20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Months Service) (1861)

Also Known As: Twentieth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Months Service)

Updated: July 06, 2011

With the American Civil War's outbreak, neither the North nor the South had sufficient military forces to conduct a war. Both the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, at first, relied upon volunteers either to form or to bolster their respective militaries.

With the American Civil War's outbreak, neither the North nor the South had sufficient military forces to conduct a war. Both the United States of America and the Confederate States of America, at first, relied upon volunteers either to form or to bolster their respective militaries. Typically, individual states would recruit and send volunteers to their respective federal governments. Initially, many states relied on militia forces. Historically, every British colony in North America had established a militia. The militia usually consisted of adult, able-bodied men, who would rally to defend the colonies and, following the American Revolution, states during military crises. By the start of the American Civil War, unfortunately for both the Confederate States of America and the United States of America, most state militias were in a decline and unprepared for a major war.

In Ohio, Governor William Dennison hoped to supply the United States government with men and supplies from the Ohio militia. Ohio's militia system was virtually nonexistent by 1861. While militia forces played a vital role in Ohio's history from the American Revolution to the War of 1812, most major military threats to Ohio's security ended with the War of 1812. Following this conflict, the federal government quickly removed most Native Americans further west, and in the decades immediately following the war, no European or other major power attacked the United States. Facing no serious internal or external threats, most states, including Ohio, allowed their militia organizations to weaken. Most militia groups became mere social organizations and did not actively practice or study military maneuvers or tactics.

Dennison quickly discovered that Ohio's militia system could not play an active role in the American Civil War. Following the Battle of Fort Sumter and President Abraham Lincoln’s call for seventy-five thousand volunteers to return the seceded states to the Union in April 1861, Ohio's governor sent Jacob Cox, a state politician, and George McClellan, a former United States Army officer and current businessman, to Ohio's arsenal to assess the availability of weapons and supplies. Cox and McClellan found three or four crates of smoothbore muskets, a number of inoperable six-pound cannons, and some mildewed horse harnesses. Upon learning of the dire condition of the state's military supplies, Dennison still encouraged Ohioans to reestablish militia units to defend the state from Southern attack and to assist the federal government in reuniting the nation.

Ohioans quickly responded to the governor's and the federal government's call for troops. Among Ohio's earliest regiments was the 20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This organization enrolled between April 17, 1861 and April 27, 1861. Companies A and F organized at Lima, Ohio on April 20, 1861. Company B formed at Oxford, Ohio on April 19, 1861. Companies C and D organized at Eaton, Ohio on April 22, 1861. Company E formed at St. Mary's, Ohio on April 17, 1861. Company G organized at Chesterville, Ohio on April 25, 1861. Company H organized at Sidney, Ohio on April 27, 1861. Company I originated at Steubenville, Ohio on April 22, 1861 and Company K at Columbus, Ohio on April 25, 1861. The State of Ohio formally mustered the companies into service for three months of duty from May 15 to May 27, 1861, with the effective muster date being the individual company's organization date in April 1861. Companies A,B, C, D, I, and K mustered into service at Camp Jackson at Columbus, Ohio. Companies E, F, G, and H mustered into service at Camp Goddard at Zanesville, Ohio.

In early June, the 20th Regiment departed for western Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), where officials distributed the organization along the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Benwood, Virginia and Grafton, Virginia (both in modern-day West Virginia). The regiment guarded the railroad, escorted supply trains, hunted Southern guerrillas, and conducted various reconnaissance missions. The 20th also sought to capture a Confederate force at Carrick's Ford, Virginia (modern-day West Virginia), but the Southerners managed to withdraw before the regiment arrived.  While in western Virginia, the 20th's commanding officer issued the following reports:

HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH REGIMENT O. V. M., Oakland, Md., July 20, 1861.

SIR: On Saturday, July 13, at 11 o'clock a. m., I received your order directing me to withdraw such of the forces under my command as I might deem prudent from the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad between Benwood and Grafton, and join you at Oakland, Md. Accordingly I dispatched Maj. Lamison over the line of said road, with instructions to withdraw from said line Companies A, F, I, and K, and proceed with them to such points as might learn I would occupy, unless otherwise instructed. On the afternoon of same day I proceeded, with a detachment of one company of the Virginia First, Capt. Britt; one company of the Virginia Second; two pieces of artillery, under Capt. Daum; and Companies B and E, of the Twentieth Regiment O. V. M., to Oakland, at which place I arrived at 10 o'clock p. m. of said day. Owing to a want of the means of transportation, I was delayed at Oakland until 10 o'clock on Sunday morning, when I marched forward to the Red House, at which point I arrived at 2 o'clock p. m., and thence proceeded in pursuit of the rebel forces over the Northwestern turnpike, until I met you with your forces returning. While at the Red House, Maj. Lamison arrived with the forces under his command, having made a most orderly and rapid march, for the particulars of which I refer you to his report, a copy of which I herewith transmit. The officers and men under my command conducted themselves in the most soldierlike manner, and to their hearty co-operation and energy I am indebted for the promptness with they appeared at the points intended to be occupied.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

THOMAS MORTON,

Col., Commanding Twentieth Regiment O. V. M.

Brig. Gen. C. W. HILL,

Commanding First Brigade, First Division, U. S. Troops.

 

HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH REGIMENT O. V. M., Grafton, Va., July 21, 1861.

SIR: On Monday, July 15, I received your order to proceed with Companies A, Capt. Nichols; B, Capt. Dodds; E, Capt. Mott; F, Lieut. Taylor; I, Capt. Cable; K, Lieut. Adams, quartermaster (detailed to this special duty), of the Twentieth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Militia, and Companies --- of the Twenty second Regiment Ohio Volunteer Militia, under Lieut.-Col. Turley; one detachment of a company of the Virginia First, Capt. Britt; one company of the Virginia Second, Capt. Ewing, and two pieces of artillery, under the command of Capt. Daum, numbering in all about 900 men, to New Creek, on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and thence strike the Northwestern Virginia turnpike for the purpose of cutting off the retreat of the rebel forces passing over that road from Laurel Hill. The advanced guard, with the artillery, left Oakland at 4 o'clock p. m., under command of Maj. Lamison, but on account of the want of telegraphic communication was delayed by the conductor of the train until 8 o'clock p. m. within one mile of Oakland.

At 2 o'clock a. m., July 16, I arrived at New Creek, and at 3 a. m. put my command in motion, and for the want of means of transportation, and that my movements might not be delayed, I took no baggage, except one-third of the cooking utensils and one day's rations. We breakfasted after a march of six miles, and proceeded to Ridgeville, having learned that the enemy were in force at that place. Finding no force at that point, I proceeded, over a most rugged and difficult road, almost impassable for the artillery, to Martin's Gap, after a march of fifteen hours, making thirty-three miles, at which place your courier reached us, ordering us to join you at Greenland, two and a half miles distant, at which place we arrived at 11 o'clock a. m. on Wednesday, July 17.

Joining your forces at Martin's Gap, I learned that the advance of the enemy, about 1,000, had encamped at that place on Sunday, July 14, about 10 o'clock a. m., and that, learning of the approach of our forces, had hastily retreated on Saturday, at 6 o'clock p. m., for Petersburg. In their retreat they destroyed the bridge over Patterson's Creek, making the road impassable for wagons, and was therefore compelled to send artillery around over the Northwestern turnpike, a distance of seven miles farther than pursued by my command. Being without a baggage train and ambulance, with short rations, the march was a most trying one, and to the endurance of men and officers and their cheerfulness and hearty co-operation I am indebted for the celerity of my movements, and for which all deserve much praise.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

THOMAS MORTON,

Col., Commanding Twentieth Regiment O. V. M.

C. W. HILL,

Brig.-Gen., Comdg. U. S. Troops in Western Va.

 

HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH REGIMENT O. V. M., Oakland, Md., July 20, 1861.

SIR: At 1 1/2 a. m., Saturday, July 13, I received your order directing me to proceed over the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and with Companies A, F, I, and K, then stationed at different points on said line, with them to join you at Oakland, Md., or at such other point as I might learn you might then occupy. Accordingly, I at once ordered transportation from Wheeling, and dispatched Adjutant Evans over the line from Fairmont, who brought the several detachments to Grafton, at which place we arrived at 2 a. m. Sunday. Owing to delays on the road, occasioned by trains on the road and the unwillingness of conductors to proceed, I did not arrive at Oakland until 12 o'clock m. Sunday. On my arrival, learning that you had proceeded to Chisholm's Mill, I at once, without taking any baggage, put my detachment in motion, and at 3 o'clock reached the Red House, on the Northwestern turnpike, at which place I met you returning with the forces under Gen. Hill. The conduct of the men and officers under my command is deserving of much credit, and to their energy and hearty co-operation I am indebted for rapidity of my movements.

Respectfully, I am, yours,

CHARLES N. LAMISON,

Maj. Twentieth Regiment O. V. M.

THOMAS MORTON,

Commanding Twentieth Regiment O. V. M.

In early August 1861, the 20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry received orders to travel to Columbus, Ohio. On August 18, 1861, officials mustered the regiment out of duty. During its term of service, the regiment had seven men die from disease, two men killed in a railroad accident, and one man killed by an accidental gunshot.

 

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"20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Months Service)," Ohio Civil War Central, 2019, Ohio Civil War Central. 15 Dec 2019 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=646>

APA Style

"20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Three Months Service)." (2019) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved December 15, 2019, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=646

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