Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Detour -- A Tribute to Col. William Haines Lytle

In the process of researching the 10th Regiment OVI, I learned about William Haines Lytle.  Col. Lytle known as "Will" by his friends was a well-known Cincinnatian.  He had been trained as an attorney and had served as a Captain in the Mexican-American War.  Upon returning home, he was elected to the state legislature and later ran for Lieutenant Governor, a race he lost by just a few hundred votes.  When the Civil War began, Col. Lytle took over the command of the 10th OVI in General Rosencran's Army.

Lytle was loved by his men and was the kind of officer who led by example.  He could always be found leading the charge.  In the Battle of Carnifex Ferry, Lytle was shot in the leg and his horse was killed.  He was returned to Cincinnati for a four-month recovery. Following his recovery and a short stint as the Commander of a Military Training Camp in Bardstown, Kentucky, Lytle returned to the field and was again wounded in the Battle of Perrysville. Lytle was captured and taken prisoner but later freed as part of a prisoner exchange.

Lytle was promoted to Brigadier General of Volunteers.  He was held in such high esteem that he was awarded the Maltese Cross by fellow officers.  Eleven days later, Lytle led forces on a counterattack in the Battle of Chicamauga in Georgia.  Here he was targeted by Confederate snipers.  Mortally wounded, Lytle's body was actually guarded by a respectful Confederate contingent.  Confederate soldiers, upon learning of his death, recited poetry that had been written by Lytle around their evening campfires.

Sculpture of Lytle that is part of his grave monument.

After his body was returned to Cincinnati, his funeral was held at Christ Church on 4th Street.  The turnout was so large and the streets lined with so many people that the funeral cortege did not arrive at Spring Grove Cemetery until dusk.  Lytle was buried by moonlight. 

I hope that my gg-grandfather, Charles C. Gross, had the opportunity to know and be inspired by such a leader as William H. Lytle.

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