"The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment"
Mark Holian, Amazon.com review
"Thorough Account of Ohio Civil War Regiment." "A very enjoyable read for someone interested in the Civil War. The
timeline for the regiment is not fragmented; one follows the movements of the men from enlistment to discharge with a good
enough view of their place in the big picture to locate where the 26th was and when it was there. The men fill in many details
of events themselves, from diaries and letters and newspapers and books.
"It doesn't read like a novel, but I left with the distinct sense of having heard a good story. Have to mention one incident from
the book, that the farm boys and merchants and laborers who were the 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, were with Buell
and could not come ashore to General Grant's aid at Pittsburgh Landing on the second day of the battle, so they slept on the
steamer and first thing the next morning marched ashore, across the aftermath of the battle of Shiloh and camped upon the
battlefield. Truth is stranger than fiction, but that one verges upon surreal, including a brother against brother event. Was this
what awaited them, or not?
"It's a big book and will take time, but for a thorough and satisfying account that's what you want. I got the feeling from the
knowledge of this regiment that most other regiments, blue and gray, were not dissimilar. This book will help answer the
question why the Civil War should be noted 150 years later, and it's also the story they wanted told."
Mike Morton, fellow descendant
"This book has led me on an adventure of discovery unlike I have ever enjoyed before. The campaign in western Virginia
was the beginning of the end of innocence for all those fine young men!
So much time and so much of their lives was left on those western fields of battle. Thank you for giving me a template to
follow since he (Private Moses Morton, Co. D, his ancestor) left me no words to describe his ordeal. Moses thanks you, and
so do I!"
Scott Baker, fellow descendant
"Just finished reading your book and found it very well written and educational. The juxtaposition of the daily grind and
battles with the insights of the soldiers of the 26th, really brought the book to life."
Jeff Richards, author of historical fiction including, Open Country, and a fellow descendant
Skillfully Written Regimental History That Reads Like a Novel
"An outstandingly detailed compilation of the day to day lives of the 26th Ohio, the Groundhog Regiment during the Civil
War. You feel that you are almost there. The details are strongly evocative, the language clear and to the point. For instance,
the author stitches together first person accounts such as diary entries and letters and battlefield reports with a running
narrative that puts you on the battlefield with the 26th. It also clarifies how this regiment fits in the larger picture of the battle as
well as the whole war. It contains a roster of the soldiers in the regiments, photographs, and an extensive bibliography for
those who wish to research further. It reads almost like a novel. It is the kind of regimental history that appeals to Civil War
buff and novice alike."
Gerald Huffman, fellow descendant, Amazon.com review
"This is a compelling and highly detailed account of the activities of a stellar Ohio volunteer infantry regiment during the civil
war. Hill's research is impeccable. He even has visited the battlefields involved to assure the accuracy of his battle line
movements. As one reads this account of this particular regiment, one cannot help but see similar hardships,etc. endured by
all regiments on the front lines of the war. The generalization of their hardships, trials, and tribulations to all other battlefields
of the war gives the reader pause to ask how any of those involved made it through alive. Having an ancestor who served with
this regiment throughout its active history, I feel special pride and thank Hill for this tremendous historical account. I highly
recommend it to any student of the Civil War. It is a premier publication!"
Bob Parsons, fellow descendant
"You have stoked my interest and we have now visited Shiloh, Stones River, Perryville and Chickamauga since purchasing
your book. You are putting a lot of miles on our car!! Thanks for the great work you did."
Review of Jeffrey A. Hill’s The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment
Walter G. Moss, professor emeritus, Eastern Michigan University, and fellow descendant
"There is much to like about Jeffrey A. Hill’s The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment. I say this
from the viewpoint of a lover of good books and professional historian, though not one with any expertise in the U. S. Civil
War or even American history in general.
"Most appealing is the way Hill individualizes the war. Too often historians fail to capture the innumerable individual
tragedies of war. British novelist Ian McEwan hinted at this failing when he wrote in his novel Black Dogs about one of his
"'He was struck by the recently concluded war [World War II] not as a historical, geopolitical fact but as a multiplicity, a near-
infinity of private sorrows, as a boundless grief minutely subdivided without diminishment among individuals who covered the
continent like dust. . . . For the first time he sensed the scale of the catastrophe in terms of feeling; all those unique and
solitary deaths, all that consequent sorrow, unique and solitary too, which had no place in conferences, headlines, history,
and which had quietly retired to houses, kitchens, unshared beds, and anguished memories.'
"As James M. McPherson wrote in his Battle Cry of Freedom: 'More than 620,000 soldiers lost their lives in four years of
conflict—360,000 Yankees and at least 260,000 rebels. The number of southern civilians who died as a direct or indirect
result of the war cannot be known; what can be said is that the Civil War's cost in American lives was as great as in all of the
nation's other wars combined through Vietnam. Was the liberation of four million slaves and the preservation of the Union
worth the cost?' In 1860, Mississippi and South Carolina slaves were 55 and 57 percent of the population; Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, and Louisiana each counted slaves as somewhere between 44 and 47 percent of their people. Was ending this
abomination alone not worth all the blood and suffering that the Civil War entailed—even if President Lincoln did not initially
go to war to end it? This same type of question is often asked after wars. For example, were the French goals in World War I,
which were less morally compelling than preventing secession and ending slavery, worth the loss of 3 out of every 10 French
men ages 18-28? How does one even begin to measure such costs?
"While Hill details the bravery and courage that the men of the 26th Ohio often displayed and writes of the 'sacrifice they
made to help maintain the Union, that we, the future generations can enjoy the blessings of our great country,' he does not
ignore the individual tragedies. Take, for example, the death of Lieutenant Samuel Platt of Co. G, in Georgia, as part of
General Sherman’s troops advancing toward Atlanta. As often, Hill quotes from primary sources (diaries, letters, journals,
"On June 4 , the rain kept up incessantly, filled their trenches, and turned the red clay roads into quagmires. Cole
recorded, “The skirmishing has been the heaviest continual skirmishing we have had for several days, and at times it
appears almost an attack. . . . Potter reported that Platt was, “killed at 5 p.m.; shot through the arm and side; died instantly.”
Samuel Platt steadfastly maintained a diary of his life with the 26th Ohio. He had been previously wounded at Stones River
and at Chickamauga. But this time, he could not escape the deadly missile of a Confederate sharpshooter.
"Captain Baldwin, commanding Company G, had the unenviable task of informing Lieutenant Platt’s family. Baldwin wrote to
“'It is my painful duty to announce to you the mournful intelligence that your son Lieut. Platt is no more. He was struck down
by my side yesterday by the enemy’s sharpshooter. He expired almost immediately in the arms of Walter James. I feel it
would be vain to attempt to console you for the irreparable loss you have sustained in your brave boy. But permit me to
assure you that every officer and man of his Regt. deeply laments his untimely death and will mourn for him as for a friend
and brother. Of all who have borne their part well, he was the gentlest and bravest, never corrupted by the vices of the camp,
always the same kind, genial gentleman, and an upright and faithful officer.' (Kindle Location 16878-16893)
"In his Introduction, Hill summarizes the fate of the 26th Ohio. “Throughout the Civil War, nearly 1200 men were part of the
26th Ohio at one time or another; most were direct enlistment volunteers, but others were transfers from other regiments
(most notably the 97th Ohio Volunteer Infantry). During the War, 122 were killed or mortally wounded, 11 died as a Prisoner
of War (most of them at Andersonville); 85 died from disease, 245 were disabled from combat; 112 were discharged (usually
with a surgeon’s certificate of disability due to serious illness or injury); 48 transferred out to other regiments, and there was at
least one case of desertion.” (Kindle Locations 203-208). Although the 26th Ohio differed from the majority of regiments in
losing more men from battlefield-caused deaths than from diseases, Hill does not ignore the toll that the latter took. And he
describes well the atrocious conditions suffered by prisoners at Andersonville.
"Hill quotes one source who wrote about one of the diaries of men of the 26th Ohio: 'But he does tell, without effort at
embellishment, of the miserable humdrum of the soldier’s every day life, and, without complaint, of the heat and cold, of the
mud and dust, of sunshine, rain and snow, of rations and no rations, of the sick, the wounded and the dead—of the little thing
that made up the joys, trials an cares of a soldier’s life.' (Kindle Locations 275-277)
"For those who appreciate a chronological account of a regiment’s service, that is the primary format of the book: Why the
men of the regiment enlisted; their basic training at Camp Chase, on the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio; their initial fighting in
mid-1861 in western Virginia (which the regiment helped become the separate state of West Virginia); their marching time
and again throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama; their role in numerous battles such as
those of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, and Kennesaw Mountain; their transport, via New Orleans, to Texas; and then
their final mustering out in Victoria, Texas in late October 1865, and their return to their homes. “The bloodiest day for the
regiment was September 19, 1863 at Chickamauga. The regiment lost 56% of its fighting force that day. The large number of
casualties occurred during the fierce back and forth and hand to hand combat that took place in the Viniard Fields at the
southern end of the battlefield.” (Kindle Locations 215-217). Hill’s final two chapters even recount the post-war pension and
reunion activities and efforts of the men of the 26th Ohio who were determined to keep alive their war-time memories and
"As Hill tells us in his Introduction, he has visited Chickamauga and the other battlefields where the 26th Ohio fought, and he
has traversed most of the ground over which they marched and camped in various states. This has enabled him to describe
better the physical settings for the regiment’s activities. But it is the letters, diaries, journals, and service records of so many
individual enlisted men and officers, including the diary of Lieutenant Samuel Platt (see above), that individualize the
"Of course, some background—for example concerning slavery, President Lincoln, generals such as Grant and Lee, the anti-
war Copperheads, and even why France had troops in Mexico in 1865—is necessary in order to understand why the 26th
Ohio was ordered to do what it did in the war. But even here, Hill often individualizes the larger picture by quoting what some
of the men of the 26th Ohio thought of such individuals and issues. On Lincoln’s assassination, the regiment’s Lyman
Gardner wrote that “it was a pretty hard blow to our government when Lincoln was killed. I tell you there is not any that dare
speaks against him here in the Army. There was many a man shot for saying he was glad Lincoln was killed.” (Kindle
Locations 25133-25135). Here, as on numerous other occasions, Hill’s account of the 26th Ohio squares with what other Civil
War historians have said about Union forces generally (see, e. g., Steven J. Ramold, “‘We Should Have Killed Them All’:
The Violent Reaction of Union Soldiers to the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln," Journal of Illinois History, Spring 2007).
"Ample maps, appendices, chapter endnotes, a bibliography, and an index or search function (depending on paperback or
inexpensive ebook format) add to the value of Hill’s book. This reviewer found especially useful Appendix A, listing a little
something about each man in the regiment. About my great-grandfather, for example, it stated: “Benjamin R. Moss, [Co.] G,
age 17, entered the service on July 27, 1861; private; mustered out October 21, 1865 at Victoria, Texas as a veteran.”
(Kindle Locations 28833-28834)
"Since no letters or diary from Pvt. Moss have been discovered, Hill does not say much more about him except what a few
other men have recorded about him, namely: “Chestnut recalled, ‘Erastus Guy and Ben. Moss had a fight,’ over an
unidentified issue. Unfortunately for Private Benjamin Moss of Company G, Erastus Guy was a 1st Lieutenant, and thus a
commissioned officer and his superior. Guy had Moss placed under arrest, ‘and he was tied up to a tree for striking the
lieutenant,’ noted Folkert, who was assigned to guard Moss. When the march resumed, Moss was tied to a wagon and under
continuous guard.” (Kindle Locations 21270-21274)
"Fortunately, however, my brother, Roger H. Moss, had done considerable research on our great- grandfather, collecting his
Civil War and pension records from the National Archives and other sources. When we discovered Hill’s book on the 26th
Ohio, we were able to use it to provide the necessary background for all the information my brother had gathered.
"Hill provides the setting that helps explain why the fight involving Pvt Moss and an officer broke out: “The boys marched 12
miles that day. Tempers must have been getting pretty frayed by now with all the long marches, especially up and down
precipitous terrain.” (Kindle Locations 21269-21270). And by providing the background for each of the companies (A through
K) in Chapter 1, Hill helps us understand better the company in which our great-grandfather served: “Company G was
comprised of 102 soldiers during the war and came principally from the town of Youngstown and vicinity in Mahoning County
in the northeast section of the state. . . . Many of the recruits for the company were first generation immigrants.” (Kindle
Locations 882-883) Pvt Moss was both from Youngstown and an immigrant. Hill also told us something about some of the
other men whose names were mentioned in the materials my brother had gathered. In a 1901 Pension Statement, his former
company commander, Captain William Baldwin, testified, “Private Moss was an active and stalwart man always ready for
difficult and dangerous duty. He is one of the sort of men . . . [to whom] we owe our final triumph.” This is the same Captain
Baldwin mentioned numerous times in Hill’s book, including when (see above) he wrote to Lieutenant Platt’s father after his
"The German historian Wilhelm Dilthey once wrote: 'How can one deny that biography is of outstanding significance for the
understanding of the great context of the historical world?' To help us further understand the history of the 26th Ohio, Hill has
set up a web site devoted to the regiment’s history. And at the site, there is a section entitled Soldiers’ Stories. To date there
are 17 biographical “stories,” there, the last of which, Pvt Benjamin R. Moss, Co G, my brother and I contributed. It owes
much to Hill’s first-rate book."
David L. Richards, Blue & Gray Magazine, XXIX, #1
"The sheer size of this book is impressive. With 800 pages, it ranks among the larger Civil War regimental histories. And the
26th Ohio made an impressive record for itself, participating in many of the great battles of the Western Theater. Recruited
from over a dozen mostly rural counties, the regiment was organized on July 24, 1861. Posted first to the Kanawha Valley in
western Virginia, on January 1, 1862, orders were received transferring the command to Louisville, Ly., and the newly
organized Army of the Ohio. The 26th reached Shiloh after the fighting ended, but the ensuing year would see them serving
with Thomas J. Wood's division at the battles of Perryville and Stones River.
"During the second's day fighting at Chickamauga, the regiment lost over half its number. In the Spring of 1864, now in
Oliver O. Howard's IV Corps, the 26th advanced deep into Georgia and saw heavy fighting along the way and around Atlanta
later that summer. Hastened back to Tennessee to deal with Hood's invasion, the Ohioans saw action at both Franklin and
Nashville in the closing weeks of 1864. At war's end, the regiment was ordered to San Antonio, Texas, and mustered out
October 21, 1865.
"A liberal use of wartime letters, diaries, and newspaper accounts make for a solid bibliography. In addition, Mr. Hill utilized a
large number of compiled military service records found at the National Archives to 'flesh out' numerous members of the
regiment. Surprisingly, the author failed to make use of the regimental books and muster rolls found in Record Group 94 at
the same institution, hence a significant source was overlooked. A full roster, based on the State of Ohio's Official Roster,
with additions by the author, further enhances the book for use by Civil War scholars and genealogists alike.
"This is a well-written history, with enough background information to augment the story but not burden the reader with
useless detail. By using a plethora of original material, Hill has allowed the soldiers to tell their own story, in their own words.
And that would make the veterans of the 26th Ohio proud."
Dan Reigle, reviewer, Ohio Civil War Genealogy Journal
"This work is the product of eight years of intensive research by Jeffrey Hill, a descendant of two members of the 26th OVI.
He began his focused work with his late father by building a website devoted to the 26th, www.26thohioinfantry.com, which not
only became a repository for information that he gathered, but also led him to many other descendants of 26th OVI
members, and expanded the research base.
"The value of a history of the 26th is evident from their list of major engagements: Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary
Ridge, Resaca, New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill, Kennesaw Mountain, Peach Tree Creek, Atlanta; Columbia; Spring Hill;
Franklin, Nashville. 56% of their force were casualties at Chickamauga. Of the 1200 men who served at some point in the
26th, 122 were killed or mortally wounded, 11 died as POW’s and 85 from disease, putting them on Fox’s list of 'Three
Hundred Fighting Regiments.'
"To write the history of a regiment as active as the 26th is a daunting task. The right way to do it is to apply what Professor
James I. Robertson Jr has called “vacuum cleaner research,” the term which he attributes to Allan Nevins, that describes
collecting and evaluating evidence from every potential source. Mr. Hill meets that test admirably, tapping journals and
letters written by unit members, newspapers, manuscript collections at several university and public institutions, historical
societies and local libraries, archives at the primary battlefield parks and Andersonville, travel across nearly all of the areas
traveled by the 26th, historians including OCWGJ Contributing Editor Kevin Frye at Andersonville, and personal collections
of many descendants.
"Although the veterans themselves had attempted, with the leadership of former Captain John Raper, editor of The Ohio
Soldier veterans’ newspaper, to compile and publish a regimental history, they were unable to do so, cancelling their effort in
1894 “due to insufficient funds to pay their publishing costs.” Mr. Hill’s efforts are intended to fulfill “the unmet desires of those
veterans of the 26th Ohio who long since departed,” and it is my opinion that he has clearly done so. They would be pleased
with and proud of this book.
"As an example of the detailed research reported in this book, OCWGJ found it to be an important resource in addressing
our question on the Columbus photographer Solomon Woolley, who spent the winter in Fayetteville (see 2011-07 in this
issue.) The town of Fayetteville (W)V was the most southern point of the Federal line during that winter, and was occupied by
troops from the 23rd OVI, 26th OVI, 30th OVI, McMullin’s Battery, and a Pennsylvania cavalry unit. This book enabled us to
identify the specific units in that location for winter quarters, and includes an excellent discussion of the unit’s winter at
Fayetteville, including incidents such as the arrival of two large “care packages” from home with winter clothing and blankets
that were greatly needed during the severe winter.
"Fifty-five pages are devoted to a corrected and supplemented regimental roster, adding the results of current research to the
original entry in the Ohio Official Roster, and seven pages to a listing of known burial locations (over 300 by my estimate.)
Any researcher will be pleased to find more than fourteen pages of primary sources in the bibliography with each chapter
containing more than 100 precise citations, and careful citation of photo credits. The seventeen maps are essential to a book
of this scope and are well done, with enhancements and sketches to add to clarity. Two of them are devoted to the alignment
for the assault at Kennesaw Mountain, including a detailed sketch of the alignment of the five regiments in Wagner’s Brigade
in “column by divisions” in the fateful attack on 27 Jun 1864.
"The regiment lost nine killed or mortally wounded, and more than 20 wounded in this engagement. Captain Walden Kelly’s
post-war accounts described the regiment taking a new stand of colors from the ladies of Chillicothe into this assault. The
flag received three bullets through the staff and 57 through the colors themselves, while the color sergeant was killed and
several of the color guards killed or wounded. Kelly wrote: “Go see the flag in the State House, Columbus. The marks on the
staff are still showing.” (Editor’s note: we cannot state for sure if this is the flag to which Kelly referred, but the Ohio Historical
Society’s current online photographs of 26th OVI flags includes only one regimental color, at http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.
"This is an excellent modern regimental history, a fitting tribute to the members of the Groundhog Regiment, and certainly a
benefit to those of us seeking to know and understand what happened now 150 years ago."
Jonathan A. Noyalas, reviewer for the Civil War News, April, 2011, p. 46.
"Overdue 26th Ohio Infantry History Thoroughly Researched, Well Done."
"In the decades following the Civil War the veterans of the 26th Ohio Infantry attempted to follow the lead of other regimental
associations and publish a regimental history...Due to a lack of funds for publication, however, the regiment's veterans
decided to abandon the project in 1894. For more than a century the veterans of the 26th Ohio-- one of William F. Fox's
'Fighting 300' in his Regimental Losses of the American Civil War-- had no voice in the Civil War's growing literature.
"Fortunately historian Jeffrey Hill has rescued this regiment from obscurity and fulfilled the desire of the 26th's survivors to
have their story published and legacy preserved.
"Hill, a descendant of two 26th Ohio veterans, has relied heavily on primary material, including a substantial array of items in
private hands, to paint a picture of life in this storied regiment. The book's impressive bibliography manifests the author's
passion for this topic and desire to make his ancestors proud.
"Hill does not make the great mistake of so many regimental historians--getting off topic. While he provides necessary
information to place the regiment in proper context he does not overburden the reader.
"While this regimental history ably chronicles the 26th's experiences and should serve as a useful tool for scholars
interested in the war's Western Theater, Hill's tome should also appeal to historians with broad interest in the conflict...
"Impressively researched and soundly written, Hill's 26th Ohio regimental history preserves the regiment's legacy, but does
so in a way that is appealing to historians interested in more than the regiment or Ohio's role in the Civil War. With broad
appeal, Hill's book is a fitting tribute to a long-forgotten regiment."
Willis M. Buhle, Reviewer for The Midwest Book Review
as printed in the December, 2010 issue of the Reviewer's Bookwatch
"In the divisions of the Union army, brotherhood was formed as they fought side by side, trying to survive while still trying to
get the job done. "The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment" tells the unique story of this troop
known for its quick agility and prowess when it came to missions that needed digging. Written by a man honoring his
ancestors, 'The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry' is a fine addition to any military history collection."
Larry Stevens, webmaster of Ohiocivilwar.com
" A fine accomplishment that honors your ancestors and a cool regiment. Quite detailed and written the way a regimental
should be done. Believe everyone who comes across a copy will be pleased...The 26th was formed in different areas of the
state and after the war the members scattered. They had reunions but no one from the unit did the work of writing and
publishing a regimental record. Mr. Hill, 150 years later, has crafted a publication that would make members of the
'Groundhog' regiment proud...an interesting and informative tale of the regiment. Covering all aspects of the history from
formation to regimental reunions, the book is quite detailed. Introducing each Company of the regiment at the start of the
book is a welcome touch.
Hill uses primary and secondary sources very well and weaves stories and letters written by the soldiers of the 26th into the
text with fine technique. Descriptions of the actions at Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 25th, 1863
had me reading the chapter a second time. Descriptions of battles and the humdrum everyday life of the military are
represented in a clear manner...All in all I'm very impressed with this book."
Steven Ward, author, Buckeye's All: A Compendium and Bibliography, Ohio in the Civil War
"One of the very best regimental Ohio histories ever penned."
David Jardine, author, Jonah's War, and The Emancipation of Jonah Hommen
"The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment is an amazing presentation of the Civil War that
includes an in-depth look at the war from the presidency down to the lowliest private, from the liveliest combat action to the
despair of the prisoners of war. Filled with direct quotes, detailed lists, casualty reports, maps and combat action, this Civil
War tome rises above nearly all other individual volumes. Revealing never-before-published quotes gives a solid base to
this collection of primary source material; it is presented in a compelling narration that make its 775 pages fly.
Jeffrey Hill has, in eight years of work, put together a chronicle of interest to all Americans. Obtaining the service records and
full pension files of the Regiment, as well as compiling other primary source material, he has combined the men and, while
studying in-person the Regiment's encampments and battle sites, the terrain they fought for. This erudite presentation, told
in terse, pithy, easily readable diction and syntax, is a keeper."
Jean Mulhern, Ph.D. Director, S. Arthur Watson Library, Wilmington (Ohio) College
"Those with ancestors who served in the 26th or who have an interest in Ohio, the Civil War, or military history will find your
work an excellent resource. I was particularly impressed with your description of the research process in the Introduction,
which can serve as a model and instructive example to our own students in history classes. Thank you for your careful
research and persistence in bringing this much desired history to fruition."
Wade Barr, Descendant of veteran of the 26th Ohio
"I find it one of the best "reads" of any civil war book that I have read. If you close your eyes, you can imagine that you are
part of the regiment as they ride the river boat up the Ohio. You can also feel the maturing of the men as they grow from wide-
eyed innocent recruits to veterans..."
Eileen A. Wilson, Descendant of a veteran of the 26th Ohio
"Your book is not only a great tribute to the men of the 26th, but a great resource for anyone wanting to understand the life of
the Civil War soldier. I am also gaining a much better understanding of how the war was conducted. My husband, who has
read much more about the Civil War, is enjoying your book as well..."
Todd Lim Lee, Descendant of a veteran of the 26th Ohio
"It is a great book...paints a good visual from the way it's written."