Ohio History Journal

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Conduct and Revolt in the

Twenty-fifth Ohio Battery:

An Insider's Account




On August 10, 1861, in the town of Canfield, Ohio, twenty-eight year old

Robert T. McMahan enlisted as a private in the Second Ohio Volunteer

Cavalry.1 On September 3, the date of his muster, he began a journal in

which he noted the experiences and impressions of his service in the United

States military.2 McMahan first served as a cavalryman and then as a gunner

for the Twenty-fifth Ohio Light Artillery. During his three-year enlistment,

McMahan served in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and was

mustered out of the military at Little Rock, Arkansas, September 8, 1864.3

After obtaining transportation from the Quartermaster Department, he arrived

in Columbus, Ohio, September 23.4



Dennis K. Boman is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

He wishes to especially thank William H. and Kathryn Lee White who provided some impor-

tant source material which now is part of the McMahan Papers, Western Manuscript

Collection, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. He would also like to thank Dr.

Thomas B. Alexander, Dr. Daniel Hooley, Evelyn Nichols, and Keith Shafer who read his

manuscript and made helpful suggestions.


1. McMahan was born on November 8, 1832, in Pennsville, Ohio. Clipping of Robert T.

McMahan's obituary from an unidentified newspaper, Robert T. McMahan Papers, Western

Historical Manuscript Collection, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri. Hereafter re-

ferred to as McMahan Papers.

2. Five unpublished journals of Robert T. McMahan, September 3, 1861, and May 19, 1862,

McMahan Papers. Hereafter cited as McMahan Journals. The journals cover September 3,

1861, to September 18, 1864. From October 21, 1862, to January 13, 1863, two separate ren-

derings of the Journals are extant. These will be referred to as the short and long versions.

The long version commences on October 21, 1862, and the short version's last entry is January

13, 1863. Perhaps there can be no absolute certainty that both the short and long versions were

written contemporaneously, yet the weight of the internal evidence favors this conclusion. First,

the long version continues after the short version is discontinued on January 13, 1862. In the

long version there is an absence of any information that would date it later than its entry dates.

Finally, the short version's entries are more concise after McMahan began his expanded en-

tries in the long version. This indicates that McMahan continued to keep his original diary (the

short version) while writing a fuller account in the long version. Unless otherwise noted, all

words underlined or italicized in the quotations below are found in the original documents.

3. Ohio. Adjutant General. Official Roster of the Soldiers in the State of Ohio in the War of

the Rebellion, 1861-1866 (Ohio Historical Society Microfilm FLM 291), 10:635, 638; 11:51,78.

While awaiting his discharge papers, McMahan was given charge of a detail and did not end

his service until September 18.

4. Order to the Quartermaster's Department of the Department of Arkansas, September 10,