The Fall of Fort Sumpter - President's Call for Volunteers - Organization of a Company at Lynchburg - Recruiting at Camp Harvey - Muster-in at Webertown - Farewell Sermon.
The memorable political campaign of 1860, that resulted in the election of Abraham Lincoln as President, was over. The Southern States, which had made threats of leaving the Union before his election, began to secede, one after another, and the whole country was in a state of feverish excitement.
No one seemed to be able to avert the coming storm. Thus matters stood, until that eventful day for us, as a nation, arrived. On the 12th day of April, 1861, Gen. Beauregard made the attack on Fort Sumpter, which, after a terrific bombardmentof thirty-six hours, the garrison, under command of Maj. Anderson, was compelled to surrender to the Confederate forces.
When the startling news flashed over the wires, the whole North, from the "shores of Maine, to the Pacific Slope," arose in its might. Ignoring party lines, the people rallied under the immortal words of Gen. Jackson, "The Union-it must and shall be preserved." Then the President called for seventy-five thousand men, to serve three months, which many believed would settle the whole affair. But no sooner had the call been filled, and the troops sent to the front, than they were outnumbered by the seceding States at every point.
Another call was made by the President, this time for three hundred thousand volunteers to serve three years, unless sooner discharged. Following the call came the reverse at Bull Run, which fell with stunning effect on the over-confident North. The whole effort of the Government was now concentrated on a vigorous prosecution of the war.
Up to this time volunteers had been leaving Lynchburg, Ohio, singly and in squads of three and four, to join the regiments then organizing in Camp Dennison, Ohio. A company of Home Guards had been organized in August; but no one had succeeded in raising a company for service in the field until John W. Frazee, who had been teaching a select school at Lynchburg, proposed to raise a company for active service, for one year, to be attached to the 60th Reg't. O. V. I., then organizing at Hillsboro, Ohio. He had no difficulty in collecting around him fifteen or twenty men, who formed the nucleus of what afterwards became Company C, 48th Reg't. O. V. I.
Sept. 20th, 1861, the company numbered twenty-seven men. An election of commissioned and non-commissioned officers was held in the schoolhouse at Lynchburg, which resulted in the election of J. W. Frazee, Captain; Peter Brown, 1st Lieut.; T. I,. Fields, 2d Lieut.; Wm. A. Quarterman, 1st Sergt.; W. A. Pratt, J. A. Bering and Frank Holladay, Sergeants. After the election, the company, with two or three exceptions, decided to enlist for three years.
The company being in need of quarters, Mr. Josiah Harvey tendered us the use of his warehouse, which was accepted and named, "Camp Harvey."
Regular excursions were made by the company from the camp to the neighboring villages, where rousing war meetings were held, and sumptuous meals spread before the young soldiers, which generally resulted in getting new recruits. In the course of our travels we visited Dodsonville, Allensburg, Danville, Pricetown, McCarty's School-House, Fayetteville, and Webertown. At the latter place, on the 3d day of October, 1861, after a grand supper in Liggett's Grove, the company, numbering sixty men, was sworn into the United States service by Capt. J. W. Frazee, who had just returned from Columbus, with the proper authority. The company then returned to Camp Harvey, and soldiering, as we then considered it, began in earnest. We drilled twice a day, guards were posted, passes and furloughs issued, and strict discipline was enforced. And last, but not least, regular details for cooks were made each day. A two-horse wagon accompanied us on our trips, and hauled all surplus provisions to camp. Great credit is due the patriotic citizens of Lynchburg and vicinity, for their liberality in contributing to those grand dinners and suppers, and in furnishing Camp Harvey, free of all expense to the Government, the necessary supplies. The ladies, in particular, will be ever held in grateful remembrance, for their untiring efforts in contributing everything necessary to make us comfortable. Where all did so nobly for our common cause, it is difficult to particularize any one, but we cannot pass by the names of those that devoted their time and labor in organizing war meetings and making patriotic speeches. Foremost among them were Dr. S. J. Spees, Dr. R. Fulton, Rev. N. W. Cummins, Hon. A. D. Coombs, Isaac Robb, and many others. To such patriotic citizens was due, in a great measure, the promptness with which the company was recruited and sent to the field, while other companies were months in Camp Dennison before they were filled.
The company remained at Camp Harvey until Monday, Oct. 14th, when we were ordered to Camp Dennison. The day preceding, the company assembled in the M. E. church, at 2 o'clock P. M., when Rev. Dr. Fulton preached our farewell sermon, to a large congregation. This was jestingly called our "funeral sermon," which, alas! proved too true to many. Of the twenty-three of the company that were killed, or who died from disease during the war, not one was ever known to have a sermon preached at his funeral.