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A Tale of Two Howards, Part 12 – Edward Affleck

A Dayton paper this morning with a few lines from brother John informed us of the irreparable loss you have sustained in the death of your only son. You all have my deepest sympathy, and I would…[say?] something to comfort you yet feel that any attempt at consolation would seem like mockery while my own heart is breaking for Oh! Sarah, we can learn nothing of the fate of our own precious one, and know not whether he is killed or captured…[1]

-Mary Affleck to her sister Sarah Forrer, 4 Aug. 1864


While the Forrers of Dayton mourned the tragic deaths of two of their own—Luther Bruen and Howard Forrer—in the late summer of 1864, the Afflecks of Bridgeport were anxiously awaiting news of the whereabouts of Edward, their youngest and only remaining son.


Edward Tullibardine Affleck was born August 23, 1843, in Belmont County, Ohio, the youngest son of Dr. John G. Affleck and Mary (Howard) Little Affleck. Edward, or “Ned,” as he was sometimes called in the family, was 18 years old, when his older brother Howard returned home the bloodbath at Shiloh, sick and injured, suffering horribly until his death on May 15, 1862 (see Parts 1, 2, & 3). Even as she grieved for the loss of one son, Howard and Edward’s mother Mary began to fear for the life of the other, her sister Sarah wrote:

Howard left us about ten this morning… Mary…is distressed for fear Edward is going to the war…[2]

Mary wished for Edward to return to Dayton with her sister Sarah Forrer, to attend school, visit, and otherwise take his mind off thoughts of enlistment. It is unclear whether Edward actually did this.[3] Nevertheless, much to Mary’s relief (I’m sure), Edward stayed on the home front—and not the war front—for the next two years.

Edward Affleck. Photo courtesy of the Martins Ferry, Ohio, Historical Society. Used with Permission.

Edward Affleck. Photo courtesy of the Martins Ferry, Ohio, Historical Society. Used with Permission.

However, Edward did join the Ohio National Guard, and in September 1863, his mother Mary wrote to her sister about it:

Edward came home from Newark a week ago today, where he had been eight days in camp, drilling. He is Adjutant in one of the state volunteer militia regiments, but is not to be called into active service unless the state is invaded. I don’t think there is much danger of that—from the rebels, but am afraid we will have trouble at the time of the election next month, there is so much bitterness of feeling between the Republicans and Democrats. Truly we have ‘fallen upon evil times’ and I am beginning to despair of peace in our day…[4]

In late April of 1864, the family received news that Edward’s Ohio National Guard regiment, the 74th Battalion, would be called up for active service. The 74th Battalion was combined with the 78th Battalion of nearby Harrison County to form the 170th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, organized in mid-May 1864.[5] Mary Affleck was quite upset when she learned that this was to take place. She wrote of the news to her sister Sarah on April 28, 1864:

I am heartsick and remain at home to brood over my troubles. It does seem as though they are never to end. Now my only remaining son is to be taken from me. The National Guard is ordered to leave next Monday and I cannot prevail upon [Edward] to send in his resignation, as he says it would not be accepted. Mr. Patterson will also be obliged to go unless he can procure a substitute. He is furious, and declared he will not go, and there is some talk of his brother going in his place.[6]

The “Mr. Patterson” to whom Mary refers is probably her son-in-law Benjamin C. Patterson. Incidentally, his name appears nowhere in the roster for the 170th O.V.I., although there is a George Patterson (the name of B.C.’s brother), although the age is about 8 years off. Who knows! Maybe it’s a completely different George Patterson, and B. C. procured a substitute instead; nevertheless, Benjamin C. Patterson did not serve in the 170th O.V.I.[7] Edward Affleck did go with the 170th O.V.I., though. His official enlistment date is recorded as May 2, 1864, although obviously he was in the National Guard before that, per Mary’s letter above (from late April). Edward served as a first lieutenant and adjutant for the regiment. His term of service was 100 days, the same as the rest of the men in his regiment.[8] The 74th Battalion, Ohio National Guard, was just one of many battalions that were called up for federal service in May 1864:

Over 35,000 Ohio Guardsmen were federalized and organized into regiments for 100 days service in May 1864. Shipped to the Eastern Theater, they were designed to be placed into “safe” rear area duty to protect the railroads and supply points thereby freeing regular troops for Grant’s push on the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia…[9]

Edward’s particular regiment, the 170th O.V.I., was first assigned to duty in and around Washington, D.C., arriving about May 22, and leaving for a new assignment in Sandy Hook, Maryland, on July 4.[10] Edward was apparently enjoying himself on his “safe” adventure, according to a letter his sister Harriet wrote on June 5:

We received a letter from Edward last Wednesday and expect another today or tomorrow. He was well and enjoying himself very much. Mother is afraid he will enjoy himself so well, that he will not be willing to come back.[11]

Edward happened to be in Washington during the same time that his Dayton relative (by marriage), Major Luther Bruen, was a patient at Douglas Hospital there, attempting to recover from wounds he had received in the Battle of the Wilderness (see Part 9). Edward apparently visited Luther at the hospital and wrote home about it to his mother Mary, who later wrote thus to her sister Sarah (Luther’s mother-in-law) on June 19:

I am very glad to hear there is a fair prospect of the Major’s recovery, and am much obliged to thee for sending me Augusta’s letters. I received one from her a few days ago, also one from Edward, from both of which I learn that his health is still improving. Edward has yet seen nothing but the “poetry of war,” and seems to be enjoying it greatly. I am afraid he will find it so fascinating that he will not be willing to return at the end of the hundred days—if[,] which I scarcely dare to hope, they are thus permitted to return.[12]

Two days after this letter was written, Luther died. And it seems odd that, even after visiting a maimed family member in the hospital (Luther’s leg had been amputated)—not to mention whatever other atrocities he might have passed between the hospital threshold and Luther’s bedside, that Edward could still see only the “poetry of war.” Perhaps Mary was referring to whether or not Edward had participated in any actual battles, which at that time, he probably still had not. Unfortunately for Edward Affleck (and his worried family), things were about to get very real and very un-poetic. Despite the intended (relative) safety of the National Guard units’ positions, many soon found themselves in not-so-safe locations after all:

…As events transpired, many units found themselves in the thick of combat, stationed in the path of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early’s veteran Army of the Valley during its famed Raid on Washington. These Guard units participated in the battles of Monacacy, Fort Stevens, Maryland Heights, and in the siege of Petersburg.[13]

The 170th O.V.I. left Washington, D.C., on the night of July 4 and headed for Sandy Hook, Maryland, where they joined with other regiments in the defense of Maryland Heights.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. View of Maryland Heights, [1865]. (Photo by James Gardner. Library of Congress)

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. View of Maryland Heights, [1865]. (Photo by James Gardner. Library of Congress)

The following multi-part letter (July 17-25) from Edward’s mother Mary to her sister Sarah tells a little of Edward’s experience at Maryland Heights:

For more than a week we have been in a state of the most painful uncertainty respecting Edward. The last letter we received from him was dated July 3rd. He was then, with a portion of his regiment, at Ft Sumner, and the probability was, that they would remain there till their term of service expired. We have heard that they were ordered to Harpers Ferry the next day, but can hear nothing from them, and know not what has become of them.[14] 24th. This letter, as thee will perceive by the date, was commenced a week ago, but I was interrupted and could not finish it then. We have since received two letters from Edward, one written on the 8th at Maryland Heights, where they had been skirmishing several days with the rebels. None in their Reg’t were killed or wounded, though he says a ball grazed his sleeve, and another struck a tree just behind him, and ‘if it hadn’t been for the tree, his carcass would have stopped the ball’! The other was written on the 13th at the camp near Petersville. They were expecting to move every day. I have since heard that they have gone to Leesburg, where it is expected there will be more fighting. Several of the boys had a ‘sunstroke’ at Maryland Heights… [About July 18th] is the last we have heard from them, and are waiting in the most intense anxiety for what may come next, an anxiety that is shared by the whole neighborhood, as a husband, son or brother has gone from almost every family… There are but three weeks of the hundred days remaining, and I am beginning to hope, if the rebel bullets spare him, that we shall have him back with us before the summer is quite over, though generally my fears are stronger than my hopes. Do you hear from your Howard? And where is he? I am almost afraid to look over the lists of killed and wounded lest I should see his name among them. I rec’d a letter from Joan last week. She had seen a notice of Major Bruen’s death and requests me to say to you when I write, that they all sympathize deeply with you in your affliction…[15]

That part gives me chills. Note the date: July 24. She asked about Howard, not yet knowing that Howard Forrer had been killed in the Battle of Atlanta two days earlier. For that matter, Sarah Forrer did not know about her son’s death yet either. The Forrer family learned of Howard’s death from the July 29 issue of the Cincinnati Gazette (see Part 10). July 24 was a day of great consequence for Mary’s son Edward, also, though she did not yet know it. A week or two previously, the 170th O.V.I. had been attached to the forces of Gen. George Crook’s Army of the Kanawha, which met Jubal Early’s Confederate Army of the Valley near Winchester, Virginia, on July 24, in what was later known as the Second Battle of Kernstown [Virginia].[16]

Monday, 25th. We have just heard that the 170th were in the fight at Snickers Gap [Virginia] on the 18th. There were two killed and nineteen wounded in the regiment, but Edward’s name was not among them. It is reported here that Atlanta is taken by our forces, though it is doubted by some…[17]

Indeed, Atlanta was taken. And Howard Forrer died in the effort. Mary learned this before she wrote her next letter to her sister on August 4:

A Dayton paper [probably the Aug. 2 Dayton Journal article] this morning with a few lines from brother John informed us of the irreparable loss you have sustained in the death of your only son. You all have my deepest sympathy, and I would…[say?] something to comfort you yet feel that any attempt at consolation would seem like mockery while my own heart is breaking for Oh! Sarah, we can learn nothing of the fate of our own precious one, and know not whether he is killed or captured. The last letter we received from him was written on the 21st. They were then a few miles from Snickers Gap, where they had been in a fight and were driven back. After that he was in the battle at Winchester [Second Battle of Kernstown] on the 24 or 25 and we can hear nothing of him since. There too they were driven back, and nearly all the 170th Reg’t succeeded in reaching Harpers Ferry. Several of them have written home, but can give no account of Edward. They all think he is either killed or captured. Capt. Robinson writes that he was with him on the field of battle, and that they did not hear the order to retire till nearly all the other regiments had gone, and the rebels were close upon them. In the confusion of the retreat he was separated from his men, and when he got to the train (a wagon train I presume) he saw two men riding Edward’s horse, that he put them in a wagon and took the horse himself on which he escaped. When I heard of it I felt almost certain he had been killed, for I thought if he had been captured, they would have taken his horse also, but yesterday one of our boys came home who says he was not on his horse during the battle[,] that he left it in the rear with one of the boys who was sick, and that he fought by his side till they were ordered to retreat, and that they were together till just as they were entering Winchester, when Edward who had complained of not feeling well, told them he was unable to keep up with them, but for them to save themselves, and that was the last they saw of him. This gave me a little hope, for I knew his father had a brother and two or three sisters living in Winchester, and I thought it probable when he found he could not keep up with the others that he had taken refuge with them. When I mentioned it, the man said he recollected hearing Edward say when they were at Snickers Gap that he wished they were going to Winchester, for he had some relations there that he would like to see. He said, moreover, that as they were passing through W. the day before the battle Edward had inquired of someone where somebody lived, and had called at a house in town. This is the only hope I have for him, if he is not with them, it is not probable we shall ever know his fate. His father would go on, and try to find some trace of him, but this morning’s papers say the rebels have their headquarters in Winchester, and all communication is cut off—so we can only wait, and hope—though it is a very faint hope at best, and this suspense is terrible. I sometimes think I cannot bear it much longer—but still try to struggle on for the sake of the few that are left…[18]

The good news was that Edward Affleck was not killed. The bad news was that he did not escape to his relatives’ home in Winchester; he had indeed been taken prisoner by the Confederate army during the battle at Kernstown on July 24.[19] (Incidentally, Edward does not seem to have even been counted in the official “Return of Casualties” for the battle, which tallied only 2 enlisted men—and 0 officers—from the 170th Ohio as “captured or missing.” Edward, as the regiment’s adjutant, should have been counted as an officer.[20]) Eventually, it was realized that Edward Affleck had indeed been captured by enemy forces, and this news was relayed to his family. It’s not clear to me exactly how it was ascertained that Edward was in fact among those captured. Did the two sides exchanged lists of prisoners? Or were prisoners perhaps allowed to write letters? Because, from the sound of this letter written by Edward’s sister Harriet on August 28 1864 (a month after his capture), it sounds like they expected to hear from Edward personally:

We have been waiting for good news from Edward (before writing again), but as yet have heard nothing, except that he had been sent to Richmond, instead of Americus. Mother thinks she would rather he had gone to Georgia…[21]

The Civil War prison at Richmond—the infamous Libby Prison—was infamous even then for the “overcrowded and harsh conditions under which officer prisoners from the Union Army were kept.”[22] Remember, Edward was an officer: an adjutant, nothing too fancy, as far as officers go, but an officer nonetheless. Perhaps that is why his mother “would rather he had gone to Georgia.” I assume that by Americus, Georgia, they are referring to the Civil War prison better known as Andersonville, which was about 15 miles from the town of Americus. While Andersonville Prison was still obviously a horrible place, it does not seem to have had the reputation of officer abuse that Libby Prison did.[23]

Richmond, Virginia. Libby Prison, North side, Apr. 1865. (Library of Congress)

Richmond, Virginia. Libby Prison, North side, Apr. 1865. (Library of Congress)

(Actually, according to the Martins Ferry Historical Society, Edward was at Camp Asylum in Columbia, SC, and not brought to Richmond until months later.[24] But then why would his mother believe he was at Richmond?) Harriet’s Aug. 28 letter continued:

The report is that the prisoners taken before the first of Aug are to be exchanged soon—if it was only true what a burden it would lift off our hearts. Still as you say—we know that he lives and that is so very much of a comfort. Our trouble would seem worse if we had not you and yours to think about…[25]

Bad news about the prisoner exchange. Unfortunately, Edward had picked a bad time to get captured—a really bad time. Okay, so he didn’t pick the time, but it was a bad time, nonetheless. This was about the time that General Grant decided to halt all prisoner exchanges. Grant wrote on August 18, 1864:

It is hard on our men held in Southern prisons not to exchange them, but it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. Every man we hold, when released on parole or otherwise, becomes an active soldier against us at once either directly or indirectly. If we commence a system of exchange which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on until the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught, they amount to no more than dead men. At this particular time to release all rebel prisoners in the North would insure Sherman’s defeat and would compromise our safety here.[26]

Edward would have to wait months before being considered for an exchange. The last part of Harriet’s Aug. 28 letter stated:

The 170th Regt will be home today—some of them came home yesterday and brought Edward’s trunk and sword. It gratifies us very much to see how much he is beloved by them all. In his trunk we found a short letter to cousin [Lida?] not sealed—containing his photograph. I do not know why he had not sent it. Mother says if he never comes home she will send it to her but will wait and see what he says if he does come…[27]

Indeed, Edward only had about 17 days left on his 100 days of service when he was captured. If he had not been taken prisoner at Winchester, he, too, might have been coming home on August 28. (The majority of the regiment was mustered out on September 10.) Or, on the flip side, he might have been one of whose who died of heat exhaustion or skirmishing somewhere between Winchester and home.[28] In February 1865, Edward was still imprisoned, and his mother wrote of her unsuccessful attempts to write to him, although apparently he was able to send letters out:

I have been waiting for news from Edward before writing to thee but have waited in vain. The latest was Dec. 9th though a week or two ago three or four letters came, written in November. He had rec’d none of ours but was confident many had been written, and asks us to send money and clothes to him. It is very disheartening to know that all our efforts to relieve him have hitherto proved ineffectual… I am anxiously watching the Exchanges, and think if he is still living that he will certainly be at home before long—but that terrible if still haunts me night and day, and the anxiety and suspense are almost insupportable… In Edward’s letter of Nov. 6th he says “Give my love to all our relatives in Dayton and tell them I am coming to pay them a visit some day—when this cruel war is over.” I wish some of you would write to him and send via Vicksburg, and perhaps among all our letters he may get one. He says he has never heard a word from any of us since the latter part of June, when he was in Washington…[29]

(Edward’s use of the phrase “some day” makes me think maybe he never actually did go to Dayton for a visit, previously.) Edward Affleck was finally released from Confederate prison in March of 1865. He was paroled at Coxes Wharf, Virginia, on March 10, and honorably discharged shortly thereafter.[30] Edward returned to his family in Bridgeport, Ohio. When Mary Affleck wrote to her sister Sarah again in June, it seemed that things were finally getting back to normal, with the war over, and her youngest son home safely:

[Edward] was gone ten or twelve days to Washington and Winchester, and is very busy just now, did not come up last night as I expected. He generally comes on Saturday evening, and stays till Monday morning, and then, with Harriet and the children here, it almost seems as though the ‘Old bright days had all come back again.’ Will they ever come again? Not to thee, or to me, yet we may do much to brighten the pathway of the dear ones that are still left to us, and thus in some measure, relieve the ‘blackness of darkness’ that overshadows our own… I have been looking over on the island, which is almost covered with tents of returning soldiers who are waiting to be discharged. A long train of army wagons passed through town a week or two ago, and another this morning. I feel thankful that so many of the poor fellows are permitted to return to their homes in peace but my heart aches to think of the thousands that never will return and of the one who was more to me than the whole army.[31]

The last letter from Mary Affleck during this time period indicates that, as Edward settled back into his old life, he got busy working (probably in a position as a clerk at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the job he had held just before his military service):

Edward does not talk so much about a trip to Dayton as he did when he first came home. He has so much to do at the depot that he does not get up to see us very often, and when he does come, seldom stays more than an hour or two. It is a disappointment to [his younger sister] Mary, who had quite set her heart upon going…[32]

I wonder if Edward ever did manage to make that trip to Dayton? In the years after the Civil War, Edward Affleck had several occupations, including railroad clerk, wholesale coal dealer, bank cashier, and vice president of a dairy. In 1871, Edward married Laura Walkup, and they had four children. They named their oldest son after Edward’s brother: Howard Gladstone Affleck, II. Edward Affleck died January 27, 1911, in Toledo, at the age of 67.[33]

[1] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 4 Aug. 1864, Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (hereafter cited as FPW), 35:3, Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio.
[2] Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2.
[3] Sarah Forrer to Samuel Forrer, 15 May 1862, FPW, 4:2; Samuel Forrer to Sarah Forrer, 18 May 1862, FPW, 1:8.
[4] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 20 Sept. 1863, FPW, 35:3.
[5] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866 (Akron: Werner Co., 1889), vol. IX, 415.
[6] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 28 Apr. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[7] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 415-430.
[8] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 417.; American Civil War soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; U.S. Civil War Soldier Records & Profiles (database), Ancestry Library Edition. (The U.S. Civil War Soldiers database gives an enlistment date of Feb. 5, 1864; the other two sources state May 2. This is borderline irrelevant, though, because Edward was in the National Guard earlier than either of those dates, and his “enlistment” was a result of his ONG regiment being called up for active duty.)
[9] “Ohio Army National Guard,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_Army_National_Guard.
[10] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 415.
[11] Harriet Patterson to Sarah Forrer, 5 June 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[12] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 19 June 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[13] “Ohio Army National Guard,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_Army_National_Guard.
[14] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 17 July 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[15] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 24 July 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[16] “Second Battle of Kernstown,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Battle_of_Kernstown; Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 415; Report of Gen. George Crook, 27 July 1864, in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 37, Part I-Reports (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1891), 286.
[17] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 25 July 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[18] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 4 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[19] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 417.
[20] [Return of Casualties at Kernstown, July 24-25], in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Vol. 37, Part I-Reports (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1891), 288.
[21] Harriet Patterson to a Forrer cousin, 28 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[22] “Libby Prison,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libby_Prison.
[23] “Andersonville National Historic Site,” Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andersonville_National_Historic_Site.
[24] Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 3 May 2012, accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm.
[25] Harriet Patterson to a Forrer cousin, 28 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[26] Gen. U. S. Grant to Gen. Butler, 18 Aug. 1864, quoted in Holland Thompson, “Exchange of Prisoners,” in Francis T. Miller, ed., The Photographic History of The Civil War, Vol. 4: Soldier Life and Secret Service, accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.civilwarhome.com/prisonerexchange.htm.
[27] Harriet Patterson to a Forrer cousin, 28 Aug. 1864, FPW, 35:3.
[28] Janet B. Hewett, ed., Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Part II – Records of Events, vol. 56 (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1997), 270-271.
[29] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 15 Feb. 1865, FPW, 35:3.
[30] Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. IX, 417; Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 3 May 2012, accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm.
[31] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 18 June 1865, FPW, 35:3.
[32] Mary Affleck to Sarah Forrer, 30 July 1865, FPW, 35:3.
[33] Martins Ferry Historical Society, “Edward Tullibardine Affleck,” accessed 3 May 2012, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohmfahs/cw-affleck.htm; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; U.S. Federal Census, 1850-1910.

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, http://www.ohiogenealogyexpress.com/belmont/belmontco_bios_p.htm.

[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, http://www.posix.com/CW, via “Battle of Shiloh,” Wikipedia, accessed 10 Jan. 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Shiloh .

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, http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-04.pdf: 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, http://www.artcirclelibrary.info/Reference/civilwar/1862-03.pdf: 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, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15th_Ohio_Infantry.

[7] Obituary of Howard G. Affleck, FPW, 36:6; American Civil War Soldiers (database), Ancestry Library Edition; “46th Ohio Infantry,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/46th_Ohio_Infantry; 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.  http://www.daytonhistory.org/archives/who_fiveoaks.htm.

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: http://content.daytonmetrolibrary.org/cdm/; or, find in a library.

Five Oaks Neighborhood Improvement Association (FONIA). “Five Oaks History.” Accessed 3 Dec. 2011. http://www.fiveoaksdayton.com/credits.html.

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, http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmlhistory/.

Lutzenberger, William. “The Peirce Homestead.” Photo #0541. Lutzenberger Collection (MS-024), Dayton Metro Library, Dayton, Ohio. Photo available online: http://content.daytonmetrolibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/lutzenberge/id/630.

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: http://www.daytonhistorybooks.com/covington_pike.html.

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 Archive.org; 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.

Civil War case exhibit, Bickham’s cartes de visite album

If you are interested in the Civil War and have a few minutes, please stop by the Local History Room at the Dayton Metro Library (in the basement at Main). We currently have a case exhibit (well, three cases, actually) showcasing Civil War materials from the Dayton Collection. The exhibit will be up through the end of 2011.

This is my favorite portion of the exhibit:

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

Civil War Exhibit, Local History Room

The young man in uniform on the upper right is Howard Forrer; the shoulder boards were his. You’ll be hearing a lot more about him in the future. (I haven’t forgotten that I promised to tell you some Civil War stories; it’s just that they’re still “stewing” and haven’t fully formed yet.)

The copy of the Dayton Daily Journal (May 6, 1863) is the first issue published by W. D. Bickham after taking over as editor of the paper, following the burning of the Journal office by a mob in response to the arrest of Copperhead leader (and Daytonian) Clement Vallandingham. (There is actually a picture of him in the case as well; I’ll share a little more about him in another post, in a day or two.)

Last but certainly not least, you’ll notice the large album at the bottom of the photo. This album belonged to W. D. Bickham and contains cartes de visite he collected during the Civil War era, many depicting famous politicians and generals. For instance, the page currently open shows off a photo of none other than President Abraham Lincoln, plus Generals Winfield Scott, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas (all 3 on the opposite page).

The Bickham cartes de visite album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017), which I processed. This was my first experience with this type of archival item. Obviously, I had seen cartes de visite before. I recognized them as a small, mid-19th-century type of albumen photograph. But as yet, I had only worked with family photo collections wherein all the cartes de visite were from friends or relatives. But this had to be something different; the majority of the images in the album are of famous people like Lincoln, Sheridan, Bragg, John Clem (aka Johnny Shiloh), just to name a few. While Bickham did have many famous (or later-famous) contacts due to his profession as a journalist, I seriously doubted that he had been given all of these photos personally.

As it turns out, it was extremely common during that era for people to collect cartes de visite in a manner similar to how one might collect baseball cards. The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian has an excellent blog post [“Civil War Portraits: Where Personal and Public Meet,” Oct. 3, 2011] discussing this practice. They also have a YouTube video [“Civil War Portraits: Personal and Public,” Sept. 25, 2011] to go along with it. This was a great help to me in understanding what I was actually looking at, in the case of the Bickham Album.

I hope you’ll come down and see us and check out our exhibit. Although the Bickham Album is currently on display in a locked case, you can browse its contents online anytime on our Flickr page. I scanned each individual photo and added them to the set Bickham Civil War Album. There are several unidentified individuals — probably famous politicians or generals that I just don’t happen to recognize (we can’t all know everything!) — so if you see any marked unidentified and know who it is, please leave a comment to help us out.

The 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.

The Bickham Civil War Album is from the Bickham Collection (MS-017). The Howard Forrer photograph is from the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (MS-018). Other items shown are from various parts of the Dayton Collection; contact librarian (i.e., me, or the library!) for info on specific items.

Oh! One more thing:  Just so you know, I did not create this Civil War exhibit, although I did suggest the inclusion of the Bickham scrapbook and the Howard Forrer photo and shoulder boards. The majority of the exhibit (like, 99%!) was done by our lovely and talented Local History Specialist, Nancy Horlacher. The other two cases, which I have not photographed, include materials pertaining to the Dayton Soldiers’ Home and the 131st O.V.I. (a regiment made up primarily of men from Dayton).

Historical local directories at the Dayton Metro Library

After reading “City and County Directories: Hidden Treasures” on the Ohio Historical Society’s Collections Blog, I was inspired to share some details about the historical local directories available in the Local History and Genealogy departments at the Dayton Metro Library, where I work.

Early Dayton city directories in the DML Genealogy Dept.

Early Dayton city directories in the DML Genealogy Dept.

Historical directories are useful in many ways, particularly in genealogical research, as well as research pertaining to a house, building, or business.

In all the directories, you can look up a person or business by name.

For people, the information provided generally includes name, occupation, place worked, place lived, and sometimes their spouse’s name (if any). Very old and very new directories generally tend to include only the name of the head of household, but I have noticed that many times the directory lists each adult resident of a household separately and sometimes teenagers (usually identified as “students” for their occupation).

Some uses for directories in genealogy would be to find out where your relative lived or what their occupation was. If you check every year, you will probably find that they moved or changed jobs over time. When you suddenly notice the presence or absence of that person or a spouse in a particular year, you can get clues to marriage/divorce/death/moving dates.

Keep in mind: it’s just a clue, so you must always verify! But at least it can help give you a good idea of “when” to start searching for a particular event.

Also note: just because they “disappear,” doesn’t mean they died or even that they moved very far away. Many “city” directories only include people who lived or worked within the city limits. If you moved to the suburbs, you stopped being listed in the “city” directory, unless perhaps you still worked in the city. Consider the following entry from the 1914 Dayton city directory:

  • Wright, Orville, office 1127 W 3d, also Pres The Wright Co e s Coleman Av s of 3d, res Oakwood.

By 1914, Wright had moved to his new mansion Hawthorn Hill in Oakwood, but as he still had an office in Dayton, he still had an entry in the city directory.

For businesses, the information provided in directories generally includes location and type of industry (e.g., if it’s a factory, it will tell what they manufacture), usually the name of the business owner, and sometimes the names of other company officers.

As the OHS blog post stated, schools, hospitals, hotels, and many other types of buildings/businesses are also included in directories.

I like to think of directories as being like telephone books on steroids: they include basically everything you would find in a telephone book, plus more.

One of the biggest “plus more” aspects of directories is that directories eventually began to include listings that made it possible to search for a particular address and find out what was located there. In the case of Dayton city directories, the earliest year you can search by address is 1914. These listings are in the back of the directory, with street names listed alphabetically. Under each street, the numbers are listed in ascending order, with the name of the person or business next to it. If you are interested in more information about that person or business — now that you’ve found out the name — you can search for that entry in the front (alphabetical-by-name) part of the directory.

Street and Avenue Guide, Dayton city directory 1914

Street and Avenue Guide, Dayton city directory 1914

Being able to search by address is especially helpful for people researching the history of a house. Directories include the names of the residents of a house, as opposed to just the owner’s name that you would find on a deed.

Many times, house researchers just want to know a little about the families that lived in their home before they did. Sometimes, people think they have a ghost, and learning about the previous residents can help them figure out who might be haunting their home. In another example, I recently helped someone who had found some photographs tucked away in his historic home, and he was trying to find the family to whom the photos belonged, so he could return them.

And now that we’ve talked about some of the ways that historical local directories could be helpful in your research, I’ll give you the specifics on what we have at the Dayton Metro Library.

We have four types of historical directories, all of which are available for public use: city directories, suburban directories, Criss-Cross directories, and telephone books.

City Directories (Dayton only)

  • Years 1850-Present (almost every year) available in both Genealogy Reference and Local History Reference
  • Include listings within the city limits of Dayton only;
  • Include people who lived within the city limits, businesses located within the city limits, and usually people who worked within the city limits;
  • Includes yellow-pages-like listings for businesses by type;
  • Search by address possible from year 1914-present;
  • Later years can be searched by telephone number to get the person’s name.

Suburban Directories

  • Years 1956-Present available in both Genealogy Reference and Local History Reference;
  • Includes listings for suburban areas of Montgomery County only (areas of Montgomery County that are outside the Dayton city limits);
  • More recent years are split into North and South editions;
  • Search by address possible in all years;
  • Search by telephone number to get the person’s name.

Criss-Cross Directories

  • Years 1945-Present available in Local History Reference;
  • Years 1954-Present available in Genealogy Reference;
  • Similar to the search-by-street-address portion of regular city/suburban directories, but only gives street address, name, and phone number;
  • Includes city of Dayton, suburban areas of Montgomery County, and some nearby areas outside of Montgomery County;
  • Search by telephone number to get the person’s name.

Telephone Books

  • Years 1919-Present (most years) available in Local History Reference;
  • Both white pages and yellow pages available for most years;
  • Includes the “Greater Dayton area” which includes city of Dayton, suburban areas of Montgomery County, and some nearby areas outside of Montgomery County;
  • Cannot be searched by address.


The materials discussed here are available in the Magazines & Special Collections division of the Dayton Metro Library, located in the basement of the Main Library, 215 E. Third St., Dayton, OH 45402. They are available for public use anytime during regular library hours.

If you are unable to visit the library, a librarian can assist you with requests that are “clearly defined and limited in scope.” If you need a quick look-up in the directories, please submit an electronic reference question. For other questions about directories, you can contact the Dayton Metro Library or leave a note on this blog.