FINDLAY - After a successful first reunion at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park near Atlanta two years ago, descendants and friends of the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry decided Findlay was a natural locale for the next get-together.
It was in Findlay, after all, that volunteer soldiers from across northwest Ohio gathered in 1861 to join the regiment that ultimately fought in the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, Vinings Station, Jonesboro, and Bentonville.
On July 24 and 25, more than 150 people are expected to gather for the second descendants' reunion at Riverbend Recreation Area east of Findlay and the Hancock Historical Museum near downtown.
"People are coming from all over the country, and it's interesting to hear the stories of what their great or great-great grandfathers did because there are just so many stories out there that are unheard," said Sue Howell of Findlay, whose own great-grandfather, Henry Hershey, joined the 21st in 1863 with his brother, Isaac, when Henry was just 16 and his brother 18.
Brad Quinlin, a reunion organizer and historian from Suwanee, Ga., said 1,673 men served with the 21st, based on service records he found at the National Archives.
"They were all from the northwest corner of Ohio - Ottawa, Putnam, Wood, Defiance, Hancock counties," he said.
"They were raised in these small towns and then sent to Findlay to do some training and mustered in state service there.
"They were then taken to Cincinnati or Columbus for muster into national service."
At this year's reunion, participants will gather from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. July 24 at Riverbend for a reception, where the men of the regiment will be toasted.
On July 25, a series of lectures will be presented from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hancock Historical Museum, where special exhibits relating to the 21st Ohio will be on display.
Although the museum has a number of 21st Ohio artifacts in its collection - a cutlass, flags, and correspondence from soldiers - several items from Bowling Green State University, including the unit's original regimental desk, will be at the museum for the weekend.
At 3:30 p.m. July 25, the group will honor Col. James Neibling, commander of the 21st, and other members of the unit who are buried at Findlay's Maple Grove Cemetery. At 5:30 p.m., a new gravestone for 21st veteran Gideon Powell will be dedicated at Powell Cemetery south of Findlay.
Mr. Quinlin said about a third of the men in the 21st died during the war - killed in battle or from disease or in a prisoner-of-war camp. They are buried in national cemeteries around the country.
During the 2007 reunion in Georgia, participants gathered at Marietta National Cemetery to dedicate a gravestone that had been mismarked for 141 years. The grave was actually that of Hancock County native James A. Clymer.
Mrs. Howell said she had found the graves of the soldier's parents at the Clymer Cemetery near Mount Cory, Ohio, and was struck to find that his mother's stone included a notation in memory of her son, James. Mrs. Howell said she took some dirt from the area and placed it around his grave in Georgia at the rededication ceremony.
Registration remains open for the reunion. For more information, go to geocities.com/union21ovi/findlay.
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