11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry Reenactors
Making The History of the Western Cavalryman Come Alive

History of the 11th Ohio

The first four companies of the regiment were originally raised by Lt. Col. William Oliver Collins as the 7th Ohio Cavalry but were later to be consolidated into the 6th Ohio Cavalry posted at Camp Dennison. Collins refused to redesignate his companies, and to settle the political dispute, they were detached from the 6th in February 1862 to be sent west under the command of Collins, a 52-year-old lawyer from Hillsboro and member of the Ohio Senate. On April 4, 1862, the battalion was ordered to St Louis, Missouri, and during the month of May marched to Fort Laramie in the Idaho Territory, a prominent post along the Oregon Trail. It was permanently detached from the 6th Ohio Cavalry and designated the 1st Independent Battalion Ohio Cavalry.

In June 1863 Collins recruited four additional companies at Camp Dennison, including 40 former Confederates enlisted from the prisoner of war camp at Camp Chase which were to be sent west to combine in July with the 1st Independent battalion as the 11th Ohio Cavalry. The additional four companies were activated as a defense against Morgan's Raid in July before being sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas at the start of August. Following the burning of Lawrence, Kansas the battalion was sent after William Quantrill for a short time. Companies E through H arrived at Fort Laramie on October 13. Three more companies (I, K and L) were formed in 1864 from surplus recruits and men of Companies A through D who did not be re-enlist at the expiration of their enlistments.

Companies A through D mustered out April 1, 1865, along with Collins. He was replaced in command by Lt. Col. Thomas L. Mackey, former captain of Company C. Members of Companies E and K, both units of "Galvanized Yankees", accompanied the column of Brigadier General Patrick Edward Connor on the 1865 Powder River Expedition and saw action in the Battle of the Tongue River. The remaining seven companies mustered out July 14, 1866. They were the last volunteer troops from Ohio in service.

The 11th Ohio Cavalry suffered 3 officers and 20 enlisted men killed in action, and 1 officer and 60 enlisted men died from disease.

Service on the emigrant trails

The 11th Ohio Cavalry was assigned to the Department of Kansas (Department of the Missouri after January 30, 1865), District of Nebraska. The battalion and later the regiment were stationed in the Idaho Territory to replace the regular troops that had been posted there before the Civil War. As a result of the military withdrawal Indian attacks on emigrants intensified. By the time the volunteers arrived at Fort Laramie most traffic on the trail had dropped off in favor of the more southern Overland Trail that went from Julesburg, Colorado to the Front Range and through the Laramie Plains to meet the other emigrant trails at Fort Bridger. U.S mail service also moved to the southern line after the contract was assigned to Ben Holladay's Overland Stage Line in 1861.

Upon arrival at Fort Laramie the troops were assigned to various posts along the Sweetwater and North Platte rivers between Nebraska and South Pass. A company was sent immediately to construct Fort Halleck near Elk Mountain on the Overland Trail. After it became the 11th Ohio Cavalry, troops manned Fort Halleck and several outlying satellite posts until they were abandoned in 1866. In 1864 two companies were sent to Camp Collins (named for Lt. Colonel Collins) and later Fort Collins until it too was decommissioned in 1866. Collins became commander of the West Sub-District, District of Nebraska, with his headquarters at Fort Laramie.

On December 31, 1864 the 11th was posted in the West Sub-District as follows:

  • Fort Laramie: 4 companies
  • Camp Collins: 2 companies
  • Fort Halleck: 1 company
  • Fremont Orchard: 1 company
  • Camp Marshall: 1 company
  • Camp Mitchell: 1 company
  • Platte Bridge: 1 company

On July 26, 1865, a detachment of the 11th Kansas Cavalry posted at Platte Bridge Station near present day Casper, Wyoming engaged a large band of Cheyenne and Sioux that intended to destroy the 1000-foot long bridge and the soldiers posted there to protect it. Lt. Colonel Collin's son Caspar, a 20-year old second lieutenant en route with the mail escort back to his company farther west, was ordered by Major Martin Anderson of the 11th Kansas Cavalry to lead a relief force of Kansas cavalrymen to escort a small wagon train into the fort after the four officers of the Kansas regiment refused to do so. Collins and 25 Kansas troopers marched into an ambush less than a half mile after crossing the bridge. Most fought their way back to the bridge, held by a 20-man support force of the 11th Ohio and Company I, 3rd U.S. Volunteer Infantry en route to Fort Laramie, but six were cut off and killed, including Collins. The wagon train of 25 troopers and teamsters of the 11th Kansas was surrounded before reaching the bridge, and all but three troopers were killed.

In August, Companies E and K from Fort Laramie accompanied Brigadier General Connor on an expedition to stop Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho attacks on the Bozeman Trail. On August 29 the troops attacked an Indian village along the Tongue River. 5 soldiers were killed, and 7 were wounded compared to 63 killed or wounded Arapaho.

Other Interesting Information

The initial four companies of the 11th Ohio Cavalry were organizing as the 7th Ohio Cavalry.  In December 1861, the War Department decided that it had enough Cavalry and ordered that recruitment stop.  The men already recruited were consolidated into 4 companies and assigned to the 6th Ohio Cavalry. Lt. Collins organized the four companies as A, B, C, D.  Company designation during the war was based on seniority of the Captain, with the most senior Captain commanding Company A, and the least senior commanding Company M.  Based on seniority, the companies under Lt. Collins were designated by the commander of the 6th Ohio Cavalry as Company B, E, F and I.  Lt. Collins refused to change designation and because of other reasons kept his men at Hillsboro, and never formally joined the rest of the 6th Ohio Cavalry.  Both commanders used their political muscle in their squabbles.  The governor of Ohio solved the problem when in March 1862, General Fremont requested additional troops, he sent the four Companies under Lt. Collins to St Louis.  By the time, Collins and his troops had reached St Louis,  the need for new troops on the Overland Trail caused them to be sent on to Fort Laramie where they arrived in June 1862.  They spent June thru September 1862 operating in the South Pass area against Shoshone and Piaute.  The four companies under Lt. Collins were redesigned as the 1st Independent Ohio Cavalry Battalion.

In spring of 1863, the other troops were sent east, leaving only the 11th Ohio Cavalry. Lt. Collins returned to Ohio in early spring of 1863 to recruit more men.  Because of the Chancellorsville/Gettysburg and Vicksburg campaigns, few men were available. The 2nd Independent Ohio Cavalry Battalion had just begun recruiting but was disbanded and the men assigned as cadres for 2 companies Co E and Co F.  Company E was filled out with Union deserters and Company F with CSA POW's.  Company G and H were independent companies being recruited. The 4 new companies were sent west in July 1863 and were at Fort Leavenworth Kansas in August 1863 when Quantrill raided Lawrence Kansas.  Col Moonlight took a force south from Fort Leavenworth to intercept Quantrill which included the 4 companies.  While crossing Missouri more than 20 Missourians joined the 11th Ohio Cavalry.  In September 1863, 11th Ohio Cavalry was officially designated. 

The majority of Company G, 11th Ohio Cavalry was recruited by Lt. Collins and included a large number of men who had served in the 60th Ohio Infantry.  This caused a problem between Company F and Company G.  A large number of the former CSA POW's in Company F had served with Stonewall Jackson at Harper's Ferry when the 60th Ohio Infantry was captured.

Company D, 11th Ohio Cavalry served at Platte Bridge Station from September 1862 until October 1863. Company G, 11th Ohio, served from November 1864 to June 1865. Both companies were recruited primarily in Highland County, Ohio. Company E had a small a small cadre of Ohioans and Kentuckians and was filled out with Union deserters held at Camp Chase, Ohio. Company F had a cadre of 37 Ohioans from Harrison County, Ohio and the remainder were CSA POW's from camp Chase. Another 30 or so CSA POW's were recruited as replaced for companies A, B, C, and D. Company A was primarily from Miami/Auglaize Counties, Company B from Brown County, Company C from Fairfield County and Company H from Jefferson County.

Company G had Army Colts and Spencer Rifles.  There was no uniform issue of weapons as they were issued whatever weapons were available as they were ready to ship out.  The 11th Ohio Cavalry fought essentially as dismounted Infantry so weapons were not a limiting affect.  They had learned by 1863 that better fire power was essential for the 8 to 10 man squads stationed at the telegraph and stage locations

The 11th Ohio Cavalry were issued a variety of mess plates. When they were issued equipment thru Fort. Levenworth and Fort Laramie, they were at the tail end of the supply chain and used whatever was available. Standard mounted trousers were often in short supply so Infantry trousers were often supplied to the 11th.

The initial 4 companies (A, B, C, D) left Ohio expecting to serve in Missouri, where many things were available.  They didn't expect to be on the Plains so most personal equipment was purchased at St. Louis when they learned they were going further west to Fort Laramie.  Companies E-H knew they were going onto the Plains and were so better equipped for what they would need.  Companies E-F were eligible for enlistment bonus which meant they had a little more money to spend on themselves and to send home.

There are several stories about the service along the Overland Trail that can be found to be interesting:

In 1863, with the implementation of the Draft, enlistment in the 11th Ohio Cavalry was a way for many to escape fighting the CSA.  Southern Ohio was not necessarily pro-Union.  The Ohio River is a geographical boundary not an impenetrable barrier, many people in southern Ohio had relatives that lived in Kentucky and people readily moved back and forth. Not all Ohioans fought for the North, some went south and fought alongside their Kentucky cousins for the Confederacy.  Some of these men rode with John Hunt Morgan on his famous raid across Indiana and Ohio.  Many men became stragglers on the long ride and instead of surrendering they simply went to the homes of family and friends and removed their uniforms. Also, there were a large number of Copperheads, pro-South, in southern Ohio as well as members of the Knights of the Golden Circle.  At the time of the recruitment of the 4 additional companies (E-H) in 1863, the Draft was just starting, the military was mopping up after Morgan's men and looking for stragglers, and Henry Carrington was beginning the crackdown of the Copperheads and KGC, so enlistment in the 11th Ohio Cavalry was a way out and may have influenced many to enlist.  The two John Sullivan's in Company E were KGC members who were planning a possible mutiny.  Both of them are listed as dying of wounds in May of 1864.  They were both executed by firing squads. 

James Flannigan, a Sergeant in Company E, went on and served in the 2nd US Cavalry along the Bozeman Trail eventually transferring to the 7th US Cavalry and was a 1st Sergeant in a company under Reno at the Little Big Horn.  Ben Arnold who was a scout for Crook on the Rosebud had served in the 11th Ohio Cavalry as Benjamin Monroe. He also travelled with Buffalo bill Cody's Wild west show as a sharpshooter.  John H Boalt a Lieutenant in Company I, was a Supreme Court Justice in California and Boalt Hall, the Law Department at UC-Berkeley was named for him.

The men stationed at telegraph stations and stage stations as guards were allowed to work for those companies for extra wages during their off duty hours.  In many cases when civilians wouldn’t stay, the men of the 11th Ohio Cavalry ran the stations.  Captain Richard Shipley of Company A, collected the pay from the stage and telegraph stations and instead of paying the men he absconded with the payroll and returned to Ohio.

In the fall of 1863, Company A evacuated all civilians, miners, etc. from the South Pass area.  In the spring of 1864, they returned to South Pass and operated as placer gold mine, the "Buckeye Mine".  The mine was located adjacent to the post-Civil War Clarissa Mine.  100x100 sq. foot claims adjoining the Buckeye Mine in March 1865 were given to PE Conner and W A Carter.  PE Conner was Patrick E Conner, the Brigadier General famous for the Bear River massacre who commanded the District of the Plains which included South Pass. William A Carter was the Post Suttler at Fort Bridger and became the 1st Territorial Senator for Wyoming Territory.

Persons of Interest 

Timothy Ward was born in Ireland to Michael and Bridget Ward and immigrated to the US after 1850. He lived in Ohio, Clark County, Springfield, 1860 thru 1880 Census before moving to Moorefield in Clark County for 1890 Vet Census.  He spent most of his life as farm labor or as a farmer. He filed for a Invalid's Pension on 14 October 1882.  His Wife's name was Isabella (last name unknown).  In 1920, he was listed as living at the Old Soldier's Home in Erie County, Ohio where he died 28 August 1924.  He served in Company A, 94th Ohio Infantry from 24 July 1862 until receiving a Surgeon's Certificate of Disability on 16 September 1862.  He is listed as enlisting in Company G, 8 June 1863 as a Private. He was promoted Corporal on 25 September 1863 and Sergeant on 28 July 1865. He was mustered out on 14 July 1866.  1890 Vet Census lists service in both regiments.


Nathan D Shinn enlisted as Private on11 July 1863 appointed Corporal on 15 March 1864, Sergeant on 19 April 1866, and was mustered Out on 14 July 1866. He filed for an Invalid's Pension on 5 January 1891. In 1890 Vet Census, he is listed as living in the Adams County Infirmary.


William H Few was the son of William and Mary Few and was born in 1843.  His father is listed in some census as being from Alabama and his mother from Mississippi and he was either born in Illinois or Missouri. He was listed as Farmer or Blacksmith thought his life.  He spent entire life living in Highland County, Ohio.  He married Mary F Turner (Widow - maiden name unknown) on 4 May 1867 in Highland County.  He enlisted as Private in Company E, 60th Ohio Infantry on 11 August 1862 and was mustered out 10 November 1862.  The 60th Ohio Infantry was enlisted for 1 years’ service in thefall of 1861.  It was captured 15 September 1862 at Harper's Ferry, Virginia by Stonewall Jackson and was sent to Camp Douglas, Illinois to await exchange and mustering out.  it is unknown if William Few was at Harper's Ferry.  He enlisted as Private on15 June 1863 in Company G, 11th Ohio Cavalry, He was appointed Farrier on 20 July 1863, Corporal on 27 April 1864, Sergeant on 1 May 1866 and was mustered out on 14 July 1866.  His wife Mary died in 1900 and he remarried a Laura J (Last name unknown).  He filed for an Invalid's Pension on 19 June 1876 and widow, Laura J, filed for a Widow's Pension on 10 September 1916.  William Few died on 4 June 1915 in Highland County, Ohio and was buried at the Mowrstown Cemetery in White Oak Township, Highland County, Ohio.  Joseph Few also of Company G was his younger brother.   Joseph Few died on 23 March 1923 in Highland County and was buried in the Methodist Cemetery in Concord Township, Highland County, Ohio.


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