Memorial honors Civil War soldiers

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

The single remaining memorial on the Hancock County Courthouse lawn, of six which figure in the county history over the years, is the Civil War cannon on the northwest corner. Three are no longer in existence. Three are still remaining, although two are in new locations.

Two of the six were not exactly memorials, but the other four were in this category.

Previously, we told of the Civil War memorial, which once was on the courthouse lawn but which is now in Maple Grove Cemetery. Today’s article deals with three of the other memorials.

The Civil War cannon was a gift to the county by Col. Silas S. Daish, a soldier in the 21st Regiment of the war, which was recruited in Hancock County in 1861. Col. Daish spent much of his time in Washington, D.C., after the war. The cannon, which came from Fortress Monroe, on the Atlantic coast, was part of the North’s fortifications along the eastern shore during the war days.

The cannon was given by Col. Daish in memory of his war comrades in the Civil War. With the aid of then-Rep. Frank B. Wills, of the 8th Ohio District, he was able to persuade Congress to sent the coast artillery piece here. Associated with him were Dr. Jacob Kimmell, of Findlay, and Abel Comstock, of Bowling Green, both Civil War veterans.

The cannon arrived in Findlay May 11, 1915 and was placed in position on the rear courthouse lawn. It weighs 16,000 pounds.

The dedication took place Sept. 21, 1915, with Ohio’s governor, Frank B. Wills, as the speaker. Governors of Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and West Virginia were invited but could not come. Sharing the speaking platform was former U.S. Sen. Charles Dick, of Akron.

A few days prior to the dedication, two iron flagpoles were set beside the cannon. Capt. Jacob L. Keller, of Eagle Township, a 21st Regiment officer, dug the first earth. He was president of the regimental reunion organization. Madge Perkins ran the first flag up.

A bottle of water from Chickamauga Creek in Tennessee was employed in a christening ceremony. The 21st Regiment fought a Civil War battle along this stream in September 1863. A total of 568 men and 22 officers entered the struggle, but only 106 men and two officers answered roll call after the battle, the missing ones being either dead or wounded. It was the heaviest loss suffered by the regiment in its engagements.

The cannon, unmounted, is 14 feet, 2 inches long, 16 inches wide at the muzzle and its greatest diameter is 2 feet, 6 inches. Col. Daish paid the bill for the transportation of the cannon here.

Inscriptions on the memorial tell of its presentation to the county as a memorial to the 21st Regiment by Col. Daish.

One plaque reads: “Through the generosity of S.S. Daish this monument has been erected in commemoration of the services of the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 1861-65. Dedicated Sept. 5 by Gov. Frank B. Wills.”

The second plaque reads: “Survivors of the 21st Regiment, O.V.I., incorporate, 1913, J.L. Keller, president, R.F. McDonald, secretary. S.S. Daish, Dr. J.A. Kimmell and Abel Comstock, committee.

There are markings on the cannon of firms which rehabilitated it after its use at Fortress Monroe in the war.

The dedication took place during the annual reunion of the surviving veterans of the 21st Regiment.

Col. James M. Neibling was the commander of the 21st Regiment. He was later Findlay’s postmaster.

Col. Daish died in February 1919. He was a native of Putnam County. He was 77 years old when he died.

A German war cannon once occupied the southwest corner of the Hancock County Courthouse grounds. It was a 150 mm German howitzer and was one of 82 pieces of artillery brought to this country from Germany after World War I.

The cannon, secured through American Legion efforts, arrived in the winter of 1925-26. A coat of camouflage was applied by Don Daugherty, Findlay artist, when it was placed in position on an especially constructed foundation behind the courthouse. It replaced the well known “leaky boot” fountain which stood on this site for some years and which was taken down when it became beyond repair around 1924.

A dedication ceremony was conducted as a feature of the 1926 Armistice Day observance in Findlay Nov. 11 of that year. Rep. John M. McSweeney, of Wooster, a member of Congress, gave the address.

In July 1935, the cannon was removed from its courthouse site to the front lawn of the American Legion home on West Front Street, where it remained until World War II, when it was decided to contribute it to the government’s metal scrap pile because the need for such scrap was so great.

In 1929 the Daughters of Union Veterans erected a small granite monument on the south front lawn of the courthouse, in memory of their fathers. It remained there for some time and then was transferred to an area just south of the Riverside block adjoining the Main Street bridge over the Blanchard River. A plaque on the marker describes its purpose.

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