A HISTORY OF THE 80TH OHIO VOL. INF.
Six months after Fort Sumter was fired upon by the Confederate States of America, Ohio had over 80 Volunteer Regiments serving in the Civil War. The Union defeats at First Bull Run and Wilson's Creek had proved this would not be a short war. Volunteers rushed to join the Army in all the Northern States and Ohio was no exception. One of these regiments formed in the Autumn of 1861 was the 80th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, the subject of this book.
The 80th Ohio was recruited mainly from the counties of Tuscarawa, Coshocton and Carroll, and was organized at Camp Meigs, near Canal Dover in Tuscarawa County. The men were from all walks of life, from bank clerks to farmers. When the President called for the States to furnish their quota of Volunteers, the men of these counties responded with fervor.
The neighboring State of Kentucky had voted for neutrality, but it appeared this would not stand for long, and the Western Part of Virginia had become a battlefield between the armies. How long would it be before the Rebel armies decided to move across the Ohio River? The citizens of Ohio answered the call to arms.
At Camp Meigs, recruiting for the 80th Ohio continued. By January, 1862, most of the companies which would constitute the 80th Ohio had been organized. Most of the men had joined in November, 1861. After Company C was fully recruited in early February, the regiment was mustered into the service of the United States. Uniforms and weapons were issued and their training began in earnest. The regiment was issued the Austrian Rifle Musket, caliber .54. All day long, somewhere in the camp, you could hear some officer calling "left, left, left, right, left as he drilled his squad or company. Dress parade was usually held at sunset. Meals consisted of light bread, coffee, fresh meat at most meals and salt meat at others. They had beans, rice, onions and potatoes with stewed dried apples occasionally for supper. The main standbys of the Western Regiments were coffee, sow-belly, beans and hardtack. Between dress parade and taps, the men sat around and talked of home and their families and sometime sang patriotic songs.
The 80th Ohio was commanded by Colonel Ephraim R. Eckley. Other staff officers were Lt. Colonel Matthias H. Bartilson, Major Richard Lanning and Surgeon Ezekial P. Buell. The commander of Company C was Captain John J. Robinson, Sr. Captain Robinson had two sons in the regiment, both lieutenants in Company C. One other member of Company C was Private John King, the Great-Grandfather of the author's wife, Donna. John would rise to the rank of Sergeant before the war ended.
During the month of February, 1862, the regiment received orders to proceed to Columbus, Ohio for further transportation to Paducah, Kentucky. As they marched to the railroad station, the chests of the young men must have been bursting with pride and excitement. When all were on board, the train slowly pulled away and the men gazed out the windows, sad to leave home but anxious to be going. Many would never see their homes again.
Arriving in Columbus, the regiment marched to Camp Chase which was 4 miles from Columbus. The men felt the camp was very nice but extremely muddy. However, they liked it better than Camp Meigs. While here they guarded about 400 rebel prisoners. The next day they boarded a train at Columbus in the rain. The men were soaked and when they got into the cars the first thing they did was to make a fire to dry their clothes and cook their food. At 12 O'clock the train started for Cincinnati, getting there about daylight. They stayed in the cars until 9 a.m. at which time they boarded the steamer “Prairie Flower”, staying on the boat until midnight. While at Cincinnati two men deserted, one of them being Joe Holly and another man from Cumberland. At midnight they started down the river but did not get very far when the boat broke one of its shafts in the engine. They stopped at Aurora, Indiana, staying there until they could get another boat from Cincinnati. This boat was the “Leonora”. They started again down the river but a storm came up and nearly turned the boat over. The crew got the boat ashore and waited until the storm blew over and then proceeded on to Paducah, Kentucky. On the 22nd of February the regiment celebrated Washington’s Birthday aboard the vessel by a reading of Washington’s Farewell Address to his troops and a speech by Colonel Eckley. That night they lay over in Troy, Indiana. They arrived at Paducah on the morning of February 24th, 1862, with 919 men and stayed there until noon. While here a boat load of wounded men pulled in from Fort Donelson and some of the men of the 80th Ohio went up on deck to see them. This was the first of the horrors of war the men had seen. Paducah was a river town and full of soldiers who were arriving daily by steamer. Leaving Paducah, the regiment steamed on down to Cairo, Illinois and moved down the Mississippi a short way to Fort Holt, Kentucky where they went into camp. It rained continuously and the men were afraid their camp would be flooded and they had to move their camp several times to stay out of the water. The enemy was 25 miles away at Columbia, Kentucky and the regiment thought they were going to receive orders to attack them. They could hear cannon fire from gunboats in that direction. On the seventh of March the regiment moved to Paducah on the steamer "Continental", disembarking on the next day. Here, they pitched camp.
While here in Paducah many men of the regiment became ill and by March 18th 175 men of the regiment were in the hospital. The men did not have much camp duty to perform here and did not drill much due to the bad weather and sickness, although the weather was becoming warm and mild. On the 31st of March there was a General Review of the troops present at Paducah. The first night in April a big storm hit Paducah with high winds and possibly a tornado. Tents were blown down and many houses in the city were destroyed. Several people were injured but none died. Early in April, a squad of 50 men from the 80th Ohio was detailed to scout and fix a railroad bridge which had been burned by the rebels. The bridge was about 18 miles south of Paducah. After repairing the bridge they were ordered to load their guns and boarded the train for Mayfield, Kentucky. They thought they might have a fight on their hands at Mayfield, but when they arrived they saw the U.S. flag flying above the town. Nearly all the townspeople were glad to see the Union troops. The men then returned on the train to Paducah.
The 80th Ohio was attached to the District of Paducah until April 25th, 1862. The regiment was paid 4 months wages on the 23rd of March, which was the first time the men of the regiment were paid. On the 25th of April, the 80th Ohio boarded River transport "Tigress" and steamed up the Tennessee River to PIttsburgh Landing, Tennessee, staying overnight there then going up the river to Hamburg Landing, Tennessee, arriving there on the 27th. Hamburg Landing was a vast storehouse of supplies for the Union Army and was only a few miles from Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, where a few days previously, on April 6th, a large and bloody battle was fought. The Confederates had then retreated to Corinth, Mississippi.
Now the 80th Ohio was attached to the Army of the Mississippi commanded by General John Pope, and they were in the Third Division commanded by General Hamilton, and in the Second Brigade commanded by Colonel Perczal.
Having been distributed cartridges for their guns on the 28th, the next day the 80th Ohio except for 3 Companies which included Company C, departed Hamburg Landing and marched toward Corinth. The Division had moved out toward Corinth earlier on the 22nd of April and due to the almost impassable condition of the roads, the 80th Ohio did not join its Brigade until May 3rd, along with the 48th Indiana. By May 17th the regiment was at Farmington, Mississippi. The distance from Hamburg Landing to Farmington is about 20 miles, but the army of 70,000 men took over three weeks to get there. Repairing the roads and having to throw up breastworks every evening was a slow and tedious process.
The 3 Companies which stayed behind at Hamburg Landing were put to work fixing up the hospital for the wounded and unloading the steamers as they came in with supplies for the troops advancing on Corinth. For this work the men were paid extra. The Division of the 80th Ohio, as reserve of the Army of the Mississippi, supporting a battery of 20 pounder Parrotts, covered and supported the operations of General Paine's and Stanley's divisions in a reconnaissance of the approaches to Corinth from Farmington. This was on May 8th. The next day, the Division, under Brigadier General N. B. Buford, General Hamilton being ill, was drawn up in line to support the advance in case of necessity, but was not ordered forward, though a Brigade under General Palmer was engaged with the enemy. Also on this day the 17th Iowa joined the Second Brigade.
On May 12th, the 80th Ohio and its Brigade under Colonel Perczel advanced on the Old Alabama road to the left and rear of Farmington, and threw up a strong redoubt for the 5th Wisconsin Battery. On the 17th, the whole Army of the Mississippi moved forward to the line in and about Farmington. Strong entrenchments were thrown up and constant reconnoitering parties were sent out.
Scouts from the 3rd Michigan Cavalry reported on the 22nd of May, that the enemy was advancing in strong force. However, no enemy approached although the Division's advanced picket lines were driven back for several miles. This seemed as though the report was a false alarm, but citizens testified that a force of 40,000 men moved out of Corinth to attack the left flank, guarded by the Third Division, but finding it strongly posted, they marched away without attempting to make an attack.
On the night of the 21st, Colonel William Worthington, the division's general officer of the day, was accidentally shot and killed by one of the Division's own pickets.
On the 24th of May, a strong reconnaissance, composed of the 5th Iowa and four companies of the 4th Minnesota, with a section of Sand's battery, under command of Lt. Colonel Matthias, reconnoitered to the Memphis and Charleston road without seeing any large body of the enemy. On the 26th, the 10th Iowa with some artillery made a reconnaissance on the Danville road to Corinth, and met a superior force of the enemy. Although forced to retire, the men did so in good order.
The whole army advanced upon the outer works of Corinth on the 28th of May. Entrenchments were thrown up and batteries put in position. There were several sharp skirmishes with the enemy and the next day the 10th Missouri and the 17th Iowa had a sharp engagement with the enemy. On this day, Brigadier General Hamilton was placed in command of the whole left wing of the Army of the Mississippi, consisting of eighteen regiments and four batteries. On the night of May 29th Corinth was evacuated by the enemy, and the Army of the Mississippi moved forward in pursuit of them the next day. All the officers and men were anxious to meet and beat the enemy.
The left wing advanced to Booneville, with the other forces, without overtaking the enemy, and on June 11th returned to their camp near Corinth on Clear Creek. The 80th Ohio remained in camp until June 22nd at which time they made a forced march to Ripley, Mississippi, a distance of 46 miles. The heat and dust was intense, and the men suffered greatly. A few men even died from the effects of sunstroke. A few days later, the 80th Ohio returned to its camp near Corinth. On the 29th of July, the 3 Companies, being C, E and I, left behind at Hamburg Landing, rejoined the Regiment.
The 80th Ohio remained on duty in Corinth until August 15th, guarding the railroad. General Rosecrans was now in command of the Army of the Mississippi and General Hamilton Commanded the Division of the 80th Ohio, being the Third Division, with General Sullivan commanding their Second Brigade. General Pope had been reassigned to take command of the Army of the Potomac. All Union forces west of the Tennessee River were now commanded by General Grant.
On the 15th of August the 80th Ohio and its Division marched to Jacinto, Mississippi and established an outpost there. From this point numerous expeditions were sent out in all directions, but to no great distance. The 80th Ohio remained here until the 19th of September, 1862. In the meantime confederate forces under General Price were reported to be moving north from Tupelo. The reports were confirmed when word came the confederates were near Iuka, Mississippi.
On the evening of the 18th of September, General Stanley received orders to move his Brigade (that of the 80th Ohio) the next morning at 5 o'clock on the Tuscumbia road toward Iuka, to join in an attack on General Price, who was encamped with the rebel army at that place. Leaving camp at the ordered time the Brigade arrived within one and half miles of Iuka by 4 p.m. Halting at this point the First Brigade was formed in line of battle by General Hamilton, who was in the advance, while the Second Brigade was halted on the road until a reconnaissance could be made of the ground to the left and a position obtained for the battery. Before a position could be located, the rebels opened fire along the entire front of the Union line, having approached them entirely unseen, owing to the dense underbrush and broken character of the ground, and at the same time attempting to turn the Union position by an attack on their flanks. General Sullivan ordered the 10th Missouri to take a position guarding the right flank, while the 10th Iowa, with a section of the 12th Wisconsin Battery, was ordered to hold a road leading to the Brigade's left and rear. The position occupied by the 10th Missouri was so important and so effectually checked the enemy's advance on the right that the enemy's artillery fire was directed specifically to that point. Although the enemy's fire enfiladed the 10th Missouri's lines, the movements of the regiments in taking position were performed with as much precision as if on the drill ground. The 10th Iowa held the position assigned them and drove back a brigade of the rebels which was advancing to take possession of the road.
Forming up a portion of the 80th Ohio and 17th Iowa, which had been halted in the road, two volleys, rapidly delivered, checked the enemy's advance and drove them back to the brow of the hill. The 80th Ohio's left was near an old church on the hill and the right rested several yards across the Iuka road, where it turned down the hill, being at the time exposed to a heavy fire of musketry and grape shot. It was near here that Adjutant Philpott was shot through the left arm and compelled to leave the field. The Seventeenth Iowa was at the same time on the 80th Ohio's right. By this time portions of the 26th Missouri, 48th Indiana and the 16th Iowa, whose colonels had all been seriously wounded, with a few of the 4th Minnesota, joined General Sullivan's Brigade and fought bravely through the remainder of the action. General Hamilton ordered General Stanley and his Brigade to save Sand's Battery, which was entirely disabled, with every officer and cannoneer being either killed or wounded and all the horses killed. General Stanley gave the order to advance and the men gave three cheers and with a rush drove the enemy back out of the battery down the hill when a murderous fire was opened up on their flank by a regiment of enemy sharpshooters, which lay concealed to the left in the woods. General Stanley ordered his men to fall back and then the line was reformed. The enemy advanced at the supposed retreat of the Brigade with loud cheers, but were greeted by a volley followed by an order to charge. While there the 80th Ohio received orders to advance down the hill, eastward, through the thick wood and brush. The order was executed by advancing down the hill, across a ravine, and up the next hill, expecting to find a line of their own forces, which General Hamilton had informed Lt. Colonel Bartilson, had taken position in front of the place where the 80th Ohio was ordered to take a position. Colonel Bartilson did not find the line referred to by General Hamilton, and advanced the regiment to within 30 paces of the enemy's line, which they found concealed in the woods, covering the regiment's front and right. The enemy raised and fired upon them to which the 80th Ohio heartily responded to for about ten minutes, at which time the enemy fell back to the edge of the field in the regiment's front. Receiving reinforcements, the rebels again advanced, but were held in check, when the Thirty-ninth Ohio, through a mistake, and without orders, fired a volley into the rear of the Brigade's line, killing and wounding more than the whole loss prior to that time. By this time it was so dark that friends could not be distinguished from foes. The enemy took advantage of this occasion to remove the guns from their position, but were not able to take them entirely off, and were compelled to leave the caissons in their original position. At 8 o'clock the firing ceased and the battle was over. The position in which the battery was planted and which was so hotly contested was held by the Brigade.
During the firing just mentioned, Colonel Bartilson's horse was shot dead under him, and the Colonel received a severe wound through the right thigh by buck-shot. He found himself unable to command any longer, and ordered the company commanders to hold their position until relieved by some proper officer, which they accordingly did.
Only eight companies of the 80th Ohio crossed the ravine. Companies B and G, with Major R. Lanning, owing to the thick brush, became separated from the left, and did not cross the ravine until after Lt. Colonel Bartilson had left the field. Soon after, Major Lanning joined the command with Companies B and G, he, acting under orders from General Rosecrans, recrossed the ravine, taking position so that the right rested in the ravine, which position he held about one hour, when he was ordered to take a position on the old road leading in the direction of the Twelfth Wisconsin Battery, which he accordingly did, and remained there until 2.30 a. m., at which time the command was ordered from the field.
Orders were given to Hamilton's and Stanley's Divisions to go in pursuit of the rebels, but General Price had made good his escape. On the following day, September 21st, the 80th Ohio returned to their camp at Jacinto.
The 80th Ohio remained at Jacinto for several days to watch the movements of General Price's army. On the 26th of September, 1862, General Rosecrans ordered the Divisions of Generals Hamilton and Stanley to move to Corinth in the event of an attack by confederate forces upon that town. The 80th Ohio once again took up position near Corinth.
At 1:30 a.m. on the 3rd of October, General Sullivan received orders from General Hamilton, commanding the 3rd Division, Army of the Mississippi, to form his Brigade and march to Corinth, a distance of about 3 miles from their camp. Confederate General Price was expected to make an attack at daylight on Corinth with 40,000 men, and the Union troops were being rapidly concentrated to defend the position. The 80th Ohio cooked a hasty breakfast, tents were struck, wagons packed, and the Brigade, with its entire train of camp and garrison equipment, was marching by 3 o'clock.
On arriving at Corinth, the first line was formed under the direction of General Hamilton, which position was occupied until about 9 a.m., when orders were received to advance on the Purdy road and occupy the breastworks between the Purdy road and the swamp, which lay to the right of the railroad, and joining with General Davie's Division across the railroad. By the time the last position was taken, the enemy attacked General Davie's Division in large numbers. The superior numbers of the enemy compelled the Union troops to fall back, exposing their flank to the enemy's attack. The Brigade's front was immediately changed and a ridge was occupied, which gave the Brigade an opportunity to advance and attack the enemy on the flank as they moved forward, following General Davie's position which was falling back toward Corinth, and also secure a road to which they could retire if it proved necessary.
With the enemy still advancing, General Hamilton ordered General Sullivan to take three regiments and attack the enemy's left flank. Between the Brigade's position and the enemy lay a swamp, covered with a dense growth of underbrush, vines, and fallen trees, through the center of which ran the dry bed of a creek, whose banks, 6 feet deep, afforded good shelter for the enemy. Cautioning the men to silence, General Sullivan, with the 17th and 10th Iowa and the 80th Ohio, numbering about 800 men, moved forward to the attack. Their advance was entirely unexpected by the enemy. Taken by surprise, the enemy fell back, but not rapidly enough to save themselves from a loss of 82 prisoners. The regiments were forced to halt for support, and noticing this, the enemy rallied and opened up a heavy fire of grape and canister from two batteries on the three regiments. The Union column fell back in good order with its face to the foe. This ended the fighting for the day, although a sharp skirmish was kept up until darkness came.
During the fight, General Sullivan received a severe contusion and was unable to continue command. The disposition of the Brigade for the anticipated attack by the enemy the next morning was made by Colonel Samuel A. Holmes, of the Tenth Missouri. That night Ordnance officers were kept busy distributing ammunition, soldiers were occupied cleaning their weapons, while general officers were engaged in consultation. By 3 o'clock a complete silence reigned throughout the lines.
Just before dawn the enemy opened up with artillery fire. Before the first shot had ceased reverberating through the woods, the entire Union force was under arms. The Union artillery quickly responded with its own fire and the noise was deafening. General Hamilton's division held the right of the 80th Ohio's Brigade with General Davies' division holding the right center. No attack was made by the confederates until 8 a.m., when they emerged from the woods in front and advanced rapidly in column of attack on the entire Union line. Part of General Davies' division fled at the first fires, leaving several batteries exposed, which the enemy temporarily took possession of, with the 10th Missouri, 56th Illinois, 80th Ohio and 10th Iowa holding their ground. The 12th Wisconsin Battery fired grape and canister into the massed columns of the enemy, causing them to halt. A desperate charge was then made by the First Brigade who recaptured the batteries and drove the enemy from that portion of the field. General Hamilton ordered two regiments to be placed under General Sullivan's command, who had recovered from his contusion, to drive back the enemy, which had penetrated the Union's center. The regiments rushed in and gave two well delivered volleys and the enemy fled, leaving their colors, their dead and wounded, and over 300 prisoners.
On that first days fight, the 17th and 10th Iowa, and the 80th Ohio received special mention in General Sullivan's report for their steadiness and coolness in marching to make the attack upon the enemy's flank. One company of the 80th Ohio brought off safely 33 prisoners, taken under a heavy fire and in the presence of a greatly superior force of the enemy. The 80th Ohio, after losing their only field officer present, that being Major Lanning who was killed, continued to fight on and did not cease until the fight was done. The casualties sustained by the 80th Ohio proved that the position they held was one of danger.
The 80th suffered, in the two days fight, 80 men killed and wounded. In addition to Major Lanning, First Lieutenant John J. Robinson, Jr. of Company C was killed. Lt. Colonel Bartilson, although still suffering from his wound received at Iuka, hearing of Major Lanning's death, mounted his horse and commanded the regiment through the remainder of the battle.
The 80th Ohio, with its Division pursued the enemy as far as the Hatchie river, but was then ordered to proceed no further. The Brigade returned to Corinth on October 12, 1862 and went into camp. The camp was nice but water was scarce. The only water available for the regiment was about 1 ½ miles away in a small creek where there was some standing water. The weather was warm during the day but cold at night. On the 30th of October, about 105 new recruits joined the regiment.
On October 26th, 1862, General I. F. Quinby was given command of the Third Division of which the 80th Ohio was a part. This Division was in the 13th Army Corps, commanded by James B. McPherson, and in the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by General U. S. Grant. Colonel E. R. Eckley commanded the Second Brigade, being that of the 80th Ohio.
Orders were received by General Quinby on November 1st to have his Division held in readiness for movement early on the morning of the 2nd. The men were to carry three days rations in haversacks, three days in wagons, and 100 rounds of ammunition per man. Not more than one tent per company would be taken, and no other baggage. A small camp guard was to be left, composed as far as possible of non-effectives. On the morning of the 2nd of November, the 80th marched out of their camp near Corinth and moved toward Davis' Mill, arriving there on the 8th of November and set up camp there. This was 75 miles from Corinth near Grand Junction, Tennessee. On the 12th, the 80th Ohio and its Division moved out toward Holly Springs having previously met up with General McPherson's forces at Lamar.
Near Holly Springs, Mississippi it was reported that the enemy was in force there, commanded by General Price. Confederate forces also were reported at Coldwater and at Abbeville. General McPherson moved to near Holly Springs, but was recalled by General Grant. A Grand Review of the troops was made by Major General Grant on the 16th. The 80th Ohio and its Brigade marched back to Davis' Mill and on to Moscow, arriving there at dark on the 17th of November. Pickets were established and all roads running south from Memphis and Charleston were obstructed.
On the 26th of November, orders were given to General Quinby to march directly from Moscow, taking everything clean from that place, and leaving no garrison. The Division was to encamp the first night to the right of the right wing, and on the second day from the rear, coming up to take position with the left wing upon encamping in the evening. The men were to take three days rations in haversacks and five days in the wagons. Two hundred thousand rations would be taken down the railroad later, if the road is practicable. From this point the Division teams would have to haul further supplies. There would be no provision for a reserve for the entire command, but each wing commander would provide for and have charge of his own reserve. The order of march for each wing was provided by the wing commanders. Each commander would have with him 200 rounds of ammunition per man for the infantry and cavalry, and all the artillery ammunition the means of transportation would allow. Wing commanders would require all men to keep in ranks, and at least one field officer should march in the rear of his regiments. Company officers should at all times be directly with their companies. On the first halt, regimental commanders, under supervision of division and brigade staff officers, should make an inspection of their entire commands, and take, from every officer and soldier who is not entitled to forage from the Unites States that may be found mounted, his horse and horse equipments, and send them back to the quartermaster. Thus, under these orders and instructions, the 80th Ohio moved south toward Holly Springs.
The 6th of December found the 80th Ohio and its Division at Oxford, Mississippi, and on the 9th, a grand review of the troops was made by the commanding General. On the 12th the regiment marched 6 miles to the south of Oxford and camped. The regiment marched back to Oxford on the 21st of December and the next day they moved to Abbeville, a distance of 15 miles. On the 23rd they marched about 20 miles, crossing the Tallahatchie River and camped within a half a mile of Holly Springs. On the 24th of December General Quinby received orders from General Grant to move the next day to the neighborhood of Lumpkin's Mill and encamp. The 80th Ohio was now a part of the Army of Tennessee, commanded by General Grant, and in the 7th Division, commanded by General Quinby, and the 2nd Brigade, commanded by Colonel Eckley. Colonel Bartilson, having recovered somewhat from his wound, commanded the 80th Ohio. The Division would remain here until further orders from General Grant.
On the 25th of December General Quinby's Division was ordered to proceed without delay to Memphis, Tennessee as escort to a wagon train for supplies for the army. A train of 50 wagons was detached from each Division for this purpose, besides the regimental train of the Seventh Division. The train of the right wing would be collected at Tallaloosa by 12 o'clock on the 26th of December, escorted by details from the respective commands to that place. The Seventh and Eighth Divisions would receive their directions from General Quinby where they are. The route to be taken to Memphis would be the Pigeon Roost road leading from Tallaloosa to Memphis.
The 80th Ohio and its Division, with the wagon trains, marched 15 miles in the rain and mud and camped for the night on the 26th. The next day they continued and marched 17 miles. On the 28th they marched 20 miles and camped for the night within 7 miles of Memphis. They arrived in Memphis about noon on the 29th of December. Since the teams for the wagons were fatigued, General Quinby deferred commencing the loading of the supplies until the next day. Upon completion of loading the wagons, the Division moved to the Memphis and Charleston Railroad from Colliersville, within 3 miles of Memphis where the supplies were sent south by railway. On the 2nd of January, the regiment mustered for their pay. The 80th Ohio and its Brigade guarded the road from Colliersville to Germantown, this being on January 3rd, 1863.
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Chapter 2 - 1863
Chapter 3 - 1864
Chapter 4 - 1865
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