I have written on many occasions of volunteers who tired of duty in the infantry by the battle of Antietam and transferred to the regular cavalry thinking to escape the rigors and bloodshed of that life. Recently, however, I came across group of fellows with the opposite problem — they were tired of waiting to get into the war.
Seven members of Company A, 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry transferred to the 2nd U.S. Cavalry on October 27, 1862. They were not veterans serving in Maryland like most of their peers, but newly enlisted volunteers in Columbus, Ohio. All seven were enlisted by Captain Robert Clary into Company A, 2nd U.S. Cavalry. The men, ranging in age from 19 to 23, had enlisted in the volunteer service on the 21st and 22nd of August. Their company was not mustered into federal service until September 16th by Captain J.R. Paxton of the 15th U.S. Infantry at Camp Cleveland, Ohio. Theirs was the only company mustered. Companies B, C and D would follow in November, with the other companies to follow. After over two months of the tedium of drill with no action in sight, the men decided to take matters into their own hands when they encountered Captain Clary.
Ironically, the sergeant who was presumably the ringleader of this idea was the only one not to honorably complete his term of service with the regulars. Sergeant Benjamin F. Rhodes deserted four days after his enlistment On October 31st at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. He was a farmer prior to his enlistments, born in Greenport, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him a 5’ 9” tall, with gray eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion.
Corporal Thomas G Stradford, born in Philadelphia, worked as a clerk before the war. He served his entire three year enlistment as a private in Company A, leaving the service at St. Louis, Missouri on October 25, 1865. His enlistment documents describe him a 5’ 7” tall, with gray eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. He filed for an invalid pension on June 22, 1880 and died August 5, 1915 in Washington, D.C.
Amos V. Bailey was the only one of the group to serve as a noncommissioned officer in the regulars, finishing his enlistment as a sergeant at St. Louis in October 1865. Born in Husford County, Maryland, he was a farmer before his enlistment. He settled in Maryland after the war, and died near Churchill, Maryland on September 20, 1917.
Private Andrew Cook left no further records after enlisting into the regulars. He was a farmer before the war, born in Green Township, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 10” tall, with hazel eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion.
Private James G. Crawford was not able to serve long in the regulars before succumbing to disease. By February 1863 he was hospitalized by disease at Carver Hospital in Washington, D.C., and did not return to the regiment. On July 2, 1864 he was transferred to Company B, 2nd Veteran Reserve Corps, where he was promoted to sergeant. Interestingly, I was unable to find evidence of an invalid claim for him after the war. Born in Madison, Ohio, he worked as a miller before the war. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’7’ tall, with gray eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion.
Private Marion Parker was the only one of the seven not to survive the war. He died of a disease of the lungs on December 27, 1862 at Fort Albany, Virginia. A farmer before the war, he was born in Goshen, Ohio. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 7” tall, with gray eyes, dark hair and a fresh complexion.
Private Benjamin Franklin Stover survived the war and left regular service in October 1865 in St. Louis. His enlistment documents describe him as 5’ 6” tall, with hazel eyes, light hair and a ruddy complexion. A farmer before the war, he was born in Pennsylvania. He married after the war and settled in Nebraska. Stover filed for an invalid pension on September 11, 1890. He died May 16, 1918 in Omaha, Nebraska and is buried there in Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
As for the 125th Ohio, it was quite some time after these men left before it tasted battle. The regiment fought in the major battles of the western theater from the battle of Chickamauga through the end of the war.
Barbara B Hemmingsen said:
My g g grandfather Joseph Bruff recruited these men in Mahoning Co. Ohio. As Captain of Company A 125th Ohio he was not happy when they left. I am publishing Bruff’s letters to his wife. Barbara
Barbara B Hemmingsen said:
I am not sure that Rhodes deserted. Here is what I have found out.
According to a War Department summary (dated 28 Mar 1896) in his pension file, Benjamin served three months in Company H, 19th O. V. I. from 22 Apr to 28 Aug, 1861; he was at first a Sergeant and then reduced to Private. After his muster into the 125th O. V. I. he transferred to the 2nd U. S. Cavalry on 4 Nov 1862.(27 Oct 1862 U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, Ancestry.com) He left the Cavalry “of his own accord – did not like treatment”. He then enlisted in Company G, 2nd Ohio Volunteer Heavy Artillery on 31 Jul 1863 and served until he was mustered out on 23 Aug 1865. “From Enr. to M.O. he held the rank of Corpl. & Privt. and during that period the rolls show him present, except as follows:- Feb. 29/64. ‘In confinement at Bowling Green, since Feb. 17, 1863. Apr 30/64, absent. In Military Prison awaiting sentence of Court Martial. Same to June 30/64 – Aug 31 1864, ‘In confinement awaiting trial for desertion (Absent).’ Oct 31/64 Present ‘To forfeit one months pay [illegible] per G. O. 51 Hd. Qrs. Dist Ky. dated June 29, 1864.’ June 30/65 Absent with escort for Genl. Stoneman. The name Benjamin F. Rhodes has not been found on the rolls of Co G 2 Ret Ohio H. Arty. nor on the rolls of the 2 Regt U.S.C. Inf. No medical record found.” However, the Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio does list a Franklin Rhodes, 24 years old, who served from 31 Jul 1863 to 23 Aug 1865 in Company G, 2nd Ohio Heavy Artillery.