Ohio History Journal

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The Third Ohio Volunteer

Cavalry: A View from

the Inside



Anyone sufficiently interested in a Civil War regiment to make an

intensive study of its history would normally begin with the Official

Records. Its 128 ponderous volumes contain a bare chronicle telling

where the regiment was at any given time, which larger units it was a

part of from time to time, and what its varying fortunes were

in the scouts, expeditions, skirmishes, fights, and battles in

which all or parts of it participated. The chronicle is never complete,

for it is the residue of a double process of elimination. Only a fraction

of the events making up the day-to-day life of a regiment was of suffi-

cient importance to require formal reports to higher authority, and an

even smaller fraction of the vast mass of reports and orders originat-

ing from, or issued to, the regiment was selected for inclusion in the

Official Records.

The many official, semi-official, and unofficial compendiums of

state participation in the war, such as Lurton Dunham Ingersoll's

Iowa and the Rebellion and Whitelaw Reid's Ohio in the War, usually

present little more than a colorless chronological account of the cam-

paigns, marches, and battles of the regiments from their respective

states.2 They are in many ways the counterparts on paper of the life-

less, mass-produced Civil War monuments that decorate-if that is

the right word-thousands of village greens and town squares, North

and South.

General John Beatty wrote in the preface to his reminiscences of

the Civil War, "who can really know what an army is unless he ming-

les with the individuals who compose it and learns how they live,

think, talk and act?"3 For that kind of information, for the intimate




Mr. Starr is Director of The Cincinnati Historical Society.


1. U.S., War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official

Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington, D.C.,


2. Published, respectively, in Philadelphia, 1866; and Cincinnati, 1868.

3. John Beatty, Memoirs of a Volunteer, 1861-1863 (New York, 1946), originally

published under the title The Citizen Soldier (Cincinnati, 1879).