Ohio History Journal

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A Socioeconomic Study of Veterans

of the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Regiment After the Civil War




In the closing days of the Civil War, Major General William Tecumseh

Sherman declared to Union soldiers preparing to muster out his belief that,

"as in war you have been good soldiers, so in peace you will make good citi-

zens."1 Many scholars neglect the second half of Sherman's appeal, general-

izing about the adjustments that soldiers made to peacetime society rather

than examining in detail how they made this transition.2    This is unfortunate

because the change of men from soldiers to civilians was enormous in num-

bers alone. Of a total Northern population in 1860 of twenty-two million,

nearly two million men served in the Federal army. In Ohio, out of a prewar

population of 2,400,000, nearly 304,000 men served in the military.3

Hundreds of thousands of Northern soldiers were demobilized at the conclu-

sion of the war and had to readjust to civilian society. Their war-related expe-

riences exercised a profound influence on how they resumed their places in

civilian society.4

In recent years, military historians have gained a greater understanding of

the civilian society from which soldiers are drawn.5     This understanding is


Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr., is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, University of



1. Quotation in Reid Mitchell, Civil War Soldiers: Their Expectations and Experiences (New

York, 1988), 207. Portions of this paper were presented at the 1995 Society for Military

History Conference, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The author would like to thank David Skaggs,

Bowling Green State University; Harold Selesky, The University of Alabama; Robert Gerber,

the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Memorial Foundation; and Alicia Browne for their com-

ments and help with this essay.

2. Maris A. Vinovskis, "Have Social Historians Lost the Civil War? Some Preliminary

Demographic Speculations," in Toward a Social History of the American Civil War:

Exploratory Essays, ed., Maris A. Vinovskis (New York, 1990), 1-3.

3. E.B. Long, The Civil War Day by Day (New York, 1971), 701; Frederick Dyer, A

Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, vol. I Number and Organization of the Armies of the

United States (reprint, New York, 1959), 11.

4. Stuart McConnell, Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900

(Chapel Hill, 1992), 15-16; Vinovskis, "Have Social Historians Lost the Civil War?" 21;

Marcus Cunliffe, Soldiers & Civilians: The Martial Spirit in America 1775-1865 (Boston,

1968), 429.

5. Some of the best works on the relations between soldiers and civilian society during the

war are: Bell I. Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union (Baton

Rouge, 1952); Gerald F. Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the