91st Ohio US/OVM belt plate identification

A friend of mine had an ancestor, Private Henry Compliment, who served in Company F, 91st Ohio Infantry. The regiment primarily served in (West) Virginia and in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He enlisted on August 3, 1862, mustered in September 7, 1862, and mustered out on June 24, 1865. Attached is an image of him. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/30635320/henry-compliment. (note: Henry is the namesake for Chapman-Compliment Camp #2 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War located in Montana and Wyoming, https://www.facebook.com/Montana.CivilWar/)

I am wondering if his belt plate is a standard US buckle or an Ohio Volunteer Militia (OVM) belt plate?



Jun 27, 2017
Southeast Missouri
I did find the following in an article on the Mine Creek Battlefield site.

In April 1863 the state formed an 'Ohio Volunteer Militia'. This unit was to wear 'the uniform prescribed for the United States Army for the time being, except the coat of arms, which shall be that of the State of Ohio'. The letters 'OVM' appeared on a US Army-style oval brass belt plate and a cartridge box plate, worn not only by the Ohio Volunteer Militia of 1863 but also by early Ohio volunteer infantry regiments of 1861 and 1862. A circular shoulder belt plate with the insignia which became the state coat of arms, but otherwise like the US Army's eagle plate, was also worn by some volunteers in 1861. Sword belt plates were 'gilt, rectangular, two inches wide, with a raised bright rim; a silver wreath encircling the arms of the state of Ohio', according to the 1859 General Regulations J'nr the Military Forces of Ohio. There were, however, no special state buttons. 1

1. Muskets issued to Ohio Regiments

James Brenner

Nov 10, 2016
North Canton, Ohio
I think we'd all like it to be an OVM buckle, but the odds are that it's not. Here's why. Ohio raised 26 regiments of infantry early in the war for 3 months' service. 13 became US volunteers and converted to 3 year troops in May-ish (1st - 13th Regiments Ohio Volunteer Militia). Ohio retained nine regiments more at its own expense for 3 months' duty in western Virginia and Kentucky, and kept four more as a state reserve force - again for 90 days. The state provided their uniforms and equipment. By mid-summer 1861, the 3 month state units were demobilized and converted into 3 year federal units which, by that time, the USG was able to reassert itself in raising and equipping an army. As a result, once a regiment mustered into service as a federal organization, the USG provided all necessary arms and equipment, not the state.

When the time the 91st mustered into federal service a year after the war started, Ohio had met its recruiting responsibilities and (officially/generally) and had little else to do with the regiment. As federal troops, the unit complied with Army regulations to wear/carry what was issued to them; to include US plates and buckles.

It's possible (although unlikely) that Compliment somehow acquired an OVM buckle for his image, but that's a long shot. BTW, don't confuse the federal OVI, (Ohio Volunteer Infantry), with the state OVM, (Ohio Volunteer Militia); they're two distinct organizations.

Do you have a copy of Darl L. Stevenson's book, Headquarters in the Brush, Blazer's Independent Union Scouts (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2001)? Blazer was with the 91st. It's the only easily available history of the regiment. In 1865, A.H. Windsor wrote a short pamphlet cleverly titled, History of the Ninety-First Regiment O.V.I (Cincinnati: Steam Printing House, 1865), but it will likely be a challenge finding a copy. Aside from some poetry written about the 91st's exploits, I am unaware of any other published information on the unit.

I hope this helps a bit.