The ‘Bloody Seventh’ comes home with battle scars
This week 150 years ago in Civil War history, the Seventh Ohio – The Rooster Regiment; ”The Bloody Seventh,” as they were referred to – came home at last.
Its return home was chronicled by many newspapers. Their numbers would be a quarter of their original, and the scars, both mental and physical, would be with them until their deaths.
The articles below illustrate the love that the Western Reserve had for their beloved regiment and the recognition of their accomplishments in the field as their representatives. In subsequent articles, I will detail the battles and losses of the regiment and the losses associated with Trumbull County.
Cleveland Leader, June 25, 1864 – Turn out to receive the Seventh
The citizens of Cleveland need but to be informed of the arrival of the glorious Seventh to turn out en masse and give them welcome. It is impossible, at this moment, to say just when they will arrive, but it will be within a day or two. Let no one refrain from hanging out his banner, and cheering lustily and well when this remnant of the brave 1,400 marched through our streets. Everyone who has a flag should wave it. Everyone who has a handkerchief or a hat should swing it. Everyone who has a voice should shout.
Cleveland Leader, June 27, 1864 – Arrival of the Seventh, How the Heroes Came Home
Three years ago and more have passed since the bright Sabbath morning, on the fourth of May, 1861, when the gallant Seventh Regiment, with bayonets gleaming in the sunlight, passed down our streets, thousand strong, to join the great Army of the Republic.
Three years of past – years of unexampled suffering in trial, born with courage, heroism and devotion which finds no parallel in Greek or Roman annals. Three years of past – and now, from the bloody fields of Georgia, where the tide has but just been turned upon the graves of their latest dead, there has come back to us on another bright Sabbath morning, the remnant of their wasted and scattered ranks, scarce 200 strong. What ovation, enthusiastic, triumphal procession to magnificent for the conquerors such as these!
The news had gone the rounds on Saturday night that the Regiment would arrive on Sunday morning, and, therefore, when, with the early morning, the fire bells rung a loud alarm, all understood the signal.
At half after seven, the bells commenced their clanger, and, simultaneously, streams of people, from every quarter, began pouring their floods towards the union depot, where the Regiment was expected to debark. A crowd which was numbered by its thousands had already assembled when the whistle for an approaching train on the Columbus road announced that the “Bully Seventh” – the pride and glory of the reserve – was coming.
As the train rapidly approached, the scanty number of its cars suggested a sad and painful contrast with the full train which bore the gallant Regiment away. But the time for mournful reflection was past. The shrill whistle of the engine – the thunder of the nearing train – the shrieking of tortured breaks – the gradual stopping of the approaching train – and the boys, their journey done, their three years were complete, are grasping by the hand and folding in their arms to friends and loved ones from whom they had been so long separated.
Who shall portray that seemed? Who shall tell the joy and delight with which the bronze, scarred, war worn warriors looked again on home and home faces? Who shall describe the meeting of mother and son, a brother and sister, of husband-and-wife, of lover and sweetheart? We, at least, shall not attempt to.
And they slipped by unnoticed, in such individual greetings, while the boys, having debark and stacked arms, exchange welcomes with their friends. By this time the crowd had swelled to thousands, the Canon had ceased their thunderous welcome, the company of discharged members of the Seventh, 45 strong, under command of Capt. Cavanaugh, and headed by the “temperance band” had reached the depot, and the breakfast, which the Provident military committee had arranged for the boys, was in readiness.
The Regiment, therefore, under the command of Lt. Col. McClellan, fled around to where the ample tables were spread, and took their seats. Here a substantial breakfast, consisting of coffee, soft bread, meat, etc., “topping off” was strawberries, was provided them, which the boys seem to enjoy excellently, for they commenced the meal, the Rev. Mr. Goodrich offered up a brief and feeling prayer.
After the meal is over, the Regiment resumed its arms, leaving its baggage to be carried by wagons, and took up its march to the square. Its line of March was an ovation. Everywhere the streets were lined with spectators, the pavements overflowed, the windows were filled, the doors and balconies and roads were crowded, and flags hung from roofs and from ropes stretched across the street, and shout on shout greeted the advancing column.
First, after the police force, came the old members of the Seventh bearing the second flag which had floated above its columns – for the first is now among the treasured relics of the war in the state house at Columbus. Then the Regiment itself, during their third flag, keeping admirable time in order, and, even with its scattered and wasted ranks, looked fit to withstand an avalanche. And then – saddest and most touching sight of all – the invalid soldiers of the Regiment, looking out, with an interest of sickness and wounds could not subdue, upon the scene.
So, greeted everywhere with cheers, in which all joined, none feeling that the Sabbath was prolonged by this general welcome, the Regiment swept up water Street, up Superior, around the square, and to the United States building, where thousands were already gathered in anticipation of its coming. Here under the shade of the buildings Col. McClellan formed as men in a solid square, and, as soon as the vast crowd had been reduced to quiet, they were addressed by JC Grannis, Esquire, city attorney, on behalf of the city of Cleveland.
Then a speech by Gov. Brough. When the Gov. closed, the Regiment gave three loud and ringing cheers for him, followed by 3×3 cheers for the city of Cleveland and its cordial welcome to the Regiment. These were responded to by three as hardy and thunderous cheers as were ever given, for the glorious and gallant Seventh Ohio. And no one fell than the incongruity as these waves of sound broke up on the still Sabbath air, for it seemed but the proper rumblings of nature and duty to be joyful and enthusiastic on such an occasion as was this.
The reception was over for the day, and the Regiment fled away toward camp Cleveland, escorted by Capt. Cavanaugh’s company consisting of the old members of the Seventh and followed by a throng of thousands. They were comfortably quartered yesterday at camp Cleveland, where they are now the only troops and where they are comfortably settled.
It will probably be several days before their papers are completed and they are mustered out of the service. Meantime they will probably all be furloughed for a day or two, to visit their homes. We understand that Painesville Company – Company D – will receive a grand ovation at Painesville today, and the superintendent Nottingham has granted a free pass to the company to Painesville and return. We trust that other roads will emulate this liberally. A grand reception will be given to the Regiment on Wednesday, in which the whole Reserve is expected to join. Particulars are given in another column.
The Regiment left the front on 11 June on their way home. They reached Chattanooga on Wednesday, the 15th, leaving there on the 17th. They reached Nashville on the 18th, Saturday, left there on Monday, reaching Louisville on Friday, and Cincinnati on Saturday morning last. At Cincinnati a grand reception was extended to the Fifth and Seventh Regiments, a splendid banquet was spread for them, and they were addressed by General F. Kerry and Chaplain MP Gaddis. It was a magnificent affair. The Regiment left Cincinnati at three o’clock Saturday afternoon, arriving in the city at eight o’clock Sunday morning.
Cleveland, Ohio, July 7, 1864
Having been no notice of the impromptu picnic of yesterday and this morning’s issue, I’ve taken upon myself the duty of reporter.
At 2:00 p.m., several ladies’ men on the ground attached to the Old Grove House, on the Brooklyn Road, a delightful spot, and proceeded to arrange a tempting dinner for the remaining members of the Seventh Ohio regiment. Baskets, dishes, lemons, tubs, ice, and all accessories to a modest banquet were there in profusion. While this was going on a ring was formed and a gay party engaged in a merry game. Judging from the zest with which the veterans entered into it, one would suppose they had been banished from social amusements for the three years.
After the repast, Surg. Bellows made an appropriate little speech, one that could be heard without straining the ear, and being half smothered in a Fourth of July crowd. The scene and the occasion were really more touching than a public demonstration could be.
The surgeon told the men he thought some of them would reenlist before long. No doubt they will, for after all, there is a fascination about the smell of powder, to say nothing of the jolly evenings around the campfire, and the pleasant acquaintances formed. Will it not be rather difficult for some of them to separate and take up the work that was laid aside when the call sounded from Camp Taylor, three years ago? There is something like the commencement day at college and the disbanding of the regiment. The soldiers are the graduate class.
At any rate they will not forget that one of their ovations was arranged entirely by the ladies; that it was held in Cleveland, July 6, 1864, and that it was a most hearty affair.
July 8, 1864
Painesville Telegraph, June 30, 1864, Return of the Seventh Ohio
On Sunday last, the remnant of the Seventh Ohio, or that portion whose three years term of service had expired, returned to Cleveland from the front in the Cumberland Army. The city was alive with people to welcome back this letter and Regiment, after a highly credible and honorable service of over three years, during which time it has participated in many battles, and some of them the heaviest of the war.
At seven o’clock Sunday morning, the ringing of the fire bells announce the approach of the time for the train to arrive, and at 7:30 the salute was fired at the foot of Water Street, announcing arrival of the train. As it moved into the depot cheer after cheer went up from the assembled multitude, and as soon as the war-torn veterans were out of the cars they were surrounded by joyful friends.
The Herald says shouts of welcome, hardy handshaking, embraces and kisses, were showered upon the sun-brown soldiers. Many of the scenes were very affecting. And one place a young wife, whose husband had left for the field just after their marriage, hung with clinging embrace to her returned brave, and her moist eyes sought his with utter affection, her hands trembling with excess of joy. In another an old man with both hands grasp in those of his son, mingled smiles of joy over his return with tears of sorrow for the one who had lain down his life for his country. Mothers clung to sons, sisters to brothers, wives to husbands, and some little children climbed up for a father’s embrace.
The number, all told, men and officers, of those who returned, was 245. These were the remnants of nearly 1,100 men who left Camp Denison three years ago, on the reorganization of the Regiment. The whole number of the Regiment is 1,300 whom though the remainder were recruited at various times, and their term of service not expired. 60 of those were left in Sherman’s Army, and the rest are scattered in every direction, from the James River to Atlanta.
The greater part of those whose term of service have not expired are to be consolidated with the same class in the Fifth Ohio, which fought by its side many a bloody fray, and which is to retain its number. The slightly wounded were brought up with the Regiment, and more seriously wounded being left in different hospitals.
The following is the present organization of the seventh:
Lt. Col. Samuel McClelland
Surgeon Dr. Bellows
Assistant surgeon Dr. Ferguson
Capt. Wilcox, company E
Capt. Krieger, company K – Cleveland
Capt. Clark, company B – Cleveland
Capt. Howe, company A – Cleveland
Capt. Braden, company G
Capt. Davis, company C – taken prisoner in the last fight
Capt. Nesper, company H – Warren
Capt. Lockwood, company D
Lieut. Bohn commanding company I – Youngstown
Lieut. ST Loomis, quartermaster
The Regiment left Chattanooga with the Fifth Ohio but parted company on the way, the Fifth having left their arms behind them and were therefore compelled to come by railroad, no unarmed troops being allowed to come by the River.
The Seventh came up the Cumberland and Ohio Rivers by steamboat, and were fired on by guerrillas on the way. One man was lost, Sgt. Trembley of Company C, about 30 miles below Cincinnati. He was on guard when he fell overboard. The boat was stopped and efforts made to save him, but he was carried away by the current and drowned.
They were provided with breakfast by Wheeler and Russell at the depot, after which they fell into line and marched to the front of the U.S. building where a formal reception was given them. The procession was headed by the police followed by a brass band, and by the military committee, members of the Council, and city officers.
The old members of the Seventh with the second flag of the Regiment, tattered and torn, immediately upon the bronze veterans, who fully armed, and bearing their last flag, rent with a hailstorm of hostile bullets, marched with proud steps to the streets they had left three years and three months since. Carriages followed, with the sick and wounded who were unable to march. The procession was accompanied with a throng of people, and the crowds lined the streets, whilst flags fluttered in all directions.
On reaching the front of the government building the Regiment was drawn up in double line, and John C Grannis, Esquire, in the absence of Mayor Senter, addressed the regimen in behalf of the Corporation and citizens of Cleveland as follows:
Soldiers of the Seventh Ohio
The people of the city of Cleveland welcome you home. More than three years ago you went forth with full ranks – more than 1,000 strong. Today a little remnant returns to receive the greetings of friends and to mingle again with society as was your want in times gone by.
But this is not all. You and those who went with you, whether present here today or absent – whether among the living are among the dead, shall be held forever after in grateful remembrance. We witnessed your departure with pride, not unmingled with sorrow.
We did not regret that the men of the glorious Seventh had gone forth to fight against a brutal and insolent foe, or fear that any member whatever failed to do this whole duty in the perilous ridges of the battle; but we did know that your departure was attended with many sacrifices – that you would be exposed to cold, fatigue and hunger – would suffer from disease and wounds, and in loathsome prisons, and that many a noble form would bite the dust. We know that these things of must deeds be that the nation might live.
The half was not told us. It did not enter into our hearts to believe what you would suffer and what you would accomplish. Upon almost every field from Cross Lanes to Dalton the glorious banner of the Seventh has been in the van of the battle. We have watched your course with painful interest. After every battle came the intelligence that your Regiment had fought bravely and it come out with thinned ranks.
You have the grand consolation of knowing that the victories of Gettysburg, of Lookout Mountain, of Ringgold, and of Resaca, were not one without your aid. To have been in any one of these desperate conflicts is glory enough for any man. The record you have made will seem in history almost like a tale of fiction.
We have often had tidings of you, but never such as would cause our cheeks to tangle with shame. It was never said of the Seventh Ohio that it faltered in battle, that it failed to do its whole duty. You have been faithful, uncomplaining and heroic.
These things have not been accomplished without painful sacrifices. How painful are the scars many will carry to their graves answer. How painful that this be grim and in tattered flag answer. How painful these thinned ranks will answer. Your gallant Col. and Lieut. Col. came home before you. Not as we could have wished them to come, wearing the uniform with pomp, and now they lie yonder, and their graves are still wet with the tears of their morning countrymen.
Not so fortunate many of your comrades, for they lie in unknown seclusion, not in on honorable graves. We will not mourn these dead as those who die without hope, for their names shall be honored as long as liberty is prized among them.
“Death makes no conquest of these conquerors,
for now they live in fame though not in life.”
It is an honor to be engaged in this conflict which those who share it could fully prize, and those who have been engaged in it have shown a self-sacrificing devotion to duty seldom excelled. It is a conflict in favor of liberty against treason and traitors – against a desperate in a replaceable flow, fighting with desperate energy, that fraud, oppression and crime may stalk abroad in daylight.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren’s Sutliff Museum.