|"I have nothing to
tell," said an aged Civil War veteran when
approached recently and asked by a reporter to
give some details of his war record which was
known to have been a brilliant one for he had
been a member of the Fighting
Eightieth, a regiment with one of the most
excellent showing of any in the Union army.
My children and
grandchildren have often request me to give them
the same information and I have as often given
the same answer. However, after being
assured that what he said would not be taken as a
boast the veteran finally consented to tell of
some of the experiences as a soldier in the Union
Having fought with
the fighting Eightieth in 15 of the
hardest battles of the Civil war and at least 25
skirmished and having covered the states of
Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas
in the campaigns of his regiment William F.
Crites, of 117 E. Third St had a thrilling story
which could not easily be surpassed.
One of the
most glorious events for me in the entire
war, said Mr. Crites, was when after
a 40-day siege of Vicksburg we marched victorious
into the Southern city. I was beating a base drum
as we filed through Vicksburg July 4, 1863. The
temperature was up to 115 degrees in the shade.
the battle of Missionary Ridge my regiment and
two others was sent out to feel out
the Confederates and get their exact location.
Before we knew what had happened they were on
three sides of us attempting to cut us off from
the other Union forces. During the encounter a
large number of my comrades were killed and
wounded. The man to my right was killed instantly
by a Confederate shot and the man to my left was
badly wounded," said Mr. Crites.
"It was in
the engagement at Missionary Ridge that I had my
narrowest escape during my life as a soldier.
whizzed across the back of my neck in such a
manner as to cut in two the leather strap which
was slung across my shoulder and to which hung my
knapsack. The knapsack fell to the ground for the
strap had been cut as if by a sharp knife. I fell
over stunned but was up immediately and after
assisting a wounded comrade to a spring of water
was back to the fighting area."
Mr. Crites was in
Shermans march to the sea until it reached
Savannah, Ga., at which the time for his
discharge was at hand. He was discharged December
20, 1864 at Millers Plantation near
Savannah and shortly after was bound by boat to
New York City.
"On our trip
to New York," said Mr. Crites, "we had
nothing to eat by raw ham, coffee and a small
supply of bread. When we reached Americas
largest city there was two inches of snow on the
ground. We walked barefooted down Broadway as we
did in most of the march to the sea. With our
ragged clothes and in our bare feet, we sure were
first night in New Your City there were 14 of us
together. We went to a restaurant, expecting each
of us, to eat a least a five dollar meal.
appointed me to order the meal and each of them
gave me five dollars with which to pay for what
we ate. I ordered a big chicken dinner, plenty of
raw oysters and anything else that the boys could
wish for. One fellow ate at least twelve dozen
oysters himself. After the meal the boys drank
and had plenty of smoke. When I went to settle up
the proprietor of the restaurant said that the
entire bill came to $5.85. We were dumbfounded to
get such a great meal for so low a price."
During the three
years and three months of service, Mr. Crites was
never wounded. In Paducah, Ky., in the early part
of 1862 he contracted typhoid fever, however, and
was severely ill for some time. I was taken
to the regimental hospital for six weeks and was
then given a 30 day furlough to come home. When I
first became sick I weighed 186 pounds, and when
I reached home I had dropped to 118 pounds. It
was three months before I was able to be back to
my regiment again."
enlisted in the Union army Nov. 6, 1861 in
Company C of the 80th Ohio regiment. The first
winter was spent in Camp Meigs in Dover and early
in the spring the regiment marched to
Uhrichsville from where the troops left for
job I had at camp Chase was guarding Confederate
prisoners. Not long after we were in Missouri
within six miles of a rebel camp without a gun or
revolver in the regiment."
The veteran will
be 86 April 15. He has spent practically all his
life in Dover. Although second oldest Dover Civil
war survivor, Mr. Crites reads extensively and
without glasses. Plenty of the newspapers keep
him up with the current affairs and in addition
he read from four to six books every week besides
a number of magazines.
Five years ago he
was stricken with paralysis and since that time
he has been compelled to use a wheel chair. He is
in excellent health.
Mr. Crites is
Adjutant and Quartermaster of the Ricksecker