ALL QUIET AT THE FRONT TONIGHT: As I am sure I’ve mentioned before my great-grandfather (Caselton Roscoe) was a member of the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was a musician. While that sounds like an “easy gig” it was not. When not marching and playing for funerals and other formal events, during and after the battles it was a musician’s job to venture into the battlefields and help the wounded back to a field hospital. Afterward they also helped tend to the sick and wounded in the hospitals. But make no mistake about it nobody had an “easy gig” during that war.
It has been my fortune to have the diaries he wrote during this time in the war he sometimes referred to as the “rebellion”. My sister Ginny Tarrant-Wilkes preserved them and helped me make digital copies of them for the local history museum and posterity. I have had the pleasure of sharing some of those entries in this forum in the past. I should probably apologize for dwelling so long on the diaries; and I do. But I find them difficult to ignore. Consider this entry:
“May, Friday 20, 1864 – Bermuda Hundred, Va. – The enemy attacked and drove in our pickets heavy musketry and cannonading at the front fore noon afternoon heavy musketry. 3 oc [sic – o’clock] our men charged on the enemy and drove them out of the rifle pits. Lieut. J.E. Cochran wounded. Edwin Russell killed. Corp. Whidden wounded in head severe. Maj. General Walker captured by the 67th O.V.I. Comfort Ruggles slightly wounded.”
This is in reference to a skirmish (aka. the Battle of Ware Bottom Church) that took place on May 20, 1864 when Confederate forces under Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard attacked Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler's forces near Ware Bottom Church in Chesterfield County VA. About 10,000 troops were involved in the action. After driving back Butler's men, the Confederates constructed something they called the “Howlett Line”.
[The Howlett Line was a critical Confederate earthworks dug during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign during the Civil War in May 1864. Specifically, the line stretched across the Bermuda Hundred peninsula from the James to the Appomattox rivers. It was named for a Dr. Howlett's House that overlooked the James River at the north end of the line. The Howlett Line became famous and was considered to be the "Cork in the Bottle" for keeping the 30,000-man strong Butler army at bay, effectively “bottling up” the Union Army at Bermuda Hundred.]
It should be obvious from this description for us to understand that any forward movement on the part of Butler’s expedition during this time was – to delicately put it – stopped. But no matter, his forces were later successfully used in the Siege of Petersburg that began in June of 1864. But setting that aside I was curious about the soldiers mentioned in the passage:
Comfort Heber Ruggles (b.1841) was a Milan, Ohio native and a good friend to my g-grandfather. He did make it back home from the war, married and he and his wife Charlotte had five children. Like my grandfather he worked a farm and as a carpenter. He died in 1908. In 1889 he had been appointed Postmaster at Milan. It may be that the Firelands surveyor Almon Ruggles was his great uncle or a distant cousin.
Confederate General Walker was William Stephen Walker (b.1822) He was, as indicated, severely wounded in the left arm and lost his left leg, and captured at the aforementioned “Battle of Ware Bottom Church”. He received his wounds after leading a charge into the Union line where he was subjected to a rifle volley after refusing to surrender. He thought he was mortally wounded but was saved by the Union surgeon John J. Craven at Fort Monroe, who amputated his leg. He was exchanged on October 29, 1864 and later served at Weldon, N.C. from October 29, 1864 to May 1, 1865 as garrison commander until the end of the war. He died in 1899.
Lt. Cochran was actually John C. Cochran (b.1840) from Fremont, Ohio. He died from his wounds nine days after receiving them – May 29, 1864.
Evidently, Corporal Whidden survived the head wound. He was Joseph Whidden (b.1836) and was later promoted to Sergeant eventually transferring to Co. E of the 67th O.V.I.
As best I can tell Edwin Russell (b. 1840) who lost his life was a teamster and had no family.
Not every entry in this diary of 1864 is as informative as the one quoted. Finally, in mid-January 1865 Cass mustered out of the Army leaving the misery of the “rebellion” “All quiet at the front tonight.” Unlike the 618,222 men from both sides in that war who did not, the Roscoe boys had made it home.
-Sunday, May 12, 2019
Vol. XIV, No 50 - VERMILION, OHIO THURSDAY, May 18, 1911
High School Commencement
The annual commencement of the Vermilion High school will be held at the Opera House next Thursday evening, May 25th, commencing at 8 o’clock. A fine program has been prepared for the occasion. Eleven will graduate. The usual admission will be charged.
One of the most enjoyable social occasions of the year among the younger circle, occurred at the Fireman’s Hall last Friday evening when the Junior Class of V.H.S. entertained the Seniors. The hall was beautifully decorated in class colors, maroon and silver gray, pennants and flowers being much in evidence. Games and dancing were features of the evening. At a late hour all adjourned to the dining room where a delicious repast was served. Here too, the class colors and class flower, sweet peas, were most effectively used in decorating. The favors were bunches of sweet peas tied with maroon and gray ribbons. Short toasts were made and responded to, a class prophecy placing each senior 15 years hence was also read and furnished considerable merriment. It was past the hour of midnight when good nights were paid and the class party of 1911 passed into history. Those present were: Floy Tischer, Ethel Bottomley, Bertha B. Hull, Bertha M. Holl, Katherine Decker, Catherine Trinter, Rose Wolfli, Bernice jump, James Stone, Roma Philby, Earl Burrows, Wilmer Jump, Coreen McConnelly, Margie Wahl, Charles Blattner, George Lambert, Charlotte French, Matilda Krapp, Harold Cole, Allison Nieding, Elma Pretzer, Bertha Ries, Elton Fischer, Hazel Gerlach, Ola Leimbach, Edward Coen, Mr. A. L. Irey, Miss Daisy Chapman.
Council met Tuesday evening.
Mother’s Day was fittingly observed in this place.
The local stonecutter’s Union held a smoker at the lodge rooms on Friday evening.
Several of the young people from here attended the ballgame at Cleveland Sunday.
Henry Lathropp a former well-known Amherst resident died on April 30th in Florida where he had gone on account of his ill health.
Funeral services of Mrs. Jno. [John] Alghrin were held Thursday from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at 1:30 PM, Rev. Schmitz of Elyria officiated and interment was made in Cleveland street cemetery.
Mrs. Louise Miller died at the home of her daughter in LaGrange Saturday afternoon, where she was visiting. The funeral was held from the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Tuesday and interment made at the Cleveland Semetery [sic].
Lorain County now has a regular auto service line with E. J. Johnson and H. C. Hunt as promoters of the enterprise. Regular trips are made about every two hours during the day and hourly service in the evening up to 10:30 PM. On Sundays the machines will be so used for parties for the day.
AGAIN IN THE LIMELIGHT
Charles M. Hahn and his wife Lottie M Hahn, are evidently anxious to be divorced from each other he having recently filed a divorce petition in the Erie County courts, rather than replying to her divorce petition filed in this [Lorain] county.
Hahn accuses his wife of keeping company with other men since the date she refused to live with him and numerous buggy rides are said to have been enjoyed by her while she was living with her parents in South Amherst, in Erie County, being one of the persons, with whom she went riding.
Hahn says that his and that an invitation to call upon her was extended to him on these occasions.
Hahn is not in very good grace with the courts of this county, he recently being hauled into court on a charge of failing to support a minor child, who was made its home with its mother and her parents for the past several months.
In order to escape punishment, Hahn filed a the bond with the court, whereby he obligated himself to pay a certain amount of money each month toward the support of the child.
All efforts on the part of the sheriff to locate Mrs. Hawn have proved futile and it is supposed she is avoiding personal service in the suit filed in the Erie County court.
As soon as Hahn discovered that Lorain County grand jury was to investigate charges filed with the prosecutor, he departed for Michigan, but after a sojourn of several months in that section of the country, returned to the city and gave himself up to the authorities.
Hahn tried to convince the court that he was unable to work owing to illness, but he testified in in the nonsupport suit, that he had worked in many towns and cities before returning to this city. – Elyria Tel.
[NOTE: I can’t help but think that there’s something a bit off about Mr. Hahn’s claim regarding his wife. Who’d a thunk that this nonsense was going on back in 1911?]
George Knott is built busy building a new barn.
John Hoffman is making preparations for building his new barn.
Ed Kishman took pleasure trip in his new auto Sunday.
Lester Berkmyer is working for his uncle Henry Hull, in his store at Huron.
Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Post of New London drove out to the latter’s home in their new machine Sunday.
The Women’s Missionary Society of the U. E. Church were entertained Tuesday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Will Brill.
The Cong’l Sunday school will have an ice cream social this evening at A. J. Shattuck’s in his new barn.
Henry Bickel, aged 82 died Tuesday at the County infirmary. He was admitted from Vermilion. He leaves a daughter, Mrs. Field of Amherst.
LOCALS AND PERSONALS
Mrs. P. Roscoe and daughter spent Friday at Cleveland.
Mrs. F. W. Wakefield was a Cleveland visitor Friday.
Miss Jesse Delker spent Monday at Cleveland.
Mrs. Jay Stevens and son were guests at the Schisler home in Birmingham Sunday.
There will be a special meeting of the village council this evening.
George H. Blattner has had his house moved to the rear of his former location to make room for a new and modern residence, which will be ready for occupancy within the next few months.
Word was received here of the death of the seven months old son of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Higgins of Elyria which occurred early Tuesday mora
Ellis will be remembered as the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. E. Higgins formerly of Vermilion.
Mr. Root the well-known Lorain boatbuilder is repairing the tug Fred Driscoll at the Kishman Fish Co’s. dock here. The work is progressing rapidly. The damage while large is not as great as first reported.
J. E. Kishman has purchased a new International touring car from C. W. Kishman.
Mrs. Det Parsons and daughter are spending a few days with her husband at Grand River.
Word was received here this week of the death of E. H. Passow of which occurred Sunday, May 14th, at his home in Le Junta, Col. Mr. Passow formerly lived in Brownhelm and Vermilion Townships and will be remembered by many of our readers. He was an uncle of Fred and William Gegenheimer and Mrs. Sarah Stefan of this place and Mrs. Charles Blair of Wakeman.
Preparations are going forward for observation of Memorial Day. The program will be published in the NEWS next week. Town and township schools are invited to participate.
It is reported that all the fish tugs now in Fairport on Grand River will return to Vermilion Friday or Saturday. The catch of fish is fallen off at that place and unless they suddenly increase our boats will be home. So far the fishing has been very unsatisfactory.
Quite a number from here attended the funeral of William Johnston at Ogontz Sunday afternoon.
The Berlin Township Public schools will picnic and hold commencement exercises that Ruggles Grove Friday.
Mr. and Mrs. Rice of Vermilion called upon Mrs. Rice’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Champion Sunday. Mr. Champion has been in poor health for some time and is confined to his bed.
The Commencement exercises will be held at Opera House, Friday evening, May 19. Stewart’s Orchestra of Norwalk will furnish the music and Prof. Hutchins of Oberlin will make the class address.
Mr. W. H. Lippus visited his wife at St. Vincent Hospital over Sunday.
William Johnston was born in Warren, Pa., March 15, 1848 and died May 11, 1911 the age of 63 yrs., 1 mo., 26 days. He came with his parents to Vermilion when seven years of age and has lived in this community and vicinity since that time. He was united in marriage to Amy Eulalie Davey, August 19, 1868. To this union three children were born, Mrs. Charles Fisher of Toledo, O., Mrs. Carl Hauff of Ogontz and one son Willie who died 18 years ago last December. There remains also two grandchildren and one aged sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Marsh besides many other relatives and friends to mourn his demise. Mr. Johnston was a great sufferer for a number of years and as time passed on his malady became more intense and suffering more severe. He wanted to live, but it was the will of God he would be submissive to that will. It was with these words and with this trust the deceased surrendered to the divine plan. The funeral was held on Sunday afternoon at the home of his daughter in Ogontz and was attended by a very large number of neighbors and friends. Rev. A. G. Rupert officiating. Burial at Riverside Cemetery in Berlin Heights.
Mrs. Anna B. Gundlach was born in Salzburg Circuit Homberg, Electorate Hessia Germany, December 17, 1826, where she was baptized and confirmed. At the age of 21 she emigrated to America locating at Milan. She was married to Philip Huff, July 3d, 1850, living with him a happy and peaceful wedlock for 58 years. After marriage they moved on a farm of 8 acres in West Berlin, Berlin tp., adding gradually to the same until they owned 150 acres. Brother Huff died February 5th, 1908. Since then she made her home with her son John, but visited her children in turn. Five children were born to them, all living viz.; Mrs. Anna McClannahan, Mrs. Catherine Peters, Mrs. Mary Mills, Mr. John Huff, Mrs. Lily McVetty.
She died Tuesday, May 9th a little before 7:00 AM. She leaves her five children, one brother, three sisters, grandchildren and one great grandchild. She attended the Reformed Church of West Vermilion tp. in the Friends church near Berlinville. She loved a large circle of friends and was loved by them in return. Her age was 85 yrs. one mo. And 22 d. The Funeral took place May 12th from the home of her son Philip, Rev. H. F. Hilgemann and Rev. I. Stratton of the Friends Church officiating.
Mary A. daughter of Parker and Clarissa Lewis was born in Vermilion Township, December 21, 1837, being one of a family of 13 children.
On July 3, 1860 she was united in marriage to Harlow Mason. Their married life was blessed with six children, three of whom have proceeded her to the great beyond. Her husband died September 8th, 1876.
She leaves to mourn her departure, three children, Harry J. Mason, of Avery, Mrs. Annie Curtis and Sue M. Mason, five grandchildren, Lloyd, Grace, Neil, Donald and baby Merle, children of H. J. Mason, one aged sister, Mrs. Annie Coykendall, who resides in North Dakota, and many other relatives and a host of friends.
She was called home May 10, 1911, age 73 years, 4 months and 20 days.
She was a dutiful daughter, a loving and self-searching mother, always thoughtful in the extreme of all her loved ones and ever ready to render aid to anyone in times of sickness and trouble.
The funeral was conducted from her residence on Friday, May 12th, at 1:30 o’clock Rev. Cunningham, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Milan and former resident of Florence. Interment in “Maple Grove” cemetery.
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