Category Archives: Found it in the Archives

Posts pertaining mainly to manuscripts or other materials I “found” in an archives.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 3: Howard Affleck (Part C)

Howard suffers extremely sometimes, so much so that he told his mother he would not have survived if he had had any idea of the suffering, And he told his father to shoot him, the other night when he felt badly, Begged him to do it. At another time he told the neighbor Physician that every man ought to take a pistol for his own benefit in case he is wounded…[1]

-Sarah Forrer to her husband, May 9, 1862

The 1903 Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, incorrectly stated that Howard G. Affleck died on the battle field at Shiloh.[2] However, there were clearly many times in the five weeks following the battle, that Howard wished he had indeed perished at Pittsburg Landing.

As described in Part 2, Howard hobbled 2½ miles from the battle field to the banks of the Tennessee River with an ounce ball in his knee, was dragged to safety by a friend as enemy fire rained down on them, and then lay out all night in the driving rain.

Sadly, his sufferings had only just begun…


Unlike the first two parts of this story, I have only the manuscript collections themselves to tell me what followed in the heartbreaking story of Howard Affleck. Therefore, I think it would be most effective (and most moving) to let you read the rest of Howard’s story in the same words that I first read it, with some explanations (including all text in brackets) and commentary.

April 10, 1862
Howard Affleck to his mother Mary Affleck:

 Thursday, April 10, on board steamer ‘Hannibal,’ Pittsburgh [sic], Tenn.

Dear Mother,

We have had a most terrible battle here. It began on Sunday April 6th and is I believe not yet finished. Our boys at last account were in hot pursuit of the enemy 15 or 20 miles from here. Ours is a great victory yet it has cost us the lives of thousands of our brave boys. I was severely wounded in the leg left knee, Sunday afternoon. The surgeons have made several ineffectual attempts to extract the ball but here where there are thousands more badly hurt than I am, I “grin and bear it.” Some of our boats leave in a few days with the wounded. I wish Ned [his brother Edward] or father knew where they could meet me on the way—and would do so; but it is hardly worth while I suppose. None of the Bridgeport boys are killed, but five or six are wounded—none dangerously. Good bye. Your loving son, Howard.[3]

When I first read these lines, I wondered where Howard supposed his father and brother might attempt to meet him. Did people travel into the combat zone to retrieve their fallen relatives? Perhaps they did; I honestly don’t know that much about that. But in this particular case at least, they did not have to.

This snippet from Howard’s obituary sheds a little light on what happened to Howard between his last letter to his mother and the letters of his aunt which comprise the main body of this story:

…On the fifth day from receiving the wound, the ball was with difficulty extracted under the operation of chloroform. He was sent to the Marine Hospital at Evansville. From thence he was taken home…[4]

When Sarah Forrer heard of her nephew Howard’s affliction, she apparently traveled from her home in Dayton across the state to the home of her sister Mary (Howard’s mother) in Bridgeport, to help in any way she could. Sarah wrote letters to her family back in Dayton, keeping them apprised of Howard’s condition. And it was through these letters that I first began to learn Howard’s story.

May 9, 1862
Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer:

Bridgeport, May 9th, 1862

My dear Husband & children, I arrived safe about eleven o’clock today, and found Howard very weak and low. Mary [Howard’s mother] says the Drs think there is a bare chance for him, He wishes to have the limb taken off but they think he is not able to bear it. I found his father [medical doctor John Affleck] and another Physician with him when I came, they probed it and injected caustic. The wound is very offensive, and they keep a fire and the windows open all the time. It looks to me like a very doubtful case and Mary feels it to be so, She has not undressed herself, since Howard came home, of nights, only changes her clothing when necessary, an[d] lies in another room close by, where she hears every [move?] he makes, After the Dr left, Mary asks Dr. Affleck what he said about Howard, and what he thought about him, He seemed unwilling to say at first, and finally said he did not know any more than himself whether he would recover. That he thought as he did that Howard was suffering from the effects of malaria in that southern [clime?]. …

Poor Howard! I wish you would all write kind letters to him, He is pleased with them, and his parents too, and they both seem devoted to him, Mary says she never saw anything soften the Dr. so, He seems kind and kinder as it is possible to be, Howard suffers extremely sometimes, so much so that he told his mother he would not have survived if he had had any idea of the suffering, And he told his father to shoot him, the other night when he felt badly, Begged him to do it. At another time he told the neighbor Physician that every man ought to take a pistol for his own benefit in case he is wounded, I saw when he [eased?] up that he is reduced almost to an anatomy and has no appetite, and it is with great difficulty they can by giving [??] Laudanum [symbol] keep a diarea [sic] under, which is they think one of his worst symptoms…[5]

I found this last paragraph particularly heartbreaking. However, I also found these passages very interesting, as they mention some specifics about his illness and injury (and the attempted treatments):

  • The surgeons had used chloroform on Howard when extracting the ball. Chloroform was a common anesthesia at the time, so it was often administered to patients in need of painful medical procedures.
  • Later, his father and the other doctor injected caustic into his wound. The best I can determine about this practice is that the doctors hoped to caused a new inflammation, which (I guess) they hoped would effect an infection-fighting reaction from the body and that the reaction generated to fight the new inflammation would also fight the infection in the original wound as well. (I am not a medically inclined, nor was I able to find any good resources describing this practice, so please by all means, straighten me out if I have misunderstood this practice.)
  • Sarah wrote, “The wound is very offensive, and they keep…the windows open all the time.” I think that statement speaks for itself, but I had not given much thought to the smell of such illness or injury until she pointed it out. I expect that by early May the weather was beginning to warm up as well, which I’m sure didn’t help.
  • Howard’s father suspected he might be suffering from malaria – which I suppose is not unlikely, given that he’d just spent a long time in the South, on the river, where there are plenty of mosquitoes.
  • Finally, there’s the diarrhea “which is…one of his worst symptoms” and the laudanum. From what I’ve read, diarrhea was a pretty serious, common problem for soldiers during the Civil War. It makes sense; I’m sure they spent a lot of time in want of a clean, fresh water supply. Laudanum was an opiate painkiller common at that time, but it is also adept at controlling diarrhea.

Upon hearing the sad report about Howard, Sarah’s daughter Mary and husband Samuel responded thus:

May 12-13, 1862
Mary Forrer to her mother Sarah Forrer:

We all feel sad at not receiving better news from Howard. Poor boy! I wish we could relieve him in some way—Aunt Ann [wife of Sarah’s brother John Howard] and I have just been out together; she sympathizes with Aunt Mary very much; she sent her love to them all, and said tell Howard, she wishes she could do something for him. She spoke tonight of [John and Ann’s son] Willie’s going to Bridgeport to see Howard; his father [John Howard] is anxious to have him go; he may start in a day or two but I will find out before I close.

I have just been to Uncle John’s to see about Willie going—Uncle thinks he had better wait a few days until we hear again…[6]

Sarah’s husband Samuel offered these hopeful words in response to the May 9th letter:

May 15, 1862
Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer:

Your account of the condition of our nephew Howard Affleck is exceedingly distressing—His suffering must be intense—no wonder he is tired of life—I hope however that having proved so good a soldier on the battlefield, he will be permitted to retain sufficient of mind and fortitude to bear his present trouble. He is too good a boy and too much loved by his friends and especially those who know him best to give up life—He must stay with us as long as possible—Remember me to him affectionately and to all the family kindly—You will I know do all you can to comfort Mary; but she will I fear break down under the mere fatigue of [illegible] and excitement…[7]

Unfortunately, Howard was not “permitted to retain sufficient of mind and fortitude to bear his present trouble.” He soon slipped into total delirium.

May 15, 1862
Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer:

Bridgeport, May 15, 1862

Dear Husband and Children,

…Poor Howard has been insensible for twenty-four hours past and, to all appearance, cannot last much longer. The Drs did not think he would live through yesterday. He knew all about him in the morning, but soon became delirious and has been so ever since, He talks at intervals but we cannot understand him and he does not direct his words to anyone, [see?] now, I think, once and a while, we can distinguish understand a word, “Killed” “go on” “the last load”, which seem as if he wandered about the battlefield. And “It’s well Mother” “Well for Mary” and on these words he will dwell sometime, then follow much that we cannot make anything of. But, it is no matter, all will soon be ever [well] with him, Poor boy!… [Next, Sarah tells the story of Howard’s friend Allender, see Part 2.] …I found [Howard] unable to converse when I came, and he has gone down steadily ever since…[8]

I wonder whether Howard’s delirious ramblings were a product of the narcotic laudanum or what we might now call post-traumatic stress disorder or perhaps a combination of elements.

Sarah’s May 15th letter continued:

The Dr is greatly distressed, and Mary hangs over him as she always does in such times, John will know how she is and so will Husband, for they have seen her in times of great trouble. I thought yesterday she would sink down by the bed, but we prevailed upon her to lie down a while and today she seems stronger, She said “give my love to them all” And when She heard about Willie coming, she said “I would be glad to see him, but he will not see Howard… I think if [Howard, Sarah’s son, age 18] and Willie [Sarah’s and Mary’s brother John’s son, also 18] could have seen what has befallen their poor Cousin, it would cure them of all desire to enter the army. He was patriotic and brave, And see, his life has been thrown away, we may say, in that miserable battle of Shilo [sic]. I hoped to hear him give his own account of it. But he has not been able to say a word since the first day after his return… I do not know how to leave Mary… I think, after Howard is gone perhaps I may get Mary to go with me some and in that way divert her a little. If not, I will return soon. Love to all from Wife and Mother.[9]

Later that same day, May 15, 1862, Sarah resumed her letter in order to share tragic news:

Howard left us about ten this morning, only a short time after I had written my letter which I left open thinking it would be so. He did not revive after he began to sink. Mary is very sad but is more comfortable than I expected. She is distressed for fear Edward [Mary’s younger son, age 18] is going to the war. She wishes him to return with me, And go to school, or at least make a visit. She seems distressed about him and thinks he would be diverted from going by visiting us. I fear he will not be satisfied, but would like to help her with him if possible. She insists he must pay his board, and I told her he might if he stays to school, If thee has any objections, which I do not think, say so, Mary feels as if it would perhaps save him.

I wish you would write soon, for I believe I am getting homesick. The reason I said Howard’s life was thrown way, is because I suppose, if our officers had done their duty, it would not have taken place, (and ought not to have taken place). Mother[10]

There are so many things happening in this letter, I don’t feel as though I could do any of them justice in discussion while still keeping this blog post to a remotely reasonable length. Nevertheless, let me attempt it:

  • “John will know how she is and so will Husband, for they have seen her in times of great trouble.” Mary lost her first husband and two of her children (not to mention both parents and one sister) in the cholera epidemic of 1833; the following spring, her two remaining children died of scarlet fever. I have a feeling those times are among the alluded to “times of great trouble.”
  • “…but he will not see Howard.” I suppose this statement comes from not wishing to expose one’s family to the horrors of war. But I have to say, I tend to agree with Sarah, who suggested that if Howard’s two younger cousins, both 18 and apparently itching to “see the elephant” (as they say), did come to see Howard, perhaps “it would cure them of all desire to enter the army”—and hopefully spare the family additional heartache. As far as I can tell, neither boy did come to visit their cousin on his deathbed… (Now, there’s a foreshadowing, if I ever wrote one.)
  • And of course, the obvious point : after all that pain and suffering, Howard G. Affleck still did not survive. He would be “buried with the honors of war” at a cemetery in Bridgeport, with many soldiers from Bridgeport’s Camp Carlisle in attendance.[11]
  • And even as Mary mourns the loss of Howard, the fifth of her eight children to precede her in death, she worries that her youngest (and only remaining) son Edward, also 18, will go to off to war as well despite—perhaps even partially because of?—the suffering he witnessed in his own brother. She hoped to send him off to Dayton with her sister, to use school as a distraction for him. (Although Sarah’s husband supports the idea, it’s not clear whether Edward’s visit ever actually happened.[12])
  • “I suppose, if our officers had done their duty, it would not have taken place…” Clearly, Sarah had been reading the news and was much aware of the allegations of incompetence being made against the Union generals who had been in charge at Shiloh.[13] And who can blame her? If I had lost a loved one due to apparent negligence by so-called superior officers, I’d be angry with them, too.

I think that Samuel Forrer’s response to the news of his nephew’s death wraps up this series rather neatly:

May 18, 1862
Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer:

My dear good wife,

I have, just now, read a second time your affecting account of our poor dear nephew’s last days and shed tears again on remembering the account he gave himself of his interview with his Major a few minutes after receiving his fatal wound on the first day of the battle of Shiloh, of his terrible suffering in the retreat and his [lying?] in the rain one whole night on the bank of the Tennessee river and now as you add we learn he was dragged by a friend to place of security under the bluff bank of the river where the missiles of the pursuing enemy might pass over him without harm. This was indeed all terribly distressing and yet it was but a moiety of the after suffering, in pain, occasioned by the ball in his knee, its extraction, and the lingering but certain approach of death—pain so intense as it must have been until no longer conscious of pain. But a note at the close of your letter says ‘Howard has left us!’ Poor dear boy his sufferings are ended, and his loving parents and sisters[,] brother[,] and friends have left to them only the poor consolation that his sufferings are over and that they had the privilege of watching over his couch and administering to his wants and all was done to alleviate his suffering that could be done. But the war, the battle of Shiloh, the wound; the days of suffering before his father arrived and found the son; and all his after suffering; this bravery and patriotism and his many virtues; his death!—all these will be long uppermost in the minds of those who always loved him and they will and must mourn his loss. It is right and proper that they should mourn. Let none attempt to [avert?] the feelings of parents on occasions of their kind by cold applications of philosophy or piety or religion. Nature alone furnishes the only remedies of relief in the genuine sympathy of true and feeling friends…[14]

Sarah remained at Bridgeport until at least May 24 before returning to her family in Dayton.[15] No doubt she remained for the funeral and then for additional morale support afterwards. I don’t know whether she brought her nephew Edward Affleck back to Dayton with her.

What I do know is that however these women tried to distract or deter their sons and nephews from marching off to war…ultimately, it didn’t work.


[1] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 9 May 1862, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio), 4:2.

[2] A. T. McKelvey, “Mrs. Harriet B. Patterson” [Howard Affleck’s sister] (biographical sketch), in Centennial History of Belmont County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1903), accessed 19 Sept. 2011,

[3] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[4] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[5] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 9 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[6] Mary Forrer to her mother Sarah Forrer, 12 May 1862 and 13 May 1862, FPW, 11:7.

[7] Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer, 15 May 1862 (on same sheet as Mary’s 12-13 May 1862 letter), FPW, 11:7.

[8] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[9] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[10] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[11] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[12] Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.

[13] For examples of the sort of inflammatory articles Sarah might have read regarding the Battle of Shiloh, see the Dayton Daily Journal, 14 Apr. 1862, pg. 2; 21 Apr. 21, pg. 2; and 25 Apr. 1862, pp. 2 & 3.

[14] Samuel Forrer to his wife Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8

[15] Sarah Forrer to her husband Samuel Forrer, 24 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 2: Howard Affleck (Part B)

We have had a most terrible battle here. It began on Sunday April 6th and is I believe not yet finished… Ours is a great victory yet it has cost us the lives of thousands of our brave boys…[1]

-Howard Affleck to his mother, April 10, 1862

On the morning of April 6, 1862, the Confederate armies of Johnston and Beauregard launched a surprise attack on Grant’s Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing. Grant and Sherman (in command of the Fifth Division) should have seen the attack coming, but—for a variety of reasons better described elsewhere—they did not.[2]

When the attack came, the Confederates advanced in a northeastern direction with the majority of their reinforcements amassing on their own left and center, thus pressing on the Union right.[3]

The Union force farthest to the right was Sherman’s Fifth Division, particularly McDowell’s Brigade (of which the 46th Ohio was a part). The 6th Iowa infantry regiment was farthest right, being about 900 yards southeast of Owl Creek and the bridge on the Purdy Road. Just left of the 6th Iowa was the 46th Ohio. The rest of Grant’s army was further to the left, towards the river.[4]

Shiloh Battle Apr6am-2.png

Map by Hal Jespersen,, via “Battle of Shiloh,” Wikipedia, accessed 10 Jan. 2012, .

Most of Sherman’s Division had never been under enemy fire before, nor had they even been given guns until just a few weeks previous. And yet, most unfortunately, these green regiments were on the front lines when the battle began.[5] On the bright side, the right three brigades of Sherman’s Division held the advantageous position of being on higher ground and across a tributary from the advancing Confederate army. However, the Rebels finally overran the top of this ridge around 10 a.m.[6]

Until that time, a portion of McDowell’s Brigade (though it is unclear which portion) “had been virtually unengaged with the enemy thus far.”[7] However, starting from about 10:00 a.m. until early in the afternoon, McDowell’s Brigade—including the 46th Ohio and by extension, Howard Affleck—were engaged in the battle.[8]

Despite his inexperience in battle, Howard was credited as having “fought with all the coolness and obstinacy of a veteran.”[9] The following anecdote of his service at Shiloh was also reported:

When one of his fellow-soldiers who stood by his side received a ball in the head, he cried out, “Affleck, I am killed, help me!” Affleck coolly replied, “I have no time—today I have a contract for the preservation of the Union.”[10]

It is highly questionable whether that particular interchange ever actually happened; however, it certainly did make for a good, romantic snippet of war patriotism in the newspaper.

McDonough asserts that (presumably all of) McDowell’s Brigade began its retreat to the landing about 12:30, after McDowell was seriously injured after a fall from his horse. However, according to Brewer’s detailed timeline, the 46th regiment had remained engaged in battle until at least 2:00 p.m. (Brewer’s account is almost certainly the more accurate and more precise for my needs here, since it draws from the diary of the 46th regiment’s commander, Colonel Thomas Worthington.)[11]

In any event, by Sunday afternoon, Howard Affleck, the 46th Ohio, and the rest of McDowell’s Brigade had retreated to the banks of the Tennessee River, which was apparently the point where retreating, fleeing, straggling, sick and injured Union troops seemed to be convening (to the dismay of Grant to attempted, mostly unsuccessfully, to rally them back into battle). This choice of safe haven does make sense, though: the river bank was rather far behind the Union front line; it was lower than the battle ground and had the protection of a bluff; and it had the additional protection of the Union gunboats on the river.[12]

Howard Affleck was among the wounded lying on the river bank. His most serious injury was an ounce ball in his left knee, a wound which he received sometime on Sunday afternoon and which caused him great suffering as he “crippled along slowly 2½ miles to Pittsburg Landing” during the retreat. In addition to the knee injury, Howard also had a wound in his neck and five bullet holes in his clothes.[13]

Indeed, Howard was quite incapacitated by the time he lay on the riverbank Sunday afternoon, and if it had not been for the honor and bravery of a good friend, he might have died right there that day. (Then again, in light of what would happen in the next few weeks, one could argue that it might have been more humane to have let that happen.)

According to Howard’s aunt Sarah Forrer, who heard it from Howard’s sister Harriet, who probably heard it from Howard himself, the following transpired on the river bank that day:

…well after reaching the river, [Howard] with other wounded were lying helplessly on the bank, when the enemy began firing directly upon them, The shells were bursting amongst them, when a young man, a very intimate friend of his, took hold of him and dragged him down under the bluff. He could not help himself any longer, He told his Mother he had never understood what the “Horrors of war” meant—till then. This young friend nursed him faithfully till he himself was taken ill of the fever, He died a week ago, in the Hospital at Cincinnati, — His mother went to him two days before he died, They did not tell Howard, His Father feared it might affect him badly, and when He asked after “Allender?” they told him he was better…[14]

The brave young man was Nicholas Allender, a corporal a few years older than Howard. The two men had served together in the 15th Ohio, Company B, and were both serving in the 46th Ohio, Company H, at the time. Allender died at the hospital in Cincinnati on May 2, 1862.[15]

(I have not been able to find any other information on Allender. I suspect he may be one of the fellow “Bridgeporters” – others from Howard’s hometown of Bridgeport, Ohio – a friend he knew from home before the army, but I cannot tease any answers out of either Ancestry or the Internet. I did find that some Allenders lived in Belmont County, Ohio, including a Nicholas Allender as head of household in 1830, but no incontrovertible evidence of the younger Nicholas, who would have been born in the mid-to-late 1830s. Another reason I think it seems logical to guess that Allender was also from Bridgeport is that Howard’s parents knew of his fate, and unless he had relatives in the area, how would news of an otherwise “random” corporal’s death on the opposite side of the state have reached Howard’s parents?)

The Confederates called off the battle on Sunday evening (although it resumed the next day). That night, it poured down rain, and many thousand wounded soldiers spent the night lying out in the weather, some on the riverbank (as Howard did), others still out on the battlefield.[16]

Robert Murray, a surgeon and Medical Director of the Army of the Ohio, arrived on the scene the next day and wrote thus of the situation:

…I arrived when the second day’s fight (April 7) was half over, and found some five or six thousand wounded to be provided for, with, literally, no accommodations, or comforts, not even the necessaries of life, no bedding, no cooking utensils, or table furniture, not even cups, spoons, or plate, or knives and forks, no vegetables, nor even fresh beef… It was incessantly raining, and the mud was very deep; it was impossible to obtain tents enough to shelter the wounded, or straw for them to lie upon. The battle was raging a mile and a half in front… The…men procured to act as police for the hospital depots, and as nurses, cooks, and attendants, were from the panic-stricken mob who had sought safety on the banks of the river, and, these men, it was impossible to keep at work…[17]

The Union was much more successful on the second day of the battle, Monday, April 7, by which time Buell’s Army of the Ohio had arrived with reinforcements. Ultimately, the Confederate armies retreated, and Union victory was declared.

Although the brutal fight at Shiloh had ended, the battle had really only just begun for Howard Affleck…

[1] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[2] James L. McDonough, Shiloh: In Hell Before Night (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1977), 54-58, 84, 91-92; James D. Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War: Shiloh, Sherman, and the Search for Vindication (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2001), 64; T. J. Lindsey, Ohio at Shiloh (Cincinnati: C. J. Krehbiel & Co., 1903), 19.

[3] McDonough, Shiloh, 104-107.

[4] Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 76-78, 87; Lindsey, Ohio at Shiloh, 18.

[5] McDonough, Shiloh, 91.

[6] McDonough, Shiloh, 116, 120.

[7] McDonough, Shiloh, 120.

[8] McDonough, Shiloh, 120-122; Larry J. Daniel, Shiloh: The Battle that Changed the Civil War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 165, 172-173, 188-189; Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 96-103.

[9] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio), 36:6.

[10] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[11] McDonough, Shiloh, 122; Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 98-104.

[12] McDonough, Shiloh, 123, 155, 170-171; Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 104; Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[13] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 10 Apr. 1862, BECHS: Mss. A64-275; Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; Samuel Forrer to Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.

[14] Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.

[15] American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IV (Akron: Werner Co., 1887), 378.

[16] McDonough, Shiloh, 184; Samuel Forrer to Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.

[17] James B. Jones, Jr., ed., Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2005), April 1862, 44.

A Tale of Two Howards, Part 1: Howard Affleck (Part A)

Have you ever had the feeling, while you’re reading history, that you’re watching one of those old horror movies, and you can see that monster hiding behind a tree before the character does, and you want to shout at him to “look out!” or even “get out while you still can!” But you can’t. Well, you can…but he’s not going to hear you.

Having learned the story’s end before I learned the beginning, that’s about how I felt reading these words written by 21-year-old Howard G. Affleck, a private in the 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, on March 16, 1862:

Our boats all ran down to Pittsburgh this morning and landed at the foot of the high bluff, which here overlooks the river. Pittsburgh is seven or eight miles above Savannah. It is merely a landing, there being only one or two houses to show where the place ought to be…[1]

He’s not talking about Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He’s talking about Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, site of the famous Battle of Shiloh. Savannah also refers to a town in Tennessee. Both towns are located along the banks of the Tennessee River.

Affleck goes on:

…I took a stroll over the field where the ‘battle of Pittsburgh’ was fought on the 1st day of the present month. In this fight the crews of the gun-boats ‘Tyler’ and ‘Lexington’ were engaged with a much larger force of rebels. Our men from their boats forced them to retire; but were beaten back when they landed and attempted to follow them into the woods.[2]

This passage threw me for a loop at first, as I knew that “the” battle at Pittsburg Landing had yet to take place. What was he talking about? Apparently, there was a small skirmish at the landing on March 1, 1862, in which less than 30 people (total, both sides) were killed, wounded, or reported missing.[3] If only that had been the only battle at Pittsburgh Landing…


I first learned about Howard Affleck while processing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (at the Dayton Metro Library)[4], which includes letters between Mary (Howard) Affleck (Howard’s mother) and her sister Sarah (Howard) Forrer. Actually, both women had a son named Howard—which is not surprising, since as it was their maiden name and also a perfectly acceptable name for a man—but it could get confusing!

However, the above quotations come from the collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society in Buffalo, New York, where Howard Affleck’s sister later lived.


Howard Gladstone Affleck was born in 1840 in Bridgeport, Belmont County, Ohio, the elder son of Dr. John Affleck and his wife Mary Howard.

Howard was “a young man of great capacity and promise, having the advantage of the best education the country co’d give, particularly excelling in his Classics, Mathematics, and History.”[5]

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Howard enlisted on April 18, 1861, in the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company B), which was initially organized as a three-month service regiment organized at Columbus. The 15th Ohio saw very little action. He was mustered out of the 15th O.V.I. in August 1861.[6]

A few months later, Howard re-enlisted as a Private, signing up for three years service in the recently formed 46th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (Company H, led by Mitchel C. Lilley), which was organized at Worthington and commanded by Colonel Thomas Worthington.[7]

For the first few months of its organization, the 46th Ohio did little of particular interest and appears to have basically remained in camps in Ohio and Kentucky. In February 1862, the 46th Ohio was ordered to Paducah to join Sherman’s Division, and in March, this Division headed to Tennessee to reinforce Grant, who had recently opened up the Tennessee River for Union troops through significant victories at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson.[8]

Early on the morning of March 7, the steamer B. J. Adams departed Paducah carrying the 46th Ohio and ultimately arrived at Pittsburg Landing on the morning of March 16. The various regiments of Sherman’s Division set up camp in the area, with the 46th Ohio’s camp being located near the far right, along the Hamburg-Purdy Road.[9]

The soldiers saw little excitement thenceforth until the morning of Sunday, April 6…

[1] Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 16 Mar. 1862, Howard G. Affleck Civil War Diary and Mary Affleck Letter Book (Mss. A64-275), Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society (Buffalo, New York).

[2] Ibid.

[3] James B. Jones, Jr., ed., Tennessee Civil War Sourcebook (Nashville: Tennessee Historical Commission, 2005), March 1862, 1-6.

[4] Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), Dayton Metro Library (Dayton, Ohio).

[5] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6.

[6] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “15th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia,

[7] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “46th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia,; Thomas Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers (Washington?: s. n., 1878?), 25, 29; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IV (Akron: Werner Co., 1887), 378.

[8] James D. Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War: Shiloh, Sherman, and the Search for Vindication (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2001), 64; Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers, 4.

[9] Brewer, Tom Worthington’s Civil War, 67-75; Worthington, Brief History of the 46th Ohio Volunteers, 5-18; Howard Affleck to Mary Affleck, 16 Mar. 1862.

Five Oaks

Before it was a neighborhood…or even a park…it was a house. Five Oaks was the name that Jeremiah H. Peirce, a local lard oil manufacturer and later lumber dealer, gave to his 1854 home, apparently naming the estate after “five stately oak trees” situated on the four-acre property (Dayton History; Burroughs; FONIA).

I thought I would share some photos and information about the Five Oaks estate, as a nice, light entry for around the holidays.

This annotated map shows the location of the J. H. Peirce and boundaries estate in 1875. A lot of these old maps don’t show street names, so I’ve added the (current) street names to help you get your bearings in the map:

Location of Five Oaks, 1875

Location of Five Oaks, 1875

(You can view a high resolution version of the original Harrison Township map on Dayton Remembers, Dayton Metro Library’s digital images collection.)

Charles Sullivan, well-known in the Montgomery County Historical Society (now Dayton History) many decades ago, reminisced about the area in the late 19th century, mentioning two homes in particular that were off the west side of Forest Avenue (or, Tate’s Mill Road, in early accounts):

Opposite Shaw ave. a lane ran up to the home of Samuel Forrer, a two story brick, still standing. He was a well known civil engineer… He had six children and the descendants are still [1943] in the locality.

Opposite Neal ave. was the lane running up the hill to “Five Oaks” the residence of J. H. Peirce, a son-in-law of Samuel Forrer. He had 8 children and was in the lumber industry at the corner of Wayne and State now a railroad yard.

Here is a current Google Map showing the area now known as Five Oaks. The little green splotch of Five Oaks Park (northwest corner of 5 Oaks Avenue and Squirrel Road) is where the Five Oaks estate was originally. Samuel Forrer’s home was located on part of the Grandview Medical Center property.

And now for the really good stuff: pictures!

Since many of us probably have gingerbread on the brain right now, I thought it might be fun to share a different kind of “gingerbread house” — gingerbread in the sense of Victorian architectural embellishments. The Five Oaks house had some really neat “gingerbread” around its eaves, as you will see.

This photo, probably from the late 1860s or early 1870s — I suspect those two little boys are Jeremiah’s two youngest children, J. Elliot and Howard; the woman, probably his wife Elizabeth (who died in 1874) — shows what the Five Oaks mansion looked like in its early days:

Five Oaks, before the tower was built

Five Oaks, before the tower was built (Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection)

About 1890, an addition, including a tower, was built on the north end of the house:

Peirce Homestead [Five Oaks]

Peirce Homestead (Lutzenberger Collection)

Here’s a wonderful cyanotypephotograph, showing roughly the same view but from a little further back, so you can see the trees:

Five Oaks cyanotype

Five Oaks (Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection)

After the tower was added, people sometimes referred to the Peirce house as “The Castle on the Hill” (Dayton History).

In a 1980 article about the Five Oaks neighborhood, long-time resident George Loney had this to say about the Peirce homestead (quoted from Burroughs):

There was still a lot of open land around here when I was a kid, and I sure remember that old Peirce castle. It really was a castle. The stones had been imported from Europe, there was a turret and what looked like a dungeon underneath. It was all hidden in the woods and surrounded by three ponds. Mr. Peirce used to hang a rope with a noose on it in the woods to scare us off. I guess we did get on his nerves–all the kids in the neighborhood used to sneak around there. Of course, the castle’s gone now…

The “Mr. Peirce” of this anecdote must refer to J. Elliot Peirce, the only “Mr. Peirce” that Loney could have known in his childhood. J. H. Peirce died in 1889; J. Elliot was his son. Members of the Peirce family lived at Five Oaks until the 1930s: J. H.’s second wife Mary lived there until 1929 along with two of J. H.’s unmarried daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, both of whom died in 1930. I don’t think J. Elliot actually lived at Five Oaks with his family — Mary, Sarah, and Elizabeth lived there — but according to city directories, he did live very nearby  for a while, at 551 N. Old Orchard Ave., according to a 1919-20 directory; that same directory lists the others at “nec [northeast corner] Five Oaks and Old Orchard Ave.”

In 1946, the four-acre was purchased by the city for a park, and the house was razed (Burroughs; Dayton History). Five Oaks Park now occupies the land.

For more information on Five Oaks or the Peirce family, come see us at the Dayton Metro Library, Local History Room (basement of Main); or feel free to leave a comment on this blog. If photos are what you’re after, check out our Flickr set about the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection.

This post was written in advance on Dec. 17, 2011.



Burroughs, Virginia. “Diversity helps keep Five Oaks neighborhood vital.” Dayton Daily News, 8 Aug. 1980, p. Z6-15. Available in Dayton Local History Room, Clippings File #3908 (Neighborhoods–Five Oaks).

Dayton City Directories. Available at the Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Dayton History. “Five Oaks.” Accessed 15 Dec. 2011.

Everts, L. H. Combination Atlas Map of Montgomery County, Ohio. Philadelphia : Hunter Press, 1875. Dayton Remembers: Preserving the History of the Miami Valley. Accessed 17 Dec. 2011 through Dayton Remembers:; or, find in a library.

Five Oaks Neighborhood Improvement Association (FONIA). “Five Oaks History.” Accessed 3 Dec. 2011.

Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. This collection is publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. Many photos from the collection can be seen at the DML Flickr site,

Lutzenberger, William. “The Peirce Homestead.” Photo #0541. Lutzenberger Collection (MS-024), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. Photo available online:

Sullivan, Charles F. “The Covington Pike” (15 Sept. 1943). In Sullivan’s Papers, 425-437. Dayton, OH: Dayton & Montgomery County Public Library, 1995?. Available at the Dayton Metro Library, call no. 977.173 S949S. Transcription accessed, 15 Dec. 2011, at:

A little Quaker love story, Revisited (Part 6)

I intend this to be the true final installment in my story of how Samuel Forrer and Sarah Howard met in 1825 and married in 1826 without her parents’ consent, but you just never can tell. I keep finding things!

In my last entry, I attempted to riddle out the school Sarah was attending in Cincinnati when she met Samuel. I had to concluded that it was probably one or the other of two schools, but unfortunately I couldn’t make a clear decision between them. No matter…

I included a transcription of an interesting letter from Horton Howard to his daughter Sarah, discussing her schooling, from 23 Nov. 1825. It seems that sometime between Nov. 23 and Dec. 11, when he wrote his daughter another, very differently toned letter, Horton had probably caught wind of Sarah’s blooming relationship with Samuel. The Dec. 11, 1825, letter gives general news, mentions little about school, and offers the following parental admonishments:

Mother says…[for me to tell Sarah] ‘to keep to meetings, to be careful of the company she keeps and not throw herself away.’ This is the earnest solicitude of thy tenderly affectionate parents. It is the Counsel of the giver of every good and perfect gift. If thou art attentive thereto the blessings of everlasting preservation will be afforded and no good thing will be withheld from thee. We are anxiously expecting a letter from thee. Micajah [Williams] is here and in good health, says he rec’d a letter from [his wife] Hannah telling that you were well and that thou wast pleased with the School, all of which is very satisfactory… I intreat [sic] thee my dear Child, write frequently, and freely withhold nothing from us which would be interesting to us or interesting or desirable or useful or relieving to thy self…

Given that Micajah Williams knew Samuel, Sarah, and Sarah’s father (see Part 4, Aug. 14, 2011) — and that Horton mentions Micajah has paid him a visit — it makes me wonder if he (Williams) was the one to tip off Sarah’s parents. In any event, it does sound like they heard about it.

To me, Horton’s letter sounds like the 1825 equivalent of: Watch out for boys [or in this case, men]. Don’t forget about church [especially since your new beau is not of our same religion]. You like your new school; remember how we sent you to school to get an education, not to meet boys [er, men]. And, of course, the classic: Is there something you want to tell us? [We already know, so spill it.]

I don’t know exactly whether Sarah ‘fessed up herself. I can only really go by the correspondence that I actually have.

I know that at some point Samuel asked for Horton’s permission to marry Sarah (see Part 1, Aug. 9, 2011) — which, although what I have is an undated draft, could not have been written very long after Horton’s Dec. 11th letter, because Samuel and Sarah did get married on Feb. 13, 1826 — apparently “without the consent of her much loved parents” (according to Samuel’s Feb. 13, 1826, letter to his new father-in-law Horton, informing him of his and Sarah’s marriage; see Part 3, Aug. 11, 2011).

At the time that I wrote Part 3, I had not yet finished processing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection of manuscripts (from which all of these letters originated), so I did not know exactly how Sarah’s father reacted but speculated about how he seemed to have taken the news (see Part 3B, Aug. 13, 2011).

Since then, however, I came across a letter from Horton to Sarah and Samuel, dated 21 Feb. 1826, that I had not yet found when I wrote Parts 1-4. This letter, addressed to “My dear children” includes the following [brackets mine]:

I have just time to acknowledge the receipt of Samuel’s letter of the 13th instant  [the one informing Horton of the marriage] and say we shall always be glad to hear of your welfare and to see you as often as we can and wish you to come and see us whenever you can conveniently but considering the distance [between Columbus and Cincinnati] and Samuel’s engagements [as canal engineer, which involved frequent travel] we do not wish to press you to come sooner nor oftener than you reasonably can. I think it probable that in a month or six weeks I shall come to Cincinnati and possibly may bring some one or more of my family to see you, but do not expect it with too much certainty, as we may be disappointed. I wish you to let us hear from [you] as often as one at least in two weeks or at most every month. Give my love to Micajah [Williams] and Joseph Gest and their wives and all inquiring friends, not forgetting Judge Bates and the whole Corps of Engineers. I should be glad to hear how the engraver is getting on with respect to my map, how you are progressing with the Canal, when you expect to let out more to contractors, how much, &c…

Is it just me, or does that come across a little cold? We’d love to see you, IF we have time, and if all our schedules are not too busy. We might come in six weeks, but don’t get your hopes up. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. Then again, he also obviously (as we can tell from the document) did not gush with excitement and congratulations either.

I suppose it probably was a shock. He sent his 18-year-old daughter away to college, apparently only just in September (or so it sounded from the Nov. 23 letter; see Part 5, Dec. 13, 2011), and in a matter of just a few short months (literally could not have been more than 5 months!), she has gotten married, and to a much older man her father disapproves of, no less, and won’t be coming back home! Really, when you put it that way, it sounds like Horton took the news pretty well!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tangent of history. I know I’ve enjoyed piecing it together (or at least trying to!). And what fun is a sleuthing out a story if you don’t share it?

Note: This post was written in advance, on Dec. 17, 2011.



Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. This collection is publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402.

For more information on Sarah Howard and Samuel Forrer, contact the Dayton Metro Library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

A little Quaker love story, Revisited (Part 5)

I’m on the trail of Samuel Forrer and Sarah Howard again. As I was first delving into their story, I wondered what Sarah was even doing in Cincinnati (where she met Samuel in 1825), when her family lived near Columbus.

I discovered that Sarah was apparently attending school there [see Part 4, Aug. 14, 2011]. , and the two seem to have met through a mutual friend, Micajah T. Williams. Forrer, a canal engineer for the Miami and Erie Canal (the construction of which had begun in that year), knew Williams by his association with the canal (Williams was one of the canal commissioners for the Miami and Erie canal). Sarah apparently spent some time with the M. T. Williams family (possibly even stayed with them while she was in Cincinnati), because Williams knew her father (both were Quakers who at one time attended the same monthly meeting, unclear whether there was another connection). She may have also been staying with Joseph Gest, by whose care her father’s 1825 letters were sent.

Both Williams and Gest lived near one another. According to Hall’s 1825 Cincinnati Directory, Williams lived on Fifth between Walnut and Vine; Gest lived on Walnut between Fourth and Fifth. [See a Google Map of that area.]

Based on the apparently frequent involvement of these men in Sarah’s life during that time period, I supposed that her school was probably nearby (and as I said, that perhaps she might have been boarding with one family or the other).

As this is really a matter of intellectual curiosity only, I decided I must be content to come up with an “educated guess” about where Sarah was attending school, since I could not find any reference to the school by name in either of Horton’s two letters to his daughter from the Fall of 1825, which seems to have been when Sarah enrolled there (wherever “there” was).

A letter from Horton Howard to his daughter Sarah, from November 23, 1825 (from the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection), gives much insight into what Sarah was meant to be studying, if not where:

…Thou may remember that our friend Joseph Gest mentioned a probability of there being an opportunity of thy attending a course of Lectures on Chymistry [sic] and I should think well of thy doing so if it will not break in too much on thy other studies, which I think perhaps it would not. I wish thee to be particular in endeavouring to learn the art of painting or shading maps in as neat a manner as thou canst without spending too much time and learn what thou canst conveniently about making or mixing such colours as are not to be bought in Boxes as we shall probably want to paint or shade a considerable number of maps neatly if we can find [sale?] for them.

The calculation we were making that 30 dollars would answer to leave with thee at present included the cost of thy Cloak but as I bought and paid for the cloth to make it, and left thee thirty dollars, besides though wilt not be so short by ten dollars as we calculated and want thee to get what thou needs and not be too sparing of money but continued to be and appear respectable. If thou needs any advice with regard to Books or other things thou art not furnished with or with respect to learning or hearing Lectures or any other subject Joseph Gest or Micajah [Williams] or other friends will advise thee. Joseph will aid or befriend thee very Cheerfully and so no doubt will other friends. Thou may by inquiry perhaps understand nearly how long it would require to learn the French Language or the Lattin [sic] or both, if it should be desirable and advisable. Possibly we might spare thee longer than we had contemplated but as this is uncertain I wish thee to acquire what useful knowledge thou canst in three months or till spring. I now think of thy staying 6 months or until some time in the 5th month if I can but this is uncertain. I intend however that some of us shall write [over?] in two weeks and expect thee to write twice a month or oftener if necessary or thou thinks proper. And if thou should be sick don’t by any means suffer of want of a Phisitian [sic] but have one sent for and I will cheerfully pay the cost when I come.

And I hope my dear Daughter that thou wilt let nothing but sickness prevent thy regular attendance of meetings on first and week days with friends and walk worthy of the profession we make in the world. Neither shun nor be ashamed of the Cross. Often be retired in Spiritual devotion waiting upon, and asking counsel of thy Heavenly Father, so shalt thou ‘Secure to thy self that blessing which maketh truly rich and where unto no sorrow is added.’…

This letter was written 186 years ago, but still I can see familiar sentiments as today’s parent writing to a child away at school: here are my thoughts on your curriculum; try not to over-extend yourself with your course load; I’ve sent you some clothes money; if you get sick, please do see a doctor, and I’ll pay for it.

At first, I thought it curious that Horton was so insistent that Sarah acquire the skills of painting or shading, for maps. Then I remembered that Horton was a surveyor for the federal land office in central Ohio at that time. He probably drew a lot of maps. And he probably figured it would be handy if one of his children became adept at shading them in for him. (Little did he know that his daughter would soon be falling in love with a canal engineer and would never be moving back into her father’s home.)

Armed with the clues from the above letter (the other 1825 letter does not give any clues about education but hints at her parents’ knowledge of her “extracurricular” activities – more on that later) and an idea of the geographic neighborhood where Sarah seemed to spend most of her time, I set out to find out if there was a school she might have attended in that area.

In 1825, Sarah was 18 years old, so I figured I was probably looking for some kind of “college” level school. Also, given the time period, I guessed that she was probably attending some sort of “female” school.

In her article “The Higher Education of Women in the Ohio Valley Previous to 1840,” Jane Sherzer wrote (pp. 1-2):

The term, ‘higher education for women,’ in those early years…was higher in the sense of giving young women an education much beyond the common branches of reading, writing, and arithmetic. It differed from the colleges for men mainly in the substitution of French for Greek, and in the addition of music and art to the curriculum. The first institutions for the higher education of women were necessarily private, for, although the states had established colleges and universities for their boys, they had ignored the education of the girls and excluded them from all their schools.

Therefore, I searched the Cincinnati city directories for girls’ academies. In Hall’s 1825 Cincinnati Directory, only one girls’ school was listed: the Cincinnati Female Academy of Dr. John Locke. According to Ford & Ford, the academy had been established in 1823 and “was a school of high class and became very popular” (p. 174). As of 1826, the school was located on Walnut Street between Third and Fourth (so, nearby Sarah’s primary neighborhood), but I was not able to find any specific reference to where it was located from 1823-1826 (although I would imagine probably in the same area).

I thought Locke’s school must be a shoe-in for my “educated guess” until I read through Sherzer’s article, which mentions at least two other schools that allowed females during that time period.

One was the Cincinnati Lancaster Seminary, though I have ruled it out because it seems to have been affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. I can’t imagine Horton Howard sending his daughter to a Presbyterian school when they were Quaker — so Quaker in fact that he could not officially condone her marriage to a non-Quaker [see Part 2, Aug. 10, 2011].

The other was Pickett’s Boarding School (or Cincinnati Female College), which, although Sherzer says the school started in 1823 and was “especially popular” (p. 10), is not listed in the 1825 directory, though it does show up in Robinson & Fairbank’s 1829 Cincinnati Directory. No address is given for the school, though the Pickett brothers’ address is Sycamore, between Fourth and Fifth — so again, right around the same area.

I hoped perhaps the curriculum might help rule out one or the other — Locke’s or Picketts’ schools — but unfortunately, none of the curricular lists are explicit enough. Both of course had the typical female curriculum involving art, but it sounds like Sarah had options such as chemistry or Latin. In the sources I found, only Locke’s school explicitly mentions the availability of chemistry (Sherzer, p. 9); and only Picketts’ specifically mentions having Latin (Sherzer, p. 10; Ford & Ford, p. 174). In Locke’s school’s advertisement from 1825, a list of instructors and their disciplines is given, but that list includes neither chemistry nor Latin; of course, for that matter, it does not explicitly mention any sort of paper-based art form either, which seems odd.

And so, after all of that, I suppose I’ve still not quite solved the mystery of which school Sarah attended. However, I did sate my curiosity, by tracking down a couple of reasonably plausible possibilities: Locke’s “Cincinnati Female Academy” or the Picketts’ “Cincinnati Female College.”

In the end, what matters to Sarah’s story is not so much which school she attended or even necessarily why she was there (is it just me or does it sound like Dad wanted her trained up so she could help him with his map-making?) or even why she was in Cincinnati as opposed to somewhere else (what, didn’t they have any decent girls’ schools in Columbus?)… Those things (and consequently this entire post) are mainly just “matter of interest” details.

What matters is the fact that she was there…in that place…at that time…and that’s where she met Samuel Forrer, whom she married without her parents’ consent a few months later, and who would be her husband for 48 years.

We have, in the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection, one other letter from Horton Howard to his daughter Sarah during that time frame — Dec. 11, 1825 — and its tone is much different. It would seem that Sarah’s parents had probably caught wind of her developing feelings towards Forrer by that point. I’ll share more of that later.



Ford, Henry A., and Kate B. Ford. History of Cincinnati, Ohio. Cleveland: Williams & Co., 1881. Available online at; or, find in a library.

Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. This collection is publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402.

Hall, Harvey. The Cincinnati Directory for 1825. Cincinnati: Samuel J. Browne, 1825. Available online from Cincinnati Public Library; or, find in a library.

Robinson & Fairbank. The Cincinnati Directory for the Year 1829. [Cincinnati?]: Whetstone & Buxton, 1829. Available online from Cincinnati Public Library; or, find in a library.

Sherzer, Jane. “The Higher Education of Women in the Ohio Valley Previous to 1840,” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 25 (1916): 1-22. Available online from the Ohio Historical Society.

For more information on Sarah Howard and Samuel Forrer, contact the Dayton Metro Library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

Civil War case exhibit, Vallandingham and Schenck

As I wrote last week, we have a Civil War case exhibit up in Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library (Main) right now. One part of the case exhibit focuses on Robert C. Schenck (below, upper left) and Clement Vallandingham (below, upper right):

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

(For a better look at both of the above photos, see Dayton Remembers for Schenck and Vallandingham.)

Robert C. Schenck and Clement Vallandingham were important public figures in Dayton during the Civil War era. (Hence, their inclusion in our exhibit!) As a matter of fact, many eyes were on these men — not just in Dayton, but (in the case of at least one of them) across the country.

By the Fall of 1862, Vallandingham had served as U.S. Congressman for Ohio’s Third District, which included (and still does) Dayton, for more than 4 years. Vallandingham’s name was quite well-known throughout the country, as he was one of the leaders of the “Peace Democrats,” more commonly known as “Copperheads” — Democrats who opposed the Civil War.

In 1862, Schenck was a former U.S. Congressman (Whig) for the Third District and was serving as a Union general. That fall, he ran for re-election (as the Republican candidate) for Third District Congressman against the incumbent Vallandingham.

According to Wikipedia, Schenck was “elected by a large majority.” While that may be true (I could not lay hands on the complete election returns), the majority of Montgomery County actually supported Vallandingham, 4972-4607 (a difference of 365 votes). Just an interesting tidbit. Some have said that Schenck only won because Warren County (mostly Republican and also Schenck’s home county) had recently been added to the Third District. It has also been claimed that the Republicans cheated in various ways (see Kokkinou, pp. 138-139).

In any event, the short version is that Schenck defeated Vallandingham for the Congressional seat. (But if you’re reading me, you didn’t honestly expect just the “short version,” did you?)

I recently found a few interesting references to the 1862 election in the collection I am processing (MS-018, Forrer-Peirce-Wood — hopefully to be completed and ready for use very soon!).

Henry Eugene Parrott, age 23 and one of the youngest in a reasonably well-off Dayton family (and whose brother Edwin was a colonel commanding the 1st O.V.I. at the time), wrote in his diary on election day, October 14, 1862:

Spent the day pretty closely in the office, and the evening on the street gathering news about the election. Somebody is elected now, and for the honor of the third district I hope it is Gen. Schenck.

The following day, October 15, 1862, Parrott wrote:

The district has come out nobly, and repudiated the traitor Vallandingham, by 1000 to 1200 or more votes. Warren helped us out handsomely. We hoped to beat Val in his old district, but are glad to beat him under any circumstances…

Parrott mentions Schenck a few other times during the course of his year-long diary. It seems that he knew the Schenck family fairly well, on multiple occasions he mentioned that he had visited them or attended a party at their house.

Other sources from the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection mention General Schenck but not in such a favorable light.

On September 21, 1862, Sarah Forrer wrote to her grown daughters Mary and Augusta about Schenck’s recent injury (his right arm was seriously wounded in the Second Battle of Bull Run, Aug. 30th.):

Lucky hit, was it not? to gain him a seat in Congress and a Major Gen’s commission. I am sorry I feel so cross but I cannot well help it when I see how artfully he keeps himself before the public.

Ouch! Those are definitely the words of someone who strongly dislikes the guy. Schenck did receive a commission to major general after that battle (on Sept. 18th), and he also received the Republican nomination for Third District Congressman, over (Sarah writes) a man named Craighead [probably Dayton attorney Samuel Craighead] who apparently expected to get it.

She goes on:

In the mean time, our people seem to have grave fears that Vallandingham will be re-elected. So many of our men are away.

Several members of Sarah’s family were serving in the Civil War, including a son, a son-in-law, and a nephew. When she says “our people” she must mean those who support the war. And when she says “our men,” I assume she is referring to the fact that so many war supporters are soldiers who are away and might not be able to vote.

In a letter to her daughter Mary on October 15, the day after the election, Sarah wrote:

This evening the town is full of bonfires and there is great rejoicing over Val’s defeat. I too am glad he did not succeed, but sorry we had not a better man to vote for. I believe we might have elected another as easily perhaps more so. Uncle John [Sarah’s brother John Howard, a Dayton lawyer] worked pretty hard, and Father [Sarah’s husband Samuel Forrer] voted the whole [Republican] ticket. It was a bitter pill, but he swallowed it. And now, the scoundrel [Schenck] has got in to warm by the fire, after being ‘out in the cold’ so long. I feel we shall never get shot of him. Brooks came to John, and said, ‘You won’t vote for S. [Schenck] after his telling you so many lies and treating Mr. F. [Forrer] in the way he did?’ John answered, ‘I will not vote for any man who is opposed to the war.’ I hear they calculated on John and Father too. Ann says Mr. Odlin did not vote for S. and would not help either by speaking or by money. He says S. has treated him meanly, and he cannot do anything for him. I would tell you much more than I can write. I thought Luther would like to hear a little of the news. I was glad he did not have to vote for the scamp.

Sarah’s son-in-law, Luther Bruen, was stationed in New York with the 12th U.S. Infantry at the time, which – as Sarah points out – made him blissfully free of the need to decide whether to vote for the Copperhead Vallandingham or for the “scamp” Schenck.

It is interesting the way she writes of their family’s dislike for Schenck. It seems to stem from some personal offense, but unfortunately she does not elaborate about what the offense actually was.

I thought perhaps it might have something to do with Schenck’s previous terms in Congress, in relation to the the Miami-Erie Canal, of which Samuel Forrer was one of the main engineers (from the 1820s-1870s). Schenck had previously chaired the U.S. Congress Committee on Roads and Canals from 1847-1849 and was involved in some other canal-related matters. However, all the sources I’ve found show Schenck as a supporter of the canals.

I do suspect the offense is probably related in some way to Schenck’s and Forrer’s interactions regarding the canals. There are a few letters between the two in the collection, but nothing to shed any light on any sleight or disagreement. I’ll probably never know what it was. But it definitely piqued my curiosity, that’s for sure!

The last thing I want to point out about Sarah’s letter is the quotation she attributes to her brother John Howard, when asked how he could vote for Schenck after what he’d done (whatever it was) to the Forrers. He essentially stated that he did not support Schenck so much as he opposed Vallandingham: “I will not vote for any man who is opposed to the war.”

John’s eldest son William, a young man of about 21 years old, had recently enlisted in the 17th Ohio Light Artillery Battery.  About the same time, Sarah’s only son Howard began recruiting with the 112th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and her son-in-law Luther Bruen was already serving in the 12th U.S. Infantry. Another Howard cousin had died from his war wounds earlier in the year.

Then, as now, families with loved ones in the service find it pretty difficult to support candidates who don’t support “the war”. In their eyes, not to support the war, is not to support the soldiers, their sons (and today, also daughters). They have to believe that their sacrifices are for a good cause.

So, to the Forrer and Howard families, to vote for Schenck might have been “a bitter pill” (for reasons I may never know!), but to vote for Vallandingham was simply not an option.



Vallandingham was eventually arrested (on grounds of “disloyalty”) by General Burnside in May 1863, prompting an angry mob (presumably of Vallandingham-supporting Democrats) to burn down the Dayton Journal office (the Republican newspaper in town). Val (as many called him) was exiled to Canada, where he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Ohio in 1863. He did eventually return to the U.S., dying in Lebanon, Ohio, in 1871. If you are interested in the details about Vallandingham, I recommend Frank Klement’s The Limits of Dissent (which you can also see is in our exhibit case).

Schenck remained in Congress until he lost the 1870 election. In 1871, he was made U.S. Minister to England. He was involved in a bit of a scandal in regards to that position, which caused him some shame, but unfortunately that does not explain why the Forrer family already disliked him (for seemingly personal reasons) in 1862. If you are interested in Schenck’s life, you should definitely come down to the Dayton Metro Library and look at The Political Career of Robert Cumming Schenck, a master’s thesis by Epiphanie Kokkinou, or at our Robert C. Schenck manuscript collection (MS-032).



Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018). Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

Klement, Frank L. The Limits of Dissent: Clement L. Vallandingham & the Civil War. New York: Fordham University Press, 1998.

Kokkinou, Epiphanie Clara. “The Political Career of Robert Cumming Schenck.” Thesis (M.A.), Miami University, 1955.

Schenck, Robert C., Collection (MS-032). Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.

The manuscript collections discussed here are publicly available for research at the Dayton Metro Library, Main Library, Local History Room, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. For more information on the collection, contact the library, or feel free to leave a comment on this blog.