CHIEF LOGAN STATE PARK — By the time the 34th and 37th Ohio Volunteers had marched through Logan County in the early winter months of 1862 the area had witnessed its first Civil War skirmish.
In September of 1861 fighting commenced at Chapmanville Gap.
Then in January 1862, the 37th Ohio, made up mostly of Germans and commanded by Colonel Edward Siber, a skilled and competent officer of the German Army, who had served in Prussia and Brazil, marched on the town of Aracoma (now Logan), burning the courthouse to the ground.
Logan County’s rich Civil War history will be remembered, honored and relived this weekend as Chief Logan State Park will once again play host to Logan Civil War Heritage Weekend: Rebellion in the Hills on Saturday and Sunday.
The Civil War event will be highlighted by two North vs. South battle re-enactments, a period dance and two speeches by President Abraham Lincoln.
Although much of West Virginia had divided loyalties in the Civil War Logan County was considered a Confederate stronghold.
The Union, however, was able to make movements from Kanawha Gap to the Chapmanville/Logan areas because few Confederate units were in the area at the time.
The most famous local Confederate fighting force, the Logan Wildcats (Company D of the 36th Virginia Infantry), were fighting the boys in Blue near Loop Mountain and Dublin Depot in Virginia.
The 34th Virginia Cavalry was fighting further south and the 45th Virginia Infantry had not been formed.
In short, Logan County was left undefended from the invaders, except for a few local “home guards” and armed civilians.
Led by Col. Piatt’s 550 men, the 34th Ohio marched into the Chapmanville area on Sept. 23, 1861, according to a report printed in the Cincinnati Gazette. Piatt was joined by 300 men from Kentucky under Lt. Col. Enyart and 200 other home guards from Virginia.
According to an article published in the Oct. 8, 1861 Cincinnati Commercial newspaper, the Ohioans and its allies suddenly came upon the Logan County home guards near Chapmanville, who were stationed behind breastworks and were commanded by Col. J.W. Davis of Greenbrier.
A soldier’s account printed in the newspaper stated that “the Confederates would not stand our boy’s steady fire for they retreated in utter consternation. Col. Davis was mortally wounded and the Union troops killed 20 Confederates.”
A Confederate flag 20-feet long with 15 stars was also captured by the Union forces, along with four horses, one wagon, 10 rifles, 12 muskets and commissary stores.
Chapmanville was occupied for some days and a military hospital was set up.
The 37th Ohio, under Siber, later marched to Logan and torched the courthouse.
Siber’s men reached the Guyandotte Valley sector on Jan. 14, 1862.
“I found this place completely evacuated by the whole male population, which, armed with rifles, had retreated to a steep mountain on the other side of the Guyandotte, where, at the same time, appeared a number of horsemen and where had been assembled a number of bushwhackers,” Siber wrote in his report.
That site is believed by some to be the steep hillside where Logan Regional Hospital stands today.
Many believed the attack by the Black Stripe Company was the reason the Union soldiers were so hostile and that George Doss, a member of the company, had fired the shot that mortally wounded Captain Goecke of Company B of the 37th Ohio Volunteers in an area along the Guyandotte River later described as old Henlawson.
The man who shot Captain Goecke may not have been Doss. Logan County historian Sammy Hall said in a previous Logan Banner article that Allie McDonald once told him William Anderson Hale had fired on the Northern troops.
T.C. Whited, who also knew much about early Logan County, had once claimed, however, that Doss had fired the fatal shot on Goecke.
Siber wrote in his report that his troops were “exasperated” by the shooting and several men swam the Guyandotte River so they could destroy houses on the opposite bank.
Allie McDonald once wrote an article about the way Siber’s men occupied the home of John and Sarah (Sallie) Fillinger near old Henlawson.
The Fillinger children and their mother were terrified they would be shot as Siber’s men moved past the site.
On the night of Jan. 14, heavy rain fell, making it more difficult for the Union troops to remain in town.
Col. Siber believed the only further resistance to his men would be from sniper fire but that would be dangerous enough.
Wrote Siber, “I ordered for the next morning at four o’clock the evacuation of the place, which under the circumstances could not be held without more sacrifice of life, and, as the inhabitants of this town had acted with so much animosity … I thought it to be my duty to deprive the enemy of such position, only valuable to him and useless to us, and ordered to set fire to these buildings before my departure.”
Siber’s men set fire to the brick courthouse building.
The building, which had replaced two older wooden courthouses, may have only been standing for a few months, according to historians.
After the war in the early 1870s, John William Stratton won the contract to rebuild the new brick courthouse at Logan which stood between 1875 and 1905. Many of the bricks used in the courthouse burned by Siber’s men were used by Stratton on the second brick building.
The next courthouse — this one made of stone — was built in 1905 but burned in 1912.
A second stone courthouse was then erected and stood until the mid-1960s.
The present building has served as Logan’s courthouse ever since.
Following its engagement at Logan, the 37th Ohio had action at Princeton (May 15-17) and Charleston (May 17) before moving to Flat Top Mountain and Raleigh County (Aug. 1). The 37th then went to the Wyoming Courthouse area (Aug. 2-8), had operations in the Kanawha Valley (Aug. 29-Sept. 18) and repulsed Loring’s attack on Fayetteville on Sept. 10.
The 37th had duties at Point Pleasant until Oct. 15 and at Gauley Bridge until Dec. 20.
That day, the unit was sent to Arkansas and later Louisiana on Jan. 21, 1863.
From May 18-July 4, the 37th Ohio joined Grant’s army on the siege of Vicksburg, Miss.
The 37th later had orders to go to Tennessee and Alabama and joined Sherman’s March to the Sea in 1864. The Ohioans fought the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864.
The 37th marched with Sherman through South Carolina and into North Carolina, fighting the Battle of Bentonville, N.C., on March 20-21.
Johnston surrendered to Sherman at the Bennett house near Raleigh, N.C., on April 26.
With General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army surrendering two weeks before at Appomattox Court House, Va., the Civil War was all but over. Lee had hoped to move west in Virginia to link up with Johnston along the Virginia-North Carolina border to keep on fighting but his 28,000-man army was surrounded by three Union armies totaling some 125,000 men, under the command of generals Grant, Sheridan and Gibbon.
The 37th then headed north to Washington, via Richmond, Va., to take part in the grand victory parade before President Andrew Johnson on May 24. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated the month before at Ford’s Theater in Washington and died on Good Friday, April 15, 1865 at 7:22 a.m.
The 37th was mustered out of service on Aug. 7, 1865.
Siber’s subordinates were Louis von Blessingh, of Toledo, Ohio, a Lieutenant Colonel, and Charles Aubele, of Cleveland, as Major.
The line officers were chosen from those who had been in the three-months’ service.
After formation, the regiment moved from Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, to a point on the Kanawha River reporting to General William Rosecrans.
It was soon sent, with other forces, up the Kanawha, to the oil works at Cannelton, for the purpose of driving Floyd’s Rebel force out of the valley. The goal was accomplished and the enemy was driven to within seven miles of Raleigh C.H.
Returning, the regiment went into winter quarters at Clifton, where, besides drilling, it was employed in more or less occasional service in the protection of important points in that section.
In January, 1862, it was sent to Logan C.H., east of the Guyandotte River, when, after a hard march of 80 miles, and much brisk skirmishing, the place was captured, and all war material destroyed. When the regiment returned to Clifton just one officer and one man were killed.
The era of the Blue and the Gray returns to Chief Logan State Park on Saturday and Sunday as the Rebellion in the Hills comes back to Logan County for a weekend of history and fun.
— Editor’s note: Civil War historical content from Bob Spence are contained within this article.