Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

2017 was the best year yet for the Firelands History Website. I expect 2018 to be even better.

What will I be posting this year?

Pioneer FireplaceFirst up, I’ll finish re-posting the Sufferers’ Land series, which will take me to the end of February. In March, I’ll begin posting new stories based on research from The Firelands Pioneer, the journal of the Firelands Historical Society, and from W.W. William’s book History of the Firelands. For the past couple months, I’ve been reading the nineteen journals that make up the  Old Series of The Firelands Pioneer, looking for stories that I think will interest you.

Here are some of the topics I’ll be posting:

  • The trek to the Firelands by Henry and Amelia Lockwood and David and Elizabeth Gibbs. These two couples played a huge role in the early posts of the Sufferers’ Land series. But I have not yet told the harrowing story of their trek to the Firelands. It’s a heartrending tale of suffering and tragedy,  but ultimately an uplifting story of perseverance.
  • The life of the pioneers on the frontier: how they lived, cleared the land, and the hardships they endured, focusing on stories of the first settlers of the Firelands, from 1808 to 1812.
  • The War of 1812 in the Firelands, how those early pioneers fared in what became a no-man’s land between British and American forces.
  • The history of the Civil War, especially the story of the  55th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Norwalk’s own regiment.

I appreciate everyone who has stopped by this site over the past year, and look forward to sharing more tales of the Firelands with you in 2018.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

Dave Barton

 

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Norwalk, Ohio in the Civil War

On this, the anniversary of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant, we’ll take a look at the role of soldiers from Norwalk, Ohio in that struggle.

Norwalk actually fielded a regiment in the Civil War, the 55th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (O.V.I), [1] which was organized from September to December 1861 at Camp McClellan in Norwalk. [2]

The 55th O.V.I. was not at Appomattox with Grant on April 9, 1865, though. The day of Lee’s surrender, they were in North Carolina with General Sherman’s armies. Their war would not end until April 25, with the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston’s army at Bennett Place in Durham County, North Carolina. [3]

 

Bennett Place

A restoration of Bennett Place, North Carolina, site of the surrender of the largest number of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.

 

Another citizen of Norwalk with General Sherman’s armies on April 9th, 1865 was my great-great grandfather, David Benedict. But he was not serving in the 55th O.V.I. He was a surgeon with the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. [4]

David Benedict had been with the army since the beginning of the war. Captured at Chickamauga, he was held prisoner at Libby Prison for a few months before being exchanged. He returned to his regiment before the Battle of Atlanta, then, after the fall of that city, participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea. The army finished their march across Georgia on December 21st, 1864 when they accepted the surrender of the city of Savannah. A few days later, on Christmas Day, David Benedict went into the city from his camp in the outskirts to attend church and do a bit of sightseeing. He wrote a letter to his wife that evening, describing his day.

 

David DeForest Benedict

Doctor David Benedict

 

Years ago, I visited Savannah, and, using his letter as a guide, followed my great-great grandfather’s steps as he travelled through the city that Christmas Day so many years ago. In my next post, Hear the Chants Sung Once More, I’ll describe what I found.

 

Footnotes:

[1] For a history of the 55th O.V.I, see 55th Ohio Volunteer Regiment, on Wikipedia. A comprehensive bibliography is at 55th Ohio Infantry, compiled by Larry Stevens.

[2] Camp McClellan was located somewhere on the banks of the east branch of the Huron River; exactly where, I do not know. See Camp McClellan (Norwalk, Ohio), at Ohio Civil War Central for a description of the history of the camp.

[3] An account of the Confederate surrender is at Bennett Place, on Wikipedia.

[4] A history of the 17th O.V.I is at 17th Ohio Infantry on Wikipedia. A roster listing David Benedict is online at The Civil War Index: 17th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry  page 537.

 

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