Thursday, June 6, 2019

Booknotes: Opdycke's Tigers in the Civil War

New Arrival:
Opdycke's Tigers in the Civil War: A History of the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry by Thomas Crowl (McFarland, 2019).

The 125th Ohio is one of those fighting moniker regiments that you are surprised to find lacking a modern unit history. Thomas Crowl's Opdycke's Tigers in the Civil War "is the first full-length history of the regiment in more than 120 years."

One of the Union Army's later-forming three-year regiments, the 125th Ohio was mustered in during October 1862. Commanded by Col. Emerson Opdycke, the Ohioans performed rear area tasks during most of their first twelve months of service. It was during their first major battle at Chickamauga that they earned their "Tigers" stripes. From the description: "Charging into Dyer's cornfield to blunt a rebel breakthrough, the Buckeyes pressed forward and, despite heavy casualties, drove the enemy back, buying time for the fractured Union army to rally. Impressed by the heroic charge of an untested regiment, Union General Thomas Wood labeled them 'Opdycke's Tigers'."

The Tigers also fought in numerous other western theater campaigns over the duration of the conflict. Four chapters in Crowl's book cover the Chickamauga Campaign, three more the operations around Chattanooga and Knoxville, and six discuss the 1864 Atlanta Campaign. The irascible Opdycke is perhaps best known for his epic charge at Franklin that helped quash the threat of a major Confederate breakthrough in the center, and that campaign in Tennessee gets extensive coverage as well.

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