Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan
Finding aid for James Verity Journal, 1861-1895
James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
Finding aid created by Rob S. Cox, November 1993
Title: James Verity journal Creator: Verity, James Inclusive dates: 1861-1895 Bulk dates: 1861-1864 Extent: 3 items Abstract:
James Verity's journal is a post-Civil War transcript of his diary, probably completed within a few years of the end of the war. The journal covers his service in the 22nd and 18th Ohio Infantry Regiments. Verity pays particular attention to military aspects of the War and provides a detailed account of his wounding at the Battle of Chickamauga.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown.
James Verity's journal was acquired from his descendant, Mrs. Pat Rock, Westland, Mich.
James Verity Journal, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Rank : Private; Sergeant
Regiment : 22nd Ohio Infantry Regiment. Co. B (1861); 18th Ohio Infantry Regiment. Co. G (1861-1864)
Service : 1861 May 22-1864 April 19
Immediately after the fall of Fort Sumter, a recruiter traveled to Nelsonville, Ohio, to look for volunteers. Twenty-two year old James Verity eagerly signed up for three month's service. After electing the recruiter, Mr. Guthrie, Captain, the company waited in Athens until May 20th to be mustered into Company B, 22nd Ohio Infantry. Verity's company was soon assigned to guard the B & O railroad along the Ohio River between Marietta and Parkersburgh, but during an offensive to dislodge Gen. Wise's Confederate troops from the region they were reassigned to garrison duty at Charleston, W.Va. From there they were ordered to Elizabethtown, Spencer and Glenville, where their service expired on August 19th. Though several times coming close to Confederate troops, the 22nd was never engaged.
Verity's return to Ohio came shortly after the Union defeat at Bull Run, and Nelsonville was busy supplying recruits to the 31st and 39th Ohio, then forming. Verity was persuaded to join with a company being raised for the 18th Ohio Infantry, and mustered into the Army for the second time on October 16th, 1861. Three weeks later, his new regiment crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky, and set up winter quarters at Elizabeth. On February 10th, 1862, the 18th marched through Mumfordsville and Rowlett's Station, both recently taken from Confederate forces, and occupied Bowling Green, which had just been evacuated by Confederate Gen. Hardee, without incident. Pressing on in the wake of the collapse of the Confederate Kentucky Line, the 18th Ohio entered Tennessee on the 24th of February, arriving at Nashville on the 27th.
As the spring offensive on northern Alabama and eastern Tennessee opened, the 18th Ohio saw frequent action as they maneuvered back and forth between northern Alabama and Tennessee. The regiment took part in the surprise attack on Huntsville, Ala., on April 11th, capturing over 400 prisoners, helped to dislodge Confederate forces from Decatur, Ga., and themselves lost a number of soldiers as prisoners of war during the battle at Limestone Bridge, Ala., on May 1st. In Tennessee, the 18th were engaged at Sweden's Cove on June 4th, and at Manchester in August. In Manchester, a pro-secession town, the regiment went to work, ransacking private homes. More educated than many soldiers, perhaps, Verity took only a few books, remarking "[I] suppose they dont like us vandals to ransack their costly Libraries. But cant help that, for those who break the Law, must abide by the Law."
The regiment returned to Nashville early in September, which came under increasingly strong pressure from Confederate forces through the fall and early winter. On December 28th, the 18th Ohio left the city and over the next two days engaged Confederate forces at Stewart's Creek, leading up to the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stones River) on the 31st of December through 2nd January, 1863. The 18th were scattered during the battle and suffered heavy losses, but managed to acquit themselves well in capturing the Washington Battery and several stands of colors and in repelling a charge from troops led by John Breckinridge. The regiment remained in the vicinity of Nashville and Murfreesboro until joining the Tullahoma Campaign at the end of June.
After the Tullahoma Campaign, the 18th Ohio were assigned to various positions in Tennessee and northern Alabama as part of the general maneuvering on Chattanooga, and, as in the previous year, were involved in many small skirmishes. During the second and third weeks of September, action intensified and the skirmishing came much more frequently, leading up to the Battle of Chickamauga. The regiment lost very heavily at Chickamauga, and during the second day of the battle, Verity was shot in the face with a minnie ball, flattening his nose, severing his tongue and breaking both jaws. After recovering consciousness, he was helped to the rear, but, unrecognizable because of his wound and unable to speak, could not find anyone in his regiment to assist him or dress his wounds. At noon the next day, he was finally recognized, first by two friends, who washed his face, and then by the regimental surgeon, who removed the ball and fragments of bone. Despite a fever, he walked to rejoin his regiment on the 24th, and from there began the slow return home to Nelsonville to recover. Verity was discharged on a surgeon's certificate of disability on April 19th, 1864, and was still living in Nelsonville when the regiment held its fifth reunion in 1895.
Collection Scope and Content Note
Verity's journal is a post-war transcript of his diary, probably completed within a few years of the end of the war. The introductory section of the journal covers his service in the 22nd Ohio, a three months' regiment, while it was stationed along the Ohio River and in western West Virginia. However it is his second tour of duty, with the 18th Ohio, that forms the core of the journal, and this part of the journal appears to be an accurate transcript of the diary that he kept in the field. Verity was an avid soldier, staunchly, unquestioningly pro-Union. Verity is not one to complain or to focus on the hardships of a soldier's life. Instead, his journal is an excellent, straightforward account of his service in the Union army, with particular attention to strictly military aspects.
The journal provides excellent accounts of several skirmishes and battles, most notably the attack at Huntsville and the Battle of Limestone Bridge, Ala., the three-day Battle of Murfreesboro and the skirmishes leading up to it, and the Chickamauga Campaign. The description of his wounding at the Battle of Chickamauga is uncommonly detailed and gruesome, and the account of his efforts to obtain medical assistance in a dazed state and unrecognizable condition is moving despite his calm prose.
Also included with the journal is an 1874 commission as Lieutenant in a militia company, and a flier for the fifth annual reunion (1895) of the veterans of Co. G of the 18th Ohio.
Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863.
Stones River, Battle of, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1862-1863.
United States. Army--Ohio Infantry Regiment, 22nd.
United States. Army--Ohio Infantry Regiment, 18th.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Container / Location
James Verity journal, 1861 April 21-1864 May 1 [series]
William Allen ADS commissioning James Verity as a First Lieutenant in Company B of the "Thomas Guard," Independent Militia, Ohio. 1874 August 5.
Printed invitation to the Annual Reunion of Company G, 18th Ohio Volunteer Infantry; Nelsonville, Ohio. 1895 October 15.