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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Joseph Brown - G.A.R., Bishop Post

Joseph Brown was probably one of the oldest men in the enlistment line on October 12, 1861.  He gave his age as 44, but a birthdate in 1810 would have made him 51, if that birthdate is valid.

He enlisted in Company B, 68th Ohio Volunteer Infantry which organized in Napoleon at Camp Latty and was led by Sidney Sprague, Captain.  Joseph was appointed as a corporal and on May 13, 1864, was promoted to Sergeant.

This unit went first from Napoleon to Columbus and then on to Tennessee where it traveled by steamer to Pittsburgh Landing.  The regiment suffered greatly from illness and in the spring of 1862, one thousand men were reduced to 250 who were capable of duty at one point.

During the Battle of Shiloh they stayed in the rear, guarding the railroad and at Corinth, they dug entrenchments and built roads and bridges.  In the spring of 1863, they moved to Louisiana and helped dig the Lake Providence canal for Union ships to use and then joined in the Battle of Vicksburg.  The unit was used to escort six hundred Confederate soldiers to Vicksburg.  Again disease struck and 1/3 of the 68th found themselves hospitalized.

In March of 1864, those men who reenlisted were granted a furlough home, returning in May.  After that, it was fighting all the way through Atlanta with Sherman and then into the Carolinas.
"The regiment's members set foot in every seceded state except for Florida and Texas.  These Ohioans also marched over 7000 miles and traveled by train or steamboat over 6000 miles." (68th Regiment O.V.I. Ohio Civil War Central, 2017. wwww.ohiocivilwarcentral.com)

Joseph Brown mustered out with his unit on July 10, 1865.

When Joseph enlisted, he left his wife Esther (nee Baird) at home with three children: Robert, Esther, and John.  By 1870, the family was settled in Brown Township, Paulding County.  Joseph was 58 and Esther, 50, and with them wre their two sons, Robert, 21, and John, 20 and Mary E. Rickner, 12, at home and going to school - (no relationship noted).  Joseph farmed land worth $2500 at the time.  He remained there in 1880.

He was reported on the Veterans Census in 1890 with the enumerator commenting that Joseph was "in bad shape and old."  To think of what Joseph lived through in late middle age is astounding.  He died on October 24, 1898.

The Daily Crescent reported that same day:
"Obituary.  Joseph Brown died this morning at 11 o'clock at his home in Defiance township three miles south of the city.  Mr. Brown was 88 years old and was the oldest soldier in the Grand Army of the Republic.  The arrangements for the funeral will be made at the meeting of the G.A.R. this evening."

The funeral occurred at his home and he was buried at Taylor Cemetery.
Strangely, a Spanish American War star is on the grave.  He died in 1898, making service in that war improbable at the age of 88!

(This is part of a series on Civil War veterans of Defiance County who were part of the G.A.R., Bishop Post, that headquartered in the city.  Formed in 1879, the post was named after a local man, Captain William Bishop, Company D, 100th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Army who died as a result of wounds received in battle.  The veterans' photos are part of a composite photo of members that has survived.  If you have other information or corrections to add to the soldiers' stories, please add to the comments!)

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