On the 17th of April the Herald & Times (read Steedman) asked the editorial question, "Where are the War Patriots?" The paper wanted to see those men who had only days before demanded that something be done about the situation in the South.
"Where are the men who a few weeks since were burning with impatience for the President to announce a war policy? Where are the fiery spirits who opposed concession, conciliation and adjustment, and demanded the enforcement of the laws and the collection of the revenue in the seceded States, with an armed force? Where are those patriots who denounced every man opposed to coercion and in favor of peace, as traitors?...
"These patriots are all wanted now to defend the Union. The country needs the services of every man, who raised his voice against compromise. Lip patriotism will not answer now.
"No shrinking, no running away now, gentleman. Come up to the work, ye coercion braves. Show your pluck, your integrity and your courage. Any man who advocated coercion, and refuses now to volunteer to defend the Government, was dishonest in advocating a war policy, or he is a coward and dare not defend what he advocated. Come forward, coercionists, or hide your heads in shame."
But little persuasion was needed to get the men to enlist, and volunteers began to flock to Toledo.
"Young men from the country wended their way directly here, with fire in their eyes, ready to subscribe their names to the enrolling sheet. Plenty of our citizens who could not conceal their excitement, kept watch and ward with us through the day, waiting to obtain the first inkling of news by telegraph."
Life in Toledo was about to change radically. It was noted in the newspapers.
"Toledo itself was beginning to take on the appearance of an armed camp. The first wild reveille, we ever heard beat for real business...yesterday. The drum and fife, with inspiring notes, could be heard from ten o'clock in the morning until evening, go where within the city limits a person might."
Henry Kingsbury temporarily set aside his role as sheriff to take up that of lieutenant of the Toledo Guards, calling out the militia company and setting up the Philharmonic Hall as a Drill Room. Curious townspeople gathered round,
"...to listen to the strains of martial music and the tramp, tramp, tramp of the incipient soldiery. There were nearly one hundred persons mustered in the ranks, and their attention to the manual exercise showed that it was no boy's play with them: --The stern reality of service in the tented field was on every countenance."
Those who were not enlisting themselves displayed their patriotic zeal in their apparel, and in the flying of flags and other patriotic acts. Women were trimming their bonnets with red, white and blue ribbons and other notions. A swell of flag-waving excitement was sweeping through the city.
"It is rather pleasing to see how the Yankee Doodle Fourth of July feeling spreads throughout the City. Bunting is in great demand--new flag staffs are going up not only from business places but private residences, and the glorious old Flag with all the Stars...is thrown to the breeze. When they can't afford to get a big flag, handkerchief sized ones are substituted; but everybody must have a flag.
"Even the cartmen, decorate their horses heads with the tiny flags, reminding one of the National birthday... [S]ome of our citizens in the streets [are wearing] the stars and stripes for a shirt bosom, and others with the National emblem in delicate miniature size, as a breast pin. Patriotism is at its height, and the old flag was never more beloved by all classes of people than at the present time."
During the days immediately following the surrender of Fort Sumter, James Steedman had been busy recruiting. He had paid visits to various towns in Northwest Ohio, raising companies for the new regiment. These groups were making their way to Toledo by rail, their arrivals announced in the papers:
- "A full company of volunteers turn out from Defiance."
- "The small village of Antwerp has raised a full company of volunteers. 'Bully' for Antwerp."
- "A full company of volunteers were organized at Napoleon in a few hours' time. Napoleon is not going to disgrace her namesake in this emergency."
- "Wauseon is in the field with a full company--the 'Fulton County Volunteers.'"
- "We understand that the Brady Guards, of Waterville...enter the lists to a man for the War.... The Waterville boys will give account of themselves we will venture to say."
In Northwest Ohio during the 1860s, traveling ffrom one town to the next could prove to be an adventure of sorts. It was springtime in the Great Lakes, and the blustery weather was playing havoc with everyone. High winds and heavy rains could, at times, put a damper on things. On the 24th, over 700 men, volunteers from Waterville, Defiance, Napoleon and Antwerp, arrived via the Toledo & Waterville train. The Waterville Company had set out in the midst of a "drenching rain." By the time they reached White House station (the present day village of Whitehouse, Ohio) there wasn't a dry man among them. A number of local residents opened their houses to the soaking wet volunteers, giving the men a chance to dry off before continuing on their way to Toledo. With the influx of hundreds of volunteers Toledo found itslef coming up short in the way of providing shelter to all. The local papers lamented the "lack of attention paid to the comfort of the soldiers arriving in town last evening" (April 24th). But in the end, all were taken care of.
Soon all the companies were gathered, and elections were held to determine who the officers would be. There were ten companies altogether; three from Toledo with the others coming from Bryan, Defiance, Stryker, Napoleon, Antwerp, Wauseon and Waterville. James Steedman was unanimously elected Colonel. Henry Kingsbury and George Este were voted Captains of Companies A and B respectively, but would soon find themselves promoted to higher ranks. In two days, the regiment, then called the North Western Regiment, would be leaving for Camp Taylor in Cleveland, Ohio where they would begin in ernest their lives as soldiers.
Volunteers marching off to war -- a scene that was repeated throughout the county.
The event of the volunteers' leave-taking caused much excitement in Toledo. It was one of the biggest local events of the decade. The April 25, 1861 issue of The Blade described the activities in its pages.
"Never has our city experienced such a day as the present. At early dawn the people from the country began to pour into the city in immense crowds, and the firing of cannon aroused our citizens from their slumbers, who contributed to swell the multitude so that by 9 o'clock there must have been at least 10,000 people in the streets.
"At about 8 o'clock the military began to form, and after the organization of the companies they were marched down to the old parade ground, where the Regiment engaged in religious exercises...So dense was the crowd that the programme laid down in the Regimental Order...was but imperfectly observed. The troops were then formed into platoons and took up the line of march for the Depot, accompanied by the Fire Department.
"Arriving at the Depot, the scene was truly grand. The crowd filled the entire space devoted to the passenger trains, but after an energetic effort of the police, a passage way was cleared and the troops marched in sections to the cars designated for each. As the troops entered the cars, the countenances of many betokened the emotions of the heart within, for
'Tears would unbidden start.'
"It was not sorrow,however, that caused those tears -- it was humanity swelling up in their souls -- a love that is inestinguishable, and the outward emblem of a bravery which knows nothing but conquest; that feels the cause in which it is enlisted to be pure, yea, holy, for it is the cause of humility. And those tears found a warm response in the breat of the multitude, which broke forth in cheer after cheer, and, mingled with the hoarse voice of the cannon, has left an impression upon the hearts of our people that time will never efface.
"The Regiment numbers 1,058, all told, composed mainly of young men, and no one doubts but that a good report will be rendered of the Northwestern Ohio Regiment, if their services should be needed on the field of strife.
"It is not necessary that we say more of the scenes of to-day; we could not do justice to the affair, if we attempted; our people were there and saw for themselves. But we may say that the departure of this Regiment is but the advance guard, if more are necessary. There are yet a thousand brave hearts in this vicinity ready to respond to the next call."
The Herald & Times was also covering the event, and provided the following description of the scene at the train depot:
"At an early hour yesterday morning, the citizen soldiery who had been quartered in our city for the past two days, as well as our citizens, and many people from the surrounding country, who had been drawn hither, were astir. It was the day for the departure of the North Western Regiment for Camp Taylor. In accordance with the General Order issued by the commander of this Regiment (Col. Steedman,) the several companies compirsing it formed on the river's bank in the vicinity of the junctin of Bush with Summit st., about 8 o'clock. Once formed, with pretty much the whole of our Firemen, who turned out on the occasion, and our city authorities, with citizens almost en masse, the river's bank was for well nigh a mile lined with people. What with the roll of the drum, tramp of the embryo soldiery, in going through their evolutions in taking position in line, the scene pictured was a most animated one, and presented a fine sketch for an artist. We were sorry that Frank Leslie, or some other 'Illustrated,' had not one upon the ground...
"This Regiment was recruited and raised within the short space of about ten days, and to the indomitable exertions of its gallant commander, Col. Steedman, may be attributed the credit, more than to any one else, of its number, of bringing it into the field in so short a time. It was meet in it that it should, as it did, by it unanimous suffrage, give to him its command. He will never dishonor the honorable position assigned him...
"Rev. Mr. Walbridge then engaged in earnest prayer, invoking the God of Battle to favor the cause in which dauntless spirits were about to engage. The quartette choir then sung "The Star-Spangled Banner," ...When M. R. Waite, Esq., in behalf of the Ladies of Toledo, presented to Gen. Steedman a very beautifyl wrought Flag made by their own fair hands, with 'the stars of all the States of the Union upon it and not one erased therefrom,' as a suit of colors for his regiment, in a very eloquent and patriotic speech, which although delivered impromptu, very few could excel and which was very creditable to both head and heart, Col. S., although almost overcome by the emotions of the occasion, in a few well-timed remakrs responded, on the part of the regiment, thanking the fair donors for the compliment tendered, assuring them that it would not be dishonored in their keeping, and would be protected from falling into the hands of the country's foes and of traitors.
"The order of march was then given and the immense cavalcade filed through Summit street to the Depot...Leave taking was then had, in many instances the parting tear was shed, friends parted perhaps to meet no more--the shrill whistle gave forth its notes--the cry was "all ready," "all aboard," the train moved--and the North-Western Regiment departed from our midst.
"Thousands and thousands of hearty wishes and cheers accompanied them on their errand."
And so the train pulled away from the station, carrying with it the hopes and well wishes of this corner of the state. But after the train had left, and the excitement finally died down, the reality of what was taking place began to sink in.
"In passing along the streets yesterday afternoon one could not but be struck with the funereal solemnity resting upon the countenances of our citizens, as if some great calamity, attended with loss of life, had visited our city and decimated our population. A sort of listless, purposeless locomotion was being indulged in, while the bright smile of exuberant life, was entirely wanting. The general expectation that before the week passes over, a call for 150,000 additional troops will be made, serves as food for reflection. If the call is made, it will carry away two thirds of our young men--the flower of the city.... While all admire the resolution which animates each patriotic breast, still the idea that the dire necessity exists, can but cause a feeling of sadness and gloom."
At 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the 25th, the "monster train of 24 cars" arrived at Cleveland. It was drawn by "two locomotives bearing soldiers from the North Western corner of the State" and had been "greeted at all points along the road with every demonstration of delight that could be invented." The one thousand plus men on board joined the forty-five thousand troops already at Camp Taylor, located on the Cuyahoga County fairgrounds. There they began their indoctrination into army life
"The commissary department is spoken of in tones of praise," wrote one volunteer, "[and] the living pronounced good.... six huge hotel stoves are kept in constant use and...five bbls of burned and ground coffee are used daily and fifteen bushels of potatoes are cooked for each meal." Camp Taylor stood on the old fairgrounds, and the buildings that once housed cattle and other animals were converted into barracks: "The beds are made in the tiers of cattle stalls arranged on the Fair Ground, tiered up two in each cot. Plenty of straw is furnished and a blanket to each man. Four hundred blankets however were all that could be obtained the first night to cover the 1100 men, but most of the soldiers carried blankets, so that nearly all were provided for.... The men were in excellent spirits... Eight hours drill is the rule, and the intermediate hours are devoted to all sorts of athletic amusements, and sleep."
Life at Camp Taylor was described in an article that appeared in the Herald & Times on April 27.
"The commissary department is spoken of in tones of praise [all] the living pronounced good. Some idea of the amount of rations used can be formed when we state that six huge hotel stoves are kept in constant use and that five [barrels] of burned and ground coffee are used daily and fifteen bushels of potatoes are cooked for each meal.
"The beds are made in the tiers of cattle stalls arranged on the Fair Ground, tiered up two in each cot. Plenty of straw is furnished and a blanket to each man. Four hundred blankets however were all that could be obtained the first night to cover the 1100 men, but most of the soldiers carried blankets, so that nearly all were provided for. Plenty of blankets were distributed yesterday. The men were in excellent spirits, anxious to perfect their discipline and ready for the fray. -- Eight hours drill is the rule, and the intermediate hours are devoted to all sorts of athletic amusements, and sleep."
Here the Northwestern Ohio Regiment was officially mustered in for three months' service. "Our regiment was mustered as the 14th by consent, so that they are the first called after the first thirteen called for by the President." And thus the regiment became officially designated the Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
A common form of news reporting during this time was for members of the various regiments to write lengthy, descriptive letters to their local newspapers. Letters were seldom signed with their writers' given names. Usually a pen name was adopted, one that often carried a patriotic or political connotation. One such correspondent to the Herald & Times was an enthusiastic new soldier who signed his name Sumter. The letters written home from Camp Taylor during this time customarily painted a picture of happy, healthy men embarking upon a grand adventure, although an occasional grumble made its way back to Northwest Ohio. The men had not yet been issued uniforms, and someone back in Toledo suggested donating the uniforms worn by the Wide Awakes during the presidential campaign. Local Democrats balked at the idea. Nothing ever came of it and the men had to wait a bit longer for uniforms. But all in all, things were progressing well. Sumter wrote a lengthy accunt of life at Camp Taylor, and assured all that their "boys" were being well taken care of by their officers. As most of the officers of the regiment were well-known businessmen and politicians back home, much was expected of them in regards to seeing to the welfare of the men who were not only their subordinates but their constituents as well.
Changes were made in some of the offices Este was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Kingsbury, who started out as Captain in Company A (the old Toledo Guards), had recently accepted an appointment as Regimental Quarter Master.
"We are well cared for," wrote Sumter from Camp Taylor. Our provident Quarter Master, H. D. Kingsbury, looks after our interests at head quarters and sees that we have plenty to eat and good places to sleep. The Sheriff knows when the victuals are well cooked too, and he takes care that the boys of the 14th get their full share of all the good things of camp life. 'Hank' is sound, and all the boys are delighted with his appointment...
"Este is a brick, a universal favorite with officers and privates. He has been unremitting in his labors to improve himself and every body else in the Regiment, but his influence has been most felt in his efforts to make the men comfortable...
"Many of our Toledo friends have honored us with a visit, and I assure you it does all the boys good to see them. Thier visits satisfy us that we have a place in the affections of the citizens of Toledo."
Soon after that uniforms and Enfield rifles had arrived for their use, and there was speculation that Steedman's reigment, along with several others, would soon be leaving Camp Taylor and heading towards the Ohio River and "old Virginia's shore." The paper's reported, "Our boys will undoubtedly now breathe freer and be of better cheer, that they have got their arms and uniforms, and have received orders to march."
By the end of May, the Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry was heading south, crossing the Ohio River and advancing into Virginia to take up positions at Grafton and along the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road. And so the state was set for General George B. McClellan's Western Virginia Campaign, of which the Fourteenth Ohio Infantry was a part. It was during this campaign that the Fourteenth Ohio participated in the first land engagement of the Civil War, at a small town called Philippi in what is today the state of West Virginia. By doing so the Fourteenth became the first Ohio regiment to unfurls its colors in battle. For these Northwest Ohioans, this distinction was something for which they were fiercely proud.
Artist's rendition of the Battle of Philippi, Western Virginia
The Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry served throughout the duration of the war. During their three months' service they participated in a series of actions in Western Virginia at places called Bellington, Laurel Hill and Corrick's Ford. When their three months' term expired, the men returned home and the regiment was reorganized for three years' service. During that time the Fourteenth Ohi served in the Western Theater, primarily in Tennessee and Kentucky. They missed out on the fighting at Shiloh and Stones River, but saw bloody action at Chickamauga and took part in the storming of Mission Ridge. The "Old Fourteenth" fought in the Atlanta campaign; they marched to the sea and up through the Carolinas with William T. Sherman. They were present when Sherman accepted the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's army at Bentonville, North Carolina and took part in the Grand Review in Washington DC before being mustered out of service on July 11, 1865.
During its term of service, the Fourteenth Ohi would lose 5 officers and 141 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and 1 officer and 185 enlisted men to disease.
Click here for an outline history of the Fourteenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry.