The Civil War in Southern Ohio


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Like men of color everywhere, African Americans living in southern Ohio were ready to defend the Union at the outset of war. They were of course, denied the right to fight. In 1863 more than 100 African American men left Ross County and vicinity and headed for Boston Massachusetts to join the Mass 54th. Many became enrolled in the Mass. 55th USCT.

One man Albert Wall, a mulatto, was determined to serve his country, therefore, he joined the Ohio 73rd OVI, Company H. a white unit. He fought in the battle of Cross Keys in what is now West Virginia, when it was discovered he was infact a man of color. He was thrown out of the Company. Wall enlisted in the Masssachusetts 54th when it was formed and was wounded in battle.

(Source: Chillicothe, Ohio Register 1871)

Another mulatto,William Beverly Hemings (Grandson of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings) also joined the 73rd OVI, however, his race was apparently not discovered.

Burials in Ross County Ohio
Grandview Cemetery
    Alexander, Thomas Co D 27th USCT
    Butler, D. O. Co E 27th USCT
    Cox, Allen USCI
    Cox, Flemming S Co. K 100th USCI
    Galls Co E 5th USCT
    Gales, George co B 5th USCT
    Gray, George 27th USCT
    Hogan, James H. Co E 4th USCT
    Jackson, John H Co B 48 USCT
    Jones, Alva Cp B S USCT
    Jones, Grayson Co C 27 th USCT
    Qualls, Charles I. Co E 27th USCT
    Reed Joseph W. Co M 1 st USCT
    Roberts, Alexander Co E 27th USCI
    Akers, George Co D 4th USCT
    Leath, Abram Sgt. CoG 27th USCT
    Bird Charles W ??????
    Frey, William H. Co C 5th USCT
    Harrison, William Co A 27th USCT
    Abrams, Robert Co B Mass 55th
    Branson, James Co D 5 Mass USCT
    Bradshaw, Alfred Co D 5th Mass USCT
    Edwards, Reuben Co I 5th USCT
    Green, James Co E 27th Mass USCT
    Hedgepeth, Henry Co E 4 Mass USCT
    Hackley, Robert Co E23 Mass USCT
    Johns, William Co H 23 Mass USCT
    Moore, James Co C 27 Mass USCT
    Williams, Charles Co H 23 Mass USCT
McDill Cemetery
    Logan, George W. Co K 4th USCT
    Terry, Thomas Co L 27th USCT

Source: Scioto Gazette May, 1906(Ohio)

Scioto Gazette 1887 (Ohio)

Civil War Soldiers
55th Massachusetts serving from Ross County

Company A: Hiram Bias

Company E: Henry Evans, William H, Johnson, George M. Parker, Henry Davis

Company G: James Gibson, Henry Dinwiddie, Alexander Johnson Manmuel Jackson, Franklin Johnson Solomon Liddle, Franklin Malone, James Owens Robert Abrams, James Cochran, Moses Dixon, William H Dupree, William Fortune, George Gale, Daniel Ivey James Locklear, George Mitchell, William H Redman, William Richardson, Thomas Russell.

Company H: George Gale, David Adams. Robert Abram.

Company K: Armstead Archer, Rev. John R. Bowles, John L Hicks, Charles Samuel Gray, Lawrence Payne, William Nelson, Finley Rickman, Thomas Rickman, James Ross, George Seward, William Steward, Peter Waggoner.


Rev. John R Bowles, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Chillicothe, was a chaplin for the Massachusetts Infantry 55 He was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on June 13, 1826 and married Sarah Jane Bryant, They had two children.

Bowles resigned as Chaplin June, 1865. He died in Xenia, Ohio on September 3, 1874.


John Mercer Langston, a well known recruiter, orator lawyer and congressman, grew up in Chillicothe. He returned there on several occasions to recruit troops after African Americans were permitted to join the Union Army.


Born in Gulfport, Mississippi to slave owner Richard S.Trotter and a slave Letitia. Letitia, along with her two sons, James Monroe and Charles Trotter escaped on the Underground Railroad to Cincinnati , Ohio. James M. attended the Gilmer School in that city. The next step in hiseducation was attending The Albany Academy in Athens County, where he trained as a teacher. He used this training teaching in schools for colored persons in Muskingham County, Pike County and in Chillicothe.

It was during this time in Chillicothe that James M. met his future wife Virginia Isaacs. Miss Isaacs was according to family tradition, the great-grand daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Hemmings (Sally's sister).

During the Civil War, James went to Boston, where he joined the Massachusetts Fifty-fifth USCT, Company K. He enlisted in June of 1863. He earned the ran of sergeant during the war and advanced to the rank of second lieutenant, one of the few men of color to reach that rank. After his service time he returned to Chillicothe and married Virginia Isaacs in 1868. The couple moved to Boston, where James became the first man of color to be employed by the Post Office in Boston. After years of service, James was not promoted as was white persons that had the same years ofservice. James in an act of protest, quit this job rather than continue in an inferior position. He made a very good living in other endeavors.

The couple were the parents of three children, all of which were born in Chillicothe. A multi-talented man, James was the author of a book titled Music and Some Highly Musical People which was published in 1880. The book is the first comprehensive study of music ever written in the United States. It is used today by those who are interested in music history and tracing the origins of music and especially African-American music. It has been reissued at least two times. The last time was in 1968.

Another landmark accomplishment for him was the appointment by President G. Cleveland, in 1887, to the office of Recorder of Deeds, the highest office to be held by a man of color. William Monroe Trotter, son of James and Virginia, was influenced by his father's firm stand on civil rights issues. William was the founder of a newspaper in Boston called The Guardian. It was known for its radical ( for that day) stand on civil rights. He favored a more militant answer to the civil questions facing the United States in early 1900's.

He, along with W E B DuBois, and others were a part of the Niagara Movement which eventually led to the founding of the NAACP.

Decendants Today: Mrs. Flossie Isaacs, Boston, Mass. her children Brian and Marsha. Chillicothe descendants: Mrs. Pearl Cunningham Brown and Mr. William Cunningham of Mechanic Street.


William Dupree joined the fifty-fifth Massachusetts and was commissioned as an officer by Massachusetts Governor, John Andrews a Second Lieutenant in May of 1864. Dupre was born in Petersburg, Virginia but was reared and educated in Chillicothe. Prior to the Civil War, Dupree was the leader of the Union-Valley Brass Band. He remained a member until 1863 when he left Chillicothe to join the Massachusetts 54th. He became on of the best drillmasters and disciplinarians of his regiment. After the War he returned to that town , where he married Elizabeth Maria Isaacs. They then moved to Boston, Massachusetts and became one of the first people of color to be employed by the US Post Office. He was a brother-in-law of James Monroe Trotter.


A member of Company H of Massachusetts 55th, Gales Was aged 20 on entrance and eventually earned the rank of a sergeant. He was a friend of Willam Dupree who gave evidence on his behalf so that he could obtain a pension. He mustered out on November 2, 1865 and died in Chillicothe on December 5, 1866 as a result of a chronic condition acquired during his time with the 55th. His mother was Matilda Gales.


The son of Samuel and Ellen Gray, Charles was born in Moorfield, Hardy County, Virginia in 1847 of free parents. The family moved to Bainbridge, Ohio where he spent his formative years. He joined the Massachusetts 55th, Company K at age 20. Charles a minister in the AME Church, serving at, Leesburg, Georgetown, Th Marrieta Circuit, Sabina, and Bainbridge, all in southern Ohio. He died in 1921 and is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, in Chillicothe.

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