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Brevet Major James Lawrence Botsford, U.S.V.

Brevet Major James Lawrence Botsford was born in Poland, Ohio, in 1834. He was mustered into the service of the United States as second lieutenant of Company E in the famous Twenty-third Ohio Regiment Volunteer Infantry, which was organized at Camp Chase, Columbus, Ohio, and mustered into the United States service June 8, 1861, being the first original three years regiment to enlist from Ohio.

His first service was in West Virginia, where he was detailed as acting aide-de-camp to Colonel Scammon, commanding First Brigade Kanawha Division, Army of West Virginia; was engaged in the battle of Carnifax Ferry, September 10. January 17, 1862, he was promoted to first lieutenant and assigned to Company C. The captain and second lieutenant being absent on recruiting service, the command of the company devolved upon Lieutenant Botsford, and by his thorough drilling and discipline was soon the first in the regiment, and, as such, was selected by Lieutenant-Colonel Rutherford B. Hayes to make a forced march and attempt to capture a guerilla band who were encamped on the southern slope of Great Flat Top Mountain, near Princeton.

He left camp with Company C, numbering seventy men all told, the night of April 29, 1862. At seven o'clock the next morning he made the attack, driving them from their camp and capturing four prisoners without loss to his command. After an hour's rest the return march commenced, but after marching some fifteen miles, the men declared they could march no farther, and the order to camp was reluctantly given, as Lieutenant Botsford knew that a regiment of Confederate troops was stationed at Princeton, only thirteen miles distant. At break of day, May 1, the company was on the road ready for marching, when one of the soldiers, looking up at the mountain-side, exclaimed, " Look there, lieutenant!"


It did not take long to find that his company was surrounded, and almost immediately a demand was made for his surrender. There being a double log-house near, he gave Qrders for his men to take possession. The house was situated in a hollow known as " Clark's Hollow," surrounded on all sides by mountains, which enabled the enemy to fire from the mountain-sides through the roof of the house. After two hours of severe fighting the enemy withdrew, leaving a number killed. Their wounded were carried off, and, as was afterwards learned, about forty-five Confederates were seriously wounded. Lieutenant Botsford's command suffered severely, one being killed and twenty-two wounded, five of whom died within a day or two.

August the 6th he was again detailed to serve with Colonel Scammon, commanding a brigade; August 20, division was ordered to Washington, and part of it was engaged in the second battle of Bull Run; was attached to the Ninth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac; September 13, in the battle at Frederick, Md.; September 14, South Mountain; September 17, Antietam; October 27, 1862, was promoted by President Lincoln to captain and assistant adjutant-general in the United States Volunteers for gallantry and good conduct. He served in West Virginia with General Scammon until January, 1864.

Thence as assistant adjutant-general to General George Crook, and was at the battles of Cloyd Mountain, New River Bridge, Blacksburg, Covington, Panther's Gap, and Buffalo Gap; thence on General Hunter's raid to Lynchburg, thence with Hunter's command to Shenandoah Valley. He was engaged in the battles of Snicker's Ferry, Cabletown, Stevenson's Depot, Winchester, and Martinsburg; thence to General Sheridan's department in the Shenandoah Valley. November, 1864, he was stationed at Cumberland, Maryland, detailed as assistant inspector-general of the Department of West Virginia; resigned February 25. He was commissioned brevet major March 13, 1865, for meritorious and distinguished conduct. He moved to Louisville, Kentucky, and was engaged in business there until 1872, when he moved to Youngstown, Ohio, to engage in the manufacture of iron, and is now connected with the Mahoning Valley Iron Company, having been its treasurer since the formation of the company.

On January 11, 1892, he was appointed quartermaster-general of Ohio by Governor William McKinley, Jr., he having served in the same regiment and in the same army with the governor during the war. He was married January 27, 1864, to Ellen Ewing Blaine, and has a son and daughter living.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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