued the following reports regarding the 21st's involvement in this battle:

HDQRS. 21ST REGT. OHIO INFANTRY VOLUNTEERS, Near Atlanta, Ga., July 14, 1864.

SIR: Herewith is transmitted a statement of the part taken by the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Infantry Volunteers, under my command, at the battle of Chickamauga.

The letters of Gen.'s Negley and Brannan in reply to my letters to them, copies of all which are herewith transmitted, are made a part of this report and referred for the information of all concerned.

Special attention is called to the letter of Gen. Brannan, in which my command is charged with "surrendering so quietly as to escape the notice of all but the regiment on my immediate left, the colonel of which promptly reported to him the facts," &c.

He will be surprised to know that Col. Carlton, of the Eighty-ninth Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and Col. Le Favour, of the Twenty-second Michigan, were the colonels commanding regiments on my left, both of whom were captured a short time before I was captured myself.

Gen. Brannan may have been misinformed in regard to the position of his troops.

Very respectfully,

A. McMAHAN, Lieut. Col., Comdg. Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers.

Brig. Gen. WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE, Asst. Adjt. Gen., Department of the Cumberland.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

CAMP CHASE, COLUMBUS, OHIO, April 6, 1864.

SIR: Having been a prisoner of war in the hands of the enemy, I was unable sooner to report the part taken by the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Third Brigade, Second Division, Fourteenth Army Corps, in the battle of Chickamauga, fought on Saturday and Sunday, September 19 and 20, 1863.

The regiment moved into action Saturday evening, an hour before sundown, under command of Lieut. Col. D. M. Stoughton. We had position on the left of our own brigade and joined Col. Stanley's (Second) brigade on its right.

We engaged the enemy's skirmishers until dark, when the firing ceased, after which breastworks of logs were constructed, facing east-southeast, in front of an open field. This position was held by us until Sunday morning (20th), at which time our skirmishers became engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy at daylight.

Late Sunday morning (20th) we were withdrawn from this position, and moved with our brigade to a new position. Skirmishers from the Twenty-sixth Ohio Volunteers (Gen. Wood's division) relieved our own skirmishers, and that regiment moved to the position from which we had just withdrawn. This position is also particularly marked by two large vats, used for the manufacture of niter, about 200 yards to the rear.

At 12 o'clock Sunday (20th) our regiment was assigned a position upon a curved ridge, our front being south. A deep ravine was in front on this ridge, and on our right heavy timber; on our left an open field with timber beyond. There was an old house about 200 yards to our rear which was subsequently occupied by our wounded.

Our effective support in this division consisted of the Twenty-second Michigan Volunteers and Eighty-ninth Ohio Volunteers on our right, troops under command of Col. Walker (of the Thirty-first Ohio Volunteers), and Ninth Ohio on our left, and the Second Minnesota Volunteers in reserve. I have not learned any name by which this position may be designated, therefore have substituted a description of it.

Immediately after taking position (12 m.) the enemy's skirmishers engaged us, and in a short time a strong force moved against us. A severe engagement resulted in the repulse of the enemy. This demonstration of the enemy for the occupation of this important position was made before the arrival of the support heretofore stated, and though superior in numbers he was unable to endure the repeated volleys of our superior arms (Colt's revolving rifles).

Heavy skirmishing continued until 2 o'clock, when the enemy again made an attempt to carry this position, in which he failed. Our position was maintained, however, with severe loss in killed and wounded.

At 2. 30 o'clock Lieut.-Col. Stoughton, who was commanding the regiment until this time, was severely wounded, and the command devolved upon myself. By 3 o'clock every effort had failed to procure a further supply of ammunition. Orderlies sent to report our condition and position to Col. Sirwell, commanding our brigade, and to Gen. Negley, commanding our division, and to obtain ammunition, returned without being able to accomplish the object for which they were sent. Our brigade had retired in the direction of Chattanooga.

I was unable to communicate with Gen. Negley, and no general officer was designated to whom I might report. But we continued to hold our position. The cartridge-boxes of our killed and wounded were carefully searched, also the hospitals for any ammunition that might be carried there in the cartridge-boxes of our wounded, and by this means obtained sufficient ammunition to meet the enemy in a third assault upon our position about 5 o'clock.

In this assault the enemy crossed the ravine in our front and carried his banners up the hill to within 20 yards of our line. He was repulsed, and did not retire in good order. During the afternoon a battery had range upon our position, inflicting some damage upon us, also setting fire to the leaves and brush in our front, and the enemy advanced under cover of the smoke. The wounded, under cover of our fire, were removed.

A heavy line of skirmishers continued to annoy us, and a sharp fire upon this line exhausted our ammunition a short time before sundown, at which time the Second Regt. Minnesota Volunteers relieved us. A further search for ammunition resulted in finding one round each for the men composing my command, which had now become very much reduced in numbers.

At this time Col. Van Derveer (who assumed command) ordered me to occupy a position on the extreme right, from which a part of our line had just been driven by the enemy. In obedience to the order we occupied the position and captured 9 prisoners. A sharp fire from the enemy forced us back, but we regained our position and held it until dark, at which time a brigade of four regiments, under Col. Trigg, moved upon us and overwhelmed us.

Simultaneous with this movement of the enemy, which was upon our right flank and rear, we received a fire from the enemy, who had also opened upon our left, which took effect both upon the enemy on our right and ourselves. During the misunderstanding thus occasioned, a part of my men escaped under cover of the night. Col. Van Derveer having withdrawn the troops under his command, my command was unsupported, and both flanks were exposed. Thus we lost our stand of colors, which were made sacred to us by the blood of many comrades who fell in their defense and for their honor on other fields as well as on the unfortunate field of Chickamauga.

Great credit is due the gallant officers and brave men of my command for their soldier-like bearing and good discipline, who stood by their colors and contested the fortunes of the day to the bitter end.

I have the honor to report that my regiment did the last firing upon and offered the latest resistance to the advance of the enemy which he received, and which checked his progress and ended the battle of Chickamauga.

Having been separated from my brigade and division commanders without orders, and not being in communication with any other general officer, I was not informed of the movements of the army, and held my regiment too closely engaged for the nature of the contest at dark.

The reference made to other officers and troops than those under my command is not intended as a report of any part of their conduct on the field, but to describe the position of my own command, yet I would be pleased to note the gallant conduct of the troops I have mentioned.

Our losses were as follows:

Casualties.                               O         EM      T

Killed and died of wounds....             1          47        48

Wounded......................          3         98        101

Prisoners....................              12        104      116

Total....................                    16        249      265

O=Officers. EM=Enlisted men. T=Total.

Rounds of ammunition expended, 43,550.

We moved into action with 22 officers, and 517 men with rifles.

Very respectfully,

A. McMAHAN, Maj. Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

CAMP CHASE, OHIO, April 12, 1864. Maj. Gen. J. S. NEGLEY:

GEN.: As soon as I can obtain the necessary information I will submit a report, as complete as practicable, of the part taken by the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19 and 20, 1863.

To obtain this information I must, under present circumstances (being a paroled prisoner), inquire by letters for several facts which I wish to embody in it.

I will state here, however, that my report of the conduct of my regiment on the field during its participation in the battle referred to is now written, and so soon as the facts above alluded to are obtained will be submitted.

I would be pleased to have my report accompanied by a letter from you, showing why I received no orders from you before night, or in time to prevent so severe a loss of my command on the 20th of September, above referred to. Be assured, general, that the unfortunate officers [and men] of my command now suffering the miseries of imprisonment in the hands of the enemy, as well as myself, will be slow to believe that our old commander, who defended Nashville with such signal ability and who acquitted himself with honor in the battle of Stone's River and Dug Gap, came short in the discharge of his high duty and the expectations of the army and country at the battle of Chickamauga.

It would be useless to call attention to the brave men of my command, who fell in the line of their duty, though fighting against hope, but I would be pleased to communicate to the surviving officers and soldiers of my regiment who fought with me on that memorable occasion that their general appreciates their services and conduct of the field.

As before stated I will submit a report at the earliest possible moment, and would be glad to annex to it a copy of your letter and this.

Be assured of my kindest personal regards.

Very respectfully,

A. McMAHAN, Maj. Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

P. S.--Address me at Perrysburg, Wood County, Ohio.

[Inclosure No. 3.]

HDQRS., Louisville, Ky., April 18, 1864. Maj. A. McMAHAN, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers, Camp Chase:

DEAR SIR: Your letter of 12th instant has my attention.

The intelligence of your safe return is highly gratifying. Please accept my grateful appreciation of the sentiments of personal respect and confidence you have so kindly expressed.

You are doubtless aware that Gen.'s Brannan and Wood indulged in severe and unauthorized reflections upon the division and myself. These reflections received my prompt notice, and were investigated before a court of inquiry, which I requested (as you have or will read), with the most satisfactory results.

During the battle on Sunday, and after my First and Second Brigades were detached from my command, Gen. Brannan applied earnestly for a regiment to support his position. The Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers was sent him for the purpose. Shortly afterward the tide of battle, and the assault of a largely superior force from the enemy, separated my command-which then consisted of the remainder of the Third Brigade and some 50 pieces of artillery-from the troops on my left, and compelled the withdrawal of the artillery to McFarland's for safety.

The Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers remained under the immediate command of Gen. Brannan, and, as I have been informed, covered his retreat after dark.

I have received no official report of the operations of the Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers after it was placed under the command of Gen. Brannan; therefore I am ignorant of the facts, and you know best what orders he gave, if any, and now far he is responsible for the circumstances which occasioned the fearful loss of so many heroic men.

I shall take pleasure in reading your statement of the facts.

Yours, very truly,

JAS. S. NEGLEY, Maj.-Gen.

[Inclosure No. 4.]

PERRYSBURG, OHIO, April 22, 1864. Brig.-Gen. BRANNAN, Comdg. Third Div., 14th A. C., September 20, 1863:

SIR: On the 12th instant I wrote Gen. James S. Negley in regard to the dispositions made of the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry, at the battle of Chickamauga, Sunday afternoon, September 20, 1863.

In reply I received his letter, dated Louisville, Ky., April 18, 1864, from which the following is an extract, viz:

During the battle on Sunday, and after my First and Second Brigades were detached from my command, Gen. Brannan applied earnestly for a regiment to support his position. The Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers was sent to him for the purpose.

* * * * *

The Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers remained under the immediate command of Gen. Brannan, and, as I have been informed, covered his retreat after dark.

I have lately returned from an imprisonment in the hands of the enemy, having been captured at the battle and on the day above referred to, and intend to submit a statement of the conduct of my regiment in said battle as soon as practicable.

My object in writing to you is to learn why I was not informed of the withdrawal of the troops on the Horseshoe Ridge at dark, and why I received no orders from you in regard to the retreat of my own command. Having no ammunition and the troops having been stealthily withdrawn from my flanks I was forced to meet the enemy under serious disadvantages. The interposition of my regiment between the enemy and our retiring forces made their retreat an easy matter after dark, as they were not disturbed in the even tenor of their way toward Chattanooga.

I will be glad to accompany my report-which is now written-by a letter containing such information as may seem proper to you.

Very respectfully,

A. McMAHAN, Maj. Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

P. S.--Post-office: Perrysburg, Wood County, Ohio.

[Inclosure No. 5.]

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Chattanooga, Tenn., May 3, 1864. Maj. A. McMAHAN, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers:

Maj.: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of April 22, 1864, inquiring wherefore you were not informed of the withdrawal of troops from your flanks, nor ordered to withdraw your command of Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers from the Horseshoe Ridge on Sunday night, September 20, at Chickamauga, and would state in reply that at the time of your command being captured no portion of my troops had been withdrawn from the field, nor had orders been issued to that effect.

The surrender of your command was accomplished so quietly as to escape the notice of all but the regiment on your immediate left, the colonel of which promptly reported the fact to me, whereupon I sent the Thirty-fifth Ohio Volunteers to hold the position, which it did successfully against a subsequent attack of the rebels.

The extract quoted from Maj.-Gen. Negley's letter of April 18, 1864, to the effect that the Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers covered my retreat after dark is incorrect, as that duty was performed by the Sixty-eighth and One hundred and first Indiana Volunteer Regt.s, being the only troops who had any ammunition whatever.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. M. BRANNAN, Brig. Gen., Chief of Artillery, 14th Army Corps, Late Comdg. Third Division, 14th Army Corps.

P. S.--The troops on your right belonged to Maj.-Gen. Cranger's corps and were withdrawn before you were captured without my being notified of the fact. My command was not withdrawn for a considerable time after.

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGT. OHIO VOL. INFTY., Chattanooga, Tenn., September 27, 1863.

SIR: In obedience to orders just received, I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the proceedings of my command since leaving Cave Spring, Ala.:

On September 1, 1863, the regiment left Cave Spring, Ala., taking up the line of march at about 7 p. m., Lieut. Col. D. M. Stoughton being in command. Passing through Stevenson we crossed the Tennessee River the same evening, bivouacked on south side of the river until morning, going into bivouac at 1 a. m. of 2d instant.

Took up line of march on morning of 2d instant at 7 o'clock; went into bivouac evening of 2d at 4 o'clock, near Bridgeport, Ala., and near foot of Big Raccoon Mountain.

On 3d we crossed Big Raccoon, the companies being scattered along the mountain to help the teams up. At about 3 p. m., the teams being over, took up line of march and marched 6 miles, going into bivouac at about sundown.

On the 4th instant we marched to foot of the mountain and went into bivouac about 4 p. m.

On the 5th a reconnaissance was made some 2 or 3 miles into the valley to the iron-works, capturing some salt and some tobacco. The troops composing the reconnoitering force were Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Twenty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and one section of Battery G, First Ohio Volunteer Artillery. No enemy was discovered during the day. The regiment went into bivouac at 5 p. m. Company D being detached on picket, did not rejoin the command until next day.

At daylight on the 6th the command was marched back to foot of Big Raccoon for knapsacks. After getting knapsacks started back and marched until about 6 p. m., when we went into bivouac. On 7th we marched about 4 miles and reached the foot of Lookout Mountain.

On 8th we crossed Lookout; the companies were scattered along the mountain to assist the train up. The train was got over at 10 p. m., when we marched to the top and went into bivouac.

On the 9th we marched to the foot of the mountain and went into bivouac about 4 p. m.

On the 10th we moved from our position at the foot of Lookout and advanced slowly toward Pigeon Gap, Twenty-first being in advance, Companies F and C being deployed as skirmishers, light skirmishing being the order of the day. We reached a hill that evening within a mile or mile and one-half of the Gap. At 3 a. m. we changed position going about three-quarters of a mile to the rear of the hill occupied the evening before, the regiment being formed in the edge of a dense wood, completely concealing it from the enemy.

At 6 a. m. of the 11th we changed position a short distance to the left. We lay there until 10 a. m., when we were moved to the rear to protect the wagon train from some rebel cavalry who were reported about to attack it. While lying here we threw up a slight breastwork of rails, logs, &c. At 3 p. m. we were ordered back still farther, the corps being compelled to fall back. We marched about 2 miles to the rear and took up position in a wood on the left as support to Battery G, in double column on the center closed en masse. The artillery were firing quite rapidly, and in about half an hour we were moved still farther to the rear, marching by the left flank. Shortly after we were deployed in line of battle. After a short time we again commenced the retrograde movement, marching by the right of companies about 4 miles. At 9 p. m. we took position on the brow of a hill and went into bivouac.

Moved our position slightly on morning of 12th and formed line of battle; stacked arms.

On 12th and 13th we lay in the same position taken up the morning of the 12th.

On 14th changed position to the right about three-quarters of a mile. We lay in that position until the 17th, when we took up the line of march at 7 a. m. We marched to Chickamauga Creek and went into bivouac on its banks that night about dark.

On 18th took up line of march at 3 p. m., marched 5 miles to the front and got into bivouac after dark. We lay there about three hours, when we were ordered back to the Chickamauga again. We reached the creek, threw out pickets, and went into bivouac by 4 a. m. of 19th. At daylight we threw out pickets and marched back a mile, where we took position as support for Battery G; threw up breastworks of logs and stones. Lay there until 3 p. m., when we were again marched up to the front about 5 miles. Heavy fighting had been going on all day on our left. About 6 p. m. reached the battle-field, formed line of battle, and marched forward in a strip of woods about a mile. Just after entering the woods we were saluted by a volley of about ten or twelve guns. We returned the fire, when the enemy threw down their arms and fled. Lay in line of battle all night, every man on the alert. We lost 3 men wounded and 2 killed on 19th.

Next morning (20th) we were moved from our position about 9 a. m. over to he left, the enemy having made a spirited attack on that point. After changing position several times we were finally put in position on the brow of a hill as support to a battery belonging to Gen. Brannan's division. At about 11.30 a. m. the enemy advanced on us in heavy force. We, however, held our ground until 3 p. m., when some of the Reserve Corps came up and relieved us, charging down the hill and driving the enemy in gallant style. They kept the enemy at bay for about one hour, when they fell back and we were again engaged with the enemy. In the meantime we had thrown up a slight breastwork of logs and stone, behind which we fought until about 5 p. m., when we were relieved by some of Gen. Brannan's division. Our ammunition was exhausted, and we could not procure any more. At about half past 5 p. m. the enemy sent up messengers to Brannan's men stating that some of them were waiting for them (our men) to cease firing in order to give themselves (i. e., the enemy) up. The firing ceased and the enemy came up, but instead of a giving themselves up they fired a volley and charged up the hill, gaining possession of it entirely. The commanding officer of Brannan's troops asked that the Twenty-first should charge up and retake the hill. After some delay one round of ammunition was procured per man from the dead and wounded. With this one round in our guns, we charged up the hill. We delivered our volley, but the enemy was in too large force, and we were forced back. Twice again, with no ammunition, we charged, with the vain hope of retaking the hill. But we were repulsed. In the meantime Brannan's men were reforming and we lay down to wait until they reorganized, intending to make one grand charge, and if possible retake the hill. While we were waiting a column was observed filing in a small ravine on our right flank. Supposing they were our men (they being dressed in blue jeans) we took no notice of them until they formed line of battle facing toward us. They formed and commenced advancing on us; when asked who they were, said they were "Jeff. Davis' men;" supposed they were some of J. C. Davis' division. When they were within a few rods of us they called upon us to "surrender," "lay down," &c. A portion of the men jumped up to retreat toward Gen. Brannan's division, when they poured in a heavy volley, wounding and killing a great many. A few of the men of the Twenty-first who escaped formed, and were led to Rossville by Col. Walker, of the Thirty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

On the morning of the 21st we collected all that could be found, reported to Col. Sirwell, our brigade commander, and took position on the left of the Seventy-eighth Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteers.

On the 21st, together with the rest of the brigade, we took up position on a hill near Rossville, where we lay until about 12 m., when we were withdrawn and marched to Chattanooga, reaching our present camp on the 22d. Since then we have done nothing but work on the fort, &c.

Of the officers and men of this command I have only to say that they have done their duty. We ask no higher praise than that. Every men fought as if the fate of the nation rested on his individual efforts. Lieut. Col. D. M. Stoughton was wounded about 3.30 p. m. on the 20th. A cooler, braver, or more patriotic officer than he never drew sword.

You will see by the official report of killed, wounded, and missing that we lost some 272 officers and men.* I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES H. VANTINE, Capt. Co. I, Comdg. 21st Ohio Vol. Infantry.

Capt. CHAS B. GILLESPIE, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen., Third Brigade.

On the night of September 20, 1863, 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. On November 25, 1863, the 21st participated in the Battle of Missionary Ridge. In this engagement, Union forces drove the enemy soldiers from the high ground overlooking Chattanooga, bringing the Chattanooga Campaign to a successful conclusion for the North.

The 21st remained encamped at Chattanooga for the remainder of 1863 and also for the first four months of 1864. In January 1864, many of the regiment's members reenlisted in the Union military. The re-enlistees received a thirty-day furlough to their homes in Ohio, before returning to Chattanooga and advancing to Ringgold, Georgia on March 6, 1864.

On May 7, 1864, the 21st 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 Buzzard's Roost, Resaca, New Hope Church, Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, Chattahoochie River, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta, and Jonesborough. The Union military occupied Atlanta on September 2, 1864, bringing the campaign to a victorious conclusion for the North. During the campaign, the 21st had seven officers and 151 enlisted men killed or wounded. The 21st's commanding officer issued the following reports regarding the campaign:

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST OHIO INFANTRY VOLS. In the Field, Ga., July 10, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report:

Soon after occupying the picket-line yesterday morning, in obedience to orders, I formed my regiment to attack the enemy. The rifle-pits of the enemy on our right of the railroad were soon carried. The troops on our left failed to support my command, and we suffered from a flank fire from the enemy in their works on the left of the road. I sent Capt. S. F. Cheney with four companies to dislodge the enemy on the left of the road, which was promptly accomplished. Support still failed to arrive, and we were forced to abandon the works on the left of the road. We held the works on the right of the road. At 4 o'clock this morning the skirmishers, under command of Capt. Daniel Lewis, advanced and occupied the stockade and trenches of the enemy, and in a short time our lines advanced to the Chattahoochee River and occupied the railroad bridge. Adjt. E. L. Baird is entitled to credit for his efficient aid in our affair of yesterday.

I moved to the front with 12 officers and 382 men. Our loss is follows: Killed--enlisted men, 14. Wounded--commissioned officers, 2; enlisted men, 37. Missing--commissioned officers, 1; enlisted men, 1. Total, 55. We captured 17 prisoners.

A. McMAHAN, Maj., Cmdg.

Lieut. B. P. DEWEY, A. D. C. and A. A. A. G., 3d Brig., 1st Div., 14th A. C.

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGT. OHIO INFTY. VOLS., Atlanta, Ga., September 9, 1864.

SIR: In obedience to orders, I have the honor to report the operations of the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Infantry Volunteers, under my command, in the Georgia campaign, to the morning of 2d of September, 1864:

The regiment moved, under command of Col. James M. Neibling, from Ringgold, Ga., May 7, and he continued to command it until the morning of May 28, when he was severely wounded, and the command devolved upon myself. Not being present the first sixteen days of the campaign, I cannot mention definitely the operations for that time. The regiment, however, participated in the affair at Buzzard Roost, and, subsequently, in the affair at Resaca. The casualties in this regiment, to the time of my taking command, are 1 enlisted man killed and 14 enlisted men wounded in action. May 31, Lieut. John W. Berry, having his company (K) deployed as skirmishers, in an attempt to regain a hill which was abandoned, without a fight, on the evening of 27th before, at Pumpkin Vine Creek, lost 6 men killed and 2 wounded. This little dash gave us the crest of a hill which commanded the position of the enemy in our front, which position was held by this regiment until the enemy withdrew. The firing on both sides continued incessantly between the skirmishers and pickets. It would make this report too voluminous to detail the numerous skirmishes and firings, earth-works built and marches performed, by this regiment during the campaign; it has written its history in this respect very indelibly from Ringgold to Jonesborough, Ga., during a period of three months and twenty days of restless vigilance. For twelve days together it occupied the front line at Bald Knob before Kenesaw Mountain, sustaining a loss of 1 officer, the gallant Lieut. Dillworth, killed, and 11 men killed and wounded. The artillery practice at this position was the most desperate I have witnessed. Near Vining's Station, Ga., on the 9th of July, 1864, the regiment had a most spirited affair with two regiments of the enemy (the Fourth Mississippi and Fifty-fourth [?] Louisiana), driving them out of their rifle-pits into their main works, killing and wounding a number, and capturing 17 prisoners and their ordnance stores. My regiment commenced the attack with 12 officers and 382 enlisted men. Our loss was 15 enlisted men killed and 2 officers and 37 enlisted men wounded, and 1 officer missing. The regiment continued to hold the captured works and to annoy the enemy in his main works. During the night he abandoned his whole line north of the Chattahoochee, and by 4 a. m. 10th the skirmish line, under Capt. Daniel Lewis, advanced, and in a short time reached the river. In this affair no other troops than my own regiment were engaged on our side, and it was a fair specimen of the tenacious fighting qualities displayed on other occasions by the gallant officers and brave men composing this command. On the 21st of July, while marching in line of battle, the gallant Capt. Lewis (above named) was killed. In the operations before Atlanta the regiment was under the enemy's fire every day, and though no general battle was delivered by either side along our immediate front, our list of casualties became large from the almost incessant shelling and musketry of the enemy. In the battle before Jonesborough, September 1 instant, which resulted so gloriously to our arms, this regiment was again engaged. Charging through a dense brush thicket, under a murderous fire from the enemy, losing 5 enlisted men killed, 30 enlisted men wounded, and 1 enlisted man missing; and captured 1 rebel adjutant, 6 men, and 24 stand of arms. We took prisoners as follows: July 9, 18 privates, Vining's Station; July 10, 5 privates, Vining's Station; July 20, 1 private, Nancy's Creek; July 22, 2 privates, Peach Tree Creek; September 1, 1 officer, 6 privates, Jonesborough, Ga. Total, 33. Total stand of arms captured, 54. Our casualties are: Officers--killed, 2 ; wounded, 5; missing, 1. Privates--killed, 32; wounded, 119; missing, 1. Total, 160. A list of the casualties accompanies this report.

I here desire to mention the never-failing gallantry of Adjt. E. L. Baird, whose efficient and under all circumstances during the campaign greatly contributed to the success which has attended this regiment in every operation. Sergt. Maj. Earl W. Merry displayed courage and coolness in action on all occasions worthy of emulation. He lost his foot July 20.

Respectfully submitted.

A. McMAHAN, Lieut. Col., Comdg. Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Infty. Vols.

Capt. L. E. HICKS, A. A. A. G., Third Brig., First Div., 14th Army Corps.

Following the Atlanta Campaign, the 21st encamped at Atlanta 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 Atlanta on November 15, 1864.

On November 16, 1864, the 21st 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 limited combat, only engaging the enemy briefly at Lumpkin Station on the Augusta and Savannah Railroad, 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 21st entering camp in the city. The 21st's commanding officer issued the following report regarding the campaign:

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGT. OHIO INFANTRY VOLS., Savannah, Ga., December 30, 1864.

SIR: In compliance with orders dated December 29, 1864, headquarters Third Brigade, First Division, Fourteenth Army Corps, I have the honor to report the operations of the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Infantry Volunteers, under my command, from the 23d day of September, 1864, to the 21st day of December, 1864:

After the defeat of the enemy before Jonesborough, Ga., September 1, 1864, my command returned to Atlanta and went into camp on the 8th. I remained in camp until the morning of October 3, when it moved with its brigade upon the campaign which resulted in the fall of Savannah on the 21st of the present month. I estimate the distance marched during this time to be at least 630 miles. It was difficult to ascertain the exact distance marched over by-roads and through the country. The regiment exchanged shots with a squad of the enemy on the 4th day of December, near Lumpkin's Station, without any result except to check their attempt to annoy the rear of our column. From the 12th to the night of the 20th of December the pickets of my regiment were engaged with those of the enemy before Savannah. During this campaign the regiment destroyed three miles of railroad, and this was the only structure destroyed by my command. At least 8,000 rations were used by the men from the products of the country, which were necessary in addition to subsistence furnished by the commissary department, but the meat used, which was drawn from the country, was not less than 15,000 rations. This estimate does not include the great waste of meat and other foraged subsistence which could not be transported or was abandoned by the men each morning. I estimate the sores wasted or abandoned equal to the amount used. Twenty-one horses and mules attached to the regiment were supplied with forage taken from the country for twenty days. Twelve negroes accompanied the regiment to Savannah, having joined us on the march. Twelve horses and 13 mules were captured, but many of them were comparatively worthless. Six prisoners of war were captured and turned over to provost-marshal Third Brigade, First Division, Fourteenth Army Corps. The regiment lost 1 enlisted man wounded and 10 enlisted men were captured; 6 enlisted men were either killed or captured straggling. My regiment entered the city of Savannah at 9 a. m. December 21, 1864.

Respectfully submitted.

A. MCMAHAN, Lieut.-Col., Cmdg.

Lieut. L. G. BODIE, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., 3d Brig., 1st Div., 14th Army Corps.

In late January 1865, the 21st 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 Rocky Mount. In early March 1865, the 21st entered North Carolina, arriving at Fayetteville in the middle of the month. The regiment engaged enemy forces at Averysboro and also 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 and entering camp at Martha's Vineyard, North Carolina. The 21st's commanding officer issued the following report regarding the Carolinas Campaign,

HDQRS. TWENTY-FIRST REGT. OHIO INFTY. VOLS., Goldsborough, N. C., March 24, 1865.

SIR: In compliance with orders I have the honor to report the operations of the Twenty-first Regt. Ohio Infantry Volunteer from the 20th day of January, 1865, to the 23d day of March, 1865.

The regiment moved, under command of Lieut. Col. A. McMahan, from Savannah, Ga., January 20, and remained under his command until March 19, at which time he assumed command of the Third Brigade, First Division, Fourteenth Army Corps.

The only engagement in which the regiment took part during the campaign occurred on the 19th day of March, at [Bentonville]. In this engagement our loss was 1 enlisted man killed, 1 commissioned officer and 2 enlisted men wounded, and 10 enlisted men missing.

Two-thirds of a mile of railroad was destroyed by the regiment during the campaign. No other structures were destroyed by the regiment. The whole amount of subsistence drawn from the country cannot be correctly estimated, but in cannot fall short of 10,000 rations complete. Eleven horses and mules belonging to the regiment were supplied with forage taken from the country for forty-five days. Twenty-nine mules were captured, most of them being serviceable. Twenty-one Confederate prisoners were captured by the regiment during the campaign. There enlisted men were killed or captured straggling.

The regiment reached Goldsborough, N. C., March 23, 1865, having marched nearly 500 miles.

The following is a list of casualties occurring during the campaign. Commissioned officers, wounded, 1; enlisted men, killed 1; wounded, 2; missing in action, 10; killed or captured straggling, 3.

Respectfully submitted.

S. F. CHENEY, Capt., Cmdg. Twenty-first Ohio Volunteers.

Lieut. L. G. BODIE, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Following the surrender of General Joseph Johnston's Confederate army in late April 1865, the 21st marched to Washington, DC, where the organization participated in the Grand Review on May 24, 1865. In early June 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 25, 1865, the 21st mustered out of service at Louisville. The regiment then proceeded to Columbus, Ohio, where officials discharged the unit's members, allowing the men to return to their homes, on July 28, 1865.

During the 21st Ohio's term of service, 172 men, including six officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional 220 men, including two officers, died from disease or accidents.

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"21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years Service)," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 15 Oct 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1256>

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"21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years Service)." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved October 15, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=1256

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