Civil War Index Page
Shelby County, Ohio, was an agrarian society in 1861. A
majority of the residents lived on farms. Because area residents were of necessity
self-sufficient, and transportation was cumbersome and expensive, very few men had ever
been as far away as Dayton. Within a few short months, hundreds of homesick young men
would be swept from Shelby County and thrust into a maelstrom of violence hundreds of
Although not well
traveled, they were fiercely patriotic. The country was less than a century old. A number
of county residents in 1861 had either served in the War
of 1812 or the war with Mexico in 1848, or knew someone who had.
It is probable few county residents had definite opinions
about the subject of slavery. A number
of free blacks lived here. Rumley, a community of
African Americans located in Van Buren Township, had as many as 300 residents. There is
little evidence that escaped slaves settled here prior to the Civil War. However, there
was much discussion about the great issue of the day - whether the states would remain one
or the union would be torn asunder.
The national issue had been framed over two decades prior
to the war. With the activities of John Brown and the other abolitionists, the talk was everywhere. Abraham Lincoln prophetically stated
in 1838: "At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall we expect
some transatlantic military giant, to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All
the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa...combined could not by force take a drink from the
Ohio in a trial of a thousand years...If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its
author and finisher."
This section contains a general chronological summary of
the efforts of Shelby Countys citizens in the war both on the battlefield,
and at home.
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