We can be proud of the role Fairfield County served in the War of the Rebellion, also known as the Civil War (1861-1865). There were more than 3000 Fairfield County men in service during the Civil War. Almost all of them were volunteers. There were one or two drafts but they were quite small.
Fairfield County had its share of high-ranking officers: one Lieutenant-General, 2 Major-Generals and several Brigadier- Generals. The Lieutenant General was of course William Tecumseh Sherman. Thomas H. Ewing, son of Hon. Thomas Ewing, was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier and then brevetted to Major-General. Hugh Ewing, brother of Thomas, was promoted from Colonel to Major General. Jacob A. Stafford and Newton Schleich were both promoted from Colonels to Brigadier Generals.
Fairfield County had the honor of sending the first company of men to the state capital after Lincoln’s call for 75,000 men just after the fall of Fort Sumter. The call for men was made on Monday, April 15 (1861) and on April 16 Lancaster was in arms. The Lancaster Guards, whose ranks had grown to more than 100 privates, marched to the train depot on Wednesday, April 17 and at 5 o’clock in the afternoon departed for Columbus.
The First Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized on the morning of April 18 at Columbus and its Colonel was A. M. McCook. Before dawn of the next day, along with the Second Regiment, it was on its way to Washington. The Lancaster Guards became Company A of the First Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Company A was commanded by Captain J. A. Stafford, First Lieutenant Thomas A. Hunter and Second Lieutenant Ezra Rickets. This company mustered out on August 15, 1864 with 27 men, approximately one-quarter of its original number.
A number of other regiments and companies contained significant numbers of Fairfield County men:
Seventeenth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Colonel John M. Connel. This regiment contained a larger number of Fairfield County men than any other in the field. One half of the companies belonged to Fairfield County.
Captain A. H. Geisy (later Benj. B. Butterfield)
First Lieutenant Abraham Ogden(later Benjamin Showers)
Second Lieutenant Leo Noles (later Henry Arney)
Captain James W. Stinchcomb
First Lieutenant Aaron P. Ashbrook
Second Lieutenant Owen W. Brown
Captain Ezra Rickets
First Lieutenant Irvin Linn
Second Lieutenant Daniel Sullivan
Captain J. W. Stinchcomb (later Abraham Ogden)
First Lieutenant John Wiseman (later Leo Noles)
Second Lieutenant J. C. Watson (later Theodore Michaels)
Captain Daniel M. Rea
First Lieutenant Wm. Cook
Second Lieutenant Seth Collins
Captain Rickets was killed at Chickamauga, Tennessee and Major Butterfield at Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Sixty-First Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Colonel Newton Schleich. Company B was the only Fairfield County Company. Captain Daniel J. Schleich, George J.Wygum and Edward Hay were the lieutenants.
Forty-Third Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Colonel J. L. Kirby Smith. It contained one company enlisted in Fairfield County, Company I. Peter Brown was the original captain followed by Peter Hewiston, who had been a lieutenant, and Henry S. Beck. O. W. Rigby and S. J. Morrell were also lieutenants. Colonel Smith was mortally wounded at Corinth, Mississippi October 4, 1862 where over one-fourth of the regiment was killed or disabled.
Forty-Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Colonels were Thomas Worthington, C. C Walcutt and E. N. Upton. Two companies were recruited in Fairfield County, Companies C and F. Company C: Captain John Wiseman; Lieutenants Frank Linnville and John Lutz. Company F: Captain Henry Geisy; Lieutenants John J. Carron and C. H. Rice. Captain Geisy was promoted to Major and was killed at Dallas, Georgia May 28, 1864.
Fifty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Company I: Recruited in Pickaway and Fairfield Counties. Captain Samuel M. Morrison; Lieutenants William Roby and Stephen Defenbaugh.
Eighty-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Regiment commanded by Colonel George W. Neff. Company A: Full company recruited from Fairfield County. Captain James C. Henley. Lieutenants George Orman and Henry C. Sites. (Soon became Company K of the Eighty-Fifth O.V.I.). Company K: Recruited from near Pleasantville and Royalton principally. Captain James C. Henley. First Lieutenant Henry E. Hoew. Second Lieutenant Harlow Park.
Ninetieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Contained two companies from Fairfield County. Colonels were Isaac N. Ross, Charles H. Rippey and Samuel N. Yeoman. Company D: Captain Alvah Perry. First Lieutenant John M. Sutphen. Second Lieutenant George W. Welsh. Company I: Captain Lewis R. Carpenter. First Lieutenant Augustus A. Keller. Second Lieutenant Samuel Weidner.
One Hundred and Fortieth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Company K: Recruited from Fairfield land Pickaway Counties. Captain George W. Hurst of Williamsport. Lieutenants Isaac Butterfield and Joseph Bury. One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Commanded by Colonel Benj. F. Smith. The Lieutenant-Colonel of this regiment was Aaron E. Ebright of Fairfield County and he was killed at Winchester, Virginia, September 19, 1864. Company I: Recruited principally from Fairfield County from Pleasant, Richland, Walnut and Rush Creek Townships. Captain Henry C. Yontz of New Salem. Lieutenants were Jacob Lamb and Joseph C. Watson.
One Hundred and Seventy-Eighth Ohio Volunteer Infantry: Commanded by Colonel J. A. Stafford. Company C: Recruited from Ross and Fairfield Counties. Captain Charles Cavinor of Ross County. Lieutenants P. H. McGrew and J. A. Sears. The two color bearers of Company C, Irvin Linn and George Crumley, were shot to death at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry: Colonel Milligan in command. Company F: Recruited from Fairfield County by Captain Valentine Cupp who was promoted to Major and Lieutenant-Colonel and fell at Chickamauga, Tennessee. Lieutenants were Lafayette Pickering, J. H. Pierce, Allen T. Overly, Wm. J. Lowder, George V. Ward, Henry G. Ward, Wm. T. Brison and Geo.. W. Keys.
Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Cavalry: Company C: Largely recruited from Fairfield County. Captain Thomas L. Mackey of Chillicothe. First Lieutenant John Van Pearce of Lancaster. Second Lieutenant Thomas P. Clark of Springfield. John P. Reeves of Lancaster later became a lieutenant.
Sixth-Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry: Clement F. Steele of Lancaster was Major and promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. Contained a few Fairfield County soldiers.
One Hundred and Twenty-Third Ohio Volunteer Cavalry: Henry B. Hunter of Lancaster was Lieutenant-Colonel.
Fourth and Tenth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry: Each included a quota from Fairfield County.
Twelfth U. S. Regulars, Company A: Recruited in Fairfield County.
Seventy-Third, One Hundred and Seventy-Sixth, Eighteenth, Sixtieth and many others were also represented.
Information for this article was taken from History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Ohio, compiled by A. A. Graham (pages 115 – 132). See these pages for more information including the formation and re-formation of the various companies and descriptions of military actions. See also the Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 – 1866. This multi-volumed set gives a short history of each regiment as well as rosters of the field and staff and those who served in each company, along with rank, age, date of entering service, period of service, and remarks. These volumes, along with an index on microfilm, are available in the Historical Room of the Fairfield County District Library.