Ohio History Journal

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A Civil War Letter of an Ohio Soldier

edited by FRANK L. KLEMENT

James Pike, a grandnephew of Zebulon M. Pike, the noted explorer, was

an unusual soldier in more ways than one. He was the son of Sam Pike,

an outspoken critic of the Lincoln administration and a longtime editor of

the Hillsboro Weekly Gazette, the organ of Copperheadism in Highland

County; while the son performed heroically on the battlefields, the father

was accused of secessionist sympathies. James Pike's prewar experiences

bordered on the bizarre, his wartime activities provided adventure, and

his postwar years again exposed him to death and danger.

He was born at Leesburg, Ohio, on July 13, 1834, and he learned how

to "stick type" in his father's printing plant. Later he drifted to Jefferson

City, Missouri, to work as a printer and then to Texas, where he served

as an Indian fighter and Texas Ranger. After the Fort Sumter incident

inaugurated the Civil War, ex-ranger Pike returned to Ohio, partaking of

harrowing experiences along the way. On September 17, 1861, soon after

his return to the Buckeye State, the intrepid adventurer enlisted in Com-

pany A of the Fourth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. A year and a half later

(on April 23, 1863) he was captured by Confederate soldiers in a skir-

mish near Bridgeport, Alabama, and soon after he was paroled. He re-