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Colonel Samuel H. Hunt Speech - MMS 1640
Samuel H. Hunt was the Colonel of the 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He gave this speech at the sixth reunion of the 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on October 22, 1891 at Upper Sandusky, Ohio. The speech was then published in the Wyandot County Republican on October 29, 1891, page 1.
Many suppose that their part was that of dress parade soldiers only. Let us examine and see if this is true. A brief history of its organization, and why organization became necessary, I think in order. In 1862, Governor Tod became alarmed and feared invasion of the state by the Rebels, and had some fears of internal disturbances at home. Most of our able bodied young men were already in the army and at the front. At that time we had no state military organization in the state. I was then a member, by appointment of Governor Tod, of a military committee for this county. Our duties were many, organizing companies and Regiments, encouraging enlistments, looking after supplies for the hospitals, assisting the wives and mothers of the boys at the front by obtaining various contributions of needed supplies, in money, provisions, and clothing.
Late in 1862, Governor Tod wrote me a letter marked private saying that in his judgement there should be companies and regiments organized in every county of the state for state defense only. Could we organize such a company or companies in our county, he asked. I answered him, yes. The result was that by the aid and assistance of the loyal men and women of Wyandot County, we had, in a very short time, organized five companies and were mustered into state service and designated as the 19th Battalion. We were soon armed and equipped and ready for duty. We drilled occasionally by companies and battalion, and in time got so we could tell "Gee" from "Haw" and looked considerably like soldiers.
Up to the early spring of 1864 we were not called upon to perform active military duties for the state. About this time, General Grant was straining every nerve to reach Richmond and was calling loudly for more men. But where were the men to come from? Ohio, of course, the state that was never known to halt or falter to do her duty in time of peace or war. Ohio put 30,000 true, loyal, men in the field, armed and equipped, ready and willing to do their duties and to lend a helping hand to the Government and the brave old soldiers at the front. Yes, 30,000 hundred-day men of Ohio answered, "Hold on, Father Abraham, a few days longer. We are coming 30,000 strong" and we got there and reported to Gen. Lew Wallace at Baltimore within twelve days from the date of Governor Brough's call upon us. You all know and remember those exciting and hurrying days. We were organized as a state guard, now called up to go into the regular service of the United States for a hundred days.
Did we falter or hesitate? No, not one. Farms to be left in charge of wives, mothers and children; crops to be put out, cultivated, and harvested as best they could. Mechanics to leave their benches, lawyers their offices, doctors their practices, merchants, their stores, and shops to lock up or dispose of as best could be done. I know merchants with full stocks of goods they disposed of at great sacrifices. They invoiced their goods, settled their business and reported with the battalion at Camp Chase in six days from the time Governor Brough made his call. I know farmers, some of them here today, that made equal sacrifices, possibly more. All these incidents will come readily to your minds, and you know that I have not overdrawn the picture. I well know I am occupying your time, that you would rather devote to visiting and interchanging army experiences, than to hear me, in my poor way, trying to give you a history of what you already know.
A few more facts as to the organization and services of the 144th Regiment may be well and in order. At Camp Chase, the 19th Battalion, our own, and the 64th Battalion of Wood County were consolidated and designated the 144th Regiment, Ohio National Guard, mustered into the United States military service, and ordered to report to General Lew Wallace at Baltimore. From there we were ordered to Ft. McHenry, relieving the New York 22nd Heavy Artillery. This regiment had been at Ft. McHenry nearly two years, well-drilled and equipped, 2200 strong, as fine a body of men as I ever saw. They marched directly to the army of the Potomac and in the several battles of the wilderness lost, killed and wounded, over half their number, within three weeks of the time they left Ft. McHenry. Here was 2200 men sent to the front that 800 Ohio hundred day men made possible to assist General Grant by a reinforcement of 2200 trained soldiers. However, we were soon relieved at Ft. McHenry by Col. Len Harris' regiment hundred day men from Cincinnati.
Then a series of details of companies were made upon us. Three companies were ordered to Annapolis and Annapolis Junction, two to Wilmington, Delaware. The remaining five companies were ordered to Ft. Dix or Relay House, an important point. Here we did considerable work. In fact, the many reconnaissances and expeditions kept us busy. During this time the Battle of Monocacy was fought between the Union forces, under General Wallace, and the Rebel forces under General Early, the Union forces falling back on us and Baltimore. In this battle, although Gen. Lew Wallace was defeated, Gen. Grant says in his Memoirs: "Possibly, Wallace's defeat held Early long enough in check so that reinforcements arrived in Washington in time to checkmate Early and save Washington." In this battle, three companies of the 144th, Captain Black of Wood County, Capt. Hathaway (Ed note: actually Co.I under Capt. John McKee, not Co.K), and Capt. Frank of our battalion did valiant service losing a number of men killed and wounded.
During and after this battle, we at Relay House had our hands full guarding and protecting our lines, sending men as guard with many messengers carrying dispatches to Gen. Wallace. We did our duty so well that President Lincoln, through Secretary Stanton, sent a letter to the 144th Regiment, thanking and congratulating us for our diligence during that exciting time. This letter reached me while on a sickbed in Washington and much to my regret was lost. Would to God I had the letter! I would rather have that letter to present to you today than to have a thousand dollars from any source.
Our march from Washington to the Shenandoah night and day through dirt and heat part of the time, without rations, you remember better than I can describe. On the last day of that march I was taken back with typhoid fever and know but little of the regiment's services and trials afterward. I remember that our assistance surgeon Dr. White took charge of me and placed me upon the porch of that old log house, near our camp. The doctor administering the usual remedies, whiskey and quinine, more whiskey and less quinine, I presume. On the porch I performed my last official duty for the army. A detail was made upon me for a trusty guard, to protect the chickens of the old rebel that lived in that old log house. I made the detail and was well pleased with the way they did their duty; they guarded and conducted the chickens safely to the camp kettles, not one getting away.
That night our army fell back upon Washington. I was placed by Dr. White in a big army wagon, partly filled with hay. Marches and battles after that, you know what they were. That they were severe, I well know, as the losses of the regiment during their services of a little more than one hundred days footed up 140 men, and what we did, by services for our country was but part of what was done by the hundred day men of Ohio.
In conclusion, allow me to say that there is no act in my life that I am prouder of than that I was one of the hundred day men of Ohio. Proud of you for the services you rendered for the Union in the great rebellion, proud of your patriotism and your worth as citizens in peace as well as in war. May you live long and be as proud of your services as hundred day men of Ohio as your deeds entitle you to be and may the blessings of every loyal man in Ohio follow you and yours forever and ever.
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