Doctor pays visit to soldiers from Trumbull

Dr. M.C. Woodworth of Warren sent a letter to the editor of the Western Reserve Chronicle detailing his inspection tour of hospitals and convalescent camps in towns on the Ohio River. The letter was datelined on Jan. 4 and mailed from Cincinnati. It appeared on the front page of the Chronicle on Jan. 13. The correspondence opened with his visit with members of the Trumbull Guards in Gallipolis in Gallia County.

The Trumbull Guards company was an independent organization formed in Trumbull County in May and June 1862 to perform duty within the state. Commanding the outfit was Charles W. Smith of Warren. Capt. Smith was the Trumbull County prosecutor from 1855 to 1859 and he was elected mayor of the city of Warren in 1860, serving one year before his enlistment in the military service.

Here is the text of Dr. Woodworth’s letter:

Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan. 4, 1864

“Dear Chronicle: I have just returned from a tour of inspection of hospitals and convalescent camps up the Ohio River. While at Gallipolis I have the unspeakable pleasure of meeting the old Trumbull Guards, under the command of our old friend and fellow townsman, Capt. Charles W. Smith. It was an agreeable surprise to find them there, as I had been informed that they had been ordered to another post of duty. Our visit was necessarily short, as our boat connections with Cincinnati are few and far between. The command seemed to be in excellent condition, although I did not see them all, but enough to gain the conviction that they considered themselves an impenetrable barrier to any aspiring sesesh that desired to undertake any of their peculiar enterprises in that portion of the state. I met Mr. William P. Jones (one of the oldest members of the company at age 45), who looks as vigorous as any of the boys, and as full of patriotism as ever. George W. Messer (first sergeant of the Trumbull Guards) is in the Provost Marshal’s Office, at this post, and was highly complimented for his efficiency in his present position. William Ellery Woods looks hale and hearty, and is highly esteemed by all his associates. I did myself the honor to pay my compliments to the headquarters of the command, where I was entertained by Capt. Smith and lieutenants Josiah D. Freer and Thomas P. Gilman. These officers are highly respected in their command as well as in social circles, for their gentlemanly and soldiery bearing to all with whom they are brought in contact. The captain is certainly a very fortunate man, being possessed of that happy organism which could, if necessary, come nearer converting calamaties into sources of amusement and fun than any other man within the circle of our acquaintance. Long may he wave.

“We left Gallipolis by the boat Arizonia about seven o’clock p.m. The weather was moderate and everything bid fair for a splendid trip. The evening passed off with various amusements, and all seemed to enjoy themselves in the spacious, cozy cabin of the Arizonia, as was evinced by most of her passengers remaining up till eleven o’clock, when, all of a sudden, there came a dash of rain, quickly followed by a crash of windows, doors, boxes, and everything else moveable in the boat. The ladies on board were frightened nearly to death, and their cries mingled with the children’s screams, conspired to make the impression still more gloomy. The night had become fearfully dark, and the sensation of going down was distinctly perceptible to everyone. It seemed as if the very heavens had given way. The blast grew stronger and stronger. The boat was tilted upon its edge. Chimneys went over. Lights were blown overboard, and destruction seemed inevitable to boat and crew. Every one that could secure life preservers had them ready for the emergency. Thrice the report was sent along the upper deck that all the hands below had been swept off, and that her hull was filled and under water. Could we have seen which way to have made our way to the land, the prospect would not have been half as gloomy. I had secured about my person a life preserver, and had clinched a couple of small children to keep them from blowing off. The mother, almost frantic, entreated me for Heaven’s sake to save her children, if I could not save her. I was attempting to console her with the idea that it would soon be right with us all, when a tremendous crash admonished us that we were and the officers of the boat, but by dint of apparent special interposition, the gust suddenly checked. An attempt was made to fasten the boat to the shore; for a time that was impossible, by reason of the strong current which drifted us away. In a short time we were again thrown against the shore. We found ourselves near the little rebel town of Guyandotte, (West) Virginia, where we remained forty-six hours for the storm to abate and the boat to be repaired. Most of us would rather have been landed in ‘Richmond on the Jeems’ rather than to have risked our chances on the boat in such a storm. The weather became suddenly extremely cold; the thermometer went down on the morning of the 2nd just fourteen degrees below zero. The question then was, who could get nearest the fire. We reached this city (Cincinnati) on the evening of the 3rd, after passing through the severest storm, as I was informed by the captain of the boat, that had occurred on the Ohio River for five years.

“The Great Western Sanitary Fair is the all-absorbing topic here in Cincinnati. Various estimates have been made of the net profits of the enterprise. The total receipts for New Year’s Day were $10,537.17, on the shore, which I afterwards learned was the event most dreaded by the pilot. The Calico Ball is expected to be a grand affair. The hotels are crowded to overflowing with visitors to the city.

“It has been snowing since yesterday, and everybody seems to be enjoying the first class sleighing which has recently made its advent in this city.”

Yours truly, M.C. Woodworth

NOTE: The Trumbull Guards participated in the pursuit of John Morgan’s raid through Ohio and assisted in capturing many of his raiders. They were principally engaged in guard duty at Gallipolis and at points along the Ohio River as the occasion required during the war. Family and friends back here in Trumbull County kept the company supplied with dairy products, especially cheese, and other goods during their service in southern Ohio. As a result, the Trumbull Guards were dubbed the “Cheeseheads” by the people of their host community and for a time, the company published a camp newsletter called “The Cheesehead.”

Captain Smith’s brother, James H. Smith, was a member of the homeguard unit, the 171st Ohio Infantry, which carried out guard duty at the Johnson’s Island Prison camp on Lake Erie. James’ daughter would become well known in Warren newspaper history as Zell Smith Hart Deming, publisher of the Tribune and Tribune-Chronicle.

In 1866, Charles W. Smith located in Charleston, W.V., and resumed the practice of law. He was elected to the West Virginia Legislature in 1869 and was the judge of the 5th Judicial District of West Virginia in 1871. Judge Smith died in Huntington, W.V., on June 29, 1878. When his obituary appeared in the Wheeling Standard, Judge Smith was fondly remembered as “Cheesehead” Smith who commanded a company of Western Reserve soldiers during the Civil War. His remains were returned to Warren, where his funeral arrangements were overseen by the Old Erie Lodge and Trumbull County Bar. The Dana Band rendered the solemn funeral dirge and at Oakwood Cemetery, the ceremonies of the Masonic fraternity were performed to conclude the obsequies.