When one volunteers for military service, one knows that there is the very good possibility that they may never return home. Soldiers in earlier wars also ran the real risk of dying from disease without ever seeing the battlefield. In cases like this one, the soldier returned home from military service without a scratch but lost his life shortly afterwards in a tragic accident.
Nicholas Ludwig (1832-1880) and his wife Louisa Miller (1833-1907) immigrated from Germany to Ohio in the early 1850s. He and his wife acquired land in Clay Township and started their very large family. Nicholas’ brother, Frederick Ludwig (1845-1909), immigrated ten years later and was living with his brother’s family in 1870. Shortly after Frederick arrived in Tuscarawas County he met Maria Schmidt (1849-1922) and the couple married in early 1871.
Frederick was a blacksmith by trade, but purchased land just south of Uhrichsville and Dennison where he worked a small farm in addition to his blacksmithing. Frederick and Maria welcomed their first child in 1872 and five more children would follow. Among their children were four boys and two girls and, one of those sons, Clarence Ludwig (1880-1900) is the subject of this story. Little is known about Clarence’s childhood, other than the supposition that he worked on his father’s farm and may have learned some blacksmithing skills.
Following the USS Maine’s sinking in Havanna, Cuba’s harbor in February 1898 calls for war with Spain grew in the American press. The back-and-forth between the United States and Spain over Cuba’s independence culminated in Spain declaring war on the United States in late April. The various states began raising regiments of volunteers to serve in the war that was now on the horizon. Among those volunteers was Clarence Ludwig.
Clarence enlisted in Company M, 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment that was enlisted principally from the town of Dennison and the surrounding communities. The regiment was transported from Ohio to Camp Alger, set up just outside Falls Church, Virginia, where it joined other regiments from the state of Ohio. Camp Alger’s water supply was less than adequate and soon typhoid fever ran rampant through the camp. The decision was made to transport the units remaining at Camp Alger, including the 7th Ohio, to the healthier Camp Meade in Pennsylvania at the beginning of September 1898. The 7th was destined to never see active service and, in the fall of 1898, was returned to Ohio and the men furloughed and eventually discharged.
After returning from his service in the 7th Ohio, Clarence found work as a brakeman on the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (PCC&StL) operating on what is known as the Pan Handle Route from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When Clarence was not working on the railroad and away from home, he lived in his father’s new home in the Thornwood Park neighborhood in Dennison. Clarence was working as a brakeman on a train travelling through the yard at Sturgeon, Pennsylvania in the fall of 1900 when he suffered a tragic accident.
The boxcar that Clarence was working on lurched violently and threw Clarence under the wheels of the slowly moving car. His body was crushed and death was immediate. The twenty-year old young man who had volunteered to serve his country, and possibly die in a far off land, died on November 8, 1900. The Brotherhood of Train Workers escorted the body to Port Washington, and the local G.A.R. post provided an honor guard and military burial. Private Clarence Ludwig was buried at Union Cemetery, Port Washington.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.