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125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry "Opdycke's Tigers"

Discussion in 'Regimental Histories' started by AUG, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    125th Ohio Infantry 1.jpg
    Captain Anthony Vallender (center, hand in vest) with men of Company H, 125th Ohio Infantry, at Nashville, June 1865.

    125th Ohio Infantry 2.jpg
    Company C

    125th Ohio Infantry 3.jpg
    Company B

    [​IMG]
    The Tiger Band. Musicians of the 125th Ohio regimental band. Principal Musician Samuel Sidlinger at far left.

    Found the above photographs in F. T. Miller's Photographic History of the Civil War, Vol. 3, and thought they would make for a good post in the Regimental Histories forum. All were apparently taken at Nashville in 1865.
     

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  3. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    The fallowing is my attempt at an overview of the regiment's service.

    125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

    What became Company A was mustered into service on September 16, 1862. The company was originally intended to join the 105th Ohio, however the 105th was at full strength so the Governor ordered another regiment to be recruited from the northeast corner of the state—the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

    Emerson Opdycke, having seen action at Shiloh with the 41st Ohio, resigned his commission to recruit and command the 125th Ohio. Seven more companies were recruited and mustered in throughout November and December, and before long the regiment completed its organization at Camp Cleveland with eight companies under Colonel Opdycke, mustered in for three years of service.

    On January 3, 1863, the 125th departed for Dixie. Moving to Cincinnati, it traveled to Louisville, Ky., thence to Nashville by February.

    The 125th saw its first action around Franklin, Tenn., in efforts to drive Confederate troops from the town. On February 12, 1863, with a force under Gen. Charles C. Gilbert, the regiment marched from Nashville to Franklin. Learning that Confederate cavalry held possession of the town, Col. Opdycke was ordered to drive them out. He deployed companies A and B as skirmishers and the rest in column. Crossing the freezing Harpeth River under fire, they gradually drove the Confederate troopers through the streets and south of the town in a running fight.

    It was a bloodless affair for the regiment, but it was their official baptism of fire. Other skirmishes were fought around Franklin in the fallowing weeks, including the First Battle of Franklin on April 10, however the 125th was mainly held in reserve.

    The regiment was stationed around Murfreesboro and Hillsboro throughout the summer of 1863, marching for Chattanooga in August. Arriving there by September, the 125th saw its first major battle at Chickamauga, as part of the 3rd Brigade (Harker's), First Division, XXI Corps, Army of the Cumberland. The regiment was engaged on both days of the battle, literally earning a good name for themselves. They made two distinctive counterattacks: one with their brigade along the LaFayette Road on the first day, driving back two Confederate brigades; and the other on the second day, hitting the flank of Longstreet's advancing troops in the Dyer Field, momentarily disrupting their advance. They then retired to the northern end of Snodgrass Hill, holding their position there throughout the afternoon until withdrawing. The regiment suffered a loss of 105 men out of 314 effectives, with 17 killed, 83 wounded, and 5 missing.

    Division commander Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood christened them with their nickname when he cheered, "See the Tigers go in!" while they charged into the fight on September 20. According to the regimental historian, "From that date the 125th seldom passed another command without hearing such expressions as 'There go the Tigers,' 'How are you, Tigers?' 'Go in Tigers!' etc."

    Col. Opdycke was said to have been the only officer in the division to remain mounted throughout the battle. He was slightly wounded, a ball passing through his coat, but otherwise unhurt.

    As of October 1863 the 125th was in the 3rd Brigade (Harker's), Second Division, IV Corps, Army of the Cumberland. They would serve with the IV Corps throughout the remainder of the war.

    While at Chattanooga Company I joined the eight-company regiment on November 16. Recruited back in Ohio by Lt. Col. David H. Moore, it consisted of three officers and eighty men. It wasn't long til the new recruits 'saw the elephant' for the first time—Opdycke's Tigers were in the midst of the Federal assault on Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863. Col. Opdycke, commanding a demi-brigade comprising half of Brig. Gen. Charles G. Harker's brigade, had two horses shot from under him in the uphill charge. Reaching the crest, the 125th participated in the capture of a battery beside Bragg's headquarters. Out of 216 engaged the regiment lost 32 (2 killed and 30 wounded). Company I had proven their mettle and stood the test as well as the veterans.

    The 125th was then dispatched to Knoxville to aide Burnside's besieged forces, however the siege was lifted before they arrived. In January 1864 they marched to Dandridge, Tenn., under Maj. Gen. John Parke in search of forage, taking part in the Battle of Dandridge on January 17 against elements of Longstreet's Corps. A small but fierce battle, they lost 4 killed, 14 wounded, and 7 captured.

    Withdrawing to Knoxville, the 125th was then sent to Loudon, Tenn., and settled into winter quarters. On January 14, 1864, the final company, Company K, joined the regiment—having also been recruited by Lt. Col. Moore back in Ohio. While on their way from Chattanooga to Knoxville, the company was involved in a skirmish with Wheeler's cavalry at Charleston, Tenn., on December 28, in which they successfully repulsed Wheeler's troopers.

    The campaign for Atlanta began in May of 1864—perhaps the hardest, most grueling of the war for the Tigers. Opdycke's men would see action in the battles of Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Adairsville, Cassville, the New Hope Church line, Pine Mountain, Muddy Creek, Kennesaw Mountain, Nancy's Creek, Peachtree Creek, the siege of Atlanta, and Jonesboro. However, the troops would not experience the campaign as individual battles with rest in between, but continuous skirmishing, digging and marching, marked by major fights here and there.

    Col. Opdycke was wounded at Resaca and Lt. Col. David H. Moore assumed command; however, Opdycke did remain in the field and again temporarily commanded a demi-brigade including his own regiment. On August 6 he was permanently assigned command of the 1st Brigade of the division, which the 125th later transferred to.

    One of the most notable battles of the campaign for the 125th Ohio was Kennesaw Mountain—taking part in the bloody attack on Cheatham's Hill on June 27, 1864. Harker's brigade, formed in column formation, advanced just to the north of the infamous Dead Angle. Division commander Brig. Gen. John Newton chose Opdycke to command the skirmish line covering the division's front—an honorary position—and he picked his own regiment for the job. His instructions were to drive back the enemy skirmish line and get as close to the Confederate works as possible, clearing the way for the column. The Tigers accomplished their task, however the assault was bloodily repulsed in their wake. Unable to breach the Confederate line and suffering heavy losses in column formation, the Federal troops withdrew, Opdycke's men covering their retreat. The regiment lost 7 killed and 51 wounded (10 mortally) in the assault out of 260 engaged. Gen. Harker was also mortally wounded.

    Casualties reported from May to September were 5 officers and 27 enlisted men killed, and 9 officers and 107 enlisted men wounded. However, according to the regimental history, they "entered upon the campaign with 517 officers and men, 255 of whom were killed or seriously wounded before Atlanta fell."

    As Hood's army headed north into Tennessee, the IV Corps was sent as part of the force under Gen. John Schofield to delay him. Hood maneuvering around Schofield at Columbia and Schofield slipping past Hood at Spring Hill, the 125th Ohio again found itself at Franklin, Tenn., on November 30, 1864—the same place they experienced their first taste of combat at in the skirmishes for the town in 1863.

    Opdycke's Tigers are undoubtedly best known for their actions in the Battle of Franklin. Ordered to take position in Brig. Gen. George G. Wagner's advanced line, Opdycke argued with Wagner that his men were tired and in need of rest after having served as the army's rear guard. Wagner eventually consented and Opdycke positioned his brigade in reserve behind the main Federal line of entrenchments. Astride the Columbia Turnpike, right behind the Union center, his brigade was in just the right place.

    The Confederate assault that evening quickly overran Wagner's outer line, chasing them back to the main line and busting through at the center. With the order, "First Brigade, forward to the works!" Opdycke immediately led his brigade in a counterattack, clashing with Confederate troops in hand-to-hand combat at the Carter House and driving them back. Amid the ferocious fighting there Opdycke fired his pistol at the enemy, then broke it over the heads of fleeing Federal troops from other commands streaming to the rear, desperately trying to send them back into the fight.

    The Tigers were infuriated by the sight of the Federal troops flying to the rear, as well as interrupting their rest. Leading them into action, Capt. Edward P. Bates reportedly shouted, "Come on boys, we have always whipped them and always will." The 125th was to the west of the pike and met head-on with the advancing Confederates at the Carter House. After a quick but vicious melee the Rebs fell back to the ditch outside the main line of works and the 125th took position around the Carter buildings, just yards apart, both sides keeping up the fire until after dark and neither able to advance across the Carter garden that lay between.

    Despite being in the thick of the action, acting commander Capt. Bates listed the losses as 2 killed, 21 wounded, and 8 missing. He reported that the regiment saved two guns and captured two flags and 85 prisoners.

    Schofield's force at Franklin withdrew across the Harpeth River that night and headed to Nashville, leaving their dead and wounded on the field. Opdycke and his men have since been hailed as the 'heroes of Franklin' for their counterattack, halting the breakthrough in the Federal line.

    The 125th took part in the Battle of Nashville on December 15 and 16. Opdycke claimed in his report that his brigade participated in the capture of Redoubt no. 1 on the first day, however there are contradictory statements as to who captured it. Reported losses were 1 killed and 3 severely wounded.

    The regiment then continued in the pursuit of Hood's army, entering winter quarters in Huntsville, Ala., in January 1865. Departing Huntsville in March, they moved back into Tennessee, though saw no more fighting. While at Knoxville in April they got word of Lee's and Johnston's surrenders, fallowed by jubilant celebration. At Nashville they took part in a final grand review, in which Gen. George H. Thomas requested Opdycke to deploy his brigade in line of battle and make a charge. Thomas wished to see one last charge by the veterans of the old IV Corps and he was not left disappointed.

    Company A was mustered out of service on June 8. The rest of the regiment got word that they were headed to Galveston, Texas, with the exception of Company B which remained in Nashville to also be mustered out. They were then shipped down to New Orleans, remaining there for several week before sailing for Texas aboard the Champion on July 16. Off the Texas coast on the 23rd, they transferred to the captured blockade runner Zenobia, thence to a smaller vessel to take them ashore at Port Lavaca. During their stay in Texas the men were stationed at Camp Irwin along the Lavaca River, although the "camp" was located on a bare plain, a Mexican ranch being the only residence nearby.

    On September 23, 1865, the 125th was mustered out of service in Texas and was shipped back to New Orleans, thence up the Mississippi. Arriving back in Columbus, Ohio, their three years of service up, the men were discharged October 18 at Camp Chase.

    Throughout the war the 125th O.V.I. lost 111 men killed in action and 114 to disease or other causes.


    The day before they were discharged, one officer in the regiment wrote the fallowing in his diary:
    "October 17.—[. . .] We are all talking over our plans for the future. Many, perhaps a majority, of our boys intend to go west. It is a sad thought that we, who have been so intimately associated for years, must separate in a few hours, and with a majority the parting will be forever."

    Reunions were organized in postwar years.

    According to regimental historian, Capt. Charles T. Clark, "The 125th O.V.I. Association was organized at Akron, Ohio, January 28, 1885, by thirty members of the regiment for the purpose of holding annual reunions, preparing and publishing a history of the regiment, and taking such action from time to time as may seem proper in the interest of survivors of the regiment or the families of deceased comrades."


    Regimental Roster: http://www.civilwarindex.com/armyoh/rosters/125th_oh_infantry_roster.pdf


    Bibliography:

    Opdycke Tigers: 125th O.V.I.: A History of the Regiment and of the Campaigns and Battles of the Army of the Cumberland by Charles T. Clark, Captain, Co. F, 125th O.V.I. (Columbus, OH: Spahr & Glenn, 1895).

    To Battle for God and the Right: Civil War Letterbooks of Emerson Opdycke ed. by Glenn V. Longacre and John E. Hass (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003).

    Yankee Tigers: Through the Civil War With the 125th Ohio by Ralsa C. Rice, ed. by Richard A. Baumgartner and Larry M. Strayer (Hungton W. Va.: Blue Acorn Press, 1992).

    Yankee Tigers II: Civil War Correspondence from the Tiger Regiment of Ohio ed. by Richard A. Baeumgartner (Hungton W. Va.: Blue Acorn Press, 2004).
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
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  4. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    [​IMG]
    Samuel Emerson Opdycke (known as Emerson) was born January 7, 1830, on a farm in Hubbard, Trumbull County, Ohio, the youngest of seven children. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812 and grandfather a captain in the New Jersey militia in the American Revolution.

    In 1836 his father moved the family to Williams County in the wild northwestern corner of the state. Between school, farm work and hunting, young Emerson enjoyed reading; among his favorites was a book on Napoleon. In the 1850s he settled in Warren, Ohio, and was involved in several business pursuits, including opening a leather-goods business and prospecting for gold in California. He married Lucy Wells Stephens in 1857, they having one son.

    In July 1861, Opdycke enlisted in Co. A, 41st O.V.I. and was elected first lieutenant. Later promoted to captain, he fought and was wounded at Shiloh, picking up the colors and leading a charge.

    He later resigned in fall of 1862 to recruit and command the 125th O.V.I., which earned their nickname "Opdycke's Tigers" for their actions at Chickamauga. At Chattanooga Opdycke commanded a demi-brigade (half of Charles G. Harker's brigade) and in the charge up Missionary Ridge he had two horses shot from under him.

    He was wounded in the arm at Resaca during the campaign for Atlanta, though remained in the field, again commanding a demi-brigade before being assigned command of 1st Brigade, Second Division, IV Corps in August 1864. Opdycke's best known for his counterattack at Franklin, halting the breakthrough at the Federal center. He was brevetted brigadier general in February 1865 and later promoted to full brigadier general, however he resigned from service in January 1866.

    Moving to New York City, he engaged in the dry goods business and was active in veterans affairs, until dying from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot at the age of 54, April 25, 1884. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Warren, Ohio.

    Opdycke was a known as one of the best regimental and brigade commanders in the Army of the Cumberland, drawing praises from many of his superiors. He was sometimes rash with a quick temper, but was a natural soldier and tactician, despite having no military education or experience before the war.

    One soldier in the regiment described Opdycke in a letter:
    "He looks like a hero, six feet in stature, a fine figure, graceful and quick in movement, blue eyes of the kind that seem to look through and see just what you are thinking; and how they do flash when an awkward fellow goes wrong on drill! His voice is immense. A thousand men in line will readily hear his commands. His home is in Warren, Trumbull County."
    (Opdycke Tigers by Charles T. Clark, p. 2-3.)

    Here's his memorial on Find A Grave: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8079927

    A prewar daguerreotype of Opdycke, likely taken in the 1850s.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    [​IMG]
    The 125th Ohio monument at Chickamauga, located on the northern end of Snodgrass Hill. Following their counterattack in the Dyer Field, the 125th withdrew to this position and held their ground throughout the afternoon of September 20, 1863.
     
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  6. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    322046_227829687291773_742367497_o.jpg
    "Opdycke's Tigers" by Don Troiani, depicting their clash with Confederate troops at the Carter House in the battle of Franklin.
     
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  7. AUG

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  8. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    [​IMG]
    Veterans of the 125th Ohio at their fifth reunion, Columbus, Ohio, September 12, 1888.

    (Note the National and Regimental Flags on their staffs and the "Tiger" in the banner)

    Partial Identifications in Picture:

    Captain Charles Clark, Company "F' (first row, fourth from left)

    1ST Sergeant James Hanson, Company "I" (fourth row,thirdfrom left)

    Sergeant Albert Matthews, Company "B" (first row,second from left)

    Private James Archer, Company "H" (holding the regimental colors on right)

    Corporal John Getz, Company "F" (holding national colors on left)

    Private Jacob Sautter, Company "H" (fifth man up on the extreme right)

    Sergeant Robert Thompson, Company "G" (last row first man on left)

    Sergeant Henry L. Phillips, Company "I" (top row third from the right)

    Private Whitfield Andre, Company "K" (fourth row, fourth from left with large mustache and hat tipped)

    http://web.archive.org/web/20080829231543/http://home.earthlink.net/~nhaldane/reunion.html
     
  9. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    Great thread. Great posts.
     
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  10. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    Markers at and around the Carter House:

    2017-06-08 16.41.46.jpg

    2017-06-08 15.43.02.jpg
     
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  11. mofederal

    mofederal Captain

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    This is a pretty fantastic thread. A lot of great images and lots of information. I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks @AUG351 for all of the great info., Pretty much a huge fan of the Army of the Cumberland. My great-grandfather was a member of the 94th Ohio. I know the 125the Ohio was XXI Corps. The same Army though.
     
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  12. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    Need to go back and look but I recall that the Confederate line stepped off at 4:00 in the afternoon that November 30,1864 afternoon and had at least a mile to go before reaching the Union front line. According to the CivilWarTrust page on the battle,Opdyke's counterattack came at 5:00pm. Not sure there was much daylight left at that point.
     
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  13. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    Glad you guys got something out of it.

    Thanks for sharing the pics @bdtex. I don't think that signage was there last time I was at Franklin, at least not the marker for the 125th Ohio.
     
  14. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    Yes, was thinking the same. IIRC, the Confederates stepped off at 4:30 and reached the main Federal line around 5:00. In Gen. Jacob Cox's book on the battle he notes that the sun sets at about 5:00 on November 30.

    Edit: Checked Cox's book and on p. 147 he says: "Professor J. G. Porter of the Cincinnati Observatory has kindly computed the actual sunset at Franklin on November 30, 1864, and finds it to have been at 4 h. 59m., local time. Colonel M. B. Carter, living on the field, has also been good enough to note the apparent sunset on one of the anniversaries of the battle, and found it to be 4 h. 51 m. The low hills westward account for the difference between the real and the apparent sinking of the sun below the horizon. He also noted that at 5 h. 2 m. it was too dark to read ordinary newspaper print, marking the twilight which is commonly called 'early candle-lighting.'"

    And my mistake, apparently the attack did begin at about 4:00 and reached the main Federal line about 4:30. Opdycke's counterattack happened pretty quickly; I believe it was over before 5:00 in that case. According Jacob Cox's account, the sun didn't set until after Opdycke's counterattack took place. So the daylight in Troiani's painting might be correct.
     
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  15. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    And Opdyke's counterattack came at the second line after Cleburne's men broke through the first line and the Union troops fell back.
     
  16. Irishtom29

    Irishtom29 First Sergeant

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    I sometimes wonder if Opdyke committed suicide and it was covered up.
     
  17. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Excellent thread.
     
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  18. Liberty and Secession

    Liberty and Secession Private

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    I re-enacted with the 125th Ohio here in Georgia when I was a teenager. We had a fife and drum corps “Tiger Band” that had four fifers and four drummers at one point— we made a hell of a racket haha

    Here’s a photo of a few of the guys standing behind the cannon emplacement I built at Stone Mountain Park for my Eagle Scout Project.

    And the next one is a group of four of us with me in the top hat from 20 years ago (yikes!) at the 135th Gettysburg event.

    A book “Yankee Tigers” gives a good account:
    https://www.amazon.com/Yankee-Tigers-Through-Civil-125th/dp/0962886629

    Kelly
     

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  19. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    Here's a photo of officers of the 125th Ohio with what looks to be theirs wives and sons. I'm guessing this might've also been taken at Nashville in 1865.

    [​IMG]
    https://www.loc.gov/item/2013647747/
     
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  20. AUG

    AUG Captain Forum Host

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    The officer standing at left center with hand against the tree looks like Captain and later Brevet Colonel Edward P. Bates.

    [​IMG]

    Capt. Bates served with the 19th O.V.I. before being transferred to the newly formed 125th. Served with the regiment throughout the rest of the war. When mustered out, was the ranking Captain in the Army of the Cumberland. Gave the unauthorized order to storm the heights of Missionary Ridge, while commanding the regiment during the battle. Also commanded the regiment at Spring Hill and Franklin, for which he was brevetted Colonel by President Lincoln.
     
  21. CW Watch Collector

    CW Watch Collector Sergeant Major

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    I second the motion.
     
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