History of the 58th OVI
From Ohio in the War
by Whitelaw Reid
Transcribed by Dave SmithRecognizing the urgent necessity for an increase of the National forces in the field, in order to cope successfully with the armies raised by the Rebel authorities, the President called on the different States for an additional contingent of three hundred thousand men. Ohio, always foremost in responding to the calls of the Government, took hold of the matter with energy. Among a number of regiments projected at that time was the Fifty Eighth Ohio. Under authority from the Governor, the regiment was organized by the appointment of Colonel Valentine Bausenwein as Colonel, and the full complement of line and field officers.
Published by Larry Stevens
The Regiment remained at Camp Chase, near Columbus, perfecting itself in the school of the soldier, until February 10, 1862, when, an urgent call being made for troops, the Fifty Eighth was at once placed under orders, and transported by rail to Cincinnati, arriving in that city on the 11th of February. Embarking on the steamers Tigress and Dictator, the regiment left on the same day, en route for Fort Donnelson, Tennessee, and arrived there on the morning of the 13th of February.
Tarrying only long enough to prepare their coffee, the regiment, then within four miles of the fort, pushed on with energy, impelled by the sounds of the conflict resounding through the woods. After making a fatiguing march of twelve miles over rough and circuitous roads, in order to get into a proper position, it went into camp late in the evening in sight of the fort. Tired and exhausted by the excessive fatigue of the day, the men threw themselves on the ground and were sound asleep, utterly oblivious of what might befall them the next day. They awoke in the morning surprised to find themselves covered by a fall of snow three inches in depth. The regiment was assigned to Thayer's brigade of Lew. Wallace's division.
Preparations were at once made to take part in the assault on the fort. The Colonel (V. Bausenwein) being ill, the second officer, Lieutenant Colonel Ferd. Rempel, took command. This officer led the regiment at once toward the enemy. After moving a short distance a furious attack was made by the enemy, but the shock was met with coolness, and ended in the Rebels being hurled back into their intrenchments. This ended the active work of the day, although the regiment remained in line of battle until late in the evening, when it returned to camp. Early on the morning of the 16th the regiment was marched to the center of the line, where it remained until the announcement of the surrender of the fort. The Fifty Eighth was immediately marched into the fort, and Lieutenant-Colonel Rempel, with his own hands, hauled down the first Rebel flag the members of the regiment had ever gazed upon.
At the battle of Fort Donelson the Fifty Eighth supported Taylor's Illinois Battery, placed on the Nashville Road, and successfully held that important position against the Rebel division under Bushrod Johnston. The Rebels, on their repulse, reported to Johnston that it was impossible to take the Nashville Road, as it was filled with regular soldiers. This mistake occurred from the fact that the men of the Fifty Eighth Ohio wore hats with the regulation feather and dark blue uniforms.
Remaining near Fort Donelson until the 7th of March, the regiment left for Fort Henry, and arrived there the same day. On the 15th of March it moved up the Tennessee River to Crump's Landing and went into camp.
The Fifty Eighth went into the battle of Pittsburg Landing on the morning of the 7th of April, its position being on the right, in Taylor's brigade, General Lew. Wallace's division, and was under fire until four P.M., at which time the enemy retreated. The Fifty Eighth was highly complimented for its conduct in the battle by General Lew. Wallace and other officers in command. Its loss was nine killed and forty-three wounded.
After the battle Lieutenant Colonel Rempel was detailed as Provost Martial of the army, in post at Pittsburg Landing.
Then came the tedious, exhausting march on Corinth, creeping with snail like pace toward that miserable town. On May 8th Corinth was evacuated by the Rebels, and the Fifty Eighth, with the rest of the army, took possession. Our forces lay quiet here until the 1st of June, when a portion of them were ordered to different quarters. The Fifty Eighth received orders for Memphis, where it arrived on the 17th of June. It remained but a short time at Memphis, orders being received to move down the river to Helena, Arkansas. It arrived there on the 27th of July, and remained until the 5th of October. During the time the regiment was at this place several reconnoissances were made down the Mississippi on transports, convoyed by gunboats, for the purpose of attacking and dispersing the guerrillas along the shores of that river. In one of these expeditions a Rebel steamer, the Fair Play, with five thousand stand of arms and two pieces of artillery, was captured near Milliken's Bend, Louisiana. A brisk skirmish was also had with the Thirty First Louisiana Regiment, capturing forty of their number and all their camp equipage.
The next expedition was up the Yazoo River, a detachment of the Fifty Eighth acting as sharpshooters on the steamers Monarch, Sampson, and Lioness. On reaching Haines's Bluff a few shots were exchanged with the enemy, who soon retreated, leaving three heavy siege guns, two brass field pieces, one thirty pound Parrott, and a large amount of ordnance stores, which were destroyed by being thrown into the river. This occurred on the 20th of August. At Greenville, on the Mississippi, returning, another skirmish was had with the enemy, and several prisoners and some horses captured. At Bolivar Landing the Rebels were met a third time, and, after a spirited little fight, scattered into the woods. On the 27th of August the expedition reached the camp at Helena, and remained there until October 6th. Orders were then received for the regiment to embark on the steamers Lacrosse and Conway for St. Genevieve, Missouri, where it arrived October 6th. On the 22d the regiment marched to Pilot Knob, but returned to St. Genevieve again on the 18th of November, and, embarking on the steamers War Eagle and White Cloud, the regiment moved to Camp Steele, Mississippi.
The Fifty Eighth remained at Camp Steele until the 22d of December, when it again embarked on the steamers Polar Star and Adriatic for Johnston's Landing, on the Yazoo River. On the 27th of December there was heavy skirmishing, in which the regiment took the lead, losing several men, among them Captain Christopher Kinser, of company K, a gallant and meritorious officer. The Fifty Eighth continued on the skirmish line all night. The next day it was ordered to charge the enemy's works, which it performed in gallant style, being the first to reach the works. After pressing the enemy back and gaining the first line of rifle pits, it became evident that further efforts would prove unsuccessful. The regiment, therefore, fell back. In this affair the Fifty Eighth lost forty seven per cent, of the whole number engaged. Among the killed were three officers, including the brave and efficient Lieutenant Colonel Peter Dister. Among the wounded were Captains Morrison and Fix, and Lieutenants Defenbaugh, Kette, and Oderfeld. Captains Gallfy and Anderegg were captured.
The regiment remained in the vicinity until January 2, 1863, when it re embarked on transports and sailed down the Yazoo River to its mouth; thence up the Mississippi and White Rivers to Arkansas Post, where it arrived late on the evening of the 9th of January, and took a prominent part in the capture of that place. With the rest of the National forces the Fifty Eighth embarked for Young's Point, Louisiana, and went into camp, and remained until the 9th of February, 1863.
The Fifty Eighth at this time received an order to serve on board the iron clads of the Mississippi flotilla, and was distributed by companies to the different steamers. In this line of duty it performed valuable service.
On the 15th of March an expedition was ordered up the Yazoo River into Deer Creek, which resulted in a three days' fight at "long-taw". Although quite a spirited affair, the regiment lost but few men. The expedition returned to the mouth of the Yazoo and remained there until the night of the 16th of April. On that memorable night the iron clads and transports ran the gauntlet of the Vicksburg batteries, losing but one man of those belonging to the Fifty Eighth.
On the 29th of April the battle of Grand Gulf was fought. In this battle the Fifty Eighth lost heavily. The expedition marched up the river to Alexandria; thence up the Wachita as far as Trinity, where it captured and destroyed a large amount of good belonging to the enemy; thence up to Harrisonburg, where the Rebels were found strongly fortified, so much so as to stand a heavy bombardment of two days without results, and to compel our forces to abandon the attack and return down the river to Bayou Sara, on the Mississippi River. Remaining here but a few days, the mouth of the Red River was again visited, and made the base of the flotilla until the 1st of September, 1863. From this point scouting expeditions were occasionally sent into the interior, with, however, little result.
At this date the Fifty Eighth was ordered to join the land forces at Vicksburg, and was assigned to the First Brigade, First Division, Seventeenth Army Corps. The regiment remained at Vicksburg, performing provost duty, until December 24, 1864, when it was ordered to report at Columbus, Ohio, for discharge and muster out of service. This was consummated on the 14th of January, 1865, and the members of the Fifty-Eighth returned to civil life.
From: Ohio in the War
By Whitelaw Reid
Moore, Wilstach and Baldwin
Cincinnati Ohio 1868
Dave Smith is the Publisher of the Cincinnati Civil War Roundtable Web Page.
For more info see the 58th Ohio Infantry page at Ohio in the Civil War.
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