Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Charles Barney Dennis
Scope and Content
The photocopy of the Charles Barney Dennis memoir was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in 1997 by James H. Harding. He made the photocopy from the original held by Barney family members.
Charles Barney Dennis, one-time Sandusky postmaster and a veteran of the Civil War, was born in Constantia, New York, on August 6, 1843, the son of Eben and Amanda Gilmore (Caldwell) Dennis. His family came to Ohio when he was 9 years old, settling on a farm near the city of Sandusky. At age 19, on August 7, 1862, he enlisted in Company B of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, serving until his discharge on June 13, 1865. After the war, he was associated with the Kelley's Island Lime and Transport Co. and was involved in manufacturing furniture in Findlay, Ohio. He was postmaster of Sandusky for four years and at his death was treasurer of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home. He was a member of Perseverance Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, and the First Congregational Church.
He married Mary Robinson on June 16, 1870; they had a son, Charles, and later divorced. On October 2, 1878, he married Jane Scott. They were the parents of a daughter, Laura, who married Warren Austin Roberts. Charles Dennis died in Sandusky, Ohio at the age of 84, on May 28, 1928. He was buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Sandusky.
Scope and Content
The sixty-four page memoir of Charles Barney Dennis, Civil War experiences is believed to have been written in 1915 at the urging of relatives vacationing at Gibraltar Island in Lake Erie. Dennis' recollections begin on August 7, 1862, the day he enlisted in the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Dennis celebrated his nineteenth birthday the previous day. The memoir appears in three distinct chapters, closing rather abruptly after a description of the Battle of Chickamauga. During the Civil War, Dennis was involved in the Atlanta Campaign and the battles of Perryville, Knob Gap, Stone's River, Chickamauga and Franklin. He was wounded during the Battle of Stone's River. He recalled such episodes as the shooting of General William Nelson by General Jefferson C. Davis and his service as clerk and secretary attached to General Davis' headquarters of the 1st Division of the 20th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland. On December 31, 1862, during the Battle of Stone's River, while his regiment was falling back along a ridge in a cotton field, Dennis witnessed the shooting of Lt. John Biddle of the colored company. While crouching over Biddle, who had been killed instantly, Dennis was shot in the hip by the ball of a Rebel sharpshooter's deer rifle. The Confederate Army quickly swarmed over the field where he and other wounded Union troops lay. A Confederate ambulance picked him up and took him to a Union field hospital that, while now behind enemy lines, was still being run by Union doctors. After being treated, Dennis assisted the medical unit by labeling identification cards placed on the dead. When the Confederates ordered all mobile prisoners to march to Murfreesboro for transport to prison camps, Dennis took an oath to refrain from taking up arms against the South until he was officially exchanged. Within two days he broke that oath -- had he been recaptured, he could have been executed. After 2 and a half days at the field hospital, Dennis returned to the 101st, which had suffered upwards of 200 officers and men killed or wounded in the battle. On January 28, 1863, he was detailed for duty in the adjutant general's office at division headquarters under General Davis. He served the general until March 1864. Dennis' recollections also included his encounters with high-ranking Union officers including General Phillip H. Sheridan and General (and future president) Benjamin Harrison.
A second grouping of photocopies provides Dennis biographical information and correspondence relating to the family's efforts to have his memoir published.
Photocopy of Typed Transcripts
1. Charles Barney Dennis memoir, ca. 1915
2. Miscellaneous family correspondence and biographical information