“On the Front Line All the Time.”: Frank Foote Part Two

Frank Foote, Jr., convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of George Clawson in December 1861, found himself enlisted in Company I, 70th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in early 1862. He served in the regiment from 1862 until 1865, experienced a number of bloody engagements, until his discharge and return to Cincinnati.

It is unclear exactly when Frank Foote, Jr. enlisted in the 70th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, but the regiment was recruiting two companies in the Cincinnati area as late as January 1862. One of those companies was Company I, further indicating that Frank Foote, Jr. likely enlisted sometime after the murder of George Clawson.

Company I, when founded, was commanded by Captain Daniel B. Carter, Lieutenants Joinville Reefe and George Foster, and Sergeant Major Andrew Urban. According to one source, Companies D and I were originally organized as part of the 52nd Ohio and did not join the 70th Ohio until they had already left Camp Hamer, Ohio and arrived at Camp Ripley, Ohio. The regiment was stationed and drilled at Camp Ripley until the end of February 1862 when the unit received orders to march to the landing and board a steamer bound down the Ohio River for Paducah, Kentucky.

The steamer Magnolia on the Cincinnati riverfront, 1866.

The arrival of the 70th Ohio in Paducah, Kentucky represented the beginning of what would be a long and active service. The unit took part in the invasion of Tennessee and played an active part in the Battle of Shiloh in early April 1862, taking 99 casualties while inflicting over 300 on the Confederate unit they battled.

Position of the 70th Ohio at Shiloh Church.

Frank Foote, in addition to his first action at Shiloh, had a front row seat to many of the most significant campaigns and battles of the Civil War, including the Siege of Vicksburg, Chattanooga, Kennesaw Mountain, Battles and Siege of Atlanta, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and ultimately the surrender of Confederate forces under the command of Confederate General Johnston. Histories of the unit make the point of stating that the unit was one that was in combat at virtually every engagement in which they took part, large or small. During its period of service, the 70th Ohio lost a total of 265 men during service; 5 officers and 70 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 2 officers and 188 enlisted men died of disease.

Western Theater Overview (1861–1865), Map by Hal Jespersen, www.cwmaps.com

It was not just the murder of George Clawson and stress and strain of bloody combat that may have had an impact on Frank Foote’s state of mind. Once the 70th Ohio was discharged from service, the regiment boarded the steamer USS Argosy for the trip home to Ohio. Near Magnet, Indiana, on August 21, 1865, the steamer ran aground in a storm resulting in a boiler explosion that killed ten of the 70th Ohio who had survived years of combat only to be killed in a freak accident so close to home.

Account of the steamer accident in the Cincinnati Daily Commercial Newspaper, 24 August 24. 

Frank Foote, Jr’s military service ended with his return to Cincinnati in late August 1865 and he began the next phase of his short life that included marriage, children, public embarrassment and his eventual early death. My next post will examine that aspect of Frank Foote’s life and his untimely death at the age of 40.

Links to Information on the 70th Ohio Infantry Regiment

Wikipedia Page on the 70th Ohio Infantry Regiment

US Grant Homestead Association History of the 70th Ohio Infantry Regiment

Ohio Civil War Central Page on the 70th Ohio Infantry Regiment

© Noel B. Poirier, 2020.


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