During this week in 1863, Trumbull County troops of the 125th OVI played a limited role in the 1st Battle of Franklin, Tenn., on April 10. Confederate cavalry leader Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn made a weak reconnaissance in force from his base in Spring Hill, Tenn., against federal troops in Franklin under Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, who made an equally inept response.
Van Dorn's attack was so weak that Granger believed a false report that Brentwood, to the north, was under attack. Perceiving that Van Dorn's movement was merely a diversion, Granger sent away most of his cavalry to Brentwood. When Granger discovered there was no threat to Brentwood, he decided to attack Van Dorn. But Granger discovered, to his surprise, that one of his subordinates had already initiated an attack without orders.
Brig. Gen. David S. Stanley, with a cavalry brigade, crossed the Harpeth River at Hughes' Ford, behind the Confederate right rear. The 4th U.S. Cavalry attacked and captured a Tennessee battery but lost it when Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Union Army nemesis, counterattacked.
Stanley's troopers withdrew across the Big Harpeth River. Due to the attack in his rear echelon Van Dorn decided to cancel his operation and withdrew back to Spring Hill, leaving the federals back in control of the area. At the end of the day territorial control remained the same, although the engagement was considered a Union victory, presumably because it suffered fewer casualties. (It was Van Dorn's final engagement. He was shot and killed by a jealous husband on May 7, 1863, in his headquarters in Spring Hill.)
Small pockets of Rebel forces managed to make incursions into Franklin but were handily dispatched by members of the 125th OVI.
In a letter to his wife Lucy, Trumbull's Col. Emerson Opdycke recounted the following with respect to the battle:
''The 125th was ordered to a position to the left of the fort (Fort Granger), and a section of artillery (two guns) was sent to me. I could see the rebel line of battle easily; they would scatter briskly when our shells burst among them, but they did not approach us near enough for the use of small arms.
At 4:15 PM General Gilbert ordered me to take command of the 113th Ohio and the 125th, and a section of artillery, and with all possible dispatch open communications with Gen. Stanley, who was reported cut off from here. We were soon on the double quick: in an hour I reported to Gen. S. who was safe and sound.
"Thirty rebels were left dead on the field, and those killed by our artillery were carried off: we kept fifty-two prisoners ..."
Three Roman Consuls Seek PenPals?
In scanning the Western Reserve Chronicle for this period 150 years ago, I came across some articles of interest. The first contained the headline "Wanted-Correspondence."
It was kind of like a social medium of the day and read: "Three talented and educated young gentlemen of rank and position in the U. S. Army, wish to correspond with three young ladies-romantic, pure, and fun-loving; with a view to friendship, love or anything to break in upon the dull monotony of camp life. Photographs preferred. Address: Caesar Anthony, Augustus Cicero, Marcus Brutus, Co. "A", 23rd Regt. O.V.I. , Charleston, West Va."
New Colors for the 7th OVI
A reprint from the Cleveland Herald was entitled A New Flag For The Old Seventh. It read: "A few of the many friends of Col. Creighton and the Seventh Regiment (OVI) raised a subscription last week and presented the Colonel with a new flag for the Regiment in place of the old one, which is no longer serviceable, having been carried through seven engagements and received eighty-three bullet holes. The new Flag is a handsome silk National color, of regulation size, and was manufactured by G. W. Cromwell & Co., of this city (Cleveland)..."
The 7th OVI was one of the earliest units formed in Ohio and represented the Western Reserve. Company H was composed of boys from Trumbull County. It had one of the most distinguished service records of any unit in the Union Army and earned the sobriquet: "The Bloody Seventh."
In 1860, Ohio had more colleges than any state in the Union. One of the most renowned of those institutions was Oberlin, which was already notable - or perhaps notorious - for its support of progressive causes. It was certainly noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students.
The Chronicle reprinted a story from the Oberlin News entitled Oberlin College and the War, which read: "We have been at some pains to ascertain, as nearly as possible, how many students, in actual attendance here, have thrown up their studies and entered the army since the war began. Our list shows a total of one hundred and eighty-eight who have left our halls to take the field."
"We suppose no other school in the land has sent out so many soldiers."
"Thirty of them hold or have held commissions.-More than that number, alas, have fallen victims to the hospital, prison and battlefield."
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.