Ohio History Journal

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Just a Little Bit of the

Civil War, As Seen by

W. J. Smith, Company M,

2nd 0. V. Cavalry                             Conclusion




This is the second of two articles based upon the Civil War memoirs of Private

William James Smith, Company M, Second Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. In the first

article, which appeared in the Summer issue of Ohio History, Smith provides

some information about his pre-war life and enlistment at the age of seventeen

in the Dennison Guards prior to transferring to the 2nd OVC on December 30,

1862. Further, Smith describes in his own words the extent of his involvement as

well as that of his unit in action in Kentucky, East Tennessee, the Wilderness

Campaign, and General Philip H. Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

As this segment of the narration resumes, the time is late February of 1865,

and the end of the long, internecine conflict is in sight. Smith continues his ac-

count of events leading to the fall of Richmond and, finally, General Robert Ed-

ward Lee's surrender at Appomattox. With an end to hostilities in Virginia, the

2nd Ohio heads for home, avoiding a final engagement when General Joseph E.

Johnston surrenders in North Carolina.

On May 23 and 24, 1865, the Grand Review is held in Washington, D.C., sig-

naling the end of military service for most units of the volunteer army, but not for

the 2nd Ohio. Much to the displeasure of Smith and his comrades, they are sent

to Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, for mustering out. While they are in the

area some of them, including Smith, take part in the capture of members of the

"Quantrill Gang," originally under the leadership of William Clarke Quantrill.

Smith's memoirs conclude with a series of varied personal reminiscences en-

titled "Notes and Incidents Along the Way." Some of these incidents are included

in this segment.

Continuation of Smith's Account

The orders were for any man not able to stand a long hard march to be left be-

hind. And for any man having a horse not able to go, to exchange with a man who

was to stay behind. Then along in the latter part of Feb. 1865 we started out, going

on the Valley PIKE, which was then in pretty fair condition, although there was

still some snow in the fields and woods, and the streams were up. At a number of



Mr. Hatton is Professor of Modern Languages at Capital University. He is the great-grandson of

William Smith.