Names and numbers.
When I started writing this book I wanted a nice big anonymous number for the regiment and 114 seemed just about right. Then I did a bit of specific research into Ohio in the Civil war and found that my regiment was born about six months prematurely. But I still liked the number so I kept it. As the first run of the book came to a close I decided that that too big number would be a needless aggravation to Civil war buffs and divided it in half. My 57th Ohio was born only about two months prematurely.
In Book Two, The Glory of War, my 57th Ohio and the real 57th Ohio will both be at Shiloh at the same time. The real 57th was one of the regiments of raw recruits that the Confederates dealt with rather severely.
Well before I started to write I came across a list of sixty three men who were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor at Gettysburg (a whole lot of them for picking up a Rebel flag; it was not until World War One that the medal was elevated to its present status). I decided to put all their names in the book.
Death and related events.
In nearly every Civil War regiment, North and South, (and including the real 114th Ohio Volunteers) more men died of disease than of wounds. I did not want this to happen to my regiment so I provided them with a surgeon who was “a fresh food fanatic” and who “pitched a fit every time the men had to sleep in their dog tents (it was also in the World War One era when a pair of shelter halves became a pup tent instead of a dog tent).”
A little later, after the first two skirmishes of the 114th the surgeon and his assistant became concerned about “the dirty rags that the men use” to bind up their wounds. I had been reading diligently trying to find out if the soldiers of that war had been issued any kind of first-aid kit. There was nothing in the books so I went on line.
I posted a double barreled question, asking about the first aid kits and if during the Civil War there had been any equivalent of the 20th Century’s General Orders for Interior Guard, then a bit of serendipity stepped in. I had created a Rebel regiment, the 39th Georgia (also born about six months prematurely) for the 114th’s opponent. I got all negatives on the first aid kits but the best information I got on guard duty was from the author of the 39th Georgia Home Page. My surgeons issued each man a four and a half foot long bandage wrapped in oil cloth to keep it clean, and fewer of my men died from minor wounds. The “hero” of the story hated the kepi (or forage cap) and eventually got the regiment real hats, which no doubt aided in their health (and reflected the reality that many men in the Western Armies wore hats and nearly all of the soldiers of whatever branch in the Eastern Armies wore caps).
Disease was the great killer in that war. One of the regiments I fictitiously use is the 9th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry (Union). That real regiment lost eight officers and ninety six enlisted men killed in battle and three officers and two hundred and fifty enlisted men to disease.
A word about a word,
During the civil war a company of cavalry was called a company. Some-when about 1880 a company of cavalry became a troop of cavalry. The latter word has become ubiquitous in our language. After a severe but successful tussle with my conscience I decided to use the word troop occasionally. With the artillery the terms company and battery were used with roughly equal frequency so all my batteries will be batteries.
I was unable to find out anything about the layout of Camp Dennison’s (the main Ohio training camp) physical layout, so I created Camp Dickenson. The brief mention of Camp Dick Robinson, Kentucky, was a for real camp and now is a town, I think.