By: Kathy McDermott Goodman
MiltonNews DAILY Correspondent
If you are a Civil War buff, longtime Miami County resident with possible ties to a Regiment that was formed here in 1861, or just someone interested in learning about some of the local people involved in the war, then the book “Redemption” The 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War is a must-read. Local author Martin Stewart wrote this book, published in November 2010, because “EVERY soldier deserves better than to be forgotten.”
The 71st OVI was formed in the fall of 1861 and consisted of 1,000 men, ten companies of 100 men each. Over 400 of those men were from Miami County, including many from the southern part of the county. The men were trained in Troy at Camp Tod, where the original fairgrounds used to be. Less than two months after leaving camp, the soldiers were already under fire in Shiloh. These men, most of whom had never been more than a few miles from home before this, were ill-prepared to meet the enemy and ended up being falsely accused of cowardice. There is now proof showing that was an incorrect allegation.
After Shiloh, the soldiers were put in the “backwaters of the war” according to Martin, for two years of garrison duty in Tennessee guarding little towns. Thousands of guerillas were riding around in these places, so this too was a very dangerous assignment. They eventually moved on to the fighting in Atlanta and Nashville, where the Regiment again suffered terribly.
Stewart includes letters from individual soldiers, multiple photographs and even maps in the 350-page book. He also discusses reunions, many of which were held in Ludlow Falls, and what became of the major players in the Regiment. It’s information such as this that intrigues him and which he feels is important to share with residents and families of Miami County and others, especially those who have a connection to the men.
Stewart has “always been interested in history” and credits Susan Cook, his American History teacher at Miami East with helping to cultivate that interest. He was a top student in her history class, but admits that he barely made it through the French class she taught as well.
Stewart was born and raised in Staunton Township, where he and his wife currently reside. He spent four years in the Navy Submarine Service and then returned home to attend Edison. He is a mechanical engineer and has worked at EES Facility Services for the past 33 years. Stewart has two children and two grandchildren, both of whom attend Kyle Elementary School in Troy. This school was named after Barton Kyle, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Regiment who was killed on April 7, 1962 at Shiloh. Kyle was the first major casualty of the war for Miami County so the county was shut down for his funeral. His death made the war finally seem real in our little corner of the world.
Terry and Karen Purke from the Troy Overfield Tavern approached Stewart in 2003, asking him to deliver a speech regarding the 71st OVI. He had done some genealogy research in the past and discovered he has 4 great-grandfathers who fought in the Civil War. He had about 3 months to gather the information and put together the 20-page speech. Stewart confesses some things in it were right, while others “not so much.” He always felt he could do a better job, so in 2007 he started from scratch, researching the Regiment in detail. Patrick Kennedy and Barbara Besecker from the Troy History Room and Sue Cantrell at Around about books have supported him on this project.
If the book continues to sell successfully, he is contemplating having a second edition published in hard cover. Locally, “Redemption” The 71st Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War by Martin Stewart is being sold at Around About Books located on West Main Street in Troy and also Canalside Book Shop in Saint Marys. If you do not live in the area and would like to order a copy of the book, you can contact Mr. Stewart via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin was happy to write the book and found it very interesting, even though it involved a lot of time and effort. “But,” he says, “If someone recognizes the ’71st OVI’ on a grave marker when visiting a cemetery, then it was worthwhile.”
Additional information for photos below:
Private George A Baker, Company C, Tippecanoe
Henry Kumler McConnell, a Minister from Union Township recruited Company B from Union and Newton Townships. He became Captain of the Company and was promoted to Colonel of the Regiment in 1863. By the end of the war he as a Brevet General (temporary war rank.) McConnell married a woman named Brandon and five of her brothers joined Company B as well as two of Henry’s brothers and two additional brother in laws.
1913 reunion – Ludlow Falls – Friend’s Church
1912 or 1914 reunion Newton Township Hall in Pleasant Hill (building no longer there.) Of 46 known annual reunions, 17 were held in West Milton/Pleasant Hill/Ludlow Falls area showing how much veteran activity occurred in that area.
Captain John R Woodward, a farmer from the Tippecanoe (Tipp City ) area raised Company C. He was dismissed from the Regiment in fall of 1862 but later led the 147th OVI from this county as Colonel (Commanding Officer).
1907 reunion – West Milton – Knights of Pythias Hall (building still there.)