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July 28, 2011

WRC in the Civil War - Charles Young’s Account of Company B, 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry - Part 2

Below is a continuation of Charles Augustus Young's account of the Civil War experiences of Western Reserve College's Company B. 85th O.V.I. The Company was mostly stationed at Camp Chase in Columbus, where they guarded prisoners of war. Last week's account describes the Company's beginnings.

“We arrived in the city about noon (instead of the evening, as I had remembered) reported to the governor, marched out to camp (four miles) and were quartered for the night in a kind of big shed, and got our first experience of sleeping on the soft side of a plank. We were in the shed for a couple of days, I think, before we were assigned to company quarters as Co. B. (a letter seems to be missing from the file so that I cannot give the date of mustering in)

“One of the mornings our little drummer, Arba Farwell, started quite a commotion by innocently giving a long roll in beating the Reveille: Col. Moody, then the commandant of the camp, came down upon him good and hard, but forgave him when he understood the case. Of course it ought to have indicated that the prisoners in the camp (about 2000 if I remember rightly) were making an attempt to escape.

“I don’t remember exactly how many men we took into camp from Hudson, but it was not quite up to the requirements for a full company, and it was necessary therefore to enlist a few more men from those who were looking for chances at camp Chase. This was soon accomplished. We got in one squad from Austinburg sixteen men, but their names do not appear on the descriptive list because they were soon transferred to another company that went into the field, while our regiment was assigned to State service. We had therefore to recruit again until we reached the full number required, (101).

“I do not remember, or find any mention in my letters, as to the exact date of our mustering in, but I think it must have been between the 25th and 30th of June: I know that it was long delayed for various reasons. (Perhaps I had better explain that the gaps in the file of my letters preserved by my wife are caused by the fact that a number of them were sent to my Mother in New Hampshire, and never returned; otherwise I should have a pretty full diary of the four months service)..

“I may as well insert here that a second time, in August, on account of a raid by Morgan in Kentucky threatening Cincinnati, our regiment was depleted by a call for service in the field. Half the companies were detached and sent down into Kentucky. The Governor had promised President Hitchcock that our company should be kept in the state, and he made good his word, although a large majority of the boys were very anxious to go into the field."

Next week's entry describes the Company's guard duties

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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.

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July 15, 2011

Western Reserve College in the American Civil War

On April 14, 1861, in response to the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln issued a call for volunteers to serve for 90 days. Western Reserve College was at the beginning of a two-week vacation between terms. While some of the undergraduates volunteered, most remained until the end of the academic year on July 11.

Though far from the battles, Western Reserve College was not unaffected by the War. As was true during most wars, the school struggled to continue its teaching in the face of fewer students and faculty, as many volunteered for military service. Undergraduate enrollment in 1860-61 was 62. In 1861-62 it was 52; in 1862-63, 48; in 1863-64, 50; in 1864-65, 41. The College did not keep records of all students who withdrew to serve in the military. But an 1873 directory of military service lists 140 students and three faculty. Frederick C. Waite, WRU historian, estimated that 400 Medical alumni served. Nevertheless, the only recorded disruption to the college year was the postponement of Commencement exercises in 1862 from July to October, due to the absence of most students serving in Company B of the 85th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Curricular changes were made to support the war effort. The College instituted three times per week military instruction in the spring of 1861. Many students and some faculty participated in the program led by Colonel Hayward. The Medical Department, located in Cleveland, began a course in military surgery in 1862. In 1863, the Soldiers’ Aid Society was organized to care for sick and wounded returning soldiers. Medical faculty served at the hospital and students received clinical instruction.

Future postings will describe some of these initiatives in more detail. In the meantime, here are some sources in the CWRU Archives which document Western Reserve College in the Civil War:

Histories
Waite, Frederick Clayton. Western Reserve University - The Hudson Era: A History of Western Reserve College and Academy at Hudson, Ohio, from 1826 to 1882. (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1943): 344-346.

Waite, Frederick Clayton. Western Reserve University: Centennial History of the School of Medicine. (Cleveland: Western Reserve University Press, 1946): 136-140, 240.

Military Service Directories
Osborn, Hartwell. Western Reserve College List of Students Who Served in the Union Army from 1861 to 1865.
Entries are organized by class year and include birth and death places and dates; military service dates, units, ranks, and locations.

Descriptive List Co. B. 85th O.V.I. Camp Chase, Columbus O. June-Sept., 1862, Drawn from Western Reserve College, Hudson, Ohio.
Entries include physical descriptions, birth date and place, age at enlistment, military rank and unit.

Contemporaneous Records
Western Reserve Souvenir (WRC student newspaper), December 1862, November 1863, January 1864 issues.
Lists of students and alumni serving in the military were published along with articles describing the progress of the war, the military service of Halbert Paine (class of 1854), and experiences of Company B. 85th O.V.I.

Records of Western Reserve College Faculty.
Minutes of meetings discuss teaching assignments, student progress, and the academic calendar during the war.

Records of Western Reserve College Trustees.
Minutes of meetings discuss finances, property, and faculty appointments during the war.

Personal Accounts
Gilbert, Nicholas (class of 1864).
Several documents, ca. 1919, by George Thomas LeBoutillier describe his own and his classmate Nicholas Gilbert’s experiences at Camp Chase.

Cutler, Carroll. A History of Western Reserve College During Its First Half Century, 1826-1876. (Cleveland: Crocker’s Publishing House, 1876):60-61.