Looking back over the years of the Civil War and the many Trumbull County connections, we find individuals both famous and infamous.
Opdycke, Cox and Asper are common names associated with Trumbull County. Their activities are well documented.
However, there were many other Trumbull County representatives who were well-spoken, highly respected men, who put their lives on the line for the Union cause. One such man was George L. Wood.
Although he was born in Chardon, he moved at a very early age to the city of Warren. He studied law locally and became the first mayor of Warren.
He was very involved in city politics and had become friends with men like Jacob D. Cox, also a lawyer in Warren, as well as others who would later become very active in the war.
When President Lincoln announced his first call for troops, Wood was one of the first in line to offer his services.
Re-enactor to portray Douglass
Michael Crutcher will portray Civil War-era African-American statesman and social reformer Frederick Douglass on Feb. 22 in Warren.
From 10 a.m. to noon, he will be available for a meet-and-greet at the Warren-Trumbull County Library, Thomas Meeting Room. Refreshments will be provided. At 2 p.m., Crutcher will portray Frederick Douglas at the Trumbull County Courthouse in Common Pleas Judge Andrew Logan's courtroom - the largest in the state.
On April 26, 1861, he enlisted in Company A of the Warren Militia, which would become Company H of the famous 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was commissioned first lieutenant in the company and in November was promoted to captain of Company D.
With the 7th Ohio, he served in western Virginia during the 1861 campaign until spending the winter in Romney, Va., where the regiment suffered severely.
In March of 1862, the 7th was part of the Army of the Potomac, which was tasked with removing Stonewall Jackson from the Shenandoah Valley. Wood survived the battle of Kernstown, or first battle of Winchester, but was severely wounded during the battle of Port Republic, Va., on June 9, 1862. He was discharged from the 7th Ohio shortly after Port Republic and returned home to recover.
On Sept. 16, 1862, after recovering from his wounds, he was commissioned major in the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was again discharged on April 20, 1863, due to his wounds.
He was married and had a family in Warren after the war and unfortunately died at an early age, on Sept. 14, 1867. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.
In 1861, while part of the 7th Ohio, he was stationed in Charleston, W.Va. During his time there, he became quite friendly with the people of Charleston - extending help to them after the greatest flood in the city's history.
Here he wrote a letter home describing his observations concerning the slaves and their relationship with their owners:
George L. Wood on slaves and slave owners
While at Charleston, we were deeply impressed with the profound interest the slaves were taking in passing events. That downtrodden race, who had for years suffered every injustice at the hands of their white oppressors, were now the first to assist the Federal commanders.
Through darkness and storm, they carried information, and acted as scouts and guides on occasions when it would try the heart and nerve of their white companions. From my own observation, I am confident that the slaves of the South were just as well informed with regard to their relation to their masters as we were.
They were, from the very first, impressed with the idea that this rebellion was to work some great change in their condition. They were watching, with great interest, every movement of the troops, and were continually asking questions, as to the disposition to be made of them; thus evincing an interest in military affairs, of which their masters little dreamed.
It is well enough to talk of the deep devotion of slaves to their masters; but the latter have found ere this, I trust, that this devotion on which they have relied has not prevented them from cutting their throats, when it was in the line of their duty, and by means of which they could gain their freedom. An instance of this great devotion on the part of a slave for his master, was related to me while at Charleston.
A Mr. R----- owned a colored servant by the name of John; he enjoyed the unlimited confidence of his master, who was in the habit of trusting him as he would one of his children. This confidence was reciprocated by a like devotion on the part of the slave for his master.
One day a neighbor told Mr. R----- that his John was about to run away as he had repeated conversations with his servants on the subject. Mr. R----- flew into a passion, feeling very much grieved that his neighbor should think, for a moment, that his John, whom he had raised from infancy, should prove so ungrateful as to leave him. The only attention he paid to this timely warning was, to put still greater trust in his servant.
One day, shortly after this, John was missing; not only this, he had been so ungrateful as to take his wife and three children. The last heard from faithful John was that he was safe in Ohio.
Now Mr. R----- is a very good man and a Christian, and treat his servants very kindly; but that God-given principle, a desire for personal liberty, actuated him in connection with other men of fairer complexion. John, undoubtedly, left his old home and master with regret, but home and friendship, when compared with freedom, were nothing.
I was once told by a colored man, in whom the utmost confidence could be placed, that there has been for years an association among the Negroes which extends throughout the South, the purpose of which was one day to liberate themselves from slavery. He said that hundreds of slaves who, apparently, were as innocent as ignorant, were tolerably well educated, and were secretly bending every energy to bring about an insurrection, which should end in their being released from bondage.
When asked if the field-hands were members of this association, he said they were; and although possessing less information than those living in the cities and villages, yet they were aware of what was going on; and after their work was done at night, they often met in their cabins, and talked over the prospect before them.
He also said that in the larger cities of the South, this association had regular meetings and officers; that they awaited only the proper time, when a tragedy would be enacted all over the South, that would astonish the world.
When we reflect that revolts have been common in the South, and they have been attended by partial success, it does not require a great stretch of the imagination to believe that this association did really exist.
The fact of the intense feeling of hatred cherished by the people of the South against Northern fanatics, as they were termed, who came amongst them, is strong evidence in favor of the existence of some organized course of policy among the Negroes.
The outward appearance of the slave is usually gentle in the extreme, although his inward feelings may be agitated to such a degree that in a white man they would burst forth in the wildest passion. Therefore, this hatred of the South to the opponents of slavery must be traced to a fear of some secret organization, the object of which lay deeply buried in the reticent minds of the slaves.
The Southern mind was more deeply agitated, from the fact of the want of this outward emotion on the part of their slaves; for had this strong desire for liberty, which was awakened in them, burst out in wild enthusiasm, it would have been readily checked by the severe punishment of individuals; but it was this secret working of this deep-laid desire for freedom that troubled them. The most guilty were, to all outward appearance, the most innocent.
While the Federal army occupied the country, the slaves were much less guarded in what they said. One of these slaves, an old man, was passing a tent one day when a soldier said to him that he belonged to Jeff Davis. With a knowing look, he replied: 'I did, but now, massa, I belong to Uncle Sam.'
A colored woman, who had been a slave for years (as she is very old), came into our room one day, and taking up a paper, asked if we wanted it. Someone said to her, as she was about leaving the room, that she had better not be seen with that paper as it was not the sort her mistress admired. Said she, 'I know what missus likes; I can take care of it;' and slipping it under her apron she left the room.
That slave could read and write, and yet her master knew nothing of it. So it is with many others. It may be asked how they acquire this knowledge. They gain it in a great many ways. Many of them learn of their masters' children, with whom house-servants spend a great deal of time.
Having acquired a slight knowledge, it stimulates them to greater exertion. They obtain scraps of newspapers and parts of books, and thus gain a great deal of information entirely unobserved. Few persons, at the commencement of the rebellion, had the least conception of the vast resources and power of the slave population of the South. And it was not until they had fed and clothed the Southern armies for two years, and by this means kept them in the field, that it was acknowledged.
Had it not been for its slaves, the South, long ere this, would have been compelled to yield obedience to the government. The rebels appreciated and used this element of strength from the beginning. The federal government, through the influence of weak-minded politicians, rejected it; thus throwing an element of its own strength into the hands of its enemies.
Notwithstanding this harsh treatment, the slaves proved true to the government; and finally, through the medium of this faithfulness, their vast services were acknowledged, and they have not only been taken into the private service of the country, but they have been admitted into the army, to swell its numbers, until the strength of their mighty arms, and the nerve of their fearless hearts, are felt by the enemies of the country on every battlefield.
What a glorious thought! Thousands of the oppressed fighting for the redemption from slavery of a race which has ever worn the chain. When it is remembered that by this strife questions are to be settled which have ever disturbed the harmony of this country, and not that only, but questions which, when settled, will release millions of our fellow-men and women from the power of the oppressor, ought we not to be thankful that we are permitted to make great sacrifices in so good a cause?
Compiled by members of the CW150 Committee of Warren's Sutliff Museum.