Jim Detty of our own Lucasville Area Historical Society has a direct tie to the most significant battle in the American Civil War. Jim is a relative of Union Private Enoch Milton Detty of the 73rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a soldier who has a very unique place in local and national history. In order to understand Enoch's story, we must consider the Battle of Gettysburg.
Gettysburg is known as the battle that bolstered Union morale and proved that the seemingly invincible General Robert E. Lee could be defeated. It effectively ended the Confederacy's last full-scale invasion of the North.
During three days of fighting at Gettysburg, July 1 –3, 1863, nearly one-third of the total forces engaged became casualties. George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac lost 28 percent of the men involved; Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia suffered over 37 percent. Of these casualties, 7,058 were fatalities (3,155 Union, 3,903 Confederate). Another 33,264 had been wounded (14,529 Union, 18,735 Confederate) and 10,790 were missing (5,365 Union, 5,425 Confederate).
After the battle, however, Gettysburg would forever be seared by the memories of the slaughter. In the battle’s immediate aftermath, corpses outnumbered residents of the village of just over 2,000 by four to one.
Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania visited the battlefield on July 10. Shocked at the sight of the battlefield dotted with so many makeshift graves, Curtin made arrangements with David Wills, a local attorney, “...for the removal of all Pennsylvanians killed in the late battles, furnishing transportation for the body and one attendant at the expense of the State.”
John W. Busey & David G. Martin, Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg. (Highstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1986), pp. 239 & 275; Frank l. Klement, The Gettysburg Soldiers’ National Cemetery and Lincoln’s Address: Aspects and Angles. (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, Co., Inc., 1993), p. 4 (hereafter cited as “Klement”); Adams Sentinel, July 28, 1863; Gettysburg Compiler, July 27, 1863; Encyclopedia of Contemporary Biography of Pennsylvania, Vol. III. (New York: Atlantic Publishing & Engraving Company, 1898), pp. 44-47.
Wills to Curtin, Curtin Letterbooks, Executive Correspondence, 1861 –1865, Pennsylvania State Archives (Copy at GETT File V10-5); Adams Sentinel, Gettysburg, PA, August 4, 1863; Compiler, Gettysburg, PA, August 10, 1863
Wills to Curtin, November 7, 1863, Adams Sentinel, November 10, 1863.
The 73rd and Enoch Detty
The two accepted the positions and immediately started the task of recruiting and organizing.
A month later the recruiting of new volunteers had begun. The “Seventy-Third Ohio Volunteer
Infantry” (named as such because it was the 73rd infantry organization formed in Ohio since the war started) recruited men from Ross, Highland, Pickaway, Jackson, Pike, Athens, and Washington Counties. Company encampments were set up in Hallsville, Clarksburg, and Massieville, and soon all men were ordered to rendezvous at Camp Logan near Chillicothe.
Location of the Detty farm
For many of the wounded soldiers, Camp Letterman would be a brief stop until their conditions were stable enough for transport. Unfortunately for others, Enoch Detty among them, Camp Letterman, the U.S. General Hospital on the York Road, would be their final stop.
Estimates put two out of every three deaths during the Civil War attributable to disease. While recovering from his wounds, Detty contracted one of the many illnesses that ran widespread and nearly uncontrollable. Over 3 ½ months after he was wounded, he never becoming stabilized enough for transport. Enoch Detty passed away on October 26, 1863 at Camp Letterman from among other ailments- dehydration resulting from chronic diarrhea. He was only 22 years old.
But, this is not the end of the account. We must consider the final resting place of Enoch Detty and what President Lincoln said in his famous address of November 19, 1863, known as the consecration of the Soldiers' National Cemetery, to realize Detty's historical importance. Let us reflect upon the president's eloquent words at Gettysburg before exposing the rest of the story:
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Daniel Brown to Governor Tod, October 28, 1863, MSS 309 David Tod Papers, 1862 –1864, Box 1, Folder 6, Ohio Historical Society; Cincinnati Daily Commercial, Cincinnati, OH, November 23, 1863; John W. Busey, The Last Full Page 54 Measure: Burials in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, (Hightstown, NJ: Longstreet House, 1988), p. 100.
By pure chance, Private Enoch Milton Detty was the very first identifiable soldier buried in Soldier’s National Cemetery. Eventually, 130 additional soldiers from Ohio killed at Gettysburg would be laid to rest with him. Ironically, the location of Gettysburg National Cemetery and Detty’s grave are only yards from Cemetery Hill, the very hill where he fought his final battle.
(Jim Detty. “The Story Of Enoch M. Detty And The 73rdOhio Volunteer Infantry During The Civil War.” 2015.)
Members of the Ohio 73rd at Gettysburg National Cemetary
1 Enoch M. Detty G 73rd
2 William Williams I 73rd
6 Sgt Caleb Dewees F 73rd
7 Ai Maddox G 73rd
9 William Whitby H 73rd
10 Joseph R. Blake I 73rd
11 Andrew Miller I 73rd
13 Cpl James H. Lee H 73rd
14 William E. Haynes B 73rd
15 Allen Yaple A 73rd
4 George Nixon B 73rd
6 Elisha L. Leake G 73rd
10 Cpl George B. Greiner G 73rd
11 Jacob Swackhammer G 73rd
12 Isaac J. Sperry G 73rd
17 Sgt Thomas H. Rice B 73rd
18 Joseph Barrett G 73rd
25 Nathan Heald H 73rd
11 William M'Vey H 73rd
14 William Overholt I 73rd
1 Sgt Jasper C. Briggs G 73rd
6 Sgt Isaac Willis G 73rd
7 Daniel Palmer D 73rd
8 James Ray G 73rd