top of page

Captain Leonidas McDougal, the 3rd Ohio Infantry, and the Battle of Perryville

“Boys of the Third, you stood in that withering fire like men of iron.”

Captain Leonidas McDougal

Leonidas “Lon” McDougal was born in 1822 in Newark, Licking County, Ohio, the son of Stephen and Mary Black McDougal, and the brother of Sarah Black McDougal, who married Luke K. Warner. He served in the Mexican War where he enlisted in the cavalry. During that war, he was at the bombardment of Vera Cruz and marched with the American army into Mexico City. Once the war ended, he attended the Annapolis Naval Academy.

During the excitement of the presidential campaign of 1860, semi-military organizations were formed all over the country, bearing the name of "Wide Awakes.” A Wide Awake company was organized in Newark composed of young men motivated with the widespread premonition of a coming Civil War and a determination to defend the outcome of the election, even at the point of the sword. The company was commanded by Captain Leonidas McDougal, and met for drill in the upper story of the building on Third Street. The members wore capes, carried torches, and paraded the streets during political meetings.

On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor, starting the Civil War. In Newark, the excitement was intense and three days later when President Abraham Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand volunteers, the fife and drum were heard in the streets of the town, bells were rung, and the residents including, men, women and children gathered to the Courthouse, which was soon overflowing with an excited and anxious audience. A meeting was organized, voluntary patriotic speeches were made, and a resolution was adopted to raise at once a company of volunteers. McDougal, one of the most popular young men of the town, immediately stepped forward and volunteered, offering to lead a company to the field. He was the first volunteer in the county in the War for the Union.[i] The Newark Wide Awakes enlisted in the service of their country. The officers of the Wide Awakes became the officers of Company H of the Third Ohio volunteers, the first company of Licking County to join the Grand Army of the Union.[ii]

As soon as McDougal volunteered he was joined by other members of the county, and on April 19, four days after the call went out for volunteers, he reported for duty with a full company at Columbus, Ohio. McDougal was made captain of Company H, 3rd Ohio, Leroy S. Bell was commissioned first lieutenant and Frank P. Dale second lieutenant. On April 27, 1861, the company was mustered into the service of the United States for three months. Before the company left Newark, the citizens gave a supper and ball in honor of the Wide Awakes. Captain McDougal was called upon for a speech and his only response was that he could not make a speech, but he knew how to command a company of Wide Awakes. After his brief speech, the Wide Awakes received a beautiful silk flag presented by the ladies of Newark. The captain responded in glowing, patriotic words. The company marched away amid the shouts and cheers of citizens, and the waving of handkerchiefs and tears of the ladies.[iii]

After leaving Newark, Company H, along with the rest of the 3rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, went into camp at Columbus, on April 25th under the command of Colonel Isaac Morrow, Lieutenant Colonel John Beatty, and Major Warren Keifer. The regiment moved to Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, where the men drilled constantly during the month of May. Before orders were received for the field, the 3rd Ohio’s three months term of enlistment had expired and the men enthusiastically re-enlisted for three years. On June 12, 1861, the regiment was re-organized and soon after was armed and equipped for the field. On June 20th, the 3rd Ohio was ordered to Grafton, Virginia and two days later the regiment crossed the Ohio River. The Buckeyes reported to Union General George B. McClellan at Grafton and was assigned to General Newton Schleich's brigade, consisting of the Fourth and Ninth Ohio infantry and Captain Cyrus Loomis' 1st Michigan battery. The brigade proceeded to Clarksburg, where camp equipage was supplied and preparations were made for an active campaign.[iv]

From Clarksburg, the brigade advanced with the army to Buckhannon, Virginia and in July was at Rich Mountain. The brigade continued to operate in western Virginia through the summer and fall months, skirmishing frequently with the enemy, including Cheat Mountain.

In October 1861, Captain McDougal, who now commanded two companies, led the men from Ohio in their first physical test, which ended without major action. In November, the regiment was transfered to Louisville and assigned to General Ormsby H. Mitchell's division of the Army of the Ohio. In December, the regiment marched to Elizabethtown, Kentucky and went into winter quarters near Bacon Creek, at Camp Jefferson. Here they spent the next several weeks manning the important line near the Green River.

The regiment broke camp in February 1862 and marched south, entering the Confederate stronghold of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and then to Nashville, Tennessee. From Nashville the Third Ohio moved south with General Mitchell and eventually ended up in the vicinity of Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama.

During the summer of 1862, the 3rd Ohio remained inactive. Huntsville became the rendezvous point for the regiment, and from there individual companies were sent out in detachments to garrison small towns and forage. By August, the regiment joined in the quick and hasty march north after Confederate General Braxton Bragg and the Army of the Mississippi invaded Kentucky. The march to Louisville, Kentucky commenced under extreme circumstances with unusually hot weather. The streams and rivers dried up due to the drought and the soldiers endured many hardships and adversities. The cautious Confederates evaded the Union army at every point before turning east to Bardstown and leaving the way open to Louisville. On September 25th, the Third Ohio entered Louisville. The 3rd was now under the command of Colonel John Beatty and assigned to the 17th Brigade commanded by Colonel William Lytle. The brigade also consisted of the 42nd and 88th Indiana infantry regiments, along with the 15th Kentucky and the 10th Ohio. Also attached was the 1st Michigan Light Artillery, under Captain Cyrus Loomis.

On October 1st, the Army of the Ohio, under the command of Union General Don Carlos Buell marched out of Louisville. Two days later, at Taylorsville, Kentucky, it was evident that the march had not gone well. Beatty reported that the soldiers had been “full of whiskey for three days and fell out of the ranks by scores. The road for sixteen miles was lined with stragglers.” Rain fell during the afternoon and during the night, but failed to alleviate the shortage of drinking water. At 3 am, Beatty found himself lying in a puddle of water. The next day, the 3rd Ohio arrived at Bloomfield. The Union army shelled the woods and some Confederate soldiers were captured. Reports came in stating that the main Rebel army under Bragg was at Bardstown. On October 5th, the 3rd Ohio was still at Bloomfield. By the 7th, the 3rd Ohio marched to Mackville and camped for the night.

The 3rd Ohio marched toward Perryville the next day. Beatty heard the boom of cannons at the front. Soon he heard musketry along with the boom of artillery. At 10 am, the 3rd Ohio marched forward and were placed in line of battle on the left of the Mackville and Perryville road, with the cavalry in their front. The cavalry was engaged with the Rebels, but the firing soon ceased and the soldiers lounged about on the ground awaiting further orders.[v]

At 11 am, the 3rd Ohio was directed to take the head of the column and move forward. Union General Lovell Rousseau, commander of the 3rd Division, and his staff were in advance of the 3rd Ohio, followed by General Lytle and his staff. The regiment was marching by the flank and proceeded to the crest of a hill overlooking Doctor’s Creek and was about to descend into the valley when the Confederate artillery opened in front. Rousseau and his staff wheeled off the road to the left, accompanied by Lytle. The officers consulted with each other and Colonel Beatty was ordered to countermarch his regiment to the bottom of the hill they had just ascended and filed off to the right of the road and parallel to Doctor’s Creek. Captain Loomis and Captain Peter Simonson’s 5th Indiana batteries were put into position and began to fire on the enemy. A duel broke out between the Union and Confederate artillery batteries with solid shot and shell for an hour while the 3rd Ohio remained in position.

At 2 pm, the Confederates were seen advancing across the valley and Beatty ordered the 3rd Ohio to ascend the hill and take a position on the crest. The Washington Artillery, 5th Company, under Captain Cuthbert Slocumb and Captain Putnam Darden’s battery opened fire, and the air was filled with shot and exploding shells. The Confederate infantry were too far away for musket range, so Beatty ordered the 3rd Ohio to lie down and wait for the Southern line to advance closer. The Confederates from General Bushrod Johnson’s brigade, with the 23rd Tennessee, 5th Confederate, 17th Tennessee, and 37th Tennessee, advanced under the cover of the H. P. Bottom house on the side hill. and after reaching one hundred and fifty yards from the Union line, they deployed behind a stone fence that was hidden from the 3rd Ohio because of standing corn.

At this time, the 3rd Ohio’s left rested on the Mackville and Perryville road, with the line extending along the crest of the hill and his right passing behind H. P. Bottom’s barn filled with hay. The Confederate batteries poured a destructive fire into the 3rd Ohio as they rose and fired their first volley into the enemy. Beatty wrote that “all hell had broken loose, the air was filled with hissing balls; shells were exploding continuously and the noise of the guns was deafening.”[vi] Confederate General Daniel Adam’s brigade moved forward toward the Bottom house. Major John Austin’s 14th Battalion Sharpshooters, under Adam’s brigade opened fire on the 3rd Ohio. An artillery shell stuck Bottom’s barn on the right and the structure caught fire. The flames threw the right of the 3rd Ohio into disorder. The 3rd Ohio closed up the left and steadied themselves on the colors of the flag. During the battle, Captain H. E. Cunard, of Company I, was the first to fall, shot through the head, while “gallantly” performing his duty. A little later, the popular commander of Company H, while waving his sword and cheering his men, fell when he was pierced by a ball through the breast. Captain McDougal's service that began at the earliest possible moment of the war ended on a Kentucky hill. Later still, First Lieutenant Starr, of Company K, was killed. About 175 men out of Beatty’s five hundred fell killed or wounded on the crest of the hill overwhich both armies savagely fought.[vii]

Union Colonel Curran Popehad his 15th Kentucky in reserve at the bottom of the hill and asked twice for Beatty’s men to retire and allow him to take the position. The 3rd Ohio’s ammunition was exhausted and Beatty sent orders to Pope to march to the crest of the hill and allow his men to withdraw. The 15th Kentucky fought the Confederates and paid heavily in officers and men, including Colonel Pope, who was severely wounded. The 15th Kentucky also lost Lieutenant Colonel George Jouett, who was mortally wounded, Lieutenant James McGrath was shot dead, and Major William Campbell was also killed. The Confederates closed in on the 15th Kentucky’s right and rear and the regiment had no choice to fall back to the crest of the hill.

Beatty consulted with Pope and they decided to move their regiments to the left and form a line perpendicular to the one originally taken in order to protect the rear and right of the corps on their left. The Rebels saw the movement and thought Beatty and Pope were withdrawing, so they advanced towards them. Beatty ordered his regiment to about face and fix bayonets and move toward the Confederates, but before they had the chance to advance, Lieutenant Grover, of Lytle’s staff, ordered Beatty to retire. The 3rd Ohio fell back to a ravine and found an ammunition wagon and refilled their empty cartridge boxes while under Confederate fire. Colonel Lytle was wounded, so Beatty reported to Colonel Leonard Harris, commanding the 9th Brigade, but night brought an end to the battle.

During the night, the 3rd Ohio slept in a cornfield. Beatty lost 45 killed, 144 wounded, and 15 missing. During the battle, the flag of the 3rd Ohio never touched the ground, even though Color Sergeant Macoubrie was killed, and five other flag bearers were shot down after him. General Lovell Rousseau rode up in the darkness and as the men of the 3rd Ohio gathered around him, he said in a voice trembling with emotion: “Boys of the Third, you stood in that withering fire like men of iron.” The men were thirsty and tired. Cunard, McDougal, St. John, and Starr, irreplacable leaders of the regiment were dead.[viii]

During the night, the Confederates were in the woods and the sentinels occasionally exchanged fire. The next day, the Federals discovered that the Army of the Mississippi had left the battlefield and fallen back to Harrodsburg. The 3rd Ohio moved to the crest of the hill where the fighting took place the day before and found a hundred men of the 3rd Ohio and 15th Kentucky lying stiff and cold. There were also many wounded that the regiment carried to the hospitals. Some were already digging trenches and the dead were placed in them.[ix]

On October 12, 1862, a week after the battle, Captain McDougal’s brother in law, Luke Warner, received permission from the State of Ohio to bring Captain McDougal’s remains from the battlefield to Newark. McDougal's family buried him in the Cedar Hill Cemetery. The 3rd Ohio would go on to fight at the Battle of Stone’s River, Streight’s Raid to Rome, Georgia where they were captured on May 3rd, 1863 and quickly exchanged. From July 15-26, they were in pursuit of Confederate General John Morgan and in October the regiment engaged in an expedition against Confederate General Joseph Wheeler. On June 23, 1864, the regiment was mustered out at Camp Dennison, Ohio.

On Decoration Day, 1880, Judge Samuel M. Hunter, delivered a speech at Cedar Hill Cemetery. He said:

How well do we remember when Captain McDougal's company of the old Third Ohio, the first gift of Licking county to the Union, marched down Third Street that chill April day, nineteen years ago! Sumter had been fired upon, and the rebellion had been inaugurated. Who does not remember the solemn faces and streaming eyes of the people, as that little column filed down the street to take their place in the army of the Union? I see before me to-day faces and forms who were in that devoted band. It was they who were plunging into the great unknown; it was they who enlisted under the banner of a nation which had long been unused to war. They were the first, but they were quickly followed by the other companies and regiments, which marched down the same street, and took their places in the army of the Union, --some to the east, some to the west, but all with their faces to the south, and their homes behind them.

“There were boyish faces and forms in those ranks; but the years roll on, and those who were boys then, are men of middle age now. They were leaving family, friends and comforts. Their one thought was of home-their one impulse to battle for, and save the Union. And so the long months and years of that dark time went by. Call on call was made for fresh sacrifices, and fresh lives to offer up upon the altar of our country. The young lads who watched McDougal's company march away, grew up and themselves took their places in the army of the Union; until ere the war was over, Licking county herself had placed a small army in the field.”[x]

Image by Debe Clark via Find A Grave.

Special Thanks must be given to E. Chris Evans for the photographs and documents of his ancestor Captain Leonidas McDougal who fought and died at Perryville.

[i] Alfred Emory Lee, History of the City of Columbus, Capital of Ohio, Volume 2.

[ii] History of Licking County, O., Its Past and Present compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr. Newark, Ohio, A. A. Graham & Co. Publishers, 1881.

[iii] Alfred Emory Lee, History of the City of Columbus, Capital of Ohio, Volume 2

[iv] N. N. Hill, Jr., History of Licking County, O., Its Past and Present, Newark, Ohio, A. A. Graham & Co. Publishers, 1881.

[v] Harvey Ford, editor, John Beatty, Memoirs of a Volunteer1861-1865, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 135-139.

[vi] Ibid. 137.

[vii] Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Chapter XXVIII, No. 13, Report of Col. John Beatty, Third Ohio Infantry, 1057-1058; Harvey S. Ford, edited, John Beatty, Memoirs of a Volunteer, 1861-1865, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 135-139. [viii] Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Chapter XXVIII, No. 13, Report of Col. John Beatty, Third Ohio Infantry, 1057-1058; Harvey S. Ford, edited, John Beatty, Memoirs of a Volunteer, 1861-1865, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 135-139. [ix] Harvey S. Ford, edited, John Beatty, Memoirs of a Volunteer, 1861-1865, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 135-139. [x] N. N. Hill, Jr., History of Licking County, O., Its Past and Present, Newark, Ohio, A. A. Graham & Co. Publishers, 1881.

224 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page