General Willard Slocum was born near Ashland County, Ohio, April 8, 1820. He remained on a farm with his parents until the death of his mother, which occurred in January 1828, when he went to live with a married sister, Mrs. Palmer, with whom he lived, going to school and assisting Mr. Palmer in farming pursuits. After he left his sister he spent part of his time at home, and a part working for other persons, up to the spring of 1833, when he was taken by Dr. Willard Slocum, with whom he lived until the spring of 1838, going to school winter seasons, and working during the summer months. In the spring of 1838 he was sent by his father to Kenyon College. He remained there up to the spring of 1840, when he was called home. In the winter and spring of 1845 he taught school in the district where he had been raised. He took a very active part in the presidential campaign of 1840, though not a voter. He was active and firmly fixed in the principles of the Whig party, and devoted the summer and fall to its interest. In the spring of 1841 he entered the law office of the late Judge Sherman, as a student, in company with his brother John, now Secretary of the Treasurer. Passing the routine duties of a law student for three years, he was regularly admitted to the bar of Richland County. At the time of his examination and admission there was a class of seventeen, among whom were Samuel J. Kirkwood, now United States Senator from Iowa, and John Sherman, now Secretary of the treasurer. In the fall of 1844 General Slocum returned to Ashland and commenced the practice of law, with C.T. and J. Sherman as his partners. The partnership continued up to the fall of 1847, when it was dissolved by mutual consent. The most kindly feeling existed in the Sherman and Slocum families at that time, and which has never been disturbed in any particular.In the fall of 1847 General Slocum associated himself with the late Judge William Osborn. They continued the practice of law up to January 1855. General Slocum was married on the tenth day of November 1847, to Caroline A. Carr, of East Union, Wayne County, Ohio, and is now the father of seven children living and two dead. Among the living are R. V. Slocum, C. W. Slocum, Lida S. Slocum, Willard McK. Slocum, Martin B. Slocum, Oliver J. Slocum, and Howard E. Slocum, but one of whom is married. In January 1855, he continued in his profession, doing a very lucrative business, principally in the line of collecting for eastern houses. In June 1860, he attended the Republican National convention, which met in the city of Chicago, and nominated Abraham Lincoln. Though sent there under instructions to support Governor S. P. Chase, of Ohio, which he did up to the third ballot, he was among the first of the Ohio delegation to drop Chase and vote for Abraham Lincoln. After the nomination was made he was chosen by the Fourteenth congressional district to represent it in the Electoral College, the Republicans being successful in the election, he met with the Electoral College in Columbus, and cast the vote of the Fourteenth district for Lincoln and Hamlin for President and Vice-President of the United States. Prior to the inauguration of President Lincoln, the country was thrown into intense excitement by the secession of many of the States of the Union, in which every Union loving man could not refrain his utter abhorrence of the political condition of affairs, which soon culminated in open rebellion against the United States government.
When President Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand men to suppress the rebellion, General Slocum was among the first to encourage enlistments. In the year 1861 the President called for three hundred thousand more men, for three years service. The proclamation was received on Thursday. General Slocum, though doing a lucrative business and having no one to take care of it, transferred it to his late partner, William V. Sloan, and converted his law office into a recruiting station. On Tuesday he left Ashland with one hundred men, among whom were many of its best citizens. Arriving at Columbus the same day, they were escorted to the basement of the State house, where they remained until the next morning. They were provided with a very fine article of straw for a bed, and ate their first army meal. The next morning he marched his men to Camp Chase, four miles west of the city, and reported to Colonel Rosecrans, who was then organizing the twenty-third Ohio volunteer infantry. General Slocum here received his first military title, by being unanimously elected captain of company G. On June 7th the first man was recruited, and on the eleventh of the same month the company was mustered into service, being the first company recruited in the State of Ohio for three years service, and the first mustered into the service of the United States. Soon after the complete organization of the company, Colonel Rosecrans was promoted to brigadier general, and Colonel Scammon, of Cincinnati, appointed in his place. Soon after Colonel Scammon assumed command, a serious difficulty arose between the colonel and Captain Slocum, growing out of a proposed change of orderly sergeant in company G. The order of the colonel was disobeyed in every particular. Captain Slocum was informed by Major R. B. Hayes that the colonel had prepared charges against him, and was about to convene a court martial for the purpose of dismissing him from the service for disobedience. To escape being dismissed from the army by order of a court- martial, he acted upon the advice of Major Hayes and Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Matthews, and resigned, thus freeing himself from the power of the colonel. The order of Colonel Scammon was never enforced, fearing the demoralizing effect it would have, not only on company G. but on the entire regiment. Here terminated Captain Slocum’s connection with the men he had recruited and with the Twenty-third regiment, which to him was a subject matter of great regret. Having disposed of his law business, and being intent on giving his time and service to the Government until the close of the war, his dismissal from the army would forever preclude him from again entering the military service as an officer. Leaving Camp Chase on the third of July, 1862, he went immediately to Washington city and called on the president, to whom he had known all the circumstances connected with the trouble with Colonel Scammon, at the same time requesting an appointment in the military service. The President took the matter under consideration, and after consulting Hon. Salmon P. Chase, who was then Secretary of the Treasury, and Hon. John Sherman, then a member of Congress, he offered him a Captain’s commission as quartermaster in the United States army. In the meantime he had, through the personal influence of Mr. Sherman, received an appointment in the interior department, which he held up to November 24, 1862, when he again called on the President and declined his generous offer, preferring active field service to that of quartermaster in the army, and again requested some appointment that would place him in the field. The President replied by saying, “that all appointments below the rank of brigadiers in the volunteer service were made by the governors of States,” and referred him to Governor Dennison, of Ohio. Calling on Governor Dennison, and presenting the letter of President Lincoln, he at once expressed a willingness to appoint him provost marshal, and assign him to duty in the city of Columbus.
As soon as David Tod was inaugurated governor of Ohio he applied to him for a commission, which would send him to the front. With a fair promise from Governor Tod to do so he returned home, awaiting the results. In April 1862, he was called home from Columbus to attend the funeral of his father. Being detained for some time attending to business pertaining to the estate, he did not return to Columbus until sent for by Governor Tod. On arriving in Columbus the governor handed him a commission of first lieutenant, and detailed him as adjutant to organize the drafted men in Camp Buckingham, near Mansfield, Ohio, where he reported to Colonel C. G. Sherman, then in command of the camp, for duty. He at once entered upon that laborious work. The One Hundred and Second and One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio volunteer infantry regiments were then organized. The drafted men were mostly assigned to the older regiments and sent to the front. On the organization of the One Hundred and Twentieth he was again commissioned as adjutant, and assigned to that regiment, with which he left the State and went to the front, leaving Camp Buckingham in October, 1862, with Colonel French in command, and M. M. Speigle lieutenant colonel, and John Buckman as major. The regiment joined the main army at Memphis, Tennessee, and was assigned to the Thirteenth army corps. With the exception of Colonel French and Lieutenant Colonel Speigle, the regiment had never seen service. They participated in the assault on Vicksburgh from the Yazoo River. After laying in the swamps around Haines’ bluff four days, participating in all the charges and battles of the campaign, he was ordered to take the regiment out to the front line and lay on their arms for the night. At two P. M. he received an order to retire the regiment and cover the retreat of the army to the Yazoo River, a distance of four miles. On returning back to their original lines he was surprised to find the entire army had left, leaving the One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio volunteer infantry to cover the retreat and guard four batteries of artillery. On arriving at the Yazoo he found the commanding officers of the regiment safely on transports, ready to follow the army back to the Mississippi river.
Before the regiment reached the river the picket of the army had crossed the bayou in force, and was following the retreating army. Soon after sunrise they approached near enough to commence firing. The First division of the Thirteenth corps were on transports in the Yazoo, and mainly out of sight of the advancing enemy. General Slocum hurried forward and informed General Osterhaus of the danger surrounding him. The artillery was hurried forward and put into position, and several batteries taken from the transports were put in enfilading position masked by the One Hundred and Twentieth, and held their position until the enemy advanced near enough, when the regiment filed to the rear of the guns, when they opened on the advancing enemy with grape, canister, solid shot, and shell. They were driven back with severe loss. Colonel French assumed command and marched the regiment on to the transport destined for Arkansas Post.On the fifth of January 1863, the entire army under General Grant, moved on transports against Arkansas Post, and, on the tenth of January, the fleet disembarked. On the following night they completely invested the entire fortification, behind which the enemy had about five thousand men. The attack was commenced on the morning of the eleventh, and was stubbornly resisted by the enemy. At four o’clock in the afternoon a charge was ordered on the left. The One Hundred and Twentieth occupying the extreme left, charged up the riverbank directly upon the fort. As soon as the charge began the enemy opened fire on the advancing column. When within fifty yards of the fort Colonel French ordered the regiment to lie down. Adjutant Slocum being on the extreme left of the advancing column, did not hear the order of the colonel and pushed the left forward until he saw the right wing of the regiment flat on the ground. The colonel again commanded “Lie down!” I venture to say that no child ever embraced a parent with more affection than the officers and men of the one Hundred and Twentieth embraced mother earth on that occasion: one soldier (weighing at least two hundred pounds), literally flattened himself, with his head protected by a mullen stalk not more than one inch in diameter. While in this position the bullets of the enemy passed from three to four feet above them, and as long as they remained there they were comparatively secure, as the sharpshooters on the right kept the enemy down, so that they dare not compress their guns to fire into the regiment. Colonel French ordered Adjutant Slocum to go to the rear, and ask General Osterhaus to relieve the One Hundred and Twentieth. The Adjutant replied by saying if he went back he would get shot in the rear, and that the regiment was safe in their present position, and if they got up to retire, every man of them would be shot. The order was made imperative, so the adjutant crossed back along the line of the men, for some distance, when the cry went up “see the adjutant craw-fishing.” Finally he sprang to his feet, and in a zig-zag course reached General Osterhaus, who expressed surprise in seeing him deserting the regiment, and inquired into the cause of it. Instead of communicating the request of Colonel French to General Osterhaus, he informed the general that the rebel sharp-shooters were in the two wooden buildings inside the fort, shooting through the crevices, picking off our officers, and if he would order up two sections of artillery, and knock the buildings down, it would be the means of saving the lives of many of our officers and men. Four twenty-pound rifled guns were advanced and opened fire on the buildings, after a few shots the houses were knocked into splinters, and fell. Very soon thereafter the fort surrendered with five thousand prisoners.
At ten P. M. of the same day Adjutant Slocum received an order from army headquarters to report in person forthwith on board the transport Illinois. After reading the order, the Camp Chase difficulty flashed through his mind. He said to himself: “Here is another case of disobedience to the orders of a superior officer.” Fearing to take consel, lest he might commit himself, he started in company with the orderly for headquarters. On arriving on board he saw General Sherman with all the corps commanders sitting around a table. He advanced to General Sherman, laid down the order, and reported in person. After a number of questions were answered touching the matter, he was told to report back to his command. He heard no more of the matter until the eighteenth day of March, 1863, when he was informed that he had been promoted to major of the regiment for meritorious conduct in the field at Arkansas Post, jumping ten captains in one promotion, Colonel French resigning the same day. On the eight day of September 1863, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the regiment. After the surrender of Fort Hindman and Arkansas Post the army returned to Young’s Point, in front of Vicksburg. Here Colonel Slocum was put in charge of digging out one section of the famous canal, to lead the waters of the Mississippi across the country in order that the transports might more safely pass the water batteries defending the city of Vicksburgh, a work that was never accomplished nor never intended to be. In March 1863, the army of the Mississippi crossed the river below Vicksburgh on transports that had run the blockade. Colonel Slocum participated in all the battles in the rear of Vicksburgh; battle of Raymond, Thompson’s Hill, Jackson, Champion Hill and Big Black. He led the right wing of his regiment in the charge on Vicksburgh on the eighteenth day of May; again on the twenty-second of May. On the seventh of June 1863, he received an order of detail from corps headquarters, assigning him to duty as inspector general of the Thirteenth army corps, from which duty he was not relieved until after the surrender of Vicksburgh on the fourth of July 1863. On the morning of the fourth he was left in command of three divisions of the Thirteenth corps at Big Black river, twelve miles in the rear of Vicksburgh, the superior officers all having gone down to witness the surrender. At one P.M. of the same day, an order was sent out by General Grant to move all the forces at Big Black River upon Jackson. The order was received by Colonel Slocum, and at once put into execution by calling the forces into line. By four P. M. the entire command had crossed the river, while the advance was four miles on in the direction of Jackson. At five P. M. the advance column was attacked by General Breckenridge’s command, which was retreating to Jackson, Mississippi. The engagement lasted but a short time, when the advancing column bivouacked for the night, the absent officers rejoining their respective commands before morning. On the sixth of July, Colonel Slocum’s regiment led the advance of the Thirteenth on Jackson, and formed the base line, directly in front of the enemy’s breastworks, and here he was engaged from the tenth to the seventeenth of July, the day the rebel authorities capitulated. Colonel Speigle there received a very severe, but not dangerous, wound in the hip, which disabled him until about the month of February 1864, when he returned and assumed command of the regiment. After the siege of Jackson, Colonel Slocum returned to Vicksburgh, with but one hundred and eight effective men in the regiment. In August, 1863, Colonel Slocum received an order from department headquarters, to proceed by transport to Port Hudson, on the Mississippi river, and there to await further orders. On the third of September 1863, they disembarked and went into camp at Port Hudson, for what purpose no one seemed to know. After remaining there eight days, their rations and forage were consumed, and no means of supply. The command consisted of the One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio volunteer infantry and one battery of six-pound guns. On the twelfth day of September, Colonel Slocum ordered the battery to the bank of the river to bring to the first transport that went down the river. On the evening of the twelfth a transport was sighted and brought to by the battery. The regiment and battery were taken on board and landed at Carlton, ten miles above New Orleans. Colonel Slocum at once reported to army headquarters in New Orleans his action in the premises, which was approved by the commanding officer. The regiment having been reduced to a mere skeleton by sickness and death. Colonel Slocum was placed on detached duty at department headquarters, as judge advocate. Soon thereafter he was ordered to Texas to organize a court-martial at Brownsville and at an other point. While there he received an order to report to Columbus, Ohio, on recruiting service. He took an ocean steamer for New Orleans, arriving at Carlton, where he was joined by the sergeants of the regiment, all of whom reached Columbus in December 1863. In April 1864, the Colonel and his sergeants returned with one hundred and seventy-four enlisted men, and joined the regiment in Louisiana. He then re-organized the regiment by assignment of officers. The winter months had been conductive to the health of the men, and many who had been sent on sick furlough had returned, besides many who had been in hospital.
On the first of May 1864, the regiment was ordered to join General Bank’s army then operating up Red river in Louisiana. The regiment embarked on the steamer “City Belle,” with six hundred and eighty effective men, Colonel M. M. Speigle in command. Arriving at the mouth of Red River in the evening, they laid over until the next morning to await a convoy of gunboats. In early morning they steamed up the river for some distance. Reaching Fort DeRuser, the officers of the Navy reported shallow water, and they could proceed no further. Colonel Mudd, of the second Illinois veteran cavalry, Colonel Blontz, bearer of dispatches, Colonel Bassett, and Colonel Slocum were called in council. A majority opposed going further without the protection of the Navy, but Colonel Speigle, a brave officer, determined otherwise, and steamed up the river. Colonel Slocum and one hundred and fifty men took their position on the hurricane deck, not only as guard, but to observe, if possible, any signs of the enemy. They had proceeded but a short distance until a Negro woman was seen running in the direction of the transport, waving a handkerchief, saying that the rebels were around the bend. Colonel Speigle’s attention was called to this demonstration by Colonel Slocum. He still persisted, saying there was no serious danger, but alas for Colonel Speigle and many brave boys! The warning proved to be more than true.
The river was very narrow but deep, with sharp curves. As the boat rounded Snaggy Point, a battery of their masked guns opened vigorous fire on the frail transport, each shot taking effect; one killing the pilot, and one going through the machinery, cutting the steam pipe and on through the cabin. Scarcely had the sound of the last gun died away, until another battery opened in front. General Majors, with a brigade of infantry, emerged from behind a cover, and poured a murderous fire into the side of the transport. The infantry on the hurricane deck kept up a continuous fire, but of little effect. Colonel Speigle was among the first killed; Colonel Slocum hastened to the cabin, saw Colonel Speigle with many others, lying on the cabin floor, with pools of blood surrounding them. Colonel Slocum spoke to him; his only reply was “I am gone this time.” He raised his head up while Colonel Mudd placed a knapsack under it. As Colonel Mudd raised up he was shot in the left temple. Colonels Basset and Blontz were also killed, and died instantly. The boat was then drifting down with the current; Colonel Slocum ordered the boat surrendered, and put fire to the state-room containing the mail for General Banks army. As soon as the boat was surrendered Colonel Slocum ordered every man ashore with his gun. The boat had neared the shore when the men began jumping and throwing their guns. Taking advantage of the situation, Colonel Slocum with one hundred and fifty officers and men reached the shore in safety, and sought shelter in a dense wood. Those who failed to reach the bank were either drowned or shot in the water attempting to reach shore. The remainder of the regiment were either killed or captured. The steam and hot water escaping from the boilers, drove all who were on the boiler deck into the river, many of them so badly scalded that they afterward died. This occurred about four P. M. Colonel Slocum called the men into line, and marched them some distance back from the river, where they organized in squads, with a commissioned officer at the head of each. On examination it was ascertained that there were seven rounds of serserveable ammunition to each man. Both officers and men supposed, from the dangers surrounding them, that they would be marched down the river under the protection of the gun boats, but Colonel Slocum changed the direction and marched up the river in the direction of Alexandria, where General Banks had his headquarters.
Many were the complaints and murmurs of the men at this sudden and unexpected change in their destination, but to no avail. The march was a hazardous one at best, but Colonel Slocum best understood the situation, and pushed forward through an unbroken wilderness of pine, nothing to direct their course but drift from Red river. At sundown a plantation was reached. In a field some distance off a man was discovered unhitching a team from a plow. Lieutenant Vaness was directed to bring him in. He proved to be a Negro man, and a slave of a man named Grimes. The Negro was closely examined by Colonel Slocum as to distance, routes, and the general topography of the country. He gave the distance to Alexandria as twenty-eight miles, and three routes or ways of reaching the place, one being a mule path through the timber, and three miles shorter than either of the traveled roads. The Negro was put under charge of Lieutenant Vanness, with a promise that if he piloted them through safely he would be rewarded, but if he led them into the enemy’s lines, on another route, he would be shot. They then proceeded to the residence of Mr. Grimes, who met them with a stern rebuke for appearing on his premises with his slave in charge. Colonel Slocum placed a guard around his house, with instructions to let none of the inmates pass out. The men were nearly exhausted, having had nothing to eat since an early breakfast, and it became necessary that Mr. Grimes supply their wants. He became quite angry, and declared that no provisions could be given the men; he made several threats as to what he would do if anyone attempted to enter his house in search of provisions. Colonel Slocum stepped on the porch and presented the old man two Navy revolvers, which brought him to submission. In a few minutes the men had plenty of corn-meal, side pork, and sour milk, and a number of fires lighted in the yard, cooking their supper, baking their corn batter on boards, and frying their meat in anything they could find that would grease. When all were supplied they formed in line for the long dark, and tedious march of the night. Mr. Grimes, unaccustomed to Yankee visitors, failed to bid them good-night. After marching through a wilderness country all night, they reached Red River at daybreak, eight miles below Alexandria. There was a wood station on the river and an old log house. Colonel Slocum, with a few trusty men, approached the house and called to the inmates to come out. The first to appear was the owner of the premises, who appeared surprised to see Federal soldiers in his locality. A guard was placed around his house, and Colonel Slocum inquired of him if there were any Confederate soldiers near. He was informed, after some hesitation, that one mile back from the river there were two regiments of rebel cavalry, and looking across the river, we could see the rebel out-post, or their horses. Colonel Slocum determined to cross the river at this point, but on inquiry there were no skiffs nor boat of any kind. A picket line was extended back some distance from the house. A wood-rack was made into a skiff by laying boards in the bottom: then twenty or twenty-five men would take off their clothing, put them on the skiff, with their guns on top, and the men in the water started diagonally across the stream. When the shore was reached the skiff was towed up the river and sent back. In this way by ten A. M. the entire command crossed in safety. Major McKinley was among the first to cross, and took charge of the men as they arrived. Colonel Slocum, before calling in his pickets, cautioned the old man to remain quiet, as there was danger in communicating with the enemy. They then took possession of the skiff and crossed the river, leaving the skiff to the mercy of the stream. Before the Colonel was fully dressed, two transports, loaded with infantry, accompanied by two gunboats, were seen descending the river. The Colonel made every effort to stop them, that he might warn them of the danger below; but they pushed onward and reached Snaggy Point, and fell into the same trap, and all were captured. The rebel pickets still occupied their post. Not knowing the exact force of the enemy, the colonel determined to put on as bold a front as possible. He prolonged his line a great distance, with battle flag in front and regimental colors in the center, and marched upon the levee; the river and levee bending off in the direction of the rebel post. When within a few hundred yards of the rebels’ advanced line, they mounted their horses and galloped off like so many frightened wolves, thus allowing the colonel, with his handful of men, to pass through to Alexandria without firing a gun. On arriving at Alexandria the colonel reported in person to General Banks, who at once ordered all necessary provision to be made for the comfort of the men. After remaining in Alexandria a few days the remnant was temporarily consolidated with the Forty-second Ohio volunteer infantry, Colonel Slocum’s regiment being again reduced by death and capture to less than a major’s command. Owing to severe and permanent injuries received by Colonel Slocum while making his escape from the “City Belle,” he was rendered unfit for field service. Before leaving the boat he had his left shoulder strap shot off. He was put on detached duty as chief of staff and provost marshal of the Thirteenth army corps, General M. K. Lawler commanding. Here practically terminated Colonel Slocum’s connection with the One Hundred and Twentieth.
The regiment was reduced by death, disease and capture to a mere skeleton, yet it kept its distinction up to November 17, 1864, Major John McKinly in command. On the thirteenth day of May General Banks commenced his memorable retreat from Alexandria to the Mississippi at Chaneyville. The retreating columns of General Banks were attacked in force by the enemy. Colonel Slocum, with the Fourth brigade, took an active part in that engagement, as he did in the battle at Willow bayou, crossing the Atchafalaya, arriving at Morganza bend on the twenty-first of May, 1864, where the army went into camp for reorganization.
On the twenty-fifth of May 1864, Colonel Slocum was appointed provost marshal of the trans-Mississippi, with headquarters at Morganza, Louisiana. Much importance was attached to this new duty. It involved the trade and commerce of the river for one hundred and eighty miles front and eighty miles back. All the products of the country, destined for market or shipment, had to pass through his hands. This duty he continued to perform as long as the army remained at Morganza, and the entire country west of the Mississippi had been abandoned by rebel authority. The monotony of the military post at Morganza was broken on the sixteenth day of November 1864. Prior to this date, General Lawler spoke of his having a birthday on the sixteenth, and proposed to celebrate it. Mrs. Breed, a widow lady from New Hampshire, a visiting friend, was married on the sixteenth of November. Mrs. Slocum, the wife of General Slocum, proposed that they all join in celebrating the event, it being the anniversary of their marriage. Mrs. General Reynolds wished to join in. General Lawler directed General Slocum to take the headquarters boat and go to New Orleans, and lay in a supply for the occasion, and extend an invitation to a number of officers and citizens of New Orleans to join them and partake of their hospitality. About sixty invited guest were in attendance, many of them from New Orleans. An elegant dinner was prepared for the occasion, and the table spread in the cabin of the headquarters boat. There were old and young, citizens and soldiers, all commingling together. After dinner they had music and dancing, in which all engaged. The presents brought up from New Orleans were quite profuse. The whole affair was enjoyed by all, and by none more than the citizens present. The next day General Slocum sent the headquarters boat to the city with all who desired to go down. On the tenth day of January 1865, General Slocum was honorably mustered out of the service, when he returned to Ashland. The results of the war had so effectually revolutionized the business of the country, that the practice of law was not at all desirable. In the winter of 1865-66, he returned to Louisiana with the view of purchasing property and making that state his future home. After spending some time in different localities, he saw from the impression left on the minds of the ex-confederates, that it was unsafe for any northern man to remove to that locality with his family, so he returned to Ohio in the spring of 1866, and engaged in civil pursuits. On the thirteenth day of March 1865, he received from the President of the United States a brigadier general’s commission by brevet, “for meritorious service in the field.” This promotion was given him without solicitation on his part. On the first day of March 1867, he received a telegram from the treasury department, wishing to know if he would accept an appointment as assessor of internal revenue for the Fourteenth district of Ohio. The General called a few of his Republican friends together, and made known to them the contents of the dispatch. Among the number was Captain S. M. Barber, a one-legged soldier. After some consultation, he offered to decline the offer himself, if Captain Barber would accept it. The captain considered the matter until the next morning, when he declined, for the reason that he was receiving, as superintendent of the public school, an equal salary. So the general accepted, and on the sixth of March he was confirmed by the Senate, and his commission forwarded.He held the office up to June 22, 1872, when the office of assessor was abolished by law. Two years thereafter his accounts with the treasurer department were balanced, and a treasury draft for thirty-six dollars and eighty-five cents sent him. As his due. Since 1872 he has been actively engaged in the practice of law. General Slocum from early manhood has taken an active part in the politics of the country.
He was identified with the old Whig party, and commenced his political career before he became a voter, in the campaign of 1840. Though always living in a strong Democratic locality, he would enter each succeeding campaign to win. He has for years represented his county in state conventions, and been twice a delegate to Republican National conventions. In August 1866, the loyal Union men of the southern States called a convention in the city of Philadelphia. To give to their efforts and manifestation of nationality a hearty recognition, the governors of all the northern States appointed two delegates from each congressional district to meet their southern brethren in convention. Hon. Martin Welker, then a member of Congress from the Fourteenth district, and General Slocum, were appointed by Governor Brough as delegates to that convention, which in magnitude and grandeur was the most imposing convention ever held in America. Up to the present writing General Slocum is regarded as one of the leaders of the Republican Party in central Ohio.
An incident not particularly connected with this sketch, though one of peculiar historic account occurred under his observation and direction. Nine days after Colonel M. M. Seigle had been killed, the major of the Second Illinois cavalry, and General Slocum, sought to recover the remains of their colonels. On General Bank’s retreat down Red River, General Slocum and the major, went down to Snaggy Point in search of the colonels, and found them both buried in the same grave. General Slocum mounted his horse and rode seven miles up the river, where the fleet was tied up, boarded a quartermaster’s boat, saw the officer, and requested him to stop his boat at the place of disaster, and throw off two coffins, for the purpose stated. When the fleet moved down the river the coffins were taken ashore, the major remaining there with his men to place the remains in the coffins, and ship them to the mouth of the river, or to the Atchafalaya. Some of the detail reported to General Slocum that the quartermaster’s boat was crowed into the river before the coffin containing the remains of Colonel Speigle could be put aboard, and consequently left it on the banks of the river. General Slocum procured a detail of twenty men and an ambulance, and sent them down to bring up the coffin, which they did, under the fire of the enemy on the opposite shore. The detail reported that they had placed the coffin in the ambulance, and it had gone forward to join the ambulance corps. On the night of the battle of Willow Bayou, General Slocum received the following note:
Headquarters Thirteenth Army Corps.
Near Simpsport, Louisana, May 18, 1864.
Colonel: I have the honor to request that you will make arrangement with some transport in the Atchafalaya to convey the body of Colonel Speigle.It is getting so much decomposed that we cannot carry it in an ambulance any further, or keep it in the train. I know your anxiety to preserve it, and will contribute all in my power toward it.
Very respectfully, your obedient servent.
G. B. Dullem, Chief Clerk. Colonel Slocum, One Hundred and Twentieth Ohio volunteer infantry.
On the receipt of the above note, General Slocum hurried forward, in advance of the corps, and reached the Atchafalaya, where he found the fleet awaiting the army, to convey it across the stream. He at once made arrangements with the dispatch boat to carry the remains of Colonel Speigle to Cairo, and from there forward them to Millersburgh, Ohio. On making inquiry at headquarters, where the ambulance could be found containing the remains of Colonel Speigle, he was informed by the chief clerk that the surgeon of the department had ordered it to be taken from the ambulance and run back in the woods. After getting a suitable box made for the coffin, the general, with a detail of men, went to bring in the remains, and place the same on the transport. Finding the wagon a hundred rods or more back from the road, in the woods, the coffin was taken from it. It appeared unusually light, and grave suspicions were aroused that the body had been taken from the coffin. The coffin was opened in the presence of at least twenty men, and no corps had ever been in it. The inside was clean, and contained the shavings of the undertaker. This fact was communicated to the officers at headquarters, who appeared incredulous, and thought they must be mistaken. To satisfy themselves, each examined the coffin, and could see no mark or evidence that it had ever been used. In October following, General Slocum, for the purpose of getting the facts in the case, went to Burwick bay, in southwest Louisiana, where the Second Illinois cavalry were on duty, and there saw the major who had been left in charge at Snaggy Point. He informed General Slocum that when the fleet went down the river, the quartermaster ran his boat to the shore and threw off two coffins, in one of which they put the remains of Colonel Mudd, and carried on board the other coffin, which was too small to receive the remains of Colonel Speigle, so they placed him back in the grave, and covered him over, leaving the empty coffin on the bank of the river, where his remains repose to this day. The medical department at headquarters even went so far as to say that the stench arising from the decomposed body of Colonel Speigle was creating sickness, and thus ordered out of the ambulance, and sent in an open wagon back in the woods. It has often been wondered by General Slocum if this astute medical corps were not yet inhaling the stench arising from the imaginary decomposed body. They certainly labored under an extreme hallucination of mind.
contributed and transcibed by Russ Shopbell email@example.com