"The 26th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry: The Groundhog Regiment"
Reviews of the Book
Scott Baker, fellow descendant, November 1, 2016
"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
July 17, 2015
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, April, 2015
"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, September, 2013
"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 characters:
"'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, etc.):
"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 Platt’s father:
“'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
"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 associations.
"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
"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 son’s death.
"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, 2012
"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,
"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
"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."
Mark Holian, August 29, 2011, 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."
Dan Reigle, reviewer, Ohio Civil War Genealogy Journal, to be printed in the upcoming
November, 2011 quarterly edition.
"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
"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.org/portal/battleflags-p.shtml.)
"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
"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
"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-
Willis M. Buhle, Reviewer for The Midwest Book Review December 6, 2010
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 November 7, 2010
" 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,
May 1, 2011
"One of the very best regimental Ohio histories ever penned."
David Jardine, author, Jonah's War, and The Emancipation of Jonah Hommen
October 26, 2010
"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
October 28, 2010
"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 November 9, 2010
"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 November 16, 2010
"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
Todd Lim Lee, Descendant of a veteran of the 26th Ohio April 23, 2011
"It is a great book...paints a good visual from the way it's written."