20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry


by Suzanne Link Allen


In May 1861, with Colonel Charles Whittlesay in charge, the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized for a period of service for three months and on October 21, the service time was expanded to three years. 

My great grandfather, Leroy Perfect enrolled for duty on September 24, 1861 at Delaware, Ohio, then reported to Camp Chase on October 12, 1861.

The new recruits were mustered in at Camp Chase, a military base, near Columbus, Ohio that consisted of wooden huts in rows in an open field.  The huts had board platforms where the men could lie down and sleep.

The 20th unit left Camp Chase in 1861 and traveled by railroad to Camp Dennison, a base near Cincinnati, Ohio. The next trek was a march to Camp King, 2 miles south of Covington, Kentucky.  At that base, the recruits were taught how to be a soldier through constant drill.  The routines taught at Camp King were the ones the men used during the Civil War.

At Camp King, the men were given their weapons, Harper’s Ferry rifle-muskets, which they used throughout the war. Previously, the men were given a physical examination and their uniform, shoes, underclothes, stockings, knapsack, haversack, and a blanket. Lieutenant Colonel Manning Force was in charge of the new recruits.


Company D of the 20th OVI guarded the Tunnel Battery that protected the Louisville-Nashville Railroad and Fort Mitchell which was the main road between Cincinnati and Louisville.  The unit was stationed there in the fall of 1861 and during the 1861-1862 winter. Each tent at this camp was shared by fourteen or fifteen men including my great grandfather, Leroy Perfect and other Sunbury area men. Some of the group had moved to Newport, Kentucky.

On February 11, 1862, the 20th OVI boarded two steamboats, the “Emma Duncan” and the “Doctor Kane” and steamed down the Ohio River and on down the Cumberland River where they heard the first sounds of battle at Fort Donelson, Tennessee on February, 1862.  The soldiers left the boat and marched over ten miles on hilly roads through the Tennessee forests.  The unit participated in the battle at Fort Donelson from February 14-16, 1862.

It was on to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee where the unit fought in the Battle of Shiloh on April 6th to 8th in Lew Wallace’s Division. Confederate army commander, General Albert Sidney Johnston, was killed in this battle.


At Shiloh or Pittsburg Landing, the Union surgeons established one of the first tent hospitals in the Civil War.  By concentrating medical services, patient care was much improved and the death rate was lowered.

At Pittsburg Landing, my great grandfather and many others contracted typhoid fever.  His cousin, Edwin Perfect, died of that disease in Shiloh Church, which served as a hospital.  Leroy Perfect contracted typhoid about the middle of April 1862, was put on a steamer and taken to a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He was discharged from the Army on August 15, 1862.

The remaining members of the 20th OVI went on to Bolivar, Tennessee where it checked the advance of a large Confederate force.  In December 1862 the unit advanced into Mississippi, returned to Memphis on February 1863 and joined General Grant at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Around  Vicksburg, the 20th OVI fought at Raymond, Jackson, and Champions Hills.

The regiment reenlisted as veterans in January 1864 and joined the Meridean expedition.  In June 1864, the unit joined General William Tecumseh Sherman in his Atlanta campaign.  The unit fought its way out of a battle where it was surrounded by a superior Confederate force on July 22, 1864. The soldiers were involved in operations against General Hood in North Georgia and Alabama from September 29 to November 3, 1864.

The 20th OVI marched with General Sherman to the sea on November 15- December 10 and through the Carolina in January to April 1864. 

In Washington, D. C., the unit passed in review and eventually the soldiers were mustered out at Louisville, Kentucky on July 18, 1865.

The 20th Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry was famous as a fighting regiment and had gallant material in its officers and men.

My other relatives that served in Company D of the 20th OVI were: Arza Thrall, wardmaster at East and LaGrange Hospitals; Arza’s son, Stephen Thrall, who was wounded, captured, and released at Fort Donelson; Charles Gilbert Thurston who was taken prisoner and served in Andersonville Prison; Norton Thurston Longwell; and Manford Douglas Selby. 

Other Eastern Delaware County men who served in the 20th were:  William Martin Smith, Henry C. Bigelow, Thomas Carpenter, W. Emmet Cook, John Howard Dustin, Thomas Palmer, Henry Sherman, Henry M. C. Wilson, and James J. Herron who was killed in the Battle of Johnsville. 


Private Edgar S. Boudinot- died in service and buried in Nashville, TN

Private Joseph Carpenter- killed in Battle of Raymond

2nd Lt. Byron Selby of Co. A., 20th, killed at Battle of Raymond


Resources for this article:


Delaware County Burials of Civil War Soldiers,   

Delaware County Cemetery List

History of Harlem Township prepared for the Ohio Bicentennial 2003
 by Vicki Dell Tieche
Ohio in the War, Her Statesmen Generals and Soldiers, Volume 2
           by Whitelaw Reid

“Wikipedia”, www.enwikipedia.org

The Story of Joshua Breyfogle by George Carter

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