The Story of Portsmouth: "The Civil War Period"

Updated: Feb 15, 2021


By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings

Stories Inspired From "The Story of Portsmouth" by Elmer Sword


This week we are fast forwarding to the Civil War period. The location of Portsmouth had quite a bit to do with preparations for the war. Due to the fact that we are on the border of where the free slave states were, it was very active in its role of transporting escaped slaves from the south. Due to the elevated risks of this situation, Portsmouth prepared themselves for war. They maintained a well-drilled military company known as the Kinney Light Guards.


When the war began, Portsmouth became a hotspot for war activity. Huge warehouses were converted into commissary depots and filled with war supplies that were delivered by route of the canal and the Ohio River. Our boat yards were converted into Navy yards that constructed gun boats while the town’s iron industry was now used to construct armor plates and gun barrels.


Portsmouth Men Among First In War

The first Portsmouth unit was known as Company A of the 15th Ohio Volunteer Militia. When President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers in April of 1861, Dr. George Bailey organized the Kinney Light Guards into a company. He was then elected its Captain for his work.


The company soon saw action in the battle of Vienna after they had been ordered to Washington, D.C. In this battle, they had lost nine men and three were wounded. Not long after the Battle of Vienna, they found themselves in the first Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. This battle cost them three men. It also wounded two and two were reported missing.


Once their time was up, they were sent back home where they were awarded the honor that was due as a result of their courage. Many of these men ended up enlisting for three more years and became integral in the 56th Regiment, which was made up almost entirely of Scioto county residents.


Ladies Aid Society

When the men left for the frontlines, a group of women founded the Ladies Aid Society. This group was set up to provide relief for the soldiers and their families. This group mostly comprised of the mothers whose sons had left for war. They were determined to make sure that no family suffered because of a father’s absence.


The Ladies Aid Society was also known for sending money and supplies to the sick and wounded soldiers. During the war, about twenty thousand dollars was distributed to soldiers and their families. They served as a great help and reminder of the people these soldiers left behind.



Thanks for tuning in this week with us! Make sure to check back next week as we fast forward to the first World War.



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