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July 21, 2011

WRC in the Civil War - Charles Young’s Account of Company B, 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry - Part 1

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Charles A. Young

From June to September, 1862 many students and some faculty served in Company B of the 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The captain of the company was Charles Augustus Young, professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and later the first Perkins Professor of Natural History and Astronomy. The lieutenant was Carroll Cutler, professor of Intellectual Philosophy and Rhetoric and later president of Western Reserve University. Company B was mainly stationed at Camp Chase in Columbus. Camp Chase was a recruitment and training center for the Union Army and a prison camp. Company B was involved in guarding the prisoners of war.

In 1904 Young wrote a letter to Hartwell Osborn, an 1863 graduate of Western Reserve College. The letter recounts his recollections of the service of Company B. Below, and in the coming weeks, we provide a transcript of this letter.

“My Dear Mr. Osborn,

“I do recollect you quite distinctly, -far better than many of my pupils of my last few years. Not that I should probably recognize you if we were to meet, or you me for that matter, for the more than forty years since I last saw you has changed us both.

“I am afraid that I cannot give you any great assistance in what you wish, for since I left Hudson in 1866 I have had no means of keeping in touch with my old pupils there. I still have however the descriptive list of Co. B. 85th O.V.I., and will send it to you if you wish, -to be afterwards turned over to the Library of Western Reserve University.[1]

“As to my own recollections of the matters connected with it I do not suppose that I can tell you anything of importance that you do not already know. You of course remember that, as was the case with most of the Colleges, a student company was formed for drill in the early summer of 1861, and that I was asked to serve as Captain. The 1st Lieut. was W. M. Beebe, and E. L. Webber was the 2d Lieut.[2] We drilled a good deal that summer and in the following autumn under the instruction of a Capt. Hayward a man from Cleveland. We had no arms but wooden guns; but so far as company tactics go we got into pretty good shape, -so good that when we went to Camp Chase the next summer we were dubbed ‘the regulars.’ The organization was resumed the following spring with Beebe as Captain, as I did not care to continue in the office.

“On May 25th or 26th, I forget the exact date, Gov. Tod, in consequence of an expected raid from Morgan, called for three months men for state service, and as soon as the call appeared in the evening paper and without saying anything to the Faculty, the company telegraphed their offer to the Gov. and he telegraphed back his acceptance. The boys wanted that I should go with them, and after talking it over with President Hitchcock I agreed to do so, and Professor Cutler was asked to take the 1st Lieut.

“Beebe did not go with us, as he was negotiating for a place on Gen. Hazen’s staff, which he soon obtained. We left Hudson on June 5th, and arrived in Columbus on June 6th (pardon my many bulls [typos], I am referring to my letters to my wife, and am continually finding slight errors in my recollections, which may as well be corrected even if unimportant) after spending the night in Cleveland.”

Next week’s entry picks up with Company B’s arrival at Camp Chase.

[1] This descriptive list to which Professor Young refers is in the University Archives. It is available for use during regular Reading Room hours.
[2] Edwin L. Webber graduated from Western Reserve College in 1861. During the war he became Lieutenant Colonel in the 88th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. William M. Beebe attended Western Reserve College for 2 years as a member of the class of 1863. He served in the war from 1862 to 1865.

Posted by hxy2 at July 21, 2011 06:42 PM

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