8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years Service) (1861-1864)

Also Known As: Eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Years Service)

Updated: February 19, 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 8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The regiment mustered into service at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 22, 25, and 26, 1861. The 8th Regiment had previously organized for three months service, but officials requested that the regiment's members reenlist for three years service. Those soldiers that did reenlist became the nucleus of the new 8th Ohio.

On July 9, 1861, the 8th Ohio departed Camp Dennison for western Virginia, arriving at West Union, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia) three days later. The regiment remained in the Alleghany Mountains and also along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for the next several weeks, performing garrison duty. During this time, the organization's members suffered severely from typhoid fever, with as many as three hundred men in the hospital at one time. On September 24, 1861, the 8th participated in an attack on Romney in present-day West Virginia, having several men killed or wounded. One month later, the regiment again attacked Confederate forces at Romney, driving the Southerners from the town. The 8th then entered camp in this community.

On January 12, 1862, the 8th joined an expedition against Blue's Gap, in present-day West Virginia, driving the enemy from this location. After this assault, the regiment entered camp at Patterson's Creek and in early February, encamped at Pawpaw Tunnel, with both locations being communities in modern-day West Virginia. On February 14, 1862, the 8th participated in a fight at Bloomey Gap.

In early March 1862, the 8th advanced into the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia and embarked upon the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. The regiment participated in a fight with Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson's infantrymen at Cedar Creek, Virginia and Strasburg, Virginia on March 18 and 19, 1862, respectively. On March 22, 1862, Jackson's cavalry, under the command of General Turner Ashby, attacked a Northern force, including the 8th, at Winchester, Virginia, with the Union soldiers successfully defending the town. On the following day, the Battle of Winchester occurred. The 8th's Companies C, E, D, and H participated in the battle, primarily serving on the Union right as skirmishers and losing one-fourth of the men engaged killed or wounded. During the rest of March, April, and the first part of May 1862, the regiment remained in the Shenandoah Valley, skirmishing with Jackson's troops at Woodstock, Mount Jackson, Edinburgh, and New Market.

On May 12, 1862, the 8th, with the remainder of its division, departed New Market for Fredericksburg, Virginia. In the meantime, "Stonewall" Jackson had received reinforcements, prompting officials to order the 8th's division back to the Shenandoah Valley. On May 30, 1862, the regiment retook Front Royal, Virginia from the Confederates and captured several prisoners, including Southern spy Belle Boyd.

By late June 1862, the 8th had arrived at Alexandria, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, DC. Officials ordered the First and Second Brigades of the regiment's division, including the 8th, to the Peninsula in Virginia to reinforce the Army of the Potomac, which was advancing on Richmond. The regiment arrived at Harrison's Landing, Virginia on July 1, 1862 and skirmished with enemy forces in the Chickahominy swamps on July 3 and 4. The 8th remained encamped at Harrison's Landing until August 16, 1862, when the organization advanced to Malvern Hill, Virginia, serving as the Army of the Potomac's rearguard as the force evacuated this location. In this retreat, the regiment marched through the Virginia towns of Yorktown and Newport News. At this last community, the 8th boarded steamers and returned to Alexandria, reaching this city on August 28, 1862.

On August 30, 1862, the 8th advanced to Centerville, Virginia, before joining the Army of Virginia's and the Army of the Potomac's retreat from the Battle of Bull Run II. On August 31, the regiment marched through Fairfax Court House and Germantown, where a brief skirmish with enemy forces occurred. After this engagement, the organization entered camp at Chain Bridge, along the Potomac River. In early September 1862, the 8th crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, when the organization joined the Army of the Potomac's pursuit of the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia, which had launched an invasion of the state. The Union force engaged the enemy at the Battle of South Mountain (September 14, 1862), but the 8th did not engage the enemy. Following this Union victory, the regiment continued upon the Northern pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia and skirmished with enemy forces at Boonsboro and Readyville. On September 17, 1862, the Northern and Southern armies fought the Battle of Antietam. The 8th served in the center of the Union line, helping to drive back a portion of the Confederate line. After this engagement, the regiment's commanding officer issued the following report:

ON THE FIELD, NEAR ANTIETAM CREEK, MD., September 18, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the killed and wounded of the Eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, and of the part taken by the regiment in the battle, on this field, of yesterday:

We left our bivouac on the east side of the creek with your brigade early on the morning of the 17th, and, moving in our proper position in the line, forded Antietam Creek and deployed in line of battle on the hills, our position being to the left of the Fourteenth Indiana. So soon as the line was formed, by your order we moved directly to the front and upon the enemy, who appeared to be masked behind fences, corn-fields, and in ditches on the crests of a series of ridges. We gained the position assigned us under a perfect storm of the enemy's balls and shell, where, in connection with the other regiments of your brigade and French's division, we maintained, from 9 o'clock a. m. until near 1 p. m., our position under a most sanguinary fire of musketry and shell. The enemy were within 20 rods of our position in strong force, and were repeatedly re-enforced during the action, and had, besides, the advantage of considerable cover at points very near us. The position of the Fourteenth Indiana and the Eighth Ohio was greatly exposed, and the battle raged along our lines with such fury as to threaten our annihilation, but not a man faltered or fell back. Our ammunition being exhausted, the cartridge-boxes of the dead and wounded were rifled to supply our arms.

The enemy were finally driven from our front, but the lines to the right of the Fourteenth Indiana giving way, the enemy undertook to turn that flank, but the Fourteenth Indiana and Eighth Ohio rapidly and gallantly changed their front, and drove the enemy back with great slaughter. At this time, other troops going to the front, by your order I brought off the Eighth to replenish its ammunition, and then took position with the brigade to the right. We were not again engaged during the day, but were constantly annoyed, and suffered some from the enemy's shell, which continued to fall among us until dark.

During the entire engagement my officers and men behaved with the utmost bravery and gallantry; not a man gave way. Our colors received seventeen balls, but were never once depressed during the storm of battle. Maj. Winslow and Lieut. David Lewis, acting adjutant, were constantly at their posts, and performed their whole duty. All my officers and men who were present deserve especial mention, but as they fought under your own eye it is unnecessary now. Our record of losses is a long and sad one. We went into action with 17 officers and 324 men, of whom 2 officers were killed and 7 wounded. Of the noncommissioned officers and privates, 30 were killed and 122 wounded, and 5 missing, probably killed. Appended hereto is a list of the killed and wounded, name and company; also the name of Corpl. W. W. Larner, killed the day previous.

I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,

FRANKLIN SAWYER, Lieut.-Col. Eighth Ohio Volunteers, Commanding.

Brig. Gen. NATHAN KIMBALL, Commanding First Brigade.

Following the Union victory at Antietam, the 8th entered camp at Bolivar Heights, Maryland. On October 1, 1862, the regiment across the Potomac River to Leesburg, Virginia and then advanced with the Army of the Potomac through the Virginia communities of Falmouth, Hulltown, Snicker's Gap, and United States Ford, skirmishing with enemy forces at each of these locations. The Army of the Potomac, including the 8th, attacked the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg, Virginia (December 11-15, 1862). On December 13, the regiment formed part of the Union right and assaulted the Confederate left. In this assault, the 8th, along with the 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry and the 1st Regiment Delaware Infantry, drove back the first line of Confederate defenders. Due to heavy enemy fire, additional Union units could not reach this position, bringing the advance to an end. The three Northern regiments waited until nightfall to withdraw. In this attack, the 8th lost thirty-seven men killed or wounded.

Following the Union defeat at Fredericksburg, the 8th entered camp on the north side of the Rappahannock River. On April 28, 1863, the regiment broke camp and joined the Army of the Potomac's advance to Chancellorsville, Virginia. From April 30 to May 6, 1863, the Battle of Chancellorsville raged. The 8th engaged the enemy throughout the battle, losing only two men killed and eleven more soldiers wounded. After this engagement, the regiment's commanding officer issued the following report:

CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., May 10, 1863.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken in the recent campaign across the Rappahannock by the Eighth Ohio Volunteers:

We broke up camp on the morning of April 28, and, with the brigade, marched to near the United States Ford, where we bivouacked for the night, and where we remained until Thursday morning, when my regiment was ordered out to picket three points on the river. The enemy appeared to have left, and our pontoons were put down, and, about 3 o'clock, the Eighth Regiment, preceded by a company of the Tenth Regulars, crossed the bridge, and, forming in line of skirmishers, passed through a thick wood, and came upon a pontoon train on the road from Chancellorsville to the ford. Here we halted, and were joined by the balance of the brigade, when we marched to near Chancellorsville, where we bivouacked for the night.

The next day (Friday), we were moved out past Chancellorsville, but returned before night, and formed in line of battle near a wood, where we remained during the night.

On Saturday, our front was changed, looking toward the river, and rifle-pits constructed along our line. Toward evening, our position was shelled by the rebels pretty vigorously, and my regiment was moved to the left of our line, where it remained during the night.

Early on Sunday morning, I was ordered by Col. S. S. Carroll to support a battery near a frame house on the road, and near where Gen.'s Hooker, French, Meade, and other officers had their headquarters. My men were thrown into barns, outbuildings, and behind temporary breastworks, trees, &c., and which position we held something over on hour, when we were withdrawn, and united with the brigade. Soon after, I had orders to send Maj. Winslow, with the right wing, into the wood south of the road, as skirmishers, where he was posted for nearly an hour, when he was withdrawn by order of Col. Carroll, and the regiment men united to the brigade, when we were ordered to take a position on a line nearly at right angles with the road, and where Gen. Sykes had been posted the day before. This line we fortified by rifle-pits and breastworks, and held until Wednesday morning, when we were, at about 3 o'clock, withdrawn to this side of the river, and returned to the camp occupied by us before the movement.

During the days of Saturday and Sunday we were within reach of the enemy's shells, and on Sunday 7 of my men were struck, but none very dangerously hurt. My horse was also struck with a fragment of a shell and seriously injured.

On Monday, we were subjected to occasional shots from the enemy's sharpshooters, in the trees in our front, and on Tuesday morning, about 10 o'clock, our pickets were driven in, but Capt. Reid, of Company D, reformed them, and drove the enemy back to his works, losing 1 man killed and 1 wounded; 2 others were also wounded in our rifle-pits. I subjoin a list of casualties.

All my officers and men behaved with great courage and coolness. Among the officers, I can mentioned Maj. Winslow, Lieut. O. G. Daniels, acting adjutant, Capt.'s Reid, Kinny, Lewis, Pierce, Gregg, Craig, Butterfield, and Nickerson as particularly conspicuous and attentive to their duties. My loss on Sunday was 7 wounded, and on Tuesday 1 private killed (Company D) and 3 wounded.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

FRANKLIN SAWYER, Lieut.-Col. Eighth Ohio, Cmdg.

Lieut. J. G. REID, A. A. A. G., 1st Brig., 3d Div.

During May and June 1863, the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia launched an invasion through western Virginia into Maryland and Pennsylvania. On July 1, 1863, the Union's Army of the Potomac engaged the enemy army at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863), the 8th seized a knoll beyond the Emmetsburg Road that Confederate sharpshooters had utilized to harass the Union line. The regiment held this advanced position for the remainder of the battle, repulsing multiple enemy attacks. In the entire engagement, the organization had 102 men killed or wounded. After this battle, the regiment's commanding officer issued the following reports:

On the Field, near Gettysburg, Pa., July 5, 1863.

Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Eighth Regt. Ohio Volunteers during the late battle near this place:

The Eighth Regt. occupied the right of the brigade, and participated in the several maneuvers and changes of position by the brigade until about 4 p. m. of the 2d instant, when I received an order from Col. S. S. Carroll, U. S. Army, commanding brigade, to move my regiment forward to the picket line in front of our position and on the left of the pickets of the Eleventh Corps. This was at once executed, the regiment moving forward gallantly under a smart fire of the enemy's pickets and sharpshooters. I received a further order from Col. Carroll to throw forward four companies as an advanced line, and to support them with the balance of the regiment, and to hold my line to the last man.

The enemy did not advance upon us in force until about 4 p. m. of the 3d, and our position was maintained during the twenty-four hours without any relief, although we had suffered severely from the enemy's pickets, sharpshooters, and shell, 4 of my men having been killed, and 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, the sergeant-major, and 38 men wounded up to noon of the 3d.

Soon after 2 p. m. the enemy opened a terrific fire from sixty-four pieces of artillery, in a semicircle which inclosed my position. This was replied to by our batteries, and we suffered severely under the fire for nearly two hours.

This artillery duel was followed by an immediate advance of two divisions of the enemy's infantry, which advanced at the first in three long lines of battle, but ployed into close column by division as they advanced, excepting, perhaps, a regiment on each flank. The column directed itself upon our battery to my left, and the line on the left flank of the column directly upon my position. I advanced my reserve to the picket front, and as the rebel line came within about 100 yards, we poured in a well-directed fire, which broke the rebel line, and it soon fled in the wildest confusion.

Being relieved from this direction, I changed front forward on the left company, thus presenting our front to the left flank of the advancing rebel column. Our fire was poured into their flank with terrible effect for a few minutes before the Second Brigade at the battery opened, but almost instantly on the fire from the front, together with the concentrated fire from our batteries, the whole mass gave way, some fleeing to the front, some to the rear, and some through our lines, until the whole plain was covered with unarmed rebels, waving coats, hats, and handkerchiefs in token of a wish to surrender.

The Eighth pressed forward, capturing a large number of prisoners (about 200) and 3 stand of colors; one marked Thirty-fourth North Carolina and one Thirty-eighth Virginia were captured by Sergt. Daniel Miller, of Company G, and have been turned over, by order of Col. Carroll, to the division commander. One captured by Private James Richmond, of Company F, was taken from him on the field by a staff officer of our army, but whose name is unknown.

During this time we were under a terrific fire from the rebel batteries and infantry, and my loss in all on both days is 101 killed and wounded and 1 missing, and includes 4 captains wounded, 1 first lieutenant killed and 1 wounded, 4 second lieutenants wounded, the sergeant-major wounded, 2 orderly sergeants killed and 4 wounded, 2 duty sergeants killed and 6 wounded, 2 color corporals wounded, 1 corporal killed and 8 wounded, 9 privates killed on the field (4 since died), 52 wounded, and 1 missing.

My officers and men behaved with the utmost courage and bravery, and have contributed all that could be asked of any men to the glorious results of that day.

I desire to mention especially Capt. William Kenny, who acted as major, and Adjt. John W. De Puy, who behaved with great gallantry, and rendered me every assistance. Capt.'s [John] Reid, Miller, Pierce, and Nickerson were all wounded while gallantly leading their companies, Capt. Nickerson, it is feared, mortally, while Capt. Lewis, Lieut.'s O'Reilly, Farnum, Galwey, Travis, and Hysung, who were in command of companies, deserve the highest praise and credit. I have to lament the death of Lieut. Hayden, who fell while cheering his men to the conflict.

I would also mention especially the color sergeants, [James] Conlan and [Romeo W.] Foster, who bore our colors (which were often struck) gallantly to the front during the whole of the fierce conflict.

A list of the killed and wounded has already been forwarded, but several have since died, making a revised list necessary, which will be forwarded as soon as possible.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

FRANKLIN SAWYER, Lieut.-Col., Comdg.

Lieut. J. G. Reid, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., 1st Brig., 3d Div., 2d Corps.

Camp, Provost Guard, 1st Brig., 3d Div., 2d Corps, July 7, 1863.

Sir: Having been detailed as commander of the provost guard of the First Brigade, I have the honor to submit the following report of the duties performed and the part taken by my detachment previous to and during the engagement with the enemy at Gettysburg, and also from that time to the present date:

The detachment consisted of 1 captain, 1 second lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 3 corporals, and 30 privates. Agreeably to order, they entered upon the duty assigned to them, in the rear of the brigade on the 1st instant, in keeping up stragglers, &c. On the 3d instant, there as placed in my custody 102 Confederate prisoners, captured by the First Brigade, Third Division, Second Corps, the whole of whom were turned over by me to different provost-marshals.

Jacob Sheets, of Company I, Fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, was killed in the engagement on the 2d instant; Simon Main, Company F, Seventh [West] Virginia, wounded in the leg by a piece of shell, and Oscar M. Hall, Company H, Fourteenth Indiana, wounded in the hand by a gunshot.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,

A. T. CRAIG, Capt., Comdg. Provost Guard, 1st Brig., 3d Div., 2d Corps.

Lieut. J. G. Reid, Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the 8th advanced into Virginia, encamping along the Rapidan River. In late August 1863, the regiment boarded steamers at Alexandria, Virginia and sailed to New York, New York, to help authorities to quash draft riots raging in the city. By early September 1863, the 8th rejoined the Army of the Potomac at Culpepper Court House, Virginia. On October 10, 1863, the regiment joined a retrograde movement to Centerville, Virginia, engaging enemy forces at Auburn and Bristoe Station. After this last engagement, the regiment's commanding officer issued the following report:

HEADQUARTERS EIGHTH REGIMENT OHIO VOLUNTEERS, October 18, 1863.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the Eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteers at and near Bristoe Station, on the evening of October 14:

The regiment occupied the left center of the brigade, and was formed in line with the brigade in support of Colonel Brooke's brigade, between the railroad track and a thick pine wood to the south of the track, soon after our forces were attacked in our advance, which position we maintained until near 10 o'clock in the evening, when, the enemy having been driven back, we withdrew with the brigade. The enemy's advance was near us at times, and though not immediately attacked, we were within his range of fire. My loss was.

The officers and men behaved well throughout the engagement.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

FRANKLIN SAWYER, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding.

Lieut. J. G. REID, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

On November 27, 28, and 29, 1863, the 8th fought in the Battles of Robinson's Cross Roads, Locust Grove, and Mine Run, serving as skirmishers in each engagement. After these battles, the 8th's commanding officer issued the following report:

CAMP NEAR MOUNTAIN RUN, Culpeper County, Va., December 3, 1863.

SIR: Pursuant to circular of this date, I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteers in the late movement of this army:

No especial duty was assigned to the regiment until we arrived near Robertson's Cross-Roads, when, evidences of the enemy appearing, this regiment was ordered to equalize its companies in six companies, to move to the right-hand side of the road, to deploy all the regiment except two companies as skirmishers, and to move forward, dressing on a body of sharpshooters, who were to move up the road, in command of Captain Jones, Fourth Ohio.

We advanced, under this order, over some farm lands for about half a mile, when we came to a dense wood, where the regiment was halted by the command of Colonel Carroll, commanding brigade, after advancing in the wood a few yards for cover. Our skirmish line was dressed up and some temporary defenses of rails made, as the enemy appeared to be in some force, and firing constantly upon our skirmishers. My whole reserve prior to making the defenses had been moved to the right of the line, as the enemy appeared on that flank, but was withdrawn after General Webb advanced and joined our line on that flank.

We maintained the above position until about 2 p.m., when we were ordered to advance through the woods, dressing to the left, which we did in good order, although the enemy stubbornly disputed the ground, and formed our line as directed by Lieutenant Sheppard, aide-de-camp to Colonel Carroll. This line we held until relieved by the Fourth Ohio, about 8 o'clock in the evening. During the whole time picket firing on both sides was constantly kept up, and at one time the enemy took advantage of a gap made between us and General Webb's line by our advance (his line remaining) and we received a volley from our right and rear, which for a few moments created some confusion in so changing our line as to successfully meet the enemy, and this confusion was increased by the fact that some of the enemy had on our overcoats, and some of our officers believed it was General Webb's line advancing. I sent Captain Reid to the right with his company, and Colonel Carroll and some of his staff coming on the field at that time, our line soon reformed, pushing the rebels back. Just at sunset they again tried the same maneuver, but finding our line stubbornly resisting them, fell back without giving us much trouble.

Major Winslow commanded the skirmish line, which duty he performed well. The officers and men behaved with their usual bravery and courage.

Our loss was 1 killed and 8 wounded, a nominal list of which has already been forwarded.

Our movements after this evening were with the brigade, being in support of the skirmish line on Saturday and Saturday night, and from Sunday morning until our arrival in this camp, we were not again under fire or called upon for any especial duties.

During the march the conduct of the men was especially commendable. There was no straggling, and all cheerfully performed their duties.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

FRANKLIN SAWYER, Lieutenant-Colonel Eighth Ohio Volunteers, Comdg.

Lieut. J. G. REID, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

The 8th next entered camp along the Rapidan River. On February 6, 1864, the 8th crossed the river and engaged an enemy force at the Battle of Morton's Ford, before returning to camp.

On May 3, 1864, the 8th joined the Army of the Potomac's Overland Campaign. This mission's primary goal was the surrender of the Confederacy's Army of Northern Virginia. On May 5, the regiment participated in the Battle of the Wilderness, serving on the Union left, before moving to the right and recapturing a Union battery that Confederate soldiers had seized earlier in the engagement. The organization fought in the duration of the battle, which ended in a standoff on May 7, 1864.

Despite this draw, the Union's Army of the Potomac continued to advance southward, engaging the Army of Northern Virginia at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia (May 8-21, 1864). On May 10, 12, 13, and 14, the 8th Ohio assaulted the Confederate position, being repulsed each time. The regiment lost a combined sixty men killed or wounded in this entire battle. The 8th next participated in the Battle of North Anna (May 23-26, 1864), where the organization successfully defended a ford. The 8th also fought in the Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia (May 31-June 12, 1864) and in the opening engagements of the Siege of Petersburg, Virginia.

On June 25, 1864, officials ordered the 8th to Cleveland, Ohio, due to the organization's members having completed their three-year term of service. At this time, the regiment had only seventy-two men available for duty. The 8th arrived at Cleveland on July 3, 1864 and mustered out of service ten days later at Camp Douglass.

During the 8th Ohio's term of service, 132 men, including eight officers, died from wounds received on the battlefield. An additional seventy-three men, including one officer, died from disease or accidents.

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