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History & Genealogy

A Standard History
Erie County, Ohio
An Authentic Narrative of the Past, with Particular Attention
to the Modern Era in the Commercial, Industrial,
Civic and Social Development.  A Chron-
icle of the People, with Family
Lineage and Memoirs.
Assisted by the Board of Advisory Editors
Volume I.
The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York

Chapter XXX.
The Military History of Erie County.

     The following is a list of Revolutionary soldiers buried in Erie County:
     John McMillen - Died in Huron, Ohio; age, 81 years; a private in the New Jersey Continental line; a pensioner; buried in McMillen Cemetery, Huron; on pension list September 18, 1818, under act of Congress, March 18, 1818.
     Daniel Carpenter - Private Connecticut Continental; on pension list February 10, 1820, under act of Congress, March 18, 1818.
     Michael Chapman - Private Connecticut Continental; on pension list July 5, 1828, under act of Congress, March 18, 1818; buried at Huron.
     Henry Cherry - Huron; private New Jersey Continental; on pension list June 7, 1819, under act of Congress, March 18, 1818.
     John or (Johnathon) Church - Pennsylvania Continental; on pension list October 18, 1819, under act of Congress, March 18, 1818.
     Isaac Curtis (Custis) - Huron; private New York State troops; on pension list September 16, 1833, under act of Congress, July 7, 1832.
     C. Lambert Sheffer - Private New Jersey Continental; buried about two miles south of Birmingham, Ohio, Florence Township, on the bank of Vermilion River on pension list May 23, 1833, under act of Congress, July 7, 1832.
     David Carswell
- Born 1764; died 1844; private in New York Continental line; buried in Oakland Cemetery, Sandusky, Ohio; a pensioner.
     Aaron Van Benschotin - Born 1746; died 1836; private in Captain Coulter New York Company; at one time hostler for George Washington; buried in Peaks Burying Ground, near Ceylon, Ohio.
     Jabez, Parsons - Born 1753; died 1836; sergeant in Wolcott's Regiment, Connecticut; buried in Huron, Ohio.
Hunt - Served as a private during the whole war; buried near Spragues Corners, Florence, Ohio.    
     John Brooks, Sr.
- Served as a private during the whole war; buried near Spragues Corners, Florence, Ohio.
     Frederick Falley - Born 1764 in Westfield, Massachusetts; died July 3, 1828; at eleven years of age was fifer in his father's company at the battle of Bunker Hill; buried at Castalia; Massachusetts records; reported as having listed and served as fifer in Capt. Warham Park's Company, June 10, 1775; Colonel Danielson's regiment of eight-months' men; was with the army at the siege of Boston.
     Chauncey Cook - Aged eighty years; Oxford Township, Erie County, Ohio.
     Robert Ransom -
     Eli Halliday -
     Joseph Remington
- Groton Township; age, seventy-seven; resided in Erie County, 1840.
     Joseph Ransom - Private Connecticut State troops; placed on pension list July 24, 1833, under act of Congress, June 7, 1832.

Veterans of War of 1812.

     One of the most prominent of the veterans of War of 1812 was Col. William McCartney, who served in the Mexican war later.  He died March 9, 1878.
     The Register of April 13, 1871, contains a list of six veterans of the War of 1812, then living in Erie County, and furnished by S. C. Wheeler:
     William Bridgman, aged ninety-five years, August 5, 1870.  He enlisted May 9, 1812, in Captain Towl's Company, Nineteenth Regiment United States Infantry, and was discharged August 19, 1817.  He took part in the battle of Sackett's Harbor, was married to Mary McKinney, March, 1820, at Buffalo, New York, and in 1871 lived in Sandusky.
     Elihu Parker, aged seventy-four years, August 12, 1870.  He entered Colonel Codgram's Regiment, Ohio Militia, in January, 1813, and served until the following August.  He marched through the wilds of Ohio and Michigan to Detroit and to Fort Gratiot, where he worked on the fortification.  He fought in the battle of Mackinaw.  In 1871 he lived in Oxford Township.
     David Cronk, aged seventy-seven years, January 26, 1871.  He was drafted at Summers, New York, in June, 1813, and entered Colonel Swartout's Squadron of Light Horse.  He was quartered three months on the south side of Long Island under the command of General Courtland.  He was married January 28, 1820, at Covert, Seneca County, New York, to Miss Martha Sneed, and in 1871 lived in Perkins Township.
     Henry James, aged seventy-three years, October 10, 1870.  Enlisted in December, 1813, in the Thirteenth Regiment, United States Infantry, under Colonel Sprawl, which was quartered at Green Bush, near Albany, New York.  He was in the battles of Sackett's Harbor, Plattsburg, Lundy's Lane, and after the war served the balance of five years at Fort Gratiot, Michigan, in Captain Pellman's Company.  He came to Ohio in 1818 and settled in Margaretta Township, where he still resided in 1871.
     Benjamin D. Wheeler was seventy-three years of age in 1871, and then lived in Carroll Township, Missouri, Mandeville County.  He entered Captain Ross' Company in February, 1814, and was discharged at Upper Sandusky in August.
     Nathan Ladd, aged seventy-five years, May 26, 1870, was drafted in September 1814, from Hampden, Massachusetts, and entered Captain Day's Company, Colonel Mack's Regiment.  On March 23, 1820, he was married to Hannah Webster and in 1871 lived in Milan Township, where he had resided with his wife for forty-five years.
     On March 28, 1885, a reunion of veterans of the Mexican war was held at Sandusky, Ohio, and the Register notes as among the Erie County veterans present, William Wermuth, Joseph Boals, John McGookey, Judson A. Rathburn, John Ray and C. Schelb.

Civil War.

     As early as the year 1832 John N. Sloan, then an enterprising merchant at Sandusky, was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the First Light Infantry Battalion, Second Brigade and Third Division.  After this time, and while the people of the county were engaged in the arts of peace, they were unconsciously perhaps, preparing for war.  Various portion of the county had their representative companies.
     In Sandusky many of the older people will remember the days of glory of the Bay City Guards, an organization formed in 1851, and under the command of Capt. R. R. McMeens, a physician of the city; the Sandusky Flying Artillery, A. Silva, commandant; the Yeager Rifle Company, L. Traub commanding, and others, perhaps, whose greatest victories were achieved among the fair sex.
     But there came a time a few years later when these had an opportunity of exhibiting their valor upon the bloody fields of battle from the first Bull Run to the Appomattox; from the state of Pennsylvania to the Gulf of Mexico.
When on that fateful morning of April, 1861, there appeared, in answer to Moultrie's guns, upon our political horizon the words "Civil War," the sturdy men of Ohio were at once to the fore, and from that day to the time that Lee yielded to that old hero, "Unconditional Surrender" Grant, this state was seldom behind her quota.  Let us see what Ohio did during this four years of internecine strife. 
     Upon the authority of Mr. Reid it may be stated that under Mr. Lincoln's call, on April 15, 1861, for 75,000 men, Ohio furnished 12,357; July 22, 1861, 84,116; July 2, 1862, 58,325; August 4, 1862, ----- (nine months' men); June 15, 1863, 2,736 (militia); October 17, 1863, 32,837; March 14, 1863, 29,931; April 22, 1864, 36,254 (one hundred days' service); July 18, 1864, 30,823; December 19, 1864, 23,275.  In all Ohio furnished under these several demands for men on aggregate of 420,654 men, while her total quota amounted to 306,322 men.
     The fact appears that the County of Erie was represented by men in no less than thirty different regiments, although the number in each averaged considerably less than 100.  Among those were some of the most daring fighters in the service.
     To the military history of Erie County there attaches an additional interest from the fact of Johnson's Island, having been made a national depot for the detention of captured rebel officers.  This island is not a part of Erie County, but Sandusky seems to have been the central and prominent point and the base of all operations on the island.  From here all prisoners were placed on boats and conveyed to the island, and furthermore, all supplies were obtained here.  The establishment of a prisoner's depot on Johnson's Island was brought about through the energy and exertions of a few of the leading business men of Sandusky, who at once saw that such a station would be of great value to trade in the city and that the officers' quarters would be in and about the town rather than on the island.
     The officer of the war department to whom was entrusted the duty of selecting a site for the depot was inclined to favor Detroit, and came to this city mainly in fulfillment of a duty and not that he desired to locate the place of detention here; but the business men accorded him such a worm reception, and showed a willingness to give the enterprise such substantial aid, that the agent could not well to do otherwise than accept the offers made him.

One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Regiment.

     The guarding force of this important point was made up, in the main, of Ohio troops, prominent among which was the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Regiment; therefore, the history of that regiment, a portion of which was from Erie County, is closely associated with the events that transpired during the occupancy of the island for the purposes stated, and will be written in connection therewith.  A still greater interest and importance was given this locality during the years of the war, through the exploits of John Yates Beall, who made a fruitless attempt to rescue the prisoners on the island, which attempt will be found detailed in these pages, together with an account of the execution of that daring young officer.
     For the following account of the history of the Johnson's Island Prisoners' Depot, and the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Regiment, we are indebted to the work entitled "Ohio in the War," edited by Mr. Whitelaw Reid, later of the New York Tribune.  The narrative was compiled and written so soon after the close of the war that it is doubtful whether any additional facts can be stated, even at this time; therefore, we copy from Mr. Reid, giving him full credit for the original production:
     "The One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Ohio, although chiefly occupied in guard duty within the borders of the state was an organization of three years' troops, enlisted and mustered into the United States service wherever required.  It attained minimum strength on the 25th of December, 1863, and consisted of four companies, before known as the 'Hoffman Battalion' raised at different times in 1862.  At and before the time of forming the regiment of Hoffman Battalion was under the command of a lieutenant-colonel and major.  Six new companies were mustered in at Camp Taylor, near Cleveland, between the 8th and 15th of January, 1864.  The four old companies had been on duty at Johnson's Island nearly all the time since their muster-in, but had frequently furnished detachments for service elsewhere, including a short and very active campaign in pursuit of rebel troops in West Virginia in 1862.
     "The One Hundred and Twenty-eighth having been chiefly occupied at the frontier posts of Johnson's Island and Sandusky, its services necessarily involves much of the military history of these posts, and can better be understood by giving a brief synopsis of that history.
     "Early in 1862 Johnson's Island became a depot exclusively for rebel officers who were held as prisoners of war.
     "It should be remembered that a cartel for a general exchange of prisoners of war had long been expected, and was finally agreed upon July 22, 1862.  Under that cartel and special arrangement exchanges went on until July, 1863, and a continuance was expected.  This expectation, with the belief of general loyalty in the north, and the want of help in Canada, had their legitimate influence on the prisoners, and undoubtedly prevented efforts at outbreak and resistance until late in the fall of 1863.
     "In the spring and summer of 1862 the garrison on the island was strengthened by one company of the Sixty-first Ohio, relieved by one company of the Eighty-eighth.  The stoppage of exchanges, followed by the assembling of considerable forces from the rebel army and navy in Canada, and the machinations of disloyal organizations in Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere known to intend to rescue these prisoners with attendant devastations on the lake towns and commerce, showed these posts to be unsafe without considerable reinforcements.  Six companies of the Twelfth Ohio Cavalry (dismounted), with the Twenty-fourth Battery (six guns), and two detachments of the First Ohio Heavy Artillery (with seven heavy guns) were sent to the island early in November, 1863, followed promptly by the Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Regiments of the National Guard and a Pennsylvania Battery.  The Forty-ninth and Fiftieth remained only eight or ten days, and the Pennsylvania Battery was soon relieved.  The other troops remained all winter.
     "The First Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Corps, including five regiments, attended by two brigadier-generals form the Army of the Potomac, reached Sandusky on the 13th of January, 1864.  Four of the regiments, with General Shaler, were stationed on the island.  The other regiment, with General H. D. Terry, commanding the whole, was at Sandusky.  They all remained until April 14, 1864, when three regiments under General Shaler left to rejoin the Sixth Corps.  The Twenty-fourth Battery was stationed in Sandusky, and the six cavalry companies left for Camp Dennison in March.  Soon after, the six new companies of the Twenty-eighth, pursuant to orders from Washington, were moved to Sandusky, and on the 14th of April, 1864, with the colonel, were stationed on the island.  The whole regiment was thus, for the first time, assembled as one command.
     "On the 8th of May, 1864, Colonel Hill, of the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth, succeeded General Terry in the command, and the two remaining regiments from the Sixth Corps moved off to rejoin that corps.  On the 12th of July, 1864, the detachment from the First Heavy Artillery returned to their regiment, and on the 7th of August following the Twenty-fourth Battery left for Chicago.  Other troops came to the island and departed as follows:  May 11, the One Hundred and Seventy-first Ohio National Guard; it left June 9th for Cleveland and Kentucky; returned June 20th much reduced, eight of the companies being then paroled prisoners, not subject to duty; they were mustered out August 20.  The One Hundred and Sixty-fifth Ohio National Guard (five hundred and forty-nine men) reported for duty May 21, and left July 16.  The Eighth Battery Ohio National Guard reported September 22, and left October 19, and was succeeded by the Second Battery Ohio National Guard, which left November 26.  These National Guard troops were sent to the island chiefly as a place of rendezvous, equipment and instruction preparatory to service elsewhere.  On the 24th of September the Sixth Veteran Reserve Corps (five hundred and sixty-three men) from Washington reported for duty.
     "The One Hundred and Twenty-eighth from the time its being first assembled on the island was kept under strict drill and discipline.
     "The condition of the island, and of the docks, roads and barracks upon it required heavy details of working parties to open ways of communication for defense, complete and improve and quarters, enlarge the prison grounds and accommodations, and improve the sanitary condition of the island, which had been much neglected for many months.
     "The strength of the One Hundred and Twenty-eighth, present for duty from early in May until late in the fall, was much reduced by detachments and heavy details for special duty and necessary working parties, the guard-duty became very severe; often, and for considerable periods, requiring the majority of the men remaining for that service to go on guard duty every other day.
     "The number of prisoners of war confined on the island during the year 1864 ranged as follows, varied chiefly by new acquisitions and special exchanges: January 31, 2,603; February 29, 2,206; March 31, 2,192; April 30, 2,088; May 31, 2,134; June 30, 2,309; July 31, 2,441; August 31, 2,556; September 30, 2,663; October 31, 2,621; November 30, 2,747; December 31, 3,209.
      "From the foregoing table it appears that the average strength of prisoners for the different years was as follows: Average for 1862, 788; 1863, 1,205; 1864, 2,480.
      "In 1865, until discharges on oath of allegiance or parole became more numerous, following the surrender of Lee's army, the number of prisoners ranged considerable higher, and excepting about one hundred, they were all officers of the rebel army and navy, of all grades, from second lieutenant to major-general.
     "Here were officers enough for an army and navy of eighty thousand men.  They were within a short distance of the Canada main, and still nearer to a Canada island.  The prevailing sympathy in Canada was largely in favor of the rebels; and their every facility and encouragement, short of direct participation in our war, was extended to the large rebel force from the rebel army and navy maintained in Canada to effect a rescue of these rebel officers.  If by such efforts war should be brought on between the United States and England a great point would be gained by the rebels.  No other depot of prisoners of war was on a frontier or exposed like this.  During the season of navigation it could be reached form Canada in a few hours' night run, and during the winter season men and teams could conveniently cross the lake from island to island, not over five miles of ice intervening in any place.  During the season of ice the location of the depot of prisoners practically ceased to be an island.  The capture of that depot or the rescue of the prisoners confined there, would not only be of immense advantage to the rebel cause and give them great eclat, but would be a deep humiliation to our government and people, and would almost certainly be attended by attacks upon our lake commerce and devastation upon our lake towns.  The rebel officers confined at the island had a large range of acquaintances and friends in the loyal States.  For them the rebel emissaries traveling in those States, and the secret orders known as the "Knights of the Golden Circle' and 'Sons of Liberty,' had an especial sympathy, and were anxious to aid them by means of rescue, or with places of refuge and concealment.  They had the means of knowing each other.  These facts, with the difficulty about exchanges, stimulated machinations for rescue, front and rear, and kept the prisoners constantly on the quivive, ready for any desperate adventure until after the fall of Petersburg."
     It appears that there was but a single well organized attempt to effect a rescue of the prisoners on Johnson's Island, and that attempt was made in the month of September, 18964, although prior to that it was well known that the Canadian side of the lake swarmed with agents of the rebel government and sympathizing residents, subjects of England, who were ever willing to lend aid to the Confederate cause in an under-handed manner, but were not so willing to participate in open, warlike hostilities.
     The plan of rescue that led to the open attempt on the 19th of September was conceived by John Yates Beall.  He was to conduct the operations from the Canada side while one Cole was entrusted with the work of gaining the confidence of the officers at Sandusky, and particularly

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