Updated: Sep 30, 2022
by Charles (Chic) Martini
This is the story of one Civil War soldier. Henry Schwartz, my Great-Grandfather, was born in Baden, Germany in 1839. The date of his arrival in the United States is unknown, but during the Civil War he decided to join other volunteers from Greater Cincinnati to fight for his adopted country. He left his home in Delhi on August 14, 1862 at age 23, reporting to Camp Dennison near Indian Hill along the Little Miami River. His designated outfit would be the 108th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry where he was assigned to Company “A.” (William Luhrman, an ancestor of a friend of mine was assigned to Company “E.”) His term of service was to be three years.
The Regiment was comprised of 8 companies, 625 men in total. The 108th departed in September for Kentucky. By October they were fighting the famous Confederate General John Morgan’s Cavalry Raiders near Frankfort. They then moved South where they were surrounded at Hartsville, Tennessee (near Nashville) in December and became Prisoners of War. They were taken to Murfreesboro and released on parole after five days of captivity! The men rejoined Union forces at Nashville, then returned to Camp Dennison where the Regiment was reformed.
Again the 108th moved South, eventually fighting big battles near Chattanooga: Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain and the battle for Chattanooga. Then it was South again under General Sherman to the battle for Atlanta. These were huge battles; Chickamauga had 60,000 Union forces suffering 1,657 killed in action. At Atlanta, the Union had 100,000 men with 4,423 killed in action. In many of these fights, the South held the higher ground with the Northerners advancing shoulder-to-shoulder in a skirmish line. It was terribly bloody fighting. After Atlanta was taken, Henry’s 108th remained with General Sherman’s forces on the famous “march to the sea.” Generals Grant and Sherman had agreed to use terrorist tactics to deprive the South of food and materials. After Sherman reached Savannah on the Atlantic, his forces turned North through the Carolinas.
By now it was the Spring of 1865 and General Grant had surrounded General Lee at Appomattox Court House in Virginia where Lee was forced to surrender on April 10, 1865. The Southern General Joe Johnston whom General Sherman and the 108th were pursuing, did not surrender his forces until a week later. Then it was finally over.
The 108th, along with Sherman’s Army, was ordered to Washington, D.C. where over two days in May, a “Grand Review” parade was held with over 150,000 Union soldiers marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. President Lincoln did not live to see this spectacle as he was assassinated by a die hard Rebel John Wilkes Booth on April 15. Henry was then mustered out as a Sergeant. The 108th was down to 412 men.
Henry returned home and married Magdalene Ritter in 1866 and raised nine children, among them Eva Schwartz Martini (my grandmother) and Barbara Schwartz Fritz, my step-Grandmother. Henry’s wife died in 1911 and in 1916 at age 76, Henry applied for admission to the Retirement Home for Soldiers at Dayton, Ohio. Just before he died, President Lincoln had authorized three retirement homes across the country for disabled Civil War veterans, located in Maine, Wisconsin and Dayton, Ohio. At some point during the War, Henry had received a gunshot wound to his right thigh as noted on his admission form. My Dad relayed to me he could vividly recall his Grandad Schwartz coming down their farm lane in full uniform to spend a weekend with his daughter, Eva. Henry passed away at the Dayton Home in 1925 and is buried in Our Lady of Victory cemetery in Delhi.
Here is a photo taken at a home believed to be like the one in which Henry lived:
The official history of the 108th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry (862-1865):
In the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African-Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.
Infantry regiments formed in Ohio became known as regiments of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. They served for varying lengths of time, averaging one hundred days to three years. During July and August 1862, officials recruited eight companies of the 108th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry in Franklin, Butler, and Hamilton Counties, Ohio. The companies eventually reported for duty at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio. In early September 1862, officials ordered the regiment to Covington, Kentucky to help defend Cincinnati from Confederate General Kirby Smith's army that Northern authorities believed was advancing on the city.
In late September 1862, the 108th moved to Louisville, Kentucky and, in early October 1862, departed Louisville for Frankfort, Kentucky. At Frankfort, the regiment conducted several expeditions against Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's cavalry. The 108th departed Frankfort in late October 1862, arriving at Bowling Green, Kentucky in early November 1862. The organization soon left for Glasgow, Kentucky and, after a few days’ rest, advanced to Tomkinsville, Kentucky, where Confederate forces nearly surrounded and captured the entire regiment, but the unit escaped to Hartsville, Tennessee without the loss of a single man. Unfortunately, on December 7, 1862, at the Battle of Hartsville, Confederate forces captured the entire 108th. The Southerners took the captured Northerners to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the Confederates paroled the Union soldiers after five days of captivity. The Northerners then returned to Union lines at Nashville, Tennessee and were sent to Columbus, Ohio. The battalion became exchanged and eligible for duty in mid-January 1863.
In January 1863, the 108th departed Columbus for Camp Dennison. The organization eventually advanced to Frankfort, where the 108th attempted to drive Confederate guerrillas from the region. The regiment received orders to march to Louisville and then to Nashville, arriving at this city in May 1863. The 108th spent the next four months guarding the railroad line between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. On September 6, 1863, the regiment moved to Stevenson, Alabama, remaining a short period before advancing to Battle Creek, Anderson's Cross Roads, Waldron's Ridge, Dallas, and finally to Chattanooga, arriving at this last location in November 1863.
At Chattanooga, officials placed the 108th in front of the Confederate position on Lookout Mountain. On November 22, 1863, the organization advanced towards Chickamauga, Georgia, arriving two days later. Confederate soldiers fled from Chickamauga without a fight, and the 108th pursued them, engaging the Southerners at Graysville, Georgia. After a stiff skirmish, the Confederates renewed their withdrawal. The regiment next marched towards Knoxville, Tennessee, but officials soon ordered the unit back to Chattanooga.
On December 27, 1863, the 108th entered winter quarters at Rossville, Georgia. In February 1864, the regiment moved to Lyne's Station and participated in an expedition to Ringgold, Tunnel Hill, and Dalton. At this excursion's conclusion, the organization returned to its encampment at Rossville.
In May 1864, the 108th embarked upon General William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. The regiment fought in many of the major engagements of the campaign, including the Battles of Rome, Resaca, Acworth, Kennesaw Mountain, Dalton, and Big Shanty. Portions of the organization also guarded Sherman's supply and communication lines against Confederate attack. Following the Union's capture of Atlanta, Georgia in early September 1864, the 108th encamped at Dalton, Georgia. In mid-November 1864, the 108th took part in Sherman's March to the Sea.
In early 1865, the 108th joined Sherman's Carolinas Campaign. At the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina from March 19 to 21, 1865, the regiment helped repulse six different Confederate assaults. On April to, 1865, the organization led an advance from Goldsboro, North Carolina to Smithfield, North Carolina. In this movement, the 108th drove Confederate cavalry forces for fourteen miles. Members of the regiment claimed that this was the last battle of the Civil. War, suggesting that the regiment's members fired the war's last shot. Captain Frantz Fleischman of the 108th's Company H was killed in this engagement, presumably making him the last Union officer killed in the war.