Friday, March 16, 2018

Recalling An Interview With John Silas Doll -- His Father, Abraham, at Gettysburg


In 1988, on the occasion of the 100th graduating class of Valley High School, students from the 12th Grade Composition Class videotaped four prominent senior citizens: Nell Bumgarner, Valley Davis, Lynn Sloan, and John Doll. All of these people were treasures of local history and valued members of their community. The tapes preserved some precious moments with these individuals. The project was enlightening in so many respects … to the students and to me, their teacher.

That year marked Mr. John Silas Doll's 100th birthday. Being a resident of the West Side of the Scioto, he us told of his days on the Ohio-Erie Canal as well as of his early school days, his prized gardens, and his father's participation in the Civil War.

I want to write two blog entries to pay tribute to Mr. Doll. For 105 years he graced our community. When he passed, a great source of local history was extinguished. This first entry deals with Doll's ancestry and particularly with John's father, Abraham Doll, and his Civil War service. Abraham deserves special recognition in the historical annals of Lucasville. I hope you enjoy his story.

Ancestors of John Silas Doll

(a) Grandparents

John George Doll, was born 1810 in Ross County, Ohio. He was the son of Abraham Doll and Margaret (Anna) Ross. His father came to Ohio from Pennsylvania in1800, and settled in Highbanks, Ross County. He married Mary (Margaret) Graham June 25, 1834 in Scioto County, Ohio.

John George settled in Washington Township soon after marriage, and in 1841 the family removed to Rush Township, where they lived until 1850. They then returned to Washington Township, where John died in January, 1852, aged forty-two years. 

(b) Parents

Abraham Doll, the son of John George and Margaret (Graham) Doll, was born in Scioto County, Ohio, on November 25, 1839. Abraham married (1) Caroline (Carrie) W. Russell December 18, 1865 in Scioto County, Ohio. The couple settled on a farm comprised of 135 acres of “well-improved land.” Mr. and Mrs. Doll had six children – James B., Clara M., William R., Joseph, Herbert, and Carrie. Caroline Doll died November 19, 1880, aged forty-two years.

Abraham later married Emma Elizabeth Clark October 01, 1884 in Nauvoo, Scioto County, Ohio. “Abe” served as “Township Treasurer five years, Justice of the Peace six years, and Trustee four years.”

Abraham fought for the Union in the Civil War. In October, 1861, he enlisted in Battery L, First Ohio Light Artillery, and served three years from October 28, 1861 to October 31, 1864. He participated in fourteen hard-fought battles and several minor engagements. Doll was mustered out at age 22, rank of private.

Abraham Doll died October 11, 1926, in Lucasville, Rush Twp. Scioto County, Ohio.

(c) John Silas Doll

One of the children of Abraham and Emma was John Silas Doll, who was born September 22, 1888 in Scioto County. (Zelma Jewell Doll Crawford was also born to Abraham and Emma.) John was married to Martha J. Lundy. He was the father of Helen A., Millard Armond, Vaughn V., Robert D., John Jr. and Naoma J. Doll. John died on December 17, 1993 at the age of 105. He is buried in the Rush Township Burial Park.

The rest of this entry centers on Abraham Doll's participation in the Civil War. It is a story touched upon by John Silas in our 1988 interview. John told us that his father had a horse shot out from beneath him in one battle – which, he did not say. How I wish we would have pressed him for more detail.

Battery L

The battery was organized in Portsmouth, Ohio October 8, 1861 by Captain L.N. Robinson and mustered in at Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio for a three year enlistment on January 20, 1862. The regiment was organized as early as 1860 under Ohio's militia laws, under Colonel James Barnett. Other Commanders include Captain Franklin C. Gibbs and Lieutenant Frederick Dorries, who commanded at the Battle of Fredericksburg. The battery lost a total of 24 men during service; 1 officer and 7 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 1 officer and 15 enlisted men died of disease.

The following accounts for Battery L's extensive and detailed service during the war:
  • Moved to Patterson's Creek, Va., January 20–27, 1862.
  • Advance on Winchester, Va., March 7–15, 1862.
  • Reconnaissance to Strasburg March 19–20.
  • Battle of Winchester March 23.
  • Occupation of Mt. Jackson April 17.
  • March to Fredericksburg May 12–21, and return to Front Royal May 25–30.
  • Moved to Alexandria June 29, and duty in the defenses of Washington until September.
  • Movement to Falmouth, Va., October-November.
  • Battle of Fredericksburg December 12–15.
  • At Falmouth until April. 1863.
  • Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
  • Battle of Chancellorsville May 1–5.
  • Gettysburg Campaign June 11-July 24.
  • Battle of Gettysburg July 1–3.
  • Duty on line of the Rappahannock and Rapidan until October.
  • Bristoe Campaign October 9–22.
  • Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7–8.
  • Rappahannock Station November 7.
  • Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
  • Duty at Camp Barry and at Forts Sumner and Kearney, Defenses of Washington, until July 1864.
  • Repulse of Early's attack on Washington July 11–12.
  • Expedition to Snicker's Gap July 14–23.
  • Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign.
  • Berryville September 3.
  • Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19.
  • Fisher's Hill September 22.
  • Battle of Cedar Creek October 19.
  • Duty at Winchester until December 28, and at New Creek until June 30, 1865.
  • Ordered to Columbus, Ohio, June 30.
  • Battery L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery mustered out of service at Columbus, Ohio on July 4, 1865.
This accounting of the battery in action at Gettysburg comes from “Reports of Capt. Augustus P. Martin, Third Massachusetts Battery, commanding Artillery Brigade, Fifth Army Corps”:

Battery L, First Ohio Artillery, Capt. F. C. Gibbs, moved up to the field in rear of the Second Division. One section, commanded by First Lieutenant Guthrie, was posted on the slope of the hill known as Rock Hill [Round Top], to the right of Battery D, Fifth U.S. Artillery. Another section, under command of First Lieutenant Walworth, was posted at the base of the hill, commanding the ravine in front of Rock Hill [Round Top]. The remaining section was held in reserve. The two sections posted in front opened upon the enemy, when he advanced upon our lines, with spherical case and canister, doing good service in checking the advance of the enemy.”

Here is another report of Captain Frank C. Gibbs, Battery L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery from the Official Record, Series I, Volume XXVII (SN #43) Gettyburg Campaign #222 ...

I have the honor to report the following as the operations of Battery L, First Ohio Light Artillery, the the Gettysburg campaign:
While in position guarding Banks' Ford, on the Rappahannock, 7 miles above Fredericksburg, Va., supported by the Forty-fourth New York Infantry, I received orders to be ready to move at a moments notice, and on the night of June 13 I started on the line of march with the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, passing through Manassas Junction and crossing the Potomac River at Edwards Ferry on Pontoons, and thence to Gettysburg. Marching nearly all night of July 1, we went into position about 8 a.m. on the morning of the 2d, to the right of the Baltimore pike, in a field of wheat, being thrown to the front of infantry support about 100 yards and in rear of our line of skirmishers some 60 yards. We remained under skirmish fire one hour, the infantry in our rear meeting with some casualties. From thence we took up our line of march, crossing Baltimore pike, and going into park on the left of it.

“About the middle of the afternoon an orderly came rapidly up, asking our battery to come to the assistance of the Fifth corps. I started on the trot, and reported to General Sykes, who ordered the battery to cover the valley. The rocky nature of the ground compelled us to unhitch our horses and place our guns in position by hand; the left section, in charge of Lieut. H.F. Guthrie, on the left of a road leading from the valley, and on the right slope of Little Round Top (Weed's Hill); the center and right sections, in charge of Lieuts. James Gildea and William Walworth, on the right of said road.

We had hardly placed our guns in position when the Fifth Corps was forced back by a terrific charge of Longstreet's corps, and came rushing through us, but began rallying on us as soon as they understood matters. Our front was hardly clear when the irregular, yelling line of the enemy put in his appearance, and we received him with double charges of canister, which were used so effectively as to compel him to retire. So rapidly were the guns worked that they became too hot to lay the hand on. But for the position of the battery, and the gallantry with which it was handled by the men, I have no doubt the enemy would have accomplished his purpose of breaking our lines at this point, and possibly changed the fortunes of the day.

“On the 3d, we remained in the same position, occasionally working the battery. A number were slightly wounded and Asa Kline was severely wounded. The infantry suffered considerably while supporting us.

“I have the honor to be, very respectfully,


F.C. Gibbs Captain, Comdg. Battery L, First Ohio Light Artillery”

Historians tell us Captain Gibbs and his 1st Ohio Battery L, with six Napoleans were stationed on the northern slopes of Little Round Top – described as a “low position.” For this reason, they couldn't fire until their own infantry troops had cleared the field of fire. Gibbs was said to became quite concerned over the Confederate troops that were quickly pressing towards his position on the heels of the Regulars. Colonel Samuel M. Jackson (grandfather of actor Jimmy Stewart) told Gibbs to double-shot his guns and he would see that the 11th PA would secure their safety. Some men of the 11th near the guns started to shout, "Stand by your guns, Dutchy, and we will stand by you!"

Gibbs had his guns loaded with double canister and once the Regulars had cleared his front, he ordered them to fire. They “did terrible execution on the approaching Confederate mobs from Anderson's, Semmes', Kershaw's and Wofford's Brigades.”

While Gibbs' Battery was in action, Captain August P. Martin was notified that General Weed had been mortally wounded. Weed had asked to see Charles Hazlett. Weed gave him instructions for the payment of some small debts and, as Hazlett drew closer to receive a confidential message, he was shot in the head.

“The few hundred yards to the foot of Little Round Top, already strewn with our disabled comrades, became a very charnel house” wrote a soldier in Col. Hannibal Day’s brigade “and every step was marked by ghastly lines of dead and wounded. Our merciless foes from their vantage ground…poured in volley after volley.” Watching from Little Round Top, one Union soldier later wrote “For two years the U.S. Regulars taught us how to be soldiers. In the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, they taught us how to die like soldiers.”

At Gettysburg, there stands a monument to Battery L.1st Ohio Light Artillery, commonly known as Gibbs' Battery. It is south of Gettsyburg on Little Round Top. It was dedicated by the State of Ohio in 1887. It reads ..

July 2. 3. 1863

Arriving on the field at 8 a.m. July 2, went into position under a brisk skirmish fire on the extreme  right of Wolf Hill. Afterwards moved to north slope of Little Round Top, and there became hotly engaged with Longstreet’s Corps then trying to turn the left. Held same position July 3.

This battery was recruited at Portsmouth Ohio, in the Autumn of 1861. Was mustered out July 4. 1865. Took part in 12 important battles.

By the way, Captain Frank C. Gibbs was a surveyor from Portsmouth, Ohio. He was wounded at Cedar Creek. Gibbs is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. He died August 2, 1888, aged 53.

View from Gibbs’ position looking west to Houck’s Ridge and the Wheatfield. Monuments to the U.S. Regular regiments dot Houck’s Ridge. The Regulars withdrew from the Wheatfield beyond the far tree line to the area where the picture was taken.

Works About Battery L and Gettysburg

Karlton Smith. Gettysburg Seminar Papers. Mr. Lincoln's Army. "Honor-Duty-Courage.” The 5th Army Corps During the Gettysburg Campaign.

Ohio In The War-Volume II. Whitelaw Reid. Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin. Cincinnati 1868
James Barnett Papers. James Barnett. Army officer. Cleveland, Ohio. Concerns Barnett's service with the 1st Ohio Light Artillery in the Civil War. 4 boxes. Western Reserve Historical Society. History Library. Cleveland. Ohio
Unit Bibliography. U.S. Army Military History Institute. Carlisle Barracks. PA. 1995 • 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Battery L. History. 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Battery L. Reenactors. Scioto County Ohio. 1996

Narrow Escape Story #7. Some Exciting War Experiences. by Ben Butterfield. Battery L. 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Ironton Register. Thursday December 30 1886. Transcribed by Sharon M. Kouns. 1998

Narrow Escape Story #40. Some Exciting War Experiences. by James & Frank Brammer. Battery L. 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Ironton Register. Thursday August 18 1887. Transcribed by Sharon M. Kouns. 1998

A Magnificent Irishman From Appalachia. The Letters of Lt. James Gildea, First Ohio Light Artillery Battery L. James Gildea Lt.. 1st OVLA Battery L. Written by Julian Mohr. Edited by Gary Piatt. 85 pgs. Published by Western Slope Round Table. 3850 Pleasant Avenue. Portsmouth. Ohio. 2002 Reprint: A Magnificent Irishman From Appalachia The Letters of Lt. James Gildea First Ohio Light Artillery, Battery L. 111 pgs. Little Miami Publishing Co. Milford. Ohio. 2003.

Richard A. Baumgartner. Buckeye Blood: Ohio at Gettysburg. Blue Acorn Press. Huntington. West Virginia. 2003

“Battery L, 1st Ohio Artillery Battle of Gettysburg.”

“Abraham Doll”

History of Lower Scioto Co., Ohio - Publ. Chicago: Inter-state Publishing Co. 1884

G.A.R. Auxiliary Plants 8 Trees. Portsmouth Times. April 23, 1941.

John P. Nicholson, Pennsylvania at Gettysburg, Volume I, (Harrisburg, PA: WM. Stanley Ray, State Printer, 1904), 274-285. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1880-1901, Washington, D.C., Ser. 1, Vol. xxvii, Pt.1.


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