Henry Doering had a personal issue with slavery. He grew up a generation removed from the feudal system that persecuted his ancestors in Germany.
Doering emigrated in 1856 for the freedom and promise of America. Five years later, he enlisted in the Union Army to abolish America’s feudal system — slavery.
This week, we mark the 150th anniversary of the shelling of Fort Sumter, which started the Civil War and embark on four years of remembrance.
Three area men have more than a passing interest in upcoming events. One will lead local learning opportunities in order to honor his great-great-grandfather; one is searching for information to learn what his grandfather endured as a Union soldier; and another hopes the hoopla will help him uncover what happened to Civil War artifacts once housed at the Toledo Zoo.
Jeff Eversman, president of the Oregon Jerusalem Historical Society and co-author of the book The Civil War and East Toledo, said Northwest Ohio did its part in securing the Union. The most famous local protagonists may have been Andrews Raiders, a group of Northwest Ohio soldiers who infiltrated enemy lines, stole a Confederate train and destroyed a railroad, which cut a vital supply line.
The reckless, ill-fated mission failed and ended with the execution of eight soldiers who were treated as spies. However, the mission boosted morale at a dark time for The Union Army and President Abraham Lincoln honored 22 raiders by awarding them the first Congressional Medals of Honor. The story is just one of many recounted in the 2000 book by Eversman and local historian Larry Michaels.
Eversman’s passion for Civil War history is a product of his heritage. Henry Doering was his great-great-grandfather. He served in the 37th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and was wounded at the battle of Pigeon Roost in West Virginia. His other great-great-grandfather on his mother’s side also served.
“What these men did, they sacrificed their personal lives and fortunes, in order that we can have the country that we have today with the union intact. To me that means everything. There’s such a pull for me personally because of my own descendents. I have to honor these men and women for what they did.
“They had been persecuted in the feudal system by the barons and princes and churches and they did not like the idea of slavery because they had been enslaved. So, they went to war as soon as they got here because they remembered their own experiences they had in Germany.”
Jack Werner, 87, of Genoa, is one of only a few Americans alive whose grandfather fought in the Civil War. He has been searching for others like him in order to collect their stories. His grandfather, Frederick Werner, was a prisoner at Andersonville, the notorious prison in southern Georgia. Werner is planning a trip there this summer.
Nick Haupricht, a Vietnam veteran who has been an advocate for veteran causes in Northwest Ohio and Washington D.C., is on a quest to uncover what happened to the Civil War artifacts originally owned by the Toledo Soldiers Memorial Association and later housed at the Toledo Zoo. Some of these artifacts, including the famous Gilbert Gaul painting Battery H at Cold Harbor, were transferred to the care of the Oregon Jerusalem Historical Society and are on display at Brandville School. Some of the artifacts were damaged when a basement at the zoo flooded. But, Haupricht claims the most valuable artifacts including, rifles, swords, a painting of President James Garfield, and a pistol owned by General James Steedman are missing. He hopes that this new focus on the Civil War will spur memories and provide him with leads.
While the national media will focus their Civil War coverage in the next four years on famous battles like Gettysburg, those looking for a more personal brush with history will find numerous opportunities in our own backyard. The Oregon Jerusalem Society, the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, the Wood County Historical Center & Museum and the American Civil War Museum of Ohio in Tiffin are good places to start. These museums all have many special events planned this year including reenactments. The graphic shown here includes some of their events as well as their websites.
You can purchase The Civil War and East Toledo at The Andersons at the Woodville Mall. You can reach Jack Werner at 419-855-3763. You can reach Nick Haupricht at 419-270-2655