Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Way Out West: The 11th Ohio Cavalry

Last week, I was bicycling in delightfully cool temperatures along Lake Michigan; this week, I am enduring an incredible heat wave in northeastern Oklahoma. Thank goodness for air conditioning! Since I have been limited in my outdoor activities, I’ve taken to perusing overlooked books on my shelves, and this led me to a most unusual and interesting regiment: the 11th Ohio Cavalry. This unit served in none of the familiar venues but instead guarded stagecoach lines and emigrant trails in the far West. While Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Red River campaign, the Atlanta campaign, and many others took place, the 11th Ohio Cavalry fought skirmishes at exotic locales such as:
Platte River, Nebraska Territory, April 17, 1863 
Operations against Indians in Nebraska, August 11 to November 28, 1864
Mud Springs, Nebraska Territory, February 5 to 9, 1865
Poison Spring, Idaho Territory, March 8, 1865
Sage Creek Station, Dakota Territory, April 6, 1865
Tongue River, Dakota Territory, August 29, 1865
For a more complete history and listing of skirmishes see the regimental sketch in Compendium Of The War Of The Rebellion by Frederick H. Dyer.
Parts of the regiment were organized in late 1861, but the unit was not mustered out until July 1866. The regiment consisted primarily of Ohioans, but a number of “galvanized Yankees” (Confederate prisoners of war who took an oath of allegiance) also served in the unit. Dee Brown’s book, The Galvanized Yankees, includes an interesting chapter about these men titled “Ohioans from Dixie: The Powder River Expedition.” Also, check out Robert Huhn Jones' book, Guarding the Overland Trails: The Eleventh Ohio Cavalry in the Civil War. Spokane, WA: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 2005.
For more information about this regiment go to the following websites:
Ohio in the Civil War: bibliography about the 11th Ohio Cavalry compiled by Larry Stevens
11th Ohio Cavalry reenactors: history and other background information

In addition, Cheyenne Dog Soldiers: A Ledgerbook History of Coups and Combat by Jean Afton, David Fridtjof Halaas, and Andrew E. Masich with Richard N. Ellis reproduces ledgerbook artwork by several Cheyenne warriors. Some of the plates depict combat between soldiers of the 11th Ohio Cavalry and their Indian foes. 

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