Some families suffered more losses than others during the American Civil War. In the case of Benjamin Reed (1801-1894) and his second wife Rachel (1829-1926), three sons perished in the war. It is difficult to imagine the scale of their loss. This is the story of one of those sons.
Benjamin Reed was born in Pennsylvania and made his way west to Ohio, settling in Cadiz, Ohio sometime before his first marriage to Rebecca Zollars (1799-1844) in 1824. The couple would have eight children before Rebecca’s death. Benjamin, now in Tuscarawas County, remarried in 1851 to Rachel Foster and many of the children were subsequently raised by her. Benjamin was working as a stone mason, residing in Fairfield Township, when the American Civil War began.
Three of Benjamin’s sons answered the call to service once hostilities commenced and, by the time Daniel Reed (1841-1863) enlisted, his older brother Jacob had already died of disease while in the Union Army. Another older brother, Franklin, was serving with Union forces in Kentucky and Tennessee, but had been captured. In spite of this, twenty-year-old Daniel enlisted in the 126th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in August 1862.
The 126th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service at Camp Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio on September 4, 1862. The recruits in the regiment signed up to serve three years, and most of them came from either Fairfield, Harrison, Jefferson, Perry, or Tuscarawas counties.
The regiment left Steubenville on September 16, 1862 and marched to Parkersburg, Virginia, in what is today West Virginia. Shortly after however, the regiment moved by railroad to Cumberland, Maryland, and encamped there until early December 1862. The 126th was moved again, this time to North Mountain, Virginia (again, in modern-day West Virginia), where it was tasked with the protection of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and its laborers. Near the end of December 1862 Sergeant Reed, and the rest of the 126th, moved yet again, this time to Martinsburg, Virginia (West Virginia) where they continued their mission to protect the B&O Railroad. This would be Sergeant Reed’s last duty station.
Daniel was briefly promoted to Second Lieutenant in March 1863 but, shortly after the promotion, fell ill and was sent to the General Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland for treatment. Due to the conditions of 19th century soldiering, disease was ever-present in the Union Army and rank mattered little. Daniel was suffering from what the doctor’s recorded as “chronic diarrhea”, a condition responsible for more than two-thirds of all deaths during the war. Sergeant Daniel Reed would succumb to his illness on July 30, 1863.
Despite a findagrave.com listing for Daniel listing his burial at Bisel Church Cemetery in Tuscarawas County, he never made it home. While a headstone may represent him at Bisel, Daniel is actually buried in Section G, Grave 2438, Annapolis National Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. The Reed family lost three sons during the American Civil War, and perhaps to escape the memories of those losses, moved to Iowa in 1864.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.