Friday, October 2, 2009

Raise the Rutherford!

Rutherford B. Hayes Month

Hayes & the Civil War
Part I: Camp Chase

Hayes called his years of military service during the Civil War the best years of his life. This five part series in honor of his birthday will visit four locations associated with Hayes’ service to the Union.

Camp Dennison & Camp Chase were recruitment and training centers for the Union Army. Men usually only remained at the camp for only a short time. After receiving a little training, the men were sent off to the war. Hayes certainly passed through Camp Dennison, situated on 500 acres in Germany, Ohio on the Little Miami Railroad near Cincinnati. Named after Ohio Governor (1860 - 1862) and Cincinnatian William Dennison, its location near Cincinnati also provided protection for city. Eventually Germany, Ohio, became known as Camp Dennison.

Hayes however seems to have received his training at Camp Chase, outside Columbus. Camp Chase was named for former Ohio Governor (1856 - 1860), the then current US Secretary of the Treasury (1861 – 1864), and Cincinnatian Salmon P. Chase. During June and July of 1861, Hayes was here.

While here he writes in his diary and sends letters to his wife Lucy and his Uncle Sardis. He describes for instance their training and the search for a Regimental Colonel. My favorite passage though is this excerpt from a letter at the Hayes Presidential Center where he is writing to Lucy shortly before leaving for western Virginia:

CAMP CHASE, July 2, 1861.
DEAREST: . . . Love to Grandma and all. Kisses for the dear boys. They will mourn the loss of their Uncle Joe. I should not be much loss to them now; when they get older I will try to help in their education. Birch, if possible, should be a soldier; Webb will do for a sailor; Ruddy will do for either or 'most anything else. I am sorry you are to be left with so much responsibility; but, with your mother's advice, do what you both agree is best and it will perfectly satisfy me.
Affectionately, yours ever, RUTHERFORD

QCS Note: When Hayes mentions that the boys will mourn the loss of their Uncle, it is not because he has died. It is because Uncle Joe is to be the doctor for Hayes’ 23rd Ohio Regiment and will also be leaving for service shortly. Of the three Hayes children referenced above, Webb was the only one to serve in the military and he fought in the Spanish American War.

Camp Chase became a Confederate prison during the war and eventually a Confederate Cemetery was located there. All that remains today of Camp Chase is the cemetery, one of the largest Confederate cemeteries in the North. The Cemetery, located at 2900 Sullivant Avenue in the Hilltop area of Columbus, holds 2260 individual gravesites surrounded by a stone wall with a center monument erected in 1902. The camp was generally north of here to Broad Street, east to what is now Hague Avenue and west to about East Westgate Avenue.

For more on Camp Chase and its history, check out two fantastic websites: Camp Chase at Forgotten Ohio and Camp Chase at

I visited the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery early one Saturday morning.
Some held at the prison were Confederate citizens. Notice the inscription on the tombstone above.

Part II: The Battle of South Mountain

Raise the Rutherford! is a continuing, slightly humorous series to raise awareness of Rutherford B. Hayes and erect a statue of him in Cincinnati.

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
Including the Dairy and Letters of Rutherford B. Hayes
Ohio History Central – Camp Chase
Ohio History Central – Camp Dennison

1 comment:

Noah said...

Really enjoyed this one Dan. Thanks for going to such efforts. It's nice to see someone willing and interested in the past players who help shape the region...and country. I learned alot!

Chris Herzner