Ohio Goes To War
George B. McClellan's Ohio Volunteers

     In April of 1861 as events mushroomed into a hot war between the Central Government and the South, Governor William Dennison of Ohio appointed George B. McClellan, Major General of Ohio Volunteers. He, in turn, wasted no time in communicating with Army Headquarters in Washington City with an established zealous attitude.
     The country had been called on to provided 75,000 volunteers with a quota for the state of Ohio of but thirteen regiments; four thousand now moving into camps surrounding Cincinnati and another thousand up in Cleveland, under the instruction of Captain Gordon Granger. The arms and quartermaster supplies at the outbreak, however, left much to be desired. In the arsenals between Columbus and Cincinnati there were but 2,000 muskets most of which would not support a bayonet, and others, altered flick lock rifles, hardly suitable to go to war with.
     The senior ranking officer, now in charge of raising, training and equipping their quota of ninety days soldiers, began pressing Lieutenant General Winfield Scott for the central government to properly outfit them all. Uncomfortable with perhaps the 200,000 rounds of cartridge ammunition that had currently been promised him, General McClellan requested 5,000,000 be sent and enough camp equipment and accoutrements furnished for no less than 20,000 troops.

     The general had bigger plans for his men then the federal government would allot time for. On April 27, 1861 after informing the War Department that the legislature in Columbus was about to authorize an additional 50,000 troops to Governor Dennison, he began asking the central government that ample war supplies be furnished an army of 80,000 Ohioans. With them, he wished to cross the Ohio River in the vicinity of Gallipolis moving up the Kanawha Valley and capture Richmond, Virginia.
     Scott forwarded the report to the White House with his endorsement that it was not possible for George McClellan to have known about the intended call for two years volunteers, therefore he planned on marching this mass column of 90 day soldiers all the way to the Confederate capitol. If the Kanawha Valley were to be left alone for a time, the people of Western Virginia were liable to throw in with the Union cause, yet revolt if McClellan's columns marched across it now. Should this not be feasible, however, McClellan proposed utilizing the 80,000 man army to march straight on Nashville and having conquered Nashville, Mobile or New Orleans would become prime targets thereafter.

     Ambitious as it was, from the viewpoint of the Central Government it was a major waste of time. The government would not invest in such an operation with soldiers that were to be duly mustered out of service before it ever got started. Ohio possessed an ambitious commander far ahead of the War Department, yet George McClellan, for the time, would have to content himself with Washington, not Columbus, running the war.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2004

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwars.net