History of Athens County, Ohio – During the War of the Rebellion

During the terrible four years, from 1861 to 1865, in which the government waged a tremendous war to preserve its own existence, and the union of the states, Athens county was not behind any portion of the loyal north, in the promptness and zeal of her responses to every call. According to the United States census report of 1860, the number of male inhabitants of the county in that year, between the ages of fifteen and fifty, both inclusive, was five thousand and eighty-nine. The county furnished to the government during the war, in all, two thousand six hundred and ten soldiers, [ref]This is the number that served in the army, and does not include one thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven men who volunteered and served in repelling the “Morgan raid,” in 1863, nor one hundred and sixty “squirrel hunters,” who hurried to the defense of Cincinnati, in 1862.[/ref] or more than fifty per cent. of her men able to bear arms. In other words, of the able-bodied men in the county, every other one left his business and his family to assist in suppressing the rebellion. This is. a record of which the county may well be proud-a record which no county in the state of Ohio, and, we dare say, few counties in all the northern states, can surpass. And it should be added that no draft was ever made in the county. What she did was done voluntarily, and stands as a lasting monument of her patriotism. During this trying period, the mass of her people, women not less than men, were profoundly stirred, and a loyal zeal pervaded all. For directing that zeal and organizing it into acts, for keeping up the patriotic fervor, and giving it practical, constant, and continuous expression, great credit belongs to the military committee of the county. During nearly the whole of the war that committee consisted of Henry T. Brown, M. M. Greene, James W. Bayard, Lot L. Smith, Simeon W. Pickering, Joseph M. Dana, E. H. Moore, and W. R. Golden.

But even far more deserving than these of lasting remembrance and perpetual honor, were the men of the county who volunteered and served the country in the field. If it were possible, we should have liked to record here, as a small tribute to their patriotism, the name of every Athens county volunteer, officers and privates. It would have been a list of heroes. Our efforts, however, to obtain such a complete list have proved unavailing, and we can only present the following exhibit, which is accurate.* These figures furnish but a bald outline of the stirring and tragic history of the war period. It is easy to write that Athens county contributed two thousand six hundred and ten men to – fight for the Union, but this statement conveys not even a suggestion of the events that were transpiring in her borders during those years. Meetings were held by day and night in all parts of the county, local committees appointed in every township, christian commission and aid societies organized, and all these appliances again and again started, with renewed energy as the government repeated its calls for help. Scarcely a family but contributed its quota, and the vacant places in many a one remain unfilled to-day. Some families gave all their men; one widow gave five sons (Mrs. Anna Barrows, of Rome township,) and grim-visaged war crossed nearly every threshold, claiming the services of the bravest and best. All these things, with many others, and the names of those who enlisted, would properly appear in a history of the county during the rebellion; but that would form a volume of itself.


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