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Ohio's War

The Civil War in Documents

Christine Dee

Publication Year: 2006

In 1860, Ohio was among the most influential states in the nation. As the third-most-populous state and the largest in the middle west, it embraced those elements that were in concert—but also at odds—in American society during the Civil War era. Ohio’s War uses documents from that vibrant and tumultuous time to reveal how Ohio’s soldiers and civilians experienced the Civil War. It examines Ohio’s role in the sectional crises of the 1850s, its contribution to the Union war effort, and the war’s impact on the state itself. In doing so, it provides insights into the war’s meaning for northern society. Ohio’s War introduces some of those soldiers who left their farms, shops, and forges to fight for the Union. It documents the stories of Ohio’s women, who sustained households, organized relief efforts, and supported political candidates. It conveys the struggles and successes of free blacks and former slaves who claimed freedom in Ohio and the distinct wartime experiences of its immigrants. It also includes the voices of Ohioans who differed over emancipation, freedom of speech, the writ of habeas corpus, the draft, and the war’s legacy for American society. From Ohio’s large cities to its farms and hamlets, as the documents in this volume show, the war changed minds and altered lives but left some beliefs and values untouched. Ohio’s War is a documentary history not only of the people of one state, but also of a region and a nation during the pivotal epoch of American history.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-x


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pp. xi

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Series Editors’ Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

“The Civil War in the Great Interior” series focuses on the Middle West, as the complex region has come to be known, during the most critical era of American history. In his Annual Message to Congress in December of 1862, Abraham Lincoln identified “the great interior region” as the area between the Alleghanies and the Rocky Mountains, south of Canada...

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pp. xv-xvi

In late December 1860, the editor of the Portsmouth Union and the Times wrote, “We are at a crisis in the history of our government long to be remembered.” He predicted that “millions yet unborn will become as familiar with its history as children of the present day are with the glorious 4th of July or the character of our illustrious Washington.” In one sense...

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pp. xvii-xviii

This volume, as well as the series it is a part of, The Civil War in the Great Interior, would not have been possible without the outstanding direction and encouragement of Gillian Berchowitz, senior editor at Ohio University Press. Martin Hershock, series coeditor, has been a careful critic and a source of unfailing support and good humor. Nancy...

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pp. 1-5

People who made their homes in Ohio when the Civil War began in 1861 lived close to the center of the nation. In 1860, the population center of the country—the point that divided the population equally between north and south, as well as between east and west—was in Pike County, Ohio, twenty miles southeast of Chillicothe. That center point...

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One: Ohio at the Center of the Nation

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pp. 6-32

Ohio was at the center of the conflicts that arose between Northern and Southern states and within national political parties over the extension of slavery into federal territories. Ohio’s geographic proximity to slave states, the diverse regional and ethnic backgrounds of its residents—many of whom had cultural and economic ties to the South—and the expansion...

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Two: The Election of 1860 and the Secession Crisis

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pp. 33-52

Outgoing governor Salmon P. Chase’s assurance that Ohioans desired peace and the preservation of the Union was echoed throughout Ohio, while the ascendence of the Republican party only intensified the sectional crisis. Republican William Dennison was elected governor in 1859 with a majority of over 13,000 votes, and Republicans controlled...

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Three: Taking Up and Giving Up a Short War

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pp. 53-74

In the spring of 1861, as eager men in Ohio rushed to volunteer for three months’ service to defend the Union, the state government struggled to mobilize for war. It would take the state approximately two years to create an efficient war machinery.1 In 1861 the state militia had fewer men and armaments than the militia of any other Northern state...

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Four: Debates over Liberty and Loyalty

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pp. 75-93

In the second and third years of the war, Republicans and Democrats renewed their political battles, reflecting the monumental issues Ohio residents faced. Public debates were increasingly volatile as people considered and reconsidered Union war aims, civilian loyalty, and issues of race. Most could agree that they were fighting the war to preserve...

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Five: Lines of Battle: Soldiers and Their Communities

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pp. 94-128

Three hundred thousand Ohioans fought in the Civil War; of those, 35,275 lost their lives.1 Although the statistics that measure the war’s impact on the state are imprecise, Ohio soldiers and their families were certain about how the war shaped their lives. Most of Ohio’s soldiers volunteered; relatively few were drafted. Some were motivated by a sense of...

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Six: The Costs of War

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pp. 129-164

The government's need for soldiers and its efforts to enforce conscription only intensified debates over civil liberties that helped fuel partisan battles in Ohio. The results were dramatic and attracted national attention to Ohio politics. Weeks after Congress passed the Militia Act in July 1862, the secretary of war suspended the writ of habeas corpus for all persons...

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Seven: The Battles of 1864

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pp. 165-189

When governor John Brough took office in January 1864, an uneven economy and rising inflation were hurting many Ohioans, including soldiers’ families. As people suffered through a frigid winter, parts of Ohio seemed drained of military-aged men. Mounting calls for aid to soldiers’ families prompted the state legislature to increase state taxes and to grant...

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Eight: The Imprint of War

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pp. 190-206

With the surrender of Confederate forces, Ohioans anxiously awaited the return of the surviving Union soldiers. The Ohio to which the veterans returned had been recast by the pressures of war. The federal government had greater influence in the lives of citizens, as many people learned when they applied for back pay, bounties, and pensions. Residents faced...


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pp. 207-220

Discussion Questions

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pp. 221-223


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pp. 225-229

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 231-235


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pp. 237-244

E-ISBN-13: 9780821443927
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821416839

Publication Year: 2006