In July 1863 after the Battle of Gettysburg Colonel Stephen McGroarty and other members of the 61st returned to Ohio to fill their depleted ranks. While travelling to Columbus the party reached Bellaire, Ohio at the same time a train arrived with captured members of General John Hunt Morgan’s command, including General Morgan. They had been captured in Columbiana County following their raid through Indiana and Ohio. On August 7, 1863 the Delaware Gazette published the following about a conversation between Colonel McGroarty and General Morgan:
The Ohio State Journal says that while John Morgan was on his way from Steubenville to Columbus, Col. McGroarty of the 61st O.V.I. had an extended conversation with him, in which Morgan says that his instructions required him to pass through Indiana and Ohio, and to meet Lee in Pennsylvania, where it was anticipated by the rebels they would be victorious. But Lee being defeated, Morgan concluded to get out of Ohio as soon as he could. Within the last few days he does not seem to have made much progress in the matter. He distinctly acknowledged to Col. McGroarty that owing to the defeat of Lee – the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, the Southern Confederacy had gone up.
Whether or not Morgan truly believed the Confederacy was finished, he would continue to fight for it, escaping from the Ohio Penitentiary later that year and returning to confederate service. Morgan was killed during a federal raid at Greeneville, Tennessee on September 4, 1864.
David Reynolds was born on January 1, 1845 in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. On February 24, 1862 he enlisted in the 61st Ohio and was appointed the musician of Company K on April 8, 1862. In July 1863 Reynolds transferred to the Third Maryland Cavalry where he served as a corporal. The Third Maryland Cavalry was organized in Baltimore in the summer of 1863 and saw service in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Reynolds mustered out of the army on May 30, 1865. Following the war Reynolds married Minerva Bryant in 1867. In 1870 Reynolds and his family settled in Des Moines, Iowa. He later relocated to Marshalltown, Iowa where he died on December 31, 1915. Besides his widow, Reynolds was survived by six children.
In his history of the regiment, The Sixty-first Ohio Volunteers, 1861-1865, Major Frederick Wallace tells of a reconnaissance the 61st conducted during the Chattanooga Campaign. On October 18, 1863 Lieutenant Colonel William H. H. Bown led 300 men of the 61st from Bridgeport, Alabama. There destination was Trenton, Georgia, about a dozen miles away and the location of a Confederate outpost. Reaching Trenton, the 61st quickly captured the outpost with no difficulty as the Confederate force was itself absent on a scouting mission.
However, Lieutenant Colonel Bown and the 61st did not return to Bridgeport completely empty-handed. They did capture a Confederate staff officer. According to the Daily National Republican in a story published on October 19, 1863, the Confederate officer was Captain Robert C. Kennedy, Inspector General on Major General Joseph Wheeler’s staff. Kennedy was carrying dispatches to General Braxton Bragg. He also had with him the flag of the Fourth Tennessee Infantry (Union). The Fourth Tennessee lost its flag on October 3, 1863 when the regiment surrendered to Major General Wheeler’s command at McMinnville, Tennessee. The 61st turned the flag over to its corps headquarters after returning to Bridgeport.
More information on the Fourth Tennessee and their surrender at McMinnville is available at the Civil War Daily Gazette.
As he did in the 1863 gubernatorial election, General Stephen McGroarty supported the Unionist candidate, General Jacob Dolson Cox, in the 1865 election. On September 21, 1865 The Lancaster Gazette published the following advertisement for a Union Party rally. Cox would go on to win the election over the Democratic candidate George W. Morgan.
The following is an excerpt from a letter published in the Delaware Gazette on July 8, 1864. It is an account of the 61st Ohio and its division under General Alpheus Williams at the Battle of New Hope Church on May 25, 1864. At this battle the 61st suffered 31 casualties: 6 killed, 24 wounded and 1 missing. The complete letter is available here under “Notes In Dixie.”
On the 23d Gen. Hooker’s Corps led the advance from Cassville and on the same day crossed the Etowah at Enbarlee Mills. On the 24th the Corps without series opposition arrived at Burnt Hickory. On the 25th the march was resumed toward Dallas. The three Divisions moved abreast on nearly parallel roads. Gen. Williams’ was upon the right on the main road to Dallas. All went smoothly on until 3 o’clock p.m. when General Williams received an order to face his Division about and move at once to the support of Geary who had encountered the enemy and become dangerously engaged. The head of the column was by this time within five miles of Dallas. The command promptly turned about and taking a by-path reached Geary’s lines at 4 ½ p.m. Gen. Hooker ordered Gen. Williams to immediately prepare to attack the enemy, directing that the Division push the rebels back about two miles and take and hold a point which it was important should at once brought into our possession. Gen. Williams formed his Division into three lines – a brigade in each – and the 3d, (Col. Robinson’s) leading. The 61st Ohio Veterans was deployed as skirmishers and at once relieved the skirmishers of Geary. The troops being formed stood waiting the signal to advance. It was a thrilling moment. Those brave men were about to open the tragedy of battle …
The final orders and instructions having been hurriedly given, the bugle sounded the advance, the line moved forward through the thick forest, and the roar of battle at once began. The enemy fell back stubbornly, leaving some prisoners in our hands. But there was no hesitation, not the slightest wavering on the part of Williams’ veterans. On went the steady line until about three-quarters of a mile had been gained, when the ammunition running low Gen. Ruger’s brigade was ordered to relieve Robinson’s, which now retired to the rear with the calmness and order of drill. Gen. Hooker, who was present from the beginning of the fight, complimented them upon the ground, declaring that its conduct was “splendid.” Gen. Ruger’s troops now pressed the enemy one-half mile farther when the rebel artillery opened upon the line with shells and canister, and the battle became bloody and obstinate. The fight continued without intermission until 6 ½ p. m. when Col. Robinson’s brigade was ordered to go again to the front. This order was obeyed with alacrity and the men who had opened the battle had the satisfaction of closing it. Arriving upon the line they immediately re-opened their fire. The enemy’s artillery made fearful havoc among them, but not one inch would those devoted men yield. They remained firmly in their position until all their ammunition was gone. They then searched the cartridge boxes of the wounded and dead and thus managed to keep up the fire until the battle was ended by the darkness of night which slowly settled upon that mountain forest.
Thus closed the first day’s fighting south of the Etowah. It was a sanguinary contest as the losses attest. The 3d Brigade lost 35 killed and 200 wounded. The entire Division behaved with great credit and seems to have convinced our Western fellow-soldiers that men from the Potomac Army will fight.
In late July 1863, soldiers from the 61st OVI and other Ohio units in the Army of the Potomac returned to Ohio to escort drafted men back to the army. This trip coincided with the gubernatorial campaign between Democrat Clement Vallandigham and Unionist John Brough. Tension was running high between supporters of the anti-war Vallandigham and the soldiers, as can be seen in this excerpt from an account published in the Portage County Democrat on August 5, 1863 (Lieutenant Scripture is Z. Clark Scripture of Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery).
Some two hundred soldiers came home from the Army on the same mission with Lieut. Scripture – i.e. to take charge of drafted men for their respective commands. At Bellair on Monday last week, their train was detained four or five hours. While there the train containing the John Morgan prisoners was visited by the people around Bellair, who flocked to the prisoners cars and loaded them down with pies and cakes, cigars, tobacco, &c., and treated the Union soldiers with perfect indifference and contempt. Col. McGroarty of the 61st Ohio, was on the train with the Union solders, and was called out to make a speech to the people. The Vallandighammers were insolent. Some picked up stones but the soldiers attended to their “little case” at once – one big bully who impudently interrupted and insulted the speaker, was taken in hand by Sergt. Arbuckle of the 61st. He won’t be apt to interrupt any one under like circumstances again. Col. McGroarty made a very spirited speech, and plainly told the Vallandighammers what the soldiers thought of them.
(That fall Colonel Stephen McGroarty campaigned for Brough in Ohio. Sergeant John Arbuckle ended the war as a First Lieutenant in the 61st.)
Henry Bending was appointed First Lieutenant of Company C of the 61st Ohio on April 21, 1862. On July 30, 1862 he was promoted to Captain of Company I. Bending commanded Company I until July 1, 1863 when he was captured on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Bending remained in Confederate prisons until March 1865 when he was exchanged. Following the war Bending returned to Circleville where he died on October 15, 1894.
The following obituary was published in the Circleville Democrat and Watchman on October 19, 1894:
Captain Henry R. Bending, who has been suffering from pulmonary disease for eighteen years, confined to his bed for the past four months, dies at his home on South Court street, Tuesday forenoon, about 10 o’clock. Captain Bending was 61 years of age. He was born in Circleville in 1833. He learned the tailor’s trade, and when quite young, enlisted in the regular army, serving five years, at the expiration of the enlistment returning to this city, and engaged in the butchering business. Soon after the commencement of the Rebellion, he enlisted, in the winter of 1862 was commissioned as First Lieutenant of Co. C, 61st O.V.I., and was promoted to Captain. He was a fearless soldier. He leaves a widow and two children, Frank Bending and Mrs. Lizzie Moeller, wife of C. E. Moeller, the youngest son, Harry, dying a few weeks ago. Captain Bending was esteemed by a host of friends. The funeral, Wednesday afternoon, was largely attended.
David W. Crouse was born September 29, 1838 to Nelson and Sophia Crouse. His father, a former county commissioner of Pickaway County, Ohio, died on September 4, 1848. In early 1862 Crouse recruited for what would become Company C of the 61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Following the organization of the 61st Crouse was appointed the captain of Company C On April 23, 1862. On October 9, 1862 he resigned due to health reasons. The following year Crouse was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the 92nd Regiment of the Ohio National Guard which was raised in Pickaway County. Following the war Crouse trained horses in Pickaway County and became well known in the area for his horsemanship. On September 12, 1874 Crouse was training at the Fair Ground track in Circleville when he suddenly fell from the sulky he was driving. Crouse died before assistance arrived and it was determined that heart failure was the cause (Crouse had been suffering from heart disease). Captain Crouse was buried at Forest Cemetery in Circleville.