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Feature Article on Memorial Day. TOPIC: EVENTS & CIVIL WAR
Written by David Lodge in June, 1997

SIDNEY MEMORIAL DAY CELEBRATION

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Troops of the 94th O.V.I. Civil War re-enactment group led by Captain Doug Slagel joined the Society
on Courtsquare to honor Shelby County, Ohio soldiers lost in war.

On May 25, 1997, I watched, with more than passing interest, as a small company of Union soldiers erected their campsite for an overnight stay on the lush spring grass of our Courthouse Square. As townsfolk arrived to greet and view this contingent of Civil War soldiers, which included a petite female recruit, the troopers began to drill and march up and down. Resplendent in their blue uniforms, they showed a brashness and pride that transcended the dark clouds and rain of the day.

The scene moved me to cry as I raised my voice to all who would hear me that the rain was simply the tears of the 359,528 Union casualties that included 110,070 killed in battle or dead from their wounds, 224,586 dead from disease and 24,872 dead from other causes. With the ending of the soldiers’ activities, adults and children entered the camp to engage these "men of blue" in conversation before crossing Ohio Avenue to enter and tour the grand Monumental Building.

Each individual who traversed its threshold contributed to the new awareness within our community, that this historic monument, representing our past, is an important part of our future. If only she could have been decorated in red, white and blue bunting, much as she was when first dedicated to public service. Perhaps, in time, such decorations will come.

Memorial Day, May 26, 1997, brought an even greater amount of townsfolk to our square, bathed in sunlight, to honor the dead from America’s wars. It is somewhat troubling to me, however, that this respect and honoring of those who died begins, it seems, with General Logan’s orders to keep alive the memory of the Civil War dead.

My American brothers and sisters in combat suffered and died in the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War of the eighteenth century which gave birth to this great democratic experiment, this nation, this America. Other wars, long forgotten, such as the Mexican War and the Spanish-American War are lost to our memories, yet they, too, suffered American deaths. One day, at a future Memorial Day service, perhaps the names of these wars will be included by speakers who will refer to them with honor and dignity. Our wars in the defense of freedom for others are living testaments to our determination that all mankind should be free, but let us not forget on this day those who died in the war that gave us our freedom. in the late 1700s.

The parade came by and stopped for the first time ever at the Monumental Building to dedicate a new additional plaque to the Civil War memorial tablets, containing the names of fifteen more men who died in that tragic war. How I longed to stand in that small room, shoulder-to-shoulder with the Civil War re-enactors who made this special event more memorable with their presence and their reading of the new names, once eclipsed by time, but now preserved forever.

It is also fitting that the Board of Trustees has thrown open its doors to welcome the public to view this once proud edifice. From its original dedication, and into the early years of this century, it served as a social gathering place with its palatial opera house, meeting rooms and library. The sounds of entertainers of all persuasions raised my spirits and lulled me to sleep confident that this memorial to those who died serving America would live forever. But this was to be severely tested, for as the century progressed, the building retreated into dilapidation. I am proud to say that this period has also come to a close and the building is now prepared to move into the twenty-first century with a renewed dignity.

The outdoor service commenced with our national anthem, prayers and comments by clergy and dignitaries, patriotic singing by the old soldiers of the American Legion, the reading of General Logan’s orders and the honoring of those who died. For the first time, in my memory, my name was evoked by the speaker for the event, Richard Wallace, President of the Shelby County Historical Society, on numerous occasions during his speech, causing many faces to turn and look at me. Faces that I had never seen before, simply because they were looking at me for the first time. Could Mr. Wallace’s comments, eloquent and dynamic - capturing the spirit of our local history, be the beginning of a new era in our county where public awareness of our past and its preservation reaches new heights of commitment?

On to Schultze’s Battery, a memorial that commemorates the Battery M. First Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery, then a further journey to Graceland Cemetery. I hope and pray, along with all the men named on the plaques in that special room on the ground floor of this building, that a new bond between the past and present will lead us into the future. Once again, the soldiers and citizens are gone, and I stand here, Shelby County’s sentinel, perched above these almost empty streets. I look ahead to the months leading to Memorial Day 1998, and wonder whether more faces than usual will turn to look up and see their past.

In May 1997, Rich Wallace of the Shelby County Historical Society dedicated a new additional plaque to the Civil War memorial tablets, containing the names of fifteen more men who died in the war. These tablets are on the first floor of the Monumental Building.   The soldier's names are listed below.

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Samuel Austin, 118th Regiment, OVI, Co. C, d. 30 July 1864
Lucas Borer, 15th Regiment, OVI, Co. I, d. 31 Dec. 1862
Peter Bradford, 94th Regiment, OVI, Co. C, d. 3 Jan. 1863
John W. Charity, 15th Regiment, OVI, Co. I, d. 2 Jan. 1863
John Crumbaugh, 15th Reg., Ind. Vol. Inf., Co. G, d. Jan. 1865
Jacob Grimes, 66th Illinois Inf., Co. K, d. 16 July 1862
J. P. Homer, 68th Regiment, OVI, Co. I, d. 8 September 1862
(James) Scot Lipencutt, 99th Regiment, OVI, Co. C, d. 1863
Samuel Meranda, Benton Cadets, Missouri Infantry, Co. E, d. 1863
James C. Morris, 66th Illinois Infantry, Co. K, d. 23 May 1864
James M. Slagle, Benton Cadets, MO Inf., Co. F, d. 27 Dec. 1861
William M. Smith, 20th Regiment, OVI, Co. F, d. 17 May 1862
John Weiss, Schultz' Battery, d. 4 May 1862
Conrad Weissinger, Schultz' Battery, d. 17 March 1863
James C. Young, 99th Regiment, OVI, Co. K, d. 27 Nov. 1862

 

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