Have you been to the Ghost Walk conducted by the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County? If you haven't, there is still an opportunity to do so Friday and Saturday.
If you have taken the walk, you know the story of a Warren Civil War soldier is told at two stops during the trek. That soldier was Charley Freas of Company C of the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI).
Now, I am not going to relate Charley's story here. I leave you to hear it yourself and draw your own conclusions.
What is interesting to me is that the 19th OVI has not received much press in this column or in historical accounts of Trumbull in the Civil War. Yet Trumbull residents were represented in companies B, C and G of that regiment.
The 19th participated in 17 major engagements in the Western Theater, from the Battle of Rich Mountain (now West Virginia) in 1861 to the Battle of Nashville in 1864. It was at such hotspots as Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and the Battle of Franklin (Tenn).
So, Charley Freas saw more than his share of some of the bloodiest combat. It might well account for his post-war civilian behavior recounted in the Ghost Walk.
The 19th OVI three-year regiment was organized in Alliance on Sept. 25, 1862, under the command of Col. Samuel Beatty of Stark County. When Beatty was promoted, Charles F. Manderson took over the command and led the regiment at the Battle of Shiloh in April of 1862.
The 19th was also engaged, albeit in reserve, at the Battle of Perryville, near Lexington, Ky., which took place just more than a 150 years ago, Oct. 8, 1862. It was the largest battle in the state of Kentucky.
At the time it was the second-bloodiest battle in the Western Theater, only exceeded by Shiloh.
The Union commander, Don Carlos Buell, had been thrown by his horse and was recuperating on his cot some three miles distant from the battle.
An acoustic shadow prevented him from hearing the heavy gunfire coming from the battlefield. Accordingly, he dismissed subordinate's reports of heavy fighting and failed to commit most of his reserves.
Of 55,000 Union troops in the area, only 22,000 participated in the battle that day, which turned out to be a Confederate tactical victory.
But when the Confederate commander, Braxton Bragg, discovered that night that he was short on supplies and facing a much larger Union force than he had on the battlefield, he decided to retreat back into Tennessee.
From that perspective, Perryville was a Union strategic victory. Like Gettysburg in the Eastern Theater, Perryville was the Confederate "high water mark" in the Western Theater. It was the farthest north the Confederates would penetrate with any threatening force. (John Hunt Morgan and his raiders might have been frightening but did not threaten the loss of the Union cause.)
A recent local event has direct ties to Trumbull and Perryville. Only a few weeks ago, the Sutliff Museum in the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library became the recipient of a full Civil War Union captain's uniform. The uniform is on display.
The captain that wore that uniform was Leander Dwight Kee of Greene. He commanded Co. I of the 105th OVI at Perryville and paid the ultimate price that day.
Trumbull County was represented in Companies B, C and I of the 105th OVI. Perryville was its first engagement since being formed. It was a bloody initiation, as the 105th was in the thick of the fighting. Some of its inexperienced recruits were even asked to perform unfamiliar gunnery duty with Parson's battery.
Ultimately, the Union forces, including the 105th on the extreme Union left, were driven from their position on the Open Knob and forced to give ground from the blistering Confederate assault by Gen. George Maney. That segment of the Union line fell back over a mile.
But at the end of day, the Union line was reinforced, stabilized and held. Although bloodied, the 105th survived and went on to distinguished service in 13 more major engagements of the Western Theater, ultimately ending its fighting at the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina in the last days of the war.
The 105th ultimately lost 107 men killed in action or from battle wounds and 133 to disease, a ratio that was generally common to many regiments.
The 105th's memory lives on today in northeast Ohio through the 105th OVI Civil War Re-enactors. Many of them volunteer to support events that we, the Trumbull County CW150 Committee, initiate and conduct, for example, our Antietam Commemoration at the McKinley Museum in Niles on Sept. 22.
We are especially grateful for their participation and equally thankful to the all the other re-enactors that help us make Civil War history come alive.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.