Margaret kissed her first soldier boy, Greer Croy, good-bye in August of 1861.[i]Jacob surely approved. He prided himself in love of country and service to his fellowman. Greer headed for Parkersville where the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) was already training. They drilled with ancient muskets that, in a rare practice session, the soldiers discovered were nearly useless. They considered the leadership useless as well. They moved to Summersville, West Virginia in October of 1861 where they endured diseases including typhus and pneumonia that killed over forty men.They also picked up Enfield rifles, the leadership of Colonel George Crook, and the confidence he and his drilling infused. From October of 1861 through the early part of 1862, they fought a guerilla war with the “bushwackers” who hid in the “bushes” of the Virginias. The men hated it.[ii]
Finally, following a plan formulated by Major General John Fremont, they engaged in their first major battle at Lewisburg, Virginia in May of 1862. They surprised the rebels. In the rout the 36th lost 7 men and the rebels, 60. “…the wounded who were straggling back were ill treated; one shot dead by a citizens.”[iii]
One can imagine Greer Croy being among those greatly upset by these snipers. Colonel Crook managed to temper talk of burning Summersville to ashes and limited the angry retaliation to three homes. The savages of war unleashed, the 36th move on to two significant battles of the war, the Second Bull Run and Antietam.[iv]
At the end of August, 1862 came the Second Battle of Bull Run. Greer’s regiment positioned itself to guard General Pope’s headquarters and rear line. Their orders were to prevent the mass desertions and retreats that occurred in the first Bull Run. In this severe defeat, the 36th saw no combat but worked “arresting stragglers and fugitives from the battle.” [v]
At the famous battle of Antietam, the 36th served under Major General Ambrose Burnside who was charged with taking and holding what came to be known as “Burnside’s Bridge.” The epitaph was disparaging. Due to delays, some say procrastination or indecision, huge casualties occurred there. Crook himself made a major error and arrived with the 36th late and not at, but above, the bridge. Because of this, the 36th was less effective but suffered fewer casualties. One of the wounded was Greer Croy. As part of the color guard, he was particularly vulnerable. With the rest of his comrades, he waited and listened to the overnight cries of the other wounded. Antietum proved one of the costliest battles of the war. Neither side could convincingly claim victory. Meanwhile, to be covered in the next post, brothers Robert, William, David, and Duncan had just joined the Union cause.
Note #1: Drawing and photograph come from the Library of Congress digital collection: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/civwar
Note #2: Because of copyright issues, I cannot show the flags carried by Greer Croy or the ones that flew above the 92nd OVI. This excellent site shows them all.http://www.ohiocivilwar150.org/omeka/ Also, for additional Ohio Civil War information, this site by Larry Stevens: http://www.ohiocivilwar.com
[i] Each of the Croy brother’s documentation cross-referenced with information found in National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 (database accessed through Fold.com) T288 roll 105
[ii] Kenneth P. Werrell, Crook’s Regulars: the 36th Ohio in the War of Rebellion (Christianburg, Virginia, KPW, 2012) Note: Most of the detail of the 36th comes from this excellent, self-published book.
[iii] Martin R. Andrews, edited and compiled, History of Marietta and Washington county, Ohio and representative citizens, Vol. 1 (Biographical Pub. Co., Chicago, 1902) pg 755-756 https://openlibrary.org/books/OL6573096M Includes interesting accounts of each Ohio regiments service from the perspective of the late 1800’s.
[iv] Roster Commission by authority of General Assembly, Official roster of the soldiers of the state of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, Volume 3 (Cincinnati: The Ohio Valley Pub. & Mfg. Co., 141 and 143 Race St., 1886) p. 669 https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7041537M Note: Volumes include list of battles participated in by the regiment and brief account of each soldier’s enlistment date, age at enlistment, length of enlistment, and discharge date, rank, and circumstances.
[v] Werrell, Crook’s Regulars, pg 53