Saturday, December 3, 2011

Louis Mullich, conclusion

My apologies for the delay in posting this final part of the Louis Mullich story

Louis' trip home took him through West Virginia, then he “crossed Ohio River” on June 14, the same day he also arrived back at Camp Dennison. His final entry, on June 19, 1865, noted “Camp Dennison. Discharged and paid $255.10.”

On the last page of his diary, Louis listed “Army Clothing from Aug. 1 64 to 65” showing when he purchased them and how much they cost, including a hat for $1.80 on September 8, 1864, a pair of pants for $3.10 on November 6 (compared to the $4.75 this item cost him in April 1865), a shirt for $2.35 on January 14, 1865 and a blanket – the most expensive item he purchased – for $4.80 on January 27.

Overall, he spent $23.75 on clothing items in these nine months, quite an expense on a private’s salary of $13.00 per month.

The 108th Ohio Volunteer Infantry suffered losses of 3 officers and 64 enlisted men killed in battle or by disease. This, of course, is only for its service after the entire regiment was captured by John Hunt Morgan, late in 1862.

In late 1865, Louis married New York City native Henrietta Duckweiller, with whom he had one son and one daughter. They lived in the town of Dayton, Kentucky, where Louis made a living as a tailor.

He lived long after the war’s end. In 1898, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) held its reunion in Cincinnati, with Louis’ hometown of Dayton serving as co-host. Over 200,000 veterans and their family members made the trip to this reunion. Dayton produced a souvenir book for the occasion (one of many souvenirs such as medals, ribbons and badges produced for the GAR) and it includes a picture of the Joe Hooker Chapter of the GAR, which was based in Dayton. Unfortunately, it does not list the names of those pictured, but it likely includes Louis’ image.

Louis’ involvement with the GAR did not start nor end there. According to the Kentucky Post, he was named to various positions in the Joe Hooker Post in various years through at least 1916. These included Junior Vice-Commander, Senior Vice-Commander, delegate to the department encampment and trustee.

On December 28, 1915, the front page of the Kentucky Post featured a picture of Louis and Henrietta, who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Their marriage lasted over sixty years, until Henrietta died in 1927.

On April 21, 1928, Louis Henry Mullich passed away in his house on 5th Street in Dayton, at the age of 93. The next day’s Kentucky Post reported that he “dropped dead Saturday night of a heart attack while seated in a chair at his home” and said he was a “retired merchant tailor.” His death certificate listed “acute indigestion” as the cause of death, with his old age being a contributory factor, but loneliness from missing his bride of over six decades must have played a part as well.

Sixty-two years previously, Private Louis Mullich had been stationed at Battery Shaler in what became the town of Southgate, Kentucky. That piece of land, with part of the battery-works preserved, is now known as Evergreen Cemetery, and on April 24, 1928, private-citizen Mullich returned to this land, buried next to his wife, on a hill near the site of the battery, forever able to stand guard from this “hilly country.” His headstone includes a simple “GAR” on its front.

Louis Mullich lived a long life, through a fascinating century of change for the United States. I had previously borrowed some words from the book Last in their Class by James Robbins and feel it is appropriate to include them here again. Mullich “ “had lived through an age in which the United States and the world had seen dramatic changes...The era of the musket and the cavalry saber had given way to the machine gun, the tank, the aircraft carrier and the strategic bomber.” This does not even mention the automobile, manned flight, radio or countless other innovations that this soldier had experienced.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Louis Mullich, part 3

After capturing Atlanta, Sherman considered his options and decided to send some of his forces to contend with John Bell Hood to the rest, but to keep others around for what became his “March to the Sea.” Louis Mullich and the 108th Ohio were among the men who marched through the heart of Georgia with Sherman.

During this campaign, Louis continued his diary. November 14 saw his unit “burning Railroad and Houses,” then on November 15, he noted “15 killed of the 108th.” On November 24th, he wrote “camp near Millettsville Ga, capital of Georgia, foraging,” referring to the town of Milledgeville. On December 1, a skirmish left “several Rebels killed” but the 108th was marching through “beautiful country” as they passed near Louisville, Georgia during this time.

On the 11th, they were 3 miles from Savannah. December 14’s entry notes “McAllister captured at 4 o’clock in the morning” referring to the Confederate fort guarding Savannah. The 21st brought news “Savannah captured” and “286 cannon captured” along with a sketch of the alignment of the U.S. forces, as well as the locations of the Savannah River, railroads and pikes.

A few days later, Louis noted a “review by Gen Sherman in Savannah” on the 27th.
Sherman had wanted to “make Georgia howl” but his men had a special feeling for South Carolina, and Mullich again participated as the Union troops turned North.

Louis continued his diary. On February 11, he wrote “more than enough to eat” though by the 13th he reported “rations scarce.”

On February 18th, “$42,000 in gold and silver found that had been burnt,” while the notes for the 23rd end with “Bad night and Day march.”
The Federal forces eventually left South Carolina and entered its northern neighbor where Louis continued to record the marches they made and rivers they crossed, including “March through large Swamps” on March 17, before a “big fight at Bentonville” on March 19, with Louis noting a “big loss on both sides Rebels lose the day.” He reported for the 20th: “Heavy Skirmish and fighting all day” followed on the 21st by: “3rd day of Battle fighting day and night. Rebels retreat.” At Bentonville, Confederate troops, now under Joe Johnston, made a tough stand, but the Yankees gained victory here.

The report from Major Frederick Beck of the 108th Ohio, found in the official records, provides further information on how much marching these men did. “March 1, marched entire day. March 2, marched entire day. March 3, marched entire day. March 4, marched entire day; arrived at Great Pedee River and went into camp.” 

The constant tramp, tramp, tramp continued - “marched entire day” also described the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th, before the unit went into camp on March 12 at Fayetteville. At least this all took place in an appropriately named month.

As for the battle on March 19, he described the action at Bentonville: “We were ordered to throw up breast-works, which we did in a short time, and when we had them finished the enemy came on in full force and charged our works. A terrible battle ensued, which lasted for some two hours, when the enemy retired, leaving many dead and wounded on the field in our front.”

A few days later, the 108th moved on: “March 23, marched entire day; crossed the Neuse River and went into camp for the night near Goldsborough (sic).”

During this time, Louis’ diary recorded on April 5: “News of the fall of Richmond, 25,00 Prisoners, 500 guns”  and after a few more days of marching, noted on April 12 “News that Gen Lee had surrendered to Gen Grant. Apr 7th 1861 the first shot was fired at Fort Sumter.” (He was wrong – it was actually fired April 12th of that year.) Unfortunately, he did not record details of how he and his comrades celebrated upon hearing this most welcome news.

On April 18, the mood would have been quite different: “Report of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Booth in Washington on April 14th 1865.”

His next line, for the same date was “hostilities at a standstill” and his April 20th entry brought more good news. “Report of the army in the field North Carolina: Peace declared from state. Troops will be sent home as soon as possible.”

In the weeks following the end of hostilities – at least in the Eastern theater - the 108th Ohio took part in the magnificent Grand Review of the Union Armies in Washington D.C., which Louis records with great understatement - “Review by Gen Sherman in Washington DC” on May 24; he neglected to mention General Grant, President Johnson, the cabinet, and the tens of thousands of cheering citizens who turned out for this spectacular celebration.

On June 9th, he “mustered out of service as U.S. volunteer at Washington at 5 o’clock” and “left Washington” on the 11th.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Louis Mullich part 2

Part one is here
Camp Dennison, courtesy

After his unit’s reorganization at Camp Dennison, Louis noted “$52.00 received” on March 16th, and a week later these men were in Lexington, Kentucky, part of the Department of Central Kentucky. They helped transport 200 prisoners to Frankfort, where on April 22 Louis received another $26.00, representing two months’ pay.

On May 15, Louis recorded “shooting a deserter from 10th Mich Reg’t.”

According to the Official Records, the 108th Ohio had enlisted 724 volunteer infantrymen as of June 16, 1863.

This regiment then moved into western Tennessee, arriving in Nashville on May 5th and spent the next several months guarding the railroad to Chattanooga, in both Tennessee and northern Alabama. During this time, Louis received two more payments of $52.00 each, on August 4 and November 18 and sketched the layout of the nearby camp.

At the end of November, the 108th was involved in the Union attack on the Confederates around Chattanooga, seeing action at Tunnel Hill and Missionary Ridge. They marched to the relief of Knoxville, which the Confederates had besieged,  before returning to the Chattanooga vicinity, where, according to Louis’ diary, they went into winter quarters in Rossville, Georgia on December 26.

When the calendar turned to 1864, the 108th Ohio became a part of Major-General William T. Sherman’s Atlanta campaign.  In his diary, Louis records a “review by Gen Thomas” on March 31 and then on May 2, he notes “leaving winter quarters” before a May 7 entry stating: “Gen Sherman as commander of the whole army.”

During this campaign, the108th Ohio saw action in many of the skirmishes and battles that took place, such as Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Dallas, New Hope Church and others.

On June 25, Louis’ diary notes “108th regt as train guard” which would last several months. During this time, he recorded reciving more pay. On August 20, he noted the second anniversary of the regiment’s enlistment.

At the battle of Dalton in mid-August, Louis and the 108th fought alongside soldiers of the 14th US Colored troops. James Steadman, commanding in the area, reported: “I was much pleased with the conduct of my entire command.”

Louis describes several actions of the regiment over the next few weeks. On August 28th, a battle with cavalry resulted in losses: “108 lost 3 men; 1 Negro; 13 wounded.” He noted the fall of Atlanta in his September 2nd entry.

His unit crossed the Chatahootchie River on the 9th and on the same day he notes “burning 4 train loads ammunition by rebels themselves.” On September 25, “Rebels destroy a barn & a train bet Big Shanty and Marietta and take on prisoners from the 108th,” while on the second day of October: “Telegraph cut by Rebels, collision of two trains between Big Shanty several of the 108th injured.” On October 3, “Big Shanty captured by the Rebels” and by the 4th, the 108th Ohio was “following Gen Hood from Kennesaw Mt.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Louis Mullich, 108th Ohio Infantry (part 1)

Headstone at Evergreen Cemetery, near Battery Shaler

Picture from microfilmed newspaper records of 1925

Louis Mullich was born in 1834 in Baden, now a part of Germany. His American adventure began in 1852, when he left his homeland and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to begin life anew in the United States where he became a naturalized citizen in 1857.

In August 1862, after the failure of the Union Peninsula Campaign in Virginia, recruiting of German residents in the Cincinnati area was increasing, with the formation of two units, the 106th and 108th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiments. It was during this time that Louis gave in to the temptation to enlist. On August 20th, he arrived at Camp Dennison, north of Cincinnati, and enrolled in the 108th Regiment. He was mustered in the next day, a member of company C, and began keeping a diary of his war experiences.    

After being mustered in at Camp Dennison, the 108th Ohio was among the troops in great demand as Confederate forces threatened Cincinnati. One entry in the Official Records indicates that troops were at Camp Dennison, the 108th among them, “all available when armed,” while a second lists four regiments, including the 108th, that “can be in Cincinnati in twenty-four hours.” These four units averaged about 750 men according to this report of September 2.

The 108th did quickly march out of Camp Dennison to help meet the enemy. By September 3, they were in Kentucky, and on the 8th had arrived at Fort Mitchel. Six days later, they were at “Camp Shaller” as Louis called it, most likely referring to Battery Shaler, in present day Southgate. His diary described it as “hilly country,” a most accurate choice of words for the location of Battery Shaler. This was not the last time Louis would guard this piece of land.

By September 14, the 108th Ohio was in Louisville, part of the Army of the Ohio, in the District of Western Kentucky. On December 7, this unit was surprised at Hartsville, Tennessee by troops under command of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan. This famous Rebel and his men took the entire regiment as prisoners of war.

According to several entries in the Official Records, this action at Hartsville caused great concern among Union leaders. Two different requests were sent to Union leaders in the department stating that President Lincoln wanted an explanation of how the battle and capture had happened.  A December 8 communication from Major-General George Thomas to fellow General William Rosecrans notes “but I learn from some of his officers that they buried upward of 80 of the One hundred and fourth Illinois and only a few of the other two regiments. This fact indicates that the other two regiments behaved badly. They were the One hundred and sixth and One hundred and eighth Ohio Volunteers.

A report from Colonel A.B. Moore of the 104th Illinois, in charge of the troops in the area, pointed out “The One hundred and eighth Ohio, being entirely destitute of field officers, fought well for a short time, but were soon thrown into confusion and retreated” and that further action “brought a tremendous fire upon the One hundred and eighth Ohio, they being the center, and were soon flanked on the right, and gave way in confusion.”

The leaders of the 108th offered their own perspective of their unit’s behavior. Captain Carlo Piepho’s report indicated they only knew of the rebel attack when “a negro servant of one of the officers of the One hundred and eighth ran into camp shouting at the top of his voice ‘The rebels are coming.’” He tried to get his men lined up and ready to fight, and during the next hour and a half of the battle “they all showed a bravery and gallantry unexpected for new troops. The arms which were used by my command were the Austrian rifle, an arm totally worthless…The men also were provided with ammunition a good deal too large for the pieces…Notwithstanding these calamities, the men stood like veterans, and most of them fired 20 to 25 rounds.”

Another captain from this regiment, Joseph Good, offered this opinion in his report, referring to Colonel Moore: “Our men acted bravely, but the commander of the brigade not being competent to command, caused the defeat.”

Louis’ report of this action simply stated:  “Brigade captured by Gen Morgan. Transported to Lebanon, Tenn.”

By December 11, they had been paroled and sent home to await official exchange. According to Louis’ diary, they traveled through Cincinnati before arriving at Camp Chase in Columbus. Their exchange occurred on January15, and they returned to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, for reorganization.

 (to be continued)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

William Sprott 23 Ky Infantry

Headstone, Evergreen Cemetery

William Sprott was a private in company E of the 23rd Kentucky Infantry regiment. This unit mustered in in January 1862, after having organized near Lexington, in central Kentucky. It served in the Western Theater and fought at famous battles like Perryville, Stone's River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga. It then took part in William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, but once the Union forces had successfully captured that city, the 23rd Kentucky left Sherman's control and went back west in the forces of George Thomas. Here it served in two more famous battles, Franklin and Nashville. It ended the war in the west and southwest, mustering out in Texas in late 1865.

Kentucky State Journal 1-2-1890 
Mr. William Sprott, one of Newport’s oldest and best known citizens, died yesterday afternoon at his home, corner of Front and Monmouth streets from kidney troubles. The deceased was seventy years of age. 

He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate, Kentucky

Rest in peace, soldier

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Corporal Charles Peck, 54 Ky Inf

Headstone, Evergreen Cemetery

Charles Peck served in Company K of the 54th Kentucky Infantry, joining as a private and apparently leaving as a Corporal. This unit formed in Kentucky in late 1864 and served in Kentucky and Virginia, including a raid on Saltville, Virginia.

According to the Kentucky Post of June 15, 1901, he died of cancer at the age of 55 at his home at 304 Columbia Street in Newport, Ky.

Rest in peace, soldier