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100 Years Ago


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The End of the War

Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox courthouse on April 9, 1865, marked the official end of the hostilities. Some of the units from Shelby County were discharged before then, such as Schultz's Battery (October, 1864), but most served until after the end of the war. The men of the 20th were mustered out in Columbus on July 18, 1865. The 15th Ohio was sent to Texas, and remained in the service until December of 1865. It was a frustrating time. Dr. Albert Wilson, the first Shelby Countian to enlist, wrote to his brother Henry on June 1, 1865. "All are very anxious to get released and get home as rapidly as possible. I have no desire to remain longer in the service." He was home within the next month.

Tragedy continued to haunt some soldiers even as they wound their way slowly back to their homes. Ft. Loramie farmer Henry Tholmier was back at Camp Dennison in Ohio, waiting to be discharged, when he was accidentally shot and killed by a provost guard.

Perhaps the most senseless tragedy struck those who had already suffered the most. On April 26, 1865, the decks of the steamship Sultana were packed with emaciated Union soldiers who had just been released from Confederate prisons. As the ship headed up the Mississippi River, Shelby County soldiers William F. Clancy, a druggist by trade, and G. W. Shearer were on board. The ship's boilers blew up as the Sultana was in midstream, and 1,700 men, including Clancy and Shearer, died.

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Men crowd the decks of the Sultana

Earlier in the war, John Hall of Sidney was heading toward home for a furlough aboard a steamer when he fell overboard at night.

C. L. Ruggles, the famed 20th Ohio spy and scout, found out he could not get paid or discharged as he did not have the right 'papers' due to the secret nature of most of his assignments. Personal commendation letters from two Union generals were necessary for him to obtain his discharge. The men who returned home were given discharge papers.

After the surrender of the remnants of the Confederate army at Appomattox, President Jefferson Davis attempted to escape to England. A massive manhunt was launched to capture him. Sidney school teacher J. D. Ferree, who served during the war with the 1st Ohio Cavalry, volunteered as one of 35 men to dress as Confederate soldiers and infiltrate enemy territory. After narrowly escaping capture themselves, the men aided in the capture of Davis ten days later.  

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Confederate President Jefferson Davis

'Civil War' segment written in July, 1998 by Rich Wallace

 

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