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John K. Duke.

History of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men online

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Online LibraryJohn K. DukeHistory of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men → online text (page 21 of 24)
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out in April, 1861, and he was very impatient to respond to the
call that came to the young men from our imperilled country. His
brother, with whom he was in constant correspondence, was a
captain in the Army of the Potomac, and he chafed at the delay
until on September Kkh, 1861, he was appointed First Lieutenant
and Adjutant of the 53rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was then
full six feet tall, of a robust frame, and, with his soldierly bearing,
he was a model of manly grace and strength. Kindly and com-
panionable, while firm in the discharge of every duty, he was re-
spected and admired by the men of his regiment, and this feeling
grew as he showed his qualities of leadership, and his Sravery in
action under the severe tests of war.

Meagre details only can be given of a service which extended
over a period of three years and one month :

He was with his regiment in the campaign which culminated
in the bloody battle of Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, on April
6th and 7th, 1862. He was also in the battle at Fallen Timbers
on April 8th, 1862. He took part in the campaign and siege of
Corinth, Mississippi. On January 26th, 186.3, he was promoted
over the captains of the line to be Major of his regiment. With
this rank he served in the campaign under General Grant, which
ended in the siege and capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi. He
next took part in General Sherman's advance against Jackson,
Mississippi. Returning to Memphis, Tennessee, Sherman's corps
marched from that point to East Tennessee. On December IDth,
1863, he wrote : " Many of our men were without shoes, and often
marched over frozen ground with bleeding feet. We have marched
continuously since leaving Memphis, October 11th." He was in
the battle of Mission Ridge. In 1864 he was with General Sher-
man's army in the advance against Atlanta. His regiment par-
ticipated in the perils and hardships of that arduous campaign, and



53rd OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY. 251



was very hotly engaged at Resaca, Georgia. On May 28th, in
action at Dallas, Georgia, Major Dawes received a fearful wound.

By reason of this wound he was honorably discharged from
the military service on October 31st,' 18(34. March i;Uh, 18(Jo,
he was brevetted lieutenant-colonel, for gallant and meritorious
service during the war. His wound most seriously affected his
whole after life. He once said that he had never known one
waking moment free from pain. The wonder is not that death
claimed him at an age when he should have been in the prime of
vigorous life, but that he had lived for thirty years of the varied
and exacting activities of mind and body that characterized
his life. A friend who knew him during these years has
written : "No one could be in his company without a sense of
his extraordinary mental and moral gifts, and also without sym-
pathy for a not entirely suppressed sign of pain."

On June 20th, 18G6, Major Dawes was married, at Marietta,
Ohio, to Miss Frances Bosworth, daughter of Sala and Joanna
Shipman Bosworth.

Soon after his discharge from the military service, he had
been appointed to take charge of the terminal station of the Ma-
rietta & Cincinnati Railroad at Parkersburg, W. Va., and of the
transfer across the Ohio river. He soon became interested in the
business of handling and storing freights in Cincinnati. His firm
occupied the two upper stories of the old Cincinnati, Hamilton
and Dayton freight depot. ■ His business interests in the city were
soon enlarged in various ways and he removed to Cincinnati,
which was afterwards his home. He was engaged in the transfer
business, and was agent for the Diamond Fast Freight Line. He
was interested in a coal yard at Ludlow Grove, the coal being de-
livered by canal boats to their elevator on Central Avenue.

In 18G7, he became engaged with William P. Cutler and others,
in extensive railroad construction and operation. The Springfield
and Illinois Southeastern, the Chester and Tamaroa, and the



252 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE



Marion and Carbondale roads in Illinois, and the Logansport,
Crawfordsville and Sonthwestern road in Indiana, were bnilt and
operated by them. Major Dawes was the active manager of three
of these roads. As an executive officer, his best qualities were
displayed. He was prompt in decision, quick and accurate in cal-
culation, and had a thorough knowledge of details. He was firm,
but just with his employes, by whom he was much respected and
with whom he enjoyed great popularity.

In 1872, the construction of a railroad in Missouri, called the
Chester and Iron Mountain, was commenced. This enterprise
promised highly profitable results, but the panic of 1873 came on.
This sudden and all-pervading calamity destroyed for a time the
market for railroad securities on new lines. Major Dawes, after a
gallant struggle against a hard commercial fate, was finally, in
1874, forced into the general bankruptcy of the times, and stripped
of every dollar of property he had accumulated. But he was not
idle for a day. He became again, in order, a contractor, builder,
manager and president of different railroads. Another has said of
him : '• His courage and fortitude never left him, and he took up
the same character of work again, with the same energy and abil-
ity." In his later years he became successfully interested in de-
veloping the coal fields in southern Illinois. He had established a
large and growing trade with St. Louis and Chicago, and he was
president of the St. Louis and Big Muddy Coal Company, one of
the largest mining companies in Illinois. There can be no doubt
but that his constant devotion to his work and business, with the
manner of life made necessary, tended to break down his constitu-
tion, so severely shaken by his wound.

He died at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio, April 23rd, 1895,
and on April 26th was buried in Spring Grove cemetery at Ma-
rietta, Ohio. His resting place is suitably marked by a hand-
some monument erected to his memory by his loving and lovable
wife. It bears the following inscription :



53rd OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY.



253



" MAY 21st, 1840.
APRIL 23rd, 1895.

SHILOH, CORINTH, VICKSBURG, JACKSON,
REvSACA.
SEVERELY WOUNDED AT DALLAS,

MAY 23rd, 1864."

His own words as expressed on the death of Generals Sher-
man and Hayes, fittingly apply to himself:

" It is by the lives of such men as these that future genera-
tions may estimate the priceless treasure committed to their
charge; for, if liberty is worth what liberty has cost, no words
may express its value."




254 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE



JAMES R. PERCY.



Captain James R. Percy was the son of James and Mary
Percy. He was born at Pike River, in the district of Montreal,
Canada, East, September, 1 829. With his parents he came to
Ohio in 1845, and settled in Munson . Township near Fowler's
Mill, in Geauga county. He worked on his father's farm during
the summer months, and attended school during the winter, until
he was about twenty years of age. He attended Professor Thomas
W. Harvey's school (author of Harvey's grammer) in Chardon,
several terms ; when he commenced teaching during the winter
months. The first school he taught was in the Sargent district,
in the Scioto valley, five miles south of Piketon, Pike county,
Ohio. Returning home in the spring, he began a course of study
at the Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York. In 1856, return-
ino- to Ohio late in the fall, he taught a select school in his father's
district, going back to Troy in the spring. The following au-
tumn he returned to the Scioto Valley, and taught again in the
Saro-ent district. The next spring found him back at Troy. He
was graduated with honors in the year 1859. James R. Percy
was made an instructor while pursuing his course of engineering
at the Institute. To be thus honored in his youth, would indicate
that he was a first class student. To further indicate that his
ability and manly character were appreciated by his fellow stud-
ents, in 1874 a stained glass memorial window was placed in the
Institute Library by his classmates, bearing the inscription of the
principal engagements in which he took part : "Pittsburg Land-
ing," "Vicksburg," "Mission Ridge," "Resaca," "Kenesaw
Mountain," "Atlanta.", One of, Jiis classmates who is now an
honored officer in the United States army, and one of considerable




CAPTAIN J. R. PERCY— See Page 254.




GRAVE OF CAPTAIN PERCY,

At National Cemetery, Marietta, Ga.— See Page 254.



53rd OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY. 255



rank, stated to the historian that, "he was a kind, conscientious,
and dilicrent student, liked and respected by all." For the fall
and winter term of the public schools at Piketon, Ohio in the year
1855, the services of James R. Percy as superintendent, A. D.
Downing, now of Chardon, Ohio and Miss Fiske, (afterwards the
wife of Mr. Dowming) were engaged to teach the three higher
grades of the school. The writer, then eleven )ears of age, was a
pupil of Mr. Downing, but was soon promoted to the room of the
superintendent (Professor Percy.) Here he remained until the
Professor enlisted in the o^rd O. \'. I. Upon the organization of
the said regiment, the Professor was elected captain of Company
"F." Whilst under the tutelage of Professor Percy, as a mis-
chievous boy, and subsequently as a soldier in his command, little
did I ever realize, or dream that in forty or forty-five years from
that period, it would fall to my lot to collect facts, and give to the
present, and future generations, the personal and military history
of brave Captain Percy, or that of the history and services of
the 5.'>rd O. V. V. I., that for four long, weary years kept step to the
music of the Union, and followed the flag wherever it led. Such
is the irony of fate. Certainly "God moves in a mysterious way."

After the surrender of Vicksburg, Captain Percy was made
the topographical engineer of the brigade, and assigned to the
command of General William E. Harrow.

During the Atlanta campaign, Captain Percy was the topo-
graphical engineer of the first division of the Fifteenth Army
Corps, and by the order of the commander placed a battery with-
in a very short distance of the rebel line by what was known as
sapping. When the battery was placed in position it was protect-
ed by earth work, so that nothing could be seen of it. The em-
brasures in the earth work, where the guns were placed when not
firing, were filled with sand bags, which had to be taken out when
the battery was in use. After the battery was placed. Captain
Percy directed the officers to commence firing, but the men hesi-
tated to remove the sandbags. He got up himself and took them



256 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE

out, and said "now commence firing." He was so much elated at
the success of the gunners that he unnecessarily exposed himself
and a sharp shooter killed him instantly. This occured on the
18th day of August, 1864, on the lines in front of Atlanta. His re-
mains lie buried in the National Cemetery at Marietta, Ga, Some
ten or twelve thousand of the brave and loyal boys that wore the
blue, lie all about him with "Old Glory" proudly floating above
them.

A few days subsequent to Major Dawes receiving the terrible
and dangerous facial wound. Captain Percy wrote him a letter de-
tailing the bloody conflict of Kenesaw Mountain, closing his in-
teresting account with the following paragraph: "The first word I
heard from the regiment was that you were mortally wounded. We
naturally attach an idea of invulnerability to those with whom we
have been long intimate. I was overwhelmed with the dreadful
intelligence. But I prayed to God for you that you might live,
and I somehow felt that you would survive. You are now at
home, where dying is happier than living is here."

We will invite the readers to go back to about the year 1855,
or perhaps 1856, and let the Captain, in his own words relate a
strange and wonderful dream. He and one of his assistant teach-
ers were spending the evening with a lady friend, when Professor
Percy remarked that he had had a remarkable dream the night be-
fore, and if they would like to hear it he would relate it. With the
assurance that they would be glad to hear it, he said: "I was in a
beautiful southern home. The people around me were refined
and cultured. All the surroundings were in perfect harmony, and
I was almost at the door of heaven. A charming young lady
gave me a welcome greeting (and he then gave an elaborate de-
scription of the appearance of the young lady,) and conducted me
to an inner room where she informed me that she had the power of
telling me truthfully my future destiny, and said, with a smile so
captivating that if she had desired me to drop dead at her



53rd OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY. 257



feet. I would have complied at once. 'Soon there will be a great
conflict in this country. * Great armies will be in the field. Ter-
rible battles will be fouj^ht, and the loss of life will be appalling.
You will be drawn into it. You will bear an honorable part, but
vonr life will [yo oiit in the month of Auernst.' "

I cannot concede for a moment that the professor was super-
stitious. He was a man of clear perception, and was of fine edu-
cation, and a refined gentleman, but this dream clung to him to
his death.

In July, 18(J4, just about thirty days prior to his death, he
wrote to these same parties, who were then married, an interesting
letter, in which he said : " In a few months I will be at home.
I shall be delighted to light my pipe at your pleasant fireside, and
tell you the story of the war, but you know, August is my fatal
month. I can hardly hope to get through. Whatever comes will
only be the last act in my destiny, as I told you years ago. The
first act is past. The second will surely come," Poor fellow !
August was his fatal month.

In the final paragraph of A. D. Downing's letter to the his-
torian he says ; "The story of Captain Percy's dream was a fact,
just as I related it, and a very strange circumstance indeed."

As a pupil and soldier of the command of the deceased, I de-
sire to offer my final tribute to the memory of one whom I rev-
erenced almost as a father, respected as a gentleman, a scholar and
a military hero.

The foundation of the superstruction of Captain Percy's life
was character, the apex truthfulness and honesty. Between the
foundation and the apex were virtue, philanthropy, humanity,
loyalty, integrity, and all other attributes that go to make up a
uiajily mmi. A royal prince has fallen, and Captain Percy is gone,
let us hope, to a valiant soldier's reward.



258



HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE



In the corridors of memory I shall often recall his familiar
voice and pleasant face.

" Farewell my old friend, kind, noble and brave,
I leave yon to rest alone in the grave,
The earth-ties that bound us in years that are past,
In our life journey here are severed at last."



mm
mm


SI




MAJOR JAMES C. FOSTER— See Page 25ASLEY.
See Page 290.



53rd OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY. 259



JAMES C. FOSTER.



The subject of this sketch was the son of James C. and Jane
E. Foster, and was born in Franklin Township, Ross county,
Ohio, May ;3rd, 1842. He was inured to toil on his father's farm,
and secured an education as liberal as the public and private
schools of his neighborhood could furnish, together with a course
in a private military school at Chillicothe, just prior to the war.

He enlisted as a private in Company F., 53rd O. V. I., Oct-
ober 17th, 1801. Upon the organization of the company, he
was made first sergeant. January 1st, 1862, his services and abili-
ties being recognized he was promoted to second lieutenant, and
the following September was transferred to Company I. May 1 1th

1863, the Executive powers of the Nation had decided to call
into requisition the colored troops,^ and the organization of the
same was commenced. One among the many efficient officers
who were detailed in the organization of colored troops was Lieut-
enant James C. Foster, and upon June 6th, 1863, he was mustered
as captain of Company A., 59th U. S. C. I. Owing to his mili-
tary education and his prior experience with the 53rd Ohio, his
disciplinary power, together with his tact, energy and capacity,
won him his promotion to major, being commissioned, June 18th,

1864. His services with said regiment, the 59th U. S. C. 1., are
graphically detailed in the regimental history of that organization
testifying to the confidence and the esteem accorded him, as well
as to his bravery upon many battle-fields.

During his term of service he commanded the regiment for a
number of months. At the battle of Brice's Cross Roads, Miss.,
June IGth, 1864, Major Foster was placed in charge of the skir-
mish line and in command of two companies, where they made a



260 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE

heroic figlit until dark. He was also prominent in the engage-
ment at Ripley, covering the retreat of the shattered and demor-
alized army. Here he showed not only courage and endurance,
but pluck and heroism. He was mustered out of the service
January 6th 1866, Heat once returned to his home, and after a
term in a commercial college at Cleveland, Ohio, settled down to
a farmer's life near his birth-place where he still resides.

He was married September 7th, 1869 to Miss Emma, daugh-
ter of James and Mary Davis, who died August 2nd, 1872, leaving
him a daughter, Daisy D., two years old.

On October 19th, 1875, he again embarked upon the sea of
matrimony and was married to Miss Mary D., daughter of Joseph
I., and Jane D. Vause. This union was blessed with seven chil-
dren, four daughters and three sons, all of whom are living.

For some three or four years he has intelligently and faith-
fully served as presiding officer of the 53rd Ohio Regimental As-
sociation. His continuous service for the years named is a suffi-
cient indication of his popularity, efficiency and of the confidence
reposed in him by the comrades of the remnant of the 53rd O. V.
V. I.

By virtue of his office he was ex-officio member of the histor-
ical committee. In that capacity the historian desires to ac-
knowledge his persistency, his push, pluck, courage, and his con-
fidence in the ultimate success of the committee in obtaining suf-
ficient funds to complete the history.

His confidence in and encouragement of the historian have
been a source of inspiration, nerving the writer to contribute his
best ability even though it be meagre, to leave for the present and
coming generations a fair, honest, and impartial history of one of
the best, (if not the best) Ohio regiments that sustained the hon-
ored name of Ohio during the cruel war.





CAPTAIN ROBERT A. STARKEY.
See Page 263.



WILLIAM BRADBURY.
See Page 261.




JUDGE BREWSTEK.
See Page 285.



ASSISTANT-SURGEON JOHN A. LAIR.



53rd OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY. 261



WILLIAM BRADBURY.



William liradbury was born at Kyger, Gallia County, Ohio,
May 1st, 1842. The paternal and maternal ancestors were of New
England stock and had imbibed liberally of Plymouth patriotism ;
and " as the father so the son " was verified in the subject of this
sketch. From each of his parents he had honorable examples of
piety, integrity, and all other attributes contributing to the mak-
ing of manhood. William passed his young days on the farm of
his father, and received such education as the country in which he
resided afforded.

In July, 1861, he answered to the drum-beat for recruits, but
in this venture he was disappointed, as at that time the quota for
Ohio was full, and the company was disbanded, after several weeks
of a sojourn in camp.

On October 29th, 1861, however, the opportunity came again
and he enlisted with Co. H, o3rd O. V. I. His deportment and
soldiery bearing were such as to commend him to notice, and on
January 8th, 1862, he was appointed corporal, which non-commis-
sioned office he filled to the satisfaction of his company officers,
and was in time the recipient of further promotion to that of ser-
geant, in which position he served to the expiration of his enlist-
ment. He was mustered out November 27th, 1864, having served
his country three years and twenty-eight days.

He was with his command and participated in every engage-
ment from 1861 to November, 1864, and was always ready for du-
ty, as the following incident fully illustrates :

While the regiment at the Battle of Resaca was occupying
Bald Knob, we had strict orders for some reason, not to fire at the
Johnnies. This silence for awhile upon our part made them quite



262 HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE

saucy, and they would walk out of the weeds on the edge of .1
field about 400 yards distant and take an occasional sight at us.
Notwithstanding the strict orders not to fire, somebody fired, and
a rebel was seen to bite the dust. The officer of the day rushed
around through the regiment trying to ascertain who had fired his
gun, but it was a case of nobody knowing, but it was rather sup-
posed to be an accidental discharge. As soon as the excitement
had subsided somewhat, Bradbury came up to one of the non-com-
missioned officers of the regiment and offered as an excuse for his
disobedience of orders, that " the darned fellow just filled my
sights and I could not keep from pulling the trigger to save my
life." This non-commissioned officer further asserts that Brad-
bury was one of the men who was made of the right stuff.

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Online LibraryJohn K. DukeHistory of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. Together with more than thirty personal sketches of officers and men → online text (page 21 of 24)