Aug. 16, 1863, was the opening of the Chattanooga Campaign. The 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Army of the Cumberland and the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, now in the Army of the Ohio under Gen. Burnside, moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., trying to push Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg out of Tennessee.
Thus began the Chattanooga Campaign, which included the battles of Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. The 6th OVC was pursuing Confederates through Thoroughfare Gap in Virginia, while Quartermaster William McKinley, who was acquiring supplies in Ohio, returned to West Virginia.
The 23rd OVI - including McKinley - had guard duty in West Virginia. As quartermaster, McKinley was ordered to Ohio to procure arms for the 13th West Virginia Infantry. In Ohio, people were still talking about the excitement Gen. Morgan's ride through Ohio had caused. Merchants had been awakened in the middle of the night to open their stores for supplies, and every able-bodied man was armed to protect their towns. The banks in Youngstown made a special train to take their money and records to Cleveland. When McKinley returned to Camp White in West Virginia, the soldiers were settling into guard duty, scouting, light duty, as well as swimming, boating, listening to the band and frequently visiting Charleston. McKinley became good friends with Russell Hastings who was aide-de-camp to Gen. Scammon. Hastings wrote that McKinley was a perfect soldier.
The 6th OVC had pursued the retreating Confederate Army from Gettysburg back into Virginia. They had guarded Thoroughfare Gap in the Bull Run Mountains, sending out scouting parties. Patroling and picket duty was just as hazardous as engaging in battle. On Sept. 1, a patrol of 49 troopers encountered Confederates near Orleans at Barber's Crossroads along the Rappahannock River. Sgt. Frank Shaffer, Sgt. William Barrett and Pvt. Samuel Ford were killed, four were wounded and 22 taken prisoner. Cpl. George Washington Williams of Howland was one of the prisoners. He was taken to Belle Isle Prison Camp, an island in the James River, by Richmond where fellow prisoners stole his blanket and jacket.
Chattanooga was an important railroad hub for the Confederacy. Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans, commanding the Army of the Cumberland, had pushed back Bragg from middle Tennessee in a series of successful marches. Bragg was at Tullahoma, Tenn., defending the roads to Chattanooga and the river crossings around that city.
Gen. Burnside left Cincinnati to command his Army of the Ohio and join Rosecrans. Units who had been at Vicksburg, which surrendered July 4, 1863, and units such as the 2nd OVC, who had pursued Morgan were included in the Army of the Ohio. The 105th OVI and the 7th OVI were in the Army of the Cumberland.
Isaac Gause, 2nd OVC, and other troopers who chased Morgan were transported to Cincinnati, where they had no orders. All the men were anxious to return and to continue the fight. While the provost marshal found out where the regiment was located, the men ate at what was called Camp Distribution. The dining hall was on the second floor and the men had to stand in line on the stairs. Breakfast was potatoes boiled with skins, dinner pans of boiled beef or beans, with plenty of bread and supper was coffee and bread. Finally orders came to send the 2nd OVC men to Lexington, Ky., which was the terminus of the railroad and supply camp. Arriving by train, they were to accompany a train of supplies to east Tennessee.
Without horses or equipment they had to look through condemned government supplies, patching together bridles and saddles, using good parts to make up acceptable equipment. Then they were fitted out with other supplies for the campaign. Starting out, other fragmented units were with them. Riding together the 2nd OVC men thought the pace slow after their hurried pursuit of Morgan.
Sources: Four Years with Five Armies, Isaac Gause, Neale Publishing Co., 1908; Major McKinley, William McKinley and the Civil War, William Armstrong, Kent State University Press, 2000; Better a Patriot Soldier's Grave, 6th O.V.C. by William Barnett 1982; and The Story of a Thousand, Albion Tourgee; S. McGerald & Son, Buffalo, NY 1895.
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.