WOOSTER — Author and historian Thomas Crowl will discuss his new regimental history "Opdycke’s Tigers in the Civil War: A History of the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry" (McFarland & Company, 2019) at the Wayne County Public Library on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. and also will appear at the Buckeye Book Fair on Nov. 2.
Crowl follows the 125th OVI from its recruitment and training through many battles in the Western Theater of the Civil War until the war’s end.
His accounts of life in camp, on the march and in combat are filled with interesting, vivid detail about what these volunteer soldiers experienced in the course of their three years of service to the Union.
Colonel Emerson Opdycke was already a veteran of combat at the Battle of Shiloh when the call for Ohio to raise 14 new regiments of volunteer soldiers went out. He returned to his home in Warren and in September 1862 was appointed to recruit and command the 125th Regiment. At Camp Cleveland, he devised his own training and drill program for the officers and men. As a result, the 125th was later recognized for its discipline and effectiveness compared to other volunteer troops.
In January 1863 the 125th journeyed by rail and riverboat to join the Army of the Cumberland under General Rosecrans. It was assigned to cover the outer defenses of Nashville at Franklin, Tennessee. After six months in camp, Rosecrans’ army began a move southeast toward General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of the Tennessee.
Opdycke’s men drew duty to guard their division’s 250 supply wagons on the march, a difficult task in mud that was like "a mixture of quicksand and glue when wet." They used ropes to drag mule teams up slick mountain roads as the army moved into Georgia south of the railroad hub of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Their first major combat came September 19-20, 1863, in the dense woods and undergrowth along West Chickamauga Creek. They were in the thick of the fight on the 20th when Union General George Thomas’ forces delayed Bragg’s advancing Confederates at Snodgrass Hill so the rest of the Union army could withdraw to Chattanooga, earning General Thomas the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga."
In this same fight, the 125th earned its nickname. Its division commander General George Wood later declared to Opdycke that "the Ohioans fought like tigers."
Author Thomas Crowl follows the 125th Ohio OVI through the remainder of its long service, detailing the fighting at Chattanooga, Knoxville, Kennesaw Mountain and Atlanta. Battle maps aid in following the action, and numerous photos are included. For researchers, there are chapter notes, a bibliography, an index and a roster of officers and soldiers by company.
By the end of 1864, Opdycke’s Tigers found themselves back in middle Tennessee, fighting in the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. Finally they were mustered out and returned to Ohio in the fall of 1865.
Thomas Crowl will be at the Buckeye Book Fair on Saturday, Nov. 2 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster. Admission is $2 for adults and parking is free. For more information, visit www.BuckeyeBookFair.com.