In August 1862 after a major Union defeat in Kentucky, the fear of invasion in Cincinnati became a real concern. Governor David Tod from the state capital at Columbus issued a proclamation on September 2, 1862 to the people of the state of Ohio which read as follows:
Our southern border is threatened with invasion. I have therefore to recommend that all of the loyal men of your counties at once form themselves into military companies and regiments to beat back the enemy at any and all points he may attempt to invade our State. Gather up all of the arms in the country, and furnish yourselves with ammunition for the same. The service will be but a few days. The soil of Ohio must not be invaded by the enemies of our glorious government.
Governor Tod actually went to Cincinnati and ordered the regiments in training or being recruited to be sent there at once. However, troops in the river counties were to remain in their own localities for home defense.
Governor Tod expected about 8,000 men to sign up. He requested that each bring two days of rations and a blanket. About 16,000 actually showed up in Cincinnati. They came from the backwood regions, the Great Lakes, and farms and towns all over Ohio. Some even came from Indiana. They toted every manner of weapon, including old flintlocks or muskets, powder horns and buckskin pouches and squirrel guns. Men were dressed in homespun goods with a lot of buckskin and coonskin caps evident. Age was of no consequence.
One source said that very few Squirrel Hunters came from the southeastern counties as they were far more concerned with attacks on them from eastern Virginia. However, over 1100 men are listed as Squirrel Hunters from Gallia County. Attached with this information is a listing of those from the original Squirrel Hunter microfilm.
In March 1863 a joint resolution was passed by the Senate and House allowing for a discharge paper. The governor was authorized by the House and Senate to pay for printing and lithographing discharges to the men who responded to the governor’s call who would be known in history as the Squirrel Hunters.
In 1908 one month’s pay of militia of the time, 1863, $13.00, was issued to those who had served as Squirrel Hunters and whose name was recorded in the files of the adjutant general’s office. The survivor was to be identified by the captain of the company or by two surviving members of the company or by two reputable citizens of the community. In 1911 it was determined that many names were not included and were now to be allowed identity by affidavit.
In the attached list you will find the name of the Squirrel Hunter, his rank and occasionally a township. AD is for Addison, GA is for Gallipolis and MO is Morgan. A few entries even listed a company and regiment.
Major Malcolm McDowell is credited with first giving the men the name of Squirrel Hunters. Thousands of them went to Cincinnati, but it is also apparent that many stayed in their counties, such as in Gallia, to defend their own county. The eleven hundred from Gallia County is a substantial number.
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