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Book Reviews

These are some reviews from a recent issue of The Civil War News:

 


I Belonged to the 116th—A Narrative of the 116th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War

Gerald L. Earley

Illustrated, notes, bibliography, index, 269 pp., 2004. Heritage Books Inc., 65 East Main St., Westminster, MD 21157, $25 plus shipping.


The southern portion of the state of Ohio, that bordering the Ohio River and Kentucky to its south, was known as a hotbed of “Copperhead” i.e. anti-Lincoln Administration sentiment. This “butternut” portion of the state, though, still sent many of its young men off to fight in the raging conflict that engulfed the nation between 1861 and 1865. One such unit was the 116th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Author Gerald L. Earley, a Vietnam-era veteran and descendant of Union soldiers, narrates the story of these Ohio boys organized after Lincoln’s July 1862 call for troops, a time when the Union’s fortunes were at a low point with the stalemate in McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign.

The 116th served for the duration of the conflict, ending up at the surrender of Lee’s army at Appomattox. In the time of its active service the 116th saw heavy fighting at places such as Cedar Creek and the siege of Petersburg.

Earley uses a combination of secondary sources, reports and letters from the Official Records and postwar articles and reminiscences by veterans of the unit and units that served with the 116th. Interspersed throughout the book are photographs of various members of the regiment and various parts of fields on which the 116th was engaged and also photos of the headstones of the fallen. The reproduction quality of the photos leaves something to be desired.

Each chapter of the narrative of combat includes a listing of those wounded or killed and mortally wounded in the action. An appendix lists 116th members buried in various National Cemeteries.

Earley’s work would be of interest to anyone with an ancestor in the 116th Ohio or interested in units that served alongside it. It also has good sections on political motivations and voting patterns of the soldiers who came from a “butternut” federal area serving in a war many of their neighbors did not wholeheartedly support.


Kenneth D. Williams

Kenneth D. Williams is writ-ing a book on the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers and is doing doctoral level work in American history. He has worked as a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic Site.


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