Hiram C. Davis
Co. B, 68th OH Infantry, Civil War
~researched & written by Carl Inwalson
Hiram Davis, the son of Francis and Lydia Davis, was born in Delaware County, Ohio, in January 1824. On September 28, 1845, he married Hulda Skiver in Defiance County where they made their home. They moved to Clayton County, Iowa, in the late 1850s, but returned to Ohio before the Civil War. Hiram and Lydia had nine (possibly ten) children, some born in Ohio and some in Iowa, some before the Civil War and some after.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860, South Carolina became the first of the Southern states to secede and, on April 12, 1861, Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter. Northern volunteer regiments were quickly organized and, on October 21, 1861, at Defiance, Hiram Davis enlisted for three years (or the war) in what would be Company B of the 68th Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was listed in the regiments Descriptive Book as being a thirty-seven-year-old farmer, 6' 2½ tall with blue eyes, sandy hair and a fresh complexion. The regiment was organized at Camp Latty in Napoleon, Ohio, where Hiram was promoted from Private to 8th Corporal and then 7th Corporal.
On February 7, 1862, the regiment was ordered to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River in Tennessee. The fort was invested and, on the 14th, surrendered to an army led by Brigadier General Ulysses Grant who, as a result of his success, was promoted to Major General. The regiment remained in Tennessee and, in March, moved toward Purdy and Crumps Landing on the Tennessee River. From there they moved to Metal Landing and were then transported to Pittsburg Landing.
Hiram had apparently left Ohio with his regiment but was hospitalized almost immediately. In March, when his regiment was in Tennessee, Hiram was a patient in the U.S. Army General Hospital in Mound City, Illinois, where Dr. Edward C. Franklin was the Brigade Surgeon of Volunteers. Dr Franklin, who had organized the hospital, signed a Certificate of Disability for Discharge saying he had carefully examined Hiram who had a debility caused by an injury in the back received before entering the service, has not done duty in three months and will not be fit for duty in two months. Dr. Franklin did not have the authority to order a discharge, but the certificate was then signed by Hirams company commander, Captain Sidney Sprague, who was with the regiment at Pittsburg Landing. Captain Sprague said Hiram had complained a short time after his enlistment of weakness in the back. Although not physically present, Hiram was Discharged this Thirtieth day of April, 1862, at Pittsburg Landing Tennessee. On May 1st, the regiment participated in its first battle of the war.
Statutes regarding invalid pensions in 1863 required a minimum of ninety days service, an honorable discharge and a service-related disability incurred in the line of duty. In Defiance on February 16, 1863, Hiram was examined by Dr. Isaac Thacker who said he knew Hiram personally and Hiram had the Spinal Affection previous to enlisting, which was not increased in the service. He is as able to perform manual labor as before entering the service, and is not entitled to a pension. Three days later, despite the doctors report, Hiram signed (by mark) an application for an invalid pension indicating that, while still at Camp Latty, he was kicked on the left ankle while taking a prisoner to the guard house and said kick has caused him to become more or less sore ever since that time. He also said he had contracted an unspecified disease in the line of duty and has not been able to do labor of any kind since. On May 11th his claim was denied.
By 1866 Hiram was back in Iowa where he and Hulda owned land in Highland Township, Clayton County. Hulda died in 1871 and two years later Hiram was admitted to the Iowa Insane Asylum in Independence. He was later transferred to the Insane Asylum in Clayton County where he died on October 30, 1885. Hiram is buried in the County Home Cemetery where, on October 6, 2018, almost 133 years after his death, Hiram Davis finally received a headstone.
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