Civil War generals called Ohio their home

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, February 21, 2009

I had to head up to Lancaster for a meeting so I pulled out my well worn Ohio travel atlas intending to craft a short weekend getaway.

I had some prior knowledge about this region’s involvement in the American Civil War so this became the theme and focus of my itinerary.

Ohio produced many general officers during the Civil War and this section of the state provided some very famous or “infamous” characters. William Tecumseh Sherman called Lancaster home and about 20 miles east in Somerset you’ll find the birthplace of cavalryman “Little Phil” Sheridan. Travel about an hour northeast to Cadiz and you’ll discover George Armstrong Custer’s birthplace.

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Lancaster’s Sherman House Museum was the birthplace of General William Tecumseh Sherman and his brother, U.S. Senator John Sherman, and home to the remarkable Sherman Family.

The original frame home built in 1811 consists of a parlor/dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, and children’s bedroom. The Sherman Family’s 1816 addition to the house included a parlor and study for the father, Judge Charles Sherman.

All of these rooms have been restored to look as they would have when the Sherman Family lived here. A brick addition was added to the front of the house in 1870, and this Victorian parlor features furniture owned by General and Ellen Sherman when they lived in New York City after his retirement.

The parlor also features an 1888 bust of General Sherman by the gifted sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

One upstairs bedroom houses family memorabilia, and another offers a re-creation of General Sherman’s Civil War field tent including several items he used during the war, and a sound and light presentation depicting his passion

for the Union. The last room houses an excellent exhibit, “Sherman at War,” explaining his war story with artifacts, paintings, prints, maps, weapons, and GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) memorabilia.

After departing here it was about a 20 minute through the rolling farm lands of central Ohio en route to “Little Phil” Sheridan’s bronze statue. It is located at the center of a busy traffic circle where US Highway 22 crosses several Ohio state roads.

This monument was given to the village in 1905 by the State of Ohio to commemorate its’ most famous resident son, General Philip H. Sheridan. Sheridan was only five foot five inches tall, hence the nickname, “Little Phil.”

The General was ruthless in his tactics and the first American general to employ a scorched earth policy when dealing with the enemy. He was revered in the North and despised in the South for this reason.

Historians have also accused him of genocidal tactics against the native Indians of the west.

While touring these two sites I had worked up an appetite so I was time for lunch.

Across the street from the statue at 102 E. Main was “Little Phil’s” diner.

I ventured in and was greeted by a friendly staff that quickly provided a cup of coffee and a menu.

Today’s special “The Little Phil Scrambler,” named by an employee named Julia, offered two eggs, home fries, homemade sausage, cheese, and homemade biscuits all smothered in sausage gravy.

This heaping home-style platter only cost me $4.25. It was wonderful but I wished that I would have stopped in here at supper time.

Their $9.95 evening special was “all you care to eat” fried Lake Erie walleye accompanied with a salad bar.

Refueled I was ready to continue my journey over to Cadiz actually New Rumsey to discover the birthplace and the monuments of Brevet General George Armstrong Custer. George Armstrong Custer became one of the most controversial military leaders in our country’s history.

Following his graduation from West Point, Custer served the Union Army in the Civil War, rapidly rising in rank, attaining the rank of Brevet General.

Following the war, he served throughout the west, meeting his death at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

Only the foundation remains of his birthplace and bronze statue along with a small exhibit pavilion accounts for Custer’s life and his infamous “Last Stand.”

It was a full day of touring and it was time to head south by southwest to the best location in the nation.