The Western Reserve Chronicle of Aug. 19, 1863, reported the story of a railroad accident in Cleveland that resulted in the death of Adjutant Charles A. Brooks of the 7th Ohio Infantry Regiment. The Chronicle stated the following:
"On last Thursday evening (August 13th), between nine and ten o'clock, an accident occurred at the depot in Cleveland, which resulted in the death of Adjutant Brooks, of Bristol, in this county. Some Toledo (railroad) cars were being switched into the depot, when an omnibus, in which Adjutant Brooks and four other passengers were riding, was driven up on the track."
The Chronicle continued the story by quoting the newspaper article in the Daily Cleveland Herald of Aug. 14:
"Just as the engine had switched off on the side track, and the cars were running into the depot, one of the Stevens line of omnibuses, with five persons in it, drove up to cross the track. Mr. Swan, Master Mechanic of the railroad shop, says the crossing tender shouted to the driver to keep back, and swung his green lantern which is the signal to clear the track. No attention was paid to the warning until the omnibus got on the track, when it pulled up. The crossing tender then shouted "For God's sake, get off the track or you will all get killed."
"The driver whipped up his horses and started across, but it was too late.
"One of the occupants of the omnibus, Conductor L. B. Roberts, of the C. C. & C. road, jumped out, and escaped without injury. A second man, named Brady, connected the omnibus line, followed him, but was struck by the car and knocked down, fortunately receiving no serious injury. Another passenger, Adjutant Brooks, of the 7th Ohio, jumped out, but was knocked down by the cars, and fell directly in front of the cars between the wheels. He caught the bar of the trucks, and was dragged along for some distance. His legs were caught by the wheels, and frightfully crushed, when he was compelled to let go of his hold. The left leg was crushed below the knee, so that it hung by a piece of skin only. His right foot and
ankle were smashed into a shapeless mass. Several other serious injuries were inflicted on his person."
The Cleveland Daily Plain Dealer reported that the railroad car "passed over his legs, cutting the left completely off below the knee and crushing the right ankle and foot."
The Western Reserve Chronicle reported the attempt to save Brooks:
"Adjutant Brooks was taken to the New England House, and Dr. Beckwith was sent for, but it was impossible to save his life. He was placed under the influence of chloroform to allay his excruciating pains, and he died this morning (August 14th) at 2 o'clock. His remains were taken charge of by Mr. H. S. Stevens, and will be sent to the mother of the deceased at Bristol, Trumbull County."
The Daily Cleveland Herald of Aug. 15 added that Brooks' body was taken to the undertaker's establishment of Mr. Howland:
"His remains were placed in a neat coffin, and will be taken to this former home near Warren, this morning, on the 7:30 train on the Mahoning road. Adjutant Brooks enlisted in the 7th Ohio on June 20, 1861, when but 18 years of age, and has participated in all the privations, marches, and battles of that glorious regiment. He wore upon his cap a beautiful silver star, upon the points of which were engraved the names of five of the principal battles in which he had been engaged, and in the centre that of the bloody field of Chancellorsville."
The Chronicle noted that Brooks "entered the 7th Ohio Infantry Regiment as a private on its first organization, and became Sergeant of Company H. He was wounded in the hand at the battle of Cedar Mountain. He subsequently received promotion to a second lieutenancy, and soon afterwards to a first lieutenancy, and was made Adjutant of the Regiment. He was on his way home from Cincinnati, his business to the State being connected with the procural of men for the regiment. He was a fine built man, and was as good a soldier as ever shouldered a musket or drew a sword." At his death Brooks' age was 20 years, 3 months, 14 days. He was one of six children of David C. and Antoinette A. Brooks of Bristol.
The Western Reserve Chronicle concluded its tragic account as follows:
"His remains were received at this place (Warren) on Saturday forenoon, and conveyed to the residence of his mother in Bristol and interred in the afternoon. An excellent discourse was preached by Rev. Mr. Pattee, after which Colonel Joel F. Asper made some appropriate remarks, pronouncing a deserved eulogy over the deceased."
"By request, a portion of the Warren Volunteer Company, under the command of Col. Asper, were present. They escorted the corpse to the church where the services were held, thence to the cemetery, and as the rays of the setting sun gleamed on their line of muskets, the last volley was fired over the grave of the patriot soldier, whose morning was so full of promise, but whose sun had gone down while it was yet day."
Brooks' grave in Bristolville's Evergreen Cemetery is one of the first decorated for the community's Memorial Day remembrances. In October 1863, his name was one of those inscribed on Ohio's first Civil War Monument which graces the Town Park of Bristolville. In 1880, his Civil War Comrades honored Brooks by naming their G.A.R. Post for him. With this look back at our local history, we remember a life lost one hundred and fifty years ago this week.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.