A Letter to the “Boys in the Neighborhood.” – The Eleventh Ohio Battery – Part 3
by Phil Spaugy
Often, when I start to research a blog post subject, I find that as I learn more about the topic, one post ends up becoming a series.This certainly has held true with this current series of posts on the Eleventh Ohio Battery.
While looking for some additional material on the Eleventh, I came across the following letter to the editor of the Wyandot Pioneer:
A .pdf transcription of the above can be found here: 11th letter to home
Clearly the writer, simply identified as “A Private of the 11th Ohio Battery” had retained some sense of humor while suffering a horrific wound to his face. Just as clear was his opinion of the “boys in the neighborhood” who had stayed home. The tone of the letter intrigued me enough to try and find out the identity of the author.
I started with accessing the the roster of the wounded of the battery on the American Civil War Research Database to see if I could find reference to any member of the Eleventh who suffered a facial wound. While the list of wounded was helpful, there was no mention of type of wounds. Then I remembered reading Lieutenant Cyrus Sears’ letter to the Wyandot Pioneer describing the action, and giving a list of the killed, wounded, and captured. It was in this article that I saw that Henry Welsh had suffered a severe facial wound.
Now that I had a name, I wanted to see if this “Private of the 11th Ohio Battery” had recovered from his wound, and how he got on with the rest of his life. A search of the internet turned up the following from the “History of Wyandot County” published in 1884:
HENRY M WELSH one of the prominent farmers of this born in Crawford County Ohio May 2 1840 He is a son of ER Sarah A McClain Welsh his father having come to this county doing an extensive business in stock dealing in this and He also dealt to some extent in real estate and controlled a of property up to the date of his death in 1880 Henry M subject of this sketch was engaged on the farm with his father till he attained his majority soon after which he enlisted in the Eleventh Ohio Battery and entered the United States service He participated in the battles of New Madrid Island No 10 and Iuka but was chiefly employed on the march or post duty He was wounded in the battle of Iuka Miss by a musket ball which fractured his lower jaw resulting in the loss of half of the osseous structure of that member He was discharged in November 1862 returned home and has since engaged in farming and stock dealing In 1861 he obtained 450 acres from his father’s estate and has increased that number by subsequent purchases till he now owns 1,436 acres valued at $60 to $75 per acre He does an extensive farming business usually sowing 300 to 500 acres of wheat and planting 200 to 400 acres of corn Besides his large farming and stock raising interests in this county Mr Welsh is also interested in an extensive cattle ranch in Wyoming Territory Mr Welsh has always conducted his business independently and may fairly be considered one of the most successful operators in the county He was married November 24 1863 to Miss Emily Hoover who was born in Crawford County Ohio her parents being early settlers in that locality She is a daughter of William and Phoebe Swisher Hoover her father being one of the leading farmers and stock dealers of Crawford County By this marriage three children were born namely Edmond T Sanford C and Myrtie E aged seventeen fifteen and fourteen respectively Mr Welsh is known throughout the county as a thorough business man and is highly esteemed as a citizen
As you can see, Henry Welsh, who was reminded of the horrors of the Iuka every time he looked in the mirror or ate a meal, returned home and made a fine life for himself. But one has to wonder how many of the “boys in the neighborhood” heeded Henry’s advice not to go “unless they wanted to get hurt.” And, as the years rolled on, and as those boys who stayed at home turned into men, what Henry thought of them, or they of him?
But, in the fall of 1862, all of the above was in the future for the grievously wounded Henry Welsh. The business of War stopped for no man. The insatiable grist mill of the battles of the autumn of 1862 needed all the human fodder that could be found. The following notice appeared in the same issue, same page, the next column over from Henry’s letter to the editor.
Neil, Henry M. A Battery at Close Quarters. Google Books.
Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, National Tribune
Library of Congress, Chronicling of America, Wyandot Pioneer
History of Wyandot County, Internet Archive.
Next up: Part four. Iuka today. A Case for Battlefield Preservation.