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Ohio Brothers Against Brother

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

What? Say it cannot be. Buckeyes on opposite sides during the Civil War? Yes, intrepid students of the War of the Rebellion, read on and learn the story of the Bresslers.

On the far left, John Bressler. On the far right, Jonathan Bressler.

Along a quiet road in western Butler County, Ohio one can find the Bunker Hill Universalist Pioneer Cemetery. There are graves within the cemetery from the American Revolution, War of 1812, and the Civil War, including two Bressler sons of the four and possibly five Bressler boys that served during the war.

Michael and Susan Bressler, natives of Pennsylvania, had moved to Butler County in 1837. They eventually settled in an area called Bunker Hill in Reily Township, where Michael worked as a carpenter and a contractor. The couple had at ten children - Simon, Lovina, Sarah, Catherine, Hannah, Jonathan, and George being born in Pennsylvania, while sons John, Mathias, and David were born in Ohio.


By 1852 oldest brother Jonathan was living in Mobile, Alabama. On May 4th, 1861 he enlisted in the Confederate army, joining an Alabama State Artillery unit as a private. His unit served in the Pensacola area under overall command of Braxton Bragg before moving north and joining the forces gathering around Corinth, Mississippi prior to the battle of Shiloh. Jonathan, promoted to corporal by the time of the Kentucky Campaign, would be slightly wounded in the face near Fort Craig during the fighting at Munfordville in mid-September, 1862. He would be promoted to sergeant, and while his grave marker indicates that he was commissioned as a first lieutenant, his military service records do not indicate such a promotion. His records mention serving in Garrity's and Ketchum's batteries.

Jonathan would be paroled on May 10th, 1865, and after the war would return to Mobile and marry. He would also join the Alabama National Guard. His wife Margaret would die in 1878, and Jonathan returned to Butler County to be near family. By the following year he was in Colorado with his brother George, who had struck it rich at Breckenridge. Jonathan, who like his father was a carpenter, also made a small fortune in the construction of buildings for the numerous miners that were pouring into the area.

Jonathan returned once again to the family in Ohio where he served the community as postmaster and justice of the peace. He would die on December 17th, 1909 and is buried in the same cemetery as two of his two sisters and his parents, along with younger brother John.

An elderly Jonathan Bressler (circled)


George's service in the Civil War is a bit cloudy. I have come across a few different George Bressler's but cannot definitively state if any of them might be Michael and Susan's son. George died in 1895 and is buried in Denver, Colorado.


Garrity's Battery flag captured by the Twenty-Sixth Ohio

John Bressler was one of the original Butler Pioneers, the subject of another blog post here on the site. John would join Company A of the Twenty-Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry on June 10th, 1861 as a twenty-one year old private. He would have seen action at places like Stones River and Chickamauga, and he was promoted to corporal on March 14th, 1863. John was wounded on June 27th, 1864 at Kennesaw Mountain. John might have faced off against his older brother Jonathan at Missionary Ridge, where the Twenty-Sixth captured the flag of Garrity's Alabama Battery. John would die of his wounds in Chattanooga, and is buried with his parents, Jonathan, and his two sisters Sarah and Catherine at Bunker Hill.


Born on April 25th, 1841, Mathias Bressler would also see service during the Civil War, mustering in on September 20th, 1861 into Company H of the Seventh Illinois Cavalry Regiment. He would reenlist in March, 1864, and muster out of service November 14th, 1865 in Nashville. The Seventh would see action at places like Iuka, Corinth, and Nashville. Mathias is listed on both the 1860 and 1870 United States Census as living in Reily Township, so how he became involved with an Illinois unit is a bit of a mystery. Mathias would marry Helen Haldeman after the war, collect his pension for his Civil War service, and live out his life as a carpenter and a farmer until dying in 1913. He and his wife are buried in the Venice Cemetery, about ten miles from his parents.


The youngest of the Bressler boys also served during the Civil War. David would join the ranks of the Fourth United States Cavalry Regiment as a member of Company L. It is not known when David joined the Fourth, and there is also a David Bressler in the Twenty-Sixth Ohio Infantry, his brother John's unit. The 1890 Veterans Census indicates two entrees for a David Bressler in Oxford, Ohio, each showing the two aforementioned units. As David is buried in Oxford, I believe he did spend time in both the Fourth U. S. and the Twenty-Sixth Ohio.

David would return to Ohio, making a living as a blacksmith and a farmer. He would marry Laura Jane Montgomery in 1842, and have one child.

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