Union County, Ohio
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Union County Militia

The Old Militia.

THE first law passed in Ohio in regard to military matters was a law for "regulating and establishing the militia," published at Marietta , July 25, 1788 (Chase, Vol. I, page 92).

This law required all " male inhabitants between the age of sixteen and fifty" to perform military duty. The main features of this law remained in force until the year 1847, when it was repealed. In fact the law became a mere farce in the matters of carrying into effect its requirements.

The earliest account of a militia organization is found in a report of the Second Ohio Regiment of Militia made by Col. James Curry in 1803, of which the following is a copy:

Return of the Second Regiment of Militia in the County of Highland , commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Curry, agreeably to returns made by the commanding officers of the several companies belonging to the said regiment, November, 1803.

Officers—1 Lieutenant Colonel Commandant, 1 Major of First Battalion, 1 Major of Second Battalion.

Staff Officers—1 Adjutant, 1 Paymaster, 1 Quartermaster, 1 Regimental Clerk, 1 Quartermaster Sergeant, 1 Sergeant Major.

Commissioned Officers—Captains 8, Lieutenants 8, Ensigns 8.

Non- Commissioned Officers—Sergeants 25, Corporals 12, Drummers 4, Fifers 4, Rank and File 610.

Arms and Accouterments—Swords and belts 13, rifles. 265, flints, 530. The troops have generally powder and lead—the quantity not exactly ascertained perhaps equal to what is required by law. James Curry. Lieutenant Colonel Commandant, Second Ohio Regiment.

After the close of the war of 1812. military matters in Union County seemed to have been very quiet for a number of years, at least little can be learned of the military affairs of that period, as the "old guards " have all been mustered out, leaving no record of their service.

From the year 1825 to 1846, the militia spirit was in a blaze of glory throughout the State. There were two laws under which the militia was organized. The old " corn-stalk militia," who were not required to uniform, and the companies and regiments that furnished their own uniforms and served for seven years, after which time they were exempt from drill. Several companies organized in the county under this law. were well uniformed and armed and became quite efficient in drill.

A light horse company was organized at Milford about the year 1830, of which Calvin Winget was the first Captain, James Riddle the second, Jacob Seaman the third, C. P. Garlic the fourth, Philip Snider the fifth and J. B. Richey the sixth.

Privates—David Anderson, Jonathan Allen, David Asher, Hollis Amy, James Boal, William Beard, Andrew Beard, Perry Buck, James Biggs, Henry L. Burns,Ralph Cheny, Robert Curry, William Cratty. Uriah Coolidge, Ai Coolidge, Samuel D. Chapman, James W. Evans, Joseph Gibson. Andrew M. Gill, Jacob Gibson, B. H. B. Griswold, Luther Gabriel, John Hibbard, Samuel Hale, John Hale, Solon Harrington, Amza Irwin, Silas Igo. Robert Johnson, Joel Jolly, Elias Jolly, Othias Kennedy, James Kennedy,"Micha Kent, Hiram Kent , Dyer Lombard, Jesse Lombard, Ray G. Morse, John Mitchell. John Morrow, Henry Moodie, George Moodie, William Morse, Isaac Morse, Moses Mitchell. William Moore, James McDonald, Samuel McCampbell, William G. McDowell, Zacheriah Noteman, William Parkinson, Robert Paris, Jason Rice, John W. Robinson, James Robinson, William M. Robinson, Samuel Robinson, Bugler. A. P. Robinson, S. D. Robinson, James D. Robinson, James Robinson, J. M. Robinson, Thomas Robinson, Joseph Robinson. John Robinson, C. M. Robinson, Josephus Reed, John P Reed, Jacob Seaman. William Snodgrass, Samuel Snodgrass, John Smith, H. P. Smith, E. D. Smith, Abraham Stiner, Henry Vangorden. Luther Wood. Joshua Witter, Samuel Weaver, Luther Winget.

This company was well uniformed and equipped, each trooper being armed with two horse-pistols, carried in holsters, and a saber. They were well mounted and the company was composed of the elite of Union County 's chivalrous young men. This company organization was kept up until the law was repealed in 1847. Several light infantry companies were organized in the county under the same law, and these were organized into a regiment and, with their fine drum corps of twenty snare drums, ten bass drums and twenty fifers, they presented quite a warlike appearance when on parade.

The militia laws were very rigid in their demands as to military duty. Every military subject was required to be armed with a good and sufficient musket, fusee or rifle, and this was defined by the regulations to include " lock, stock, barrel and ramrod."

"Muster Day " was a legal holiday, the only one at that time provided by law, and the "old boys" had a grand time at these musters. All the old "flint-locks " and "pick-locks " of the land were brought forth which the law defined as being " good and sufficient arms."

In those ante-bellum days, there were "company trainings," "regimental trainings, "officers' musters" and "General musters." "General musters" were the grand gala days of the year, and were considered occasions of momentous importance. The " call to arms " was sounded far and wide many weeks before the assembly, and preparations were made for it on a grand scale. Brass buttons and accouterments were burnished up, old rusty sabers and horse-pistols were put in order by the " dashing light-horse cavaliers," and the whole country was astir
with a military spirit

Cooked rations, consisting of boiled pork and beans, pumpkin pies and all the fat of the land, were prepared in great abundance, with a good supply of hard cider and other drinkables which were sure to warm up the " rank and file " of the " bold soldier boys " to the fighting point, and many a good old deacon considered it a sacred duty to indulge in the ardent to a liberal extent on training day.

The militia law at that period required the organization of divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, light-horse companies, etc. The artillery arm of the service was very light, the old iron cannons being issued usually one in a place, at county seats or brigade headquarters; and many
an accident happened by these old guns being manned by inexperienced men.

One of these old iron guns, a six pounder, was issued to the militia at Milford about the year 1838, and many pounds of powder have been wasted in that old gun celebrating political victories of all parties, Democratic, Whig and Republican.

Milford Phillips was Captain of the first artillery company organized, and afterward Philip Snider was appointed Captain of the company.

At a Fourth of July celebration at Bridgeport , Union Township , in 1847 or 1848, Mortimer Tucker had his hand torn off above the wrist, and Robert Simpson had his arm torn off near his shoulder in firing this gun. At Marysville, on the 16th day of September, 1856, on the occasion of a political meeting of the Fillmore party, the gun was being fired, and by a premature discharge, Daniel Brophy and Archibald Turner were killed and Joseph G. Hawkins, the thumber, had his thumb torn off.

The old gun was several times spiked and condemned and left on the commons, where, unprotected, it " stood the storms of many a winter's campaign ;" but always, on the Fourth of July, it was brought forth by the boys, and after being inspected was reported fit for active service," and the " chief of artillery," Bill Bancroft, solicited the usual donations for powder to fire the " morning gun " to usher in the glorious Fourth.

In June, 1876, the grim old rusty gun was reported "fit for service," and the boys having donated the required amount for powder and "fire water," the chief mustered the "old guard," unlimbered and advanced to the fair ground, where she was placed in position for trial, loaded to the muzzle, the match applied, and the old gun was blown to atoms. And now, like Othello, the old chief's "occupation is gone."

These organizations were officered by a long list of "field and staff," with many war-like titles, and they were all out in full force at general musters, in feathers and spangles, with "good and sufficient swords," as the law required; but each officer was allowed to uniform as his taste dictated, and while the dress was usually gorgeous, it was exceptional for two officers of the field and staff to have the same uniform.

Finally, the system became so useless that the laws were repealed and the old "training day" became a thing of the past.

Many of Union County 's best citizens were prominent officers in the militia organizations, among whom were Gens. Chipman, William B. Erwin and William Steel; Col. William Orr; Capts. Sidney Johnson and Philip Snider ; Dr. Curl, William Gibson. Oliver Kennedy, Milford Phillips James Thompson and Otway Curry.

Gen. A. Wiley, who now resides in the northern part of the county, was a prominent officer in the militia in Muskingum and Licking Counties, and he can interest his hearers by the hour with amusing and interesting incidents of the general muster period.

General musters were held at Milford and at Marysville. the camp grounds being just south of the old Amrine Mill, on the east side of the creek. A general muster was once held in Marysville, on the south side of West Center street , between the new court house and the residence of Judge Coats.

Company musters were held on Darby, near Unionville, in Mill Creek Township, and in Jerome Township , on the farms of Capt. James A. Curry and Robert Curry, and many other places in the county.

The old militia system, with all its defects, kept up a military spirit in the ranks of the young men of that time, and many a young man who served in the war of the rebellion now looks back with boyish pleasure to the time when he was first thrilled with the shrill music of fife and drum on "training day."

We close this chapter by giving a copy of a characteristic order from one of the old militia officers, found in the Marysville Argus, bearing date of April 5, 1844:


The members of said Company are hereby notified to parade at Amrines Mills, on the 20th day of April, 1844, at 9 o'clock A. M., arranged and equipped as the law requires for the purpose of Co. Drill.

J. Curl, Captain. O. S. Jackson G. Sprague

[Source: "War History of Union County, Ohio" by W. L. Curry, 1883 - tr. by L. Dietz]


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