A Tale of “Two Ladies”

by Phil Spaugy

Many readers of this blog know Garry Adelman, the high-energy (to say the least) author, Director of History and Education for the Civil War Trust (http://www.civilwar.org/), Licensed Gettysburg Battlefield Guide, and founder and longtime vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography (http://www.civilwarphotography.org/ ). Several times each week Gary will post a Civil War image, often from the Library of Congress collection, on his Facebook page, challenging his followers to download, study and comment on the image. It is a very enjoyable exercise and learning experience for all involved.

Today (March 5th) Gary posted the image below, entitled “Unidentified Soldiers of the 5th Ohio Cavalry and a Mountain Howitzer.”  


5th OVC

With the subject of the image being that of OHIO soldiers, I quickly downloaded the image, enlarged it, and starting the process of analyzing it closely.

Without a doubt, it is an outstanding image of hard-bitten, veteran Buckeye horse soldiers of the western theater during the war. The fact that they were proudly posing with a M1835 12 pound Mountain Howitzer (https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/model-1835-mountain-howitzer) complete with limber, made it even more fascinating. In the background one can make out what appears to be the top of a blockhouse. The well mounted and armed troopers themselves are posing on the edge of some sort of ditch or cut, railroad perhaps, and one might even argue that the logs in the foreground might be railroad ties.

After reviewing the image, I started researching the 5th OVC  to see if perhaps I could provide some more information on when the image was taken, and, in particular, the story behind the mountain howitzer being a prominent part of the scene.

A quick review of Ohio in the Civil War by Whitelaw Reid provided me with the regimental history of the 5th OVC, including the following passage on page 784:

“…It being of the utmost importance to keep the enemy in the dark as to the preparations crossing the river at Chickasaw General Osterhaus on the morning of the (October) 26th sent the trains escort to Dickson Station and with the entire division, the Fifth Ohio in advance started at daylight for Tuscumbia; driving the enemy continually and occupying the town capturing a of prisoners destroying large quantities of Rebel army supplies and returning three days afterward. Though in this expedition the enemy had not risked a general engagement they scarcely were ever out of sight. They promptly followed the division back to its encampment upon the next morning drove in the pickets and attacked impetuously in force pushing lines to within a short distance of the General’s head quarters before they were repulsed. The Fifth in this engagement as in the eight days of almost constant fighting preceding did its whole duty and won weighty compliments from General Osterhaus and staff.  Here the regiment drew two fine twelve pound mountain howitzers which were christened Lady Heath and Lady Bumill [Pummill] and assigned to squadron G.”

Well, part of the mystery was solved, but why were the two howitzers so named?  A quick look at the American Civil War Research Database (http://www.civilwardata.com) provided the following information on the commander of the 5th OVC, Colonel Thomas Hinsley Heath, in whose honor the “Lady Heath” was named:

Colonel Thomas Heath

Residence – Cincinnati, Ohio; 27 years old.
Enlisted on 8/26/1861 as a Lt. Colonel
On 10/17/1861 he was commissioned into Field & Staff, 5th OVC
He was Mustered Out on 10/30/1865 at Charlotte, NC

* Colonel 8/11/1863
* Brig-General 12/15/1864

Other Information:
born 3/10/1835 in Xenia, OH
died 10/18/1925 in Loveland, OH
Buried: Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH
Gravesite: 14-99-1

But the namesake of the “Lady Bumill” was a bit more elusive. Once again, I searched the database, but there was no “Bumill” to be found. But a quick look at the company roster showed John Pummill, who was in command of Squadron “G” to which the howitzers were assigned. Mystery solved.

Residence – Cincinnati, Ohio; age 40 years old.
Enlisted on 9/1/1861 as a Private.
On 9/1/1861 he mustered into “G” Co. 5th OVC
He was Mustered Out on 10/30/1865 at Charlotte, NC

* 1st Sergt 11/7/1861
* 1st Lieut 2/6/1863
* Capt 3/1/64
* Major 10/12/1864
* Lt Colonel 1/13/1865

Intra Regimental Company Transfers:

* 1/13/1865 from company G to Field & Staff

Other Information:
born in 1814
died 3/22/1883 in Cincinnati, OH
Buried: Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, OH
Gravesite: 105-41-5

As you can see, John Pummill, who at the age of 40 in 1861, enlisted as a private and served with great distinction throughout the war, eventually obtained the rank of Lt. Colonel in command of the 5th OVC. It is ironic to note that in March of 1862, his regiment was the first Federal cavalry regiment to enter the state of Mississippi, which was the home state of his uncle, one Jefferson Davis!

As to the service of the two “Ladies” of the 5th OVC, one only needs to read the following report of the Battle of Buckhead Creek to realize their value to the regiment:

Report of Col. Thomas T. Heath, Fifth Ohio Cavalry.


Near King’s Bridge, Ga., December 23, 1864.

CAPT.: I have the honor to report that the Fifth Ohio Cavalry (with the First Squadron Ohio Cavalry temporarily attached), with an aggregate of 563 men, marched with the Second Bridge, Col. S. D. Atkins commanding, from Marietta, Ga., on the 14th of November, 1864, on the expedition ending with the occupation of Savannah by our forces.

Just previous to marching 440 men of my regiment, and 9 officers, whose terms of service had expired, were ordered to Ohio to be mustered out of service. Myself and 11 other officers were retained on the order of Maj.-Gen. Howard, commanding Army and Department of the Tennessee, though entitled to be ordered to Ohio for muster out of service on the 14th of November, 1864. During this most arduous campaign both officers and men have done their whole duty, never discontented at nor flagging in the routine of day and night marches, building breast-works, destroying railroads, picket, skirmish, and battle, through thirty-eight days and nights in an enemy’s country.

I am proud to say, that for intelligent and ready execution of all orders received, as well as for valorous action on the battle-field, my officers and men deserve the highest commendation, have my thanks, and promptly received acknowledgment in general orders from brigade and division commanders. Dogged by a president and relentless enemy from East Point to the walls of Savannah, through woods and swamps hitherto considered impracticable, the Fifth Ohio Cavalry has done its full share of every work, participated in every engagement, and never faltered. At Macon it supported the gallant Tenth Ohio in its charge, while one battalion tore up the railroad. On the 28th of November the First Brigade was hard pressed in the swamp at Buck Head Creek. This regiment was ordered by Col. Atkins to go to the rear and cover the crossing of the brigade. Moving rapidly to the rear, it took position, dismounted, threw up barricades of rails, planted its section of howitzers to cover the bridge, enabled the whole brigade to cross in safety, and checked the advance of Wheeler’s whole force, which was exultingly pressing the rear. When the smoke of our discharge of canister had cleared away the rebels who were crowded on the causeways to the bridge were not seen, and Capt. William Jessup, Company D, with twenty of his men, under the fire of their riflemen daringly burned and completely destroyed the bridge, while shells from the howitzers compelled the enemy to ploy and seek crossing above and below.

After  two hours, finding the enemy was crossing at other points and gaining our flanks and rear, we steadily retired on the brigade, which had taken position two miles and a half to our front. We had not marched far before the enemy closed them either flank on the road we were marching and began skirmishing. Capt. Alexander C. Rossman, Company E, commanding Third Battalion, Fifth Ohio, as rear guard, skillfully and gallantry kept them in check until the advance battalion had been assigned position with the brigade at Reynold’s plantation. At this moment the enemy charged in two columns with vigor. Capt. Rossman, with his battalion re-enforced by Company C and a line of dismounted skirmished, fought in front of the barricade; the remainder of the regiment, with the howitzers, from behind the work. The enemy were quickly and easily repulsed with loss…

 I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,


Col. Fifth Regt. Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.
Capt. H. J. SMITH,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Second Brig. Third Div., Cav. Corps.

Source:  Official Records


[Series I. Vol. 44. Serial No. 92.]


Ohio in the Civil War – http://www.ohiocivilwar.com/cwc5.html

Ohio in the Civil War by Whitelaw Reid – Available on Google Books:http://books.google.com/books?id=qvKxouViJBEC&dq=ohio%20in%20the%20civil%20war&pg=PP9#v=onepage&q=ohio%20in%20the%20civil%20war&f=false