Biography of

Alexander Pearce, Co D

     Lieutenant and later Captain Alexander Pearce of Company D was born on February 1, 1828 in Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio as the oldest son of James M. Pearce. On October 28, 1857, he married Amanda Ward. Together, they had seven children although two of the children did not live to reach their fifth birthday.

     Alexander Pearce was a member of the original 18th Ohio, which was enlisted for a period of 3 months. He enlisted on April 18, 1861 as a private at the age of 33. He was mustered into Company D of the18th Ohio Volunteer Militia on April 24th. The same day he was made a 2nd Lieutenant and again promoted to 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant on June 1, 1861 and assigned to the Field and Staff roster. He was mustered out on August 28, 1861 at Columbus, Ohio. At the end of their time in the service, many of the men chose to go to other units since their skills were needed to train the new recruits. Alexander chose to remain with the 18th and enlisted for 3 years. He was made a 2nd Lieutenant on the 18th of September, 1861 in Company D and was promoted to Captain on September 18, 1862. He was to remain with the unit through the engagements at Stones River, Davis Crossroads, Chickamauga, as well as the breakout of the siege of Chattanooga. He was mustered out of the service with the other surviving members of the 18th who chose not to re-enlist on November 9, 1864 at Camp Chase, Ohio.

     After the war, he became interested in politics. Offices held were as Justice of the Peace and County Recorder for Vinton County, Ohio.

(Information provided by Ken Wiltz.)

 

[As quoted from, "A Family History- The Pearces," prepared by Anna Darby in September, 1963 and transcribed with additonal research notations by James Bohannan, June 22, 2010.]

The Pearces lived near New Petersburg, Ohio, and were industrious and prosperous. They were farmers, merchants, shoemakers and tanners. They have a record of good citizenship. James Madison and Rebecca were the parents of eight children, three daughters, Sarah Jane, Alice, Ann Mary, and five sons, Alexander, George W., William H., John Richard, and James. One son, Worth, died in infancy.

 

Alexander, the oldest, born February 1, 1828, who was destined to become the grandfather of this writer. As a youth Alexander showed promise as a writer and wished to become an editor. He was apprenticed to a printer. After his apprentice­ship, as a young journeyman printer, he was looking for a place to start his own newspaper, when he came in contact with Moses Cleaveland, for whom the city of Cleaveland (now spelled Cleveland) was named. He advised the young printer to start his business in Portsmouth, Ohio pointing out that Portsmouth was the southern terminus of theOhioand Erie Canaland was destined to become a great city.  In due time, Alexander became the publisher of the first daily paper in that thriving town.  It was called the DAILY DISPATCH.  The enthusiasm over canals did not last long, for the first railroad in Ohio was completed in 1848, and by 1850, the Ohio River and Lake Erie were connected for a new kind of transportation.  In 1856, the young editor made a change.

In 1850, there came into being a brand new county in Ohio by the name of Vinton.  The new county seat, now called McArthur, seemed to offer new opportunities.  Here came Alex­ander Pearce, already a newspaper publisher of seven years experience, to publish THE DEMOCRAT.

Shortly after his arrival in McArthur, a young lady captured his attention.  Near the location of the newspaper office on East Main Street was a vacant lot.  There stood a well where a young girl came to draw water.  Like Isaac of old, Alexander inquired about her, and was told that his “Rachel” was little Amanda Ward, who was helping her aunt, Mrs. James Allen, who lived in the first house on the left.  She was the only daughter of Samantha Pilcher Ward, widow of Benjamin Ward, who had recently died, leaving her pregnant and with four children.  Alex­ander immediately started plans for a picnic, so he could invite that girl as his special guest.  Thus started a romance.  Amanda was only fifteen, hardly a marriageable age by today’s standard, but she was capable and mature for her age.  Anyway it was a good marriage for a girl, even though the editor was fourteen years her senior; so it was on October 23, 1857 they were married.  A Methodist preacher, S.C. Frampton officiated.

After Alexander had been in Vinton County for three years, he was sent to the state legislature.  While he was there the Civil War began.  He immediately enlisted in the Eighteenth Volunteer Infantry, “to save the Union”, first for three months and then for three years.  He was elected Second Lieutenant soon after enlistment, but actually began drawing pay February 2, 1862.  In a little over two weeks, February 19, 1862, he began drawing pay as First Lieutenant.

Meanwhile, Alexander and Amanda were parents of two sons, Lewis, who died at the age of two years, and George Walcott.  On May 8, 1862, the first daughter, Minnie Caldwell, was born, at which time Lieutenant Pearce was in Tennessee.  When Minnie was six months old, Amanda and Anna Lantz Fenton, wife of Captain Ashbel Fenton, took Minnie and little Alice Fenton to see their fathers for the first time.  The fathers hade only a short visit with their wives, when a battle alert was sounded and the women were ordered back North.  In a few days the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stone River) had been fought.  Captain Fenton of Company B was killed, and Lieutenant Pearce of Company D had his beard singed by a cannon ball.  Later Lieutenant Pearce was appointed Captain of Company D where he served until he was mustered out, November 9, 1864.

Company D 18th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was a quartermasters outfit, and it was their duty to get out lumber to make bridges and corduroy roads which were sorely needed so that the armies could make their way through the water and swamps of the South.  All this beside skirmishes with the enemy and several battles, made the going rough, and all suffered from th4e dampness and exposure.  Captain Pearce became disabled by rheumatism and was unable to perform his duties.  Later in connection with his claim for pension number 593462, the following account is given:

“He, Captain Pearce, believes that he contracted rheumatism while in the service under the following circumstances:

            On the 26th day of November, 1862, his command was ordered to the front from camp in Nashville, Tennessee, his regiment being the advance of his division (Nogley’s) on the Franklin Pike. His company was deployed as skirmishers to the right.  It was raining, the fields were muddy and the movement of the column demanded a rapid advance.  A long distance was covered in double quick time and on the run in order to preserve distance.  The exertions were fatiguing and he was quite exhausted.  On waking from sleep the following morning, he realized he was thoroughly chilled and attempts to rise were painful to his legs.  After taking hot coffee, circulation was restored and although ill, he was able to march in the rain to the camp at Stewart’s Creek, which was reached about midnight.  Everything was wet but the tents were pitched and he with his comrades slept in water-soaked blankets.  The rest at the camp over Sunday was beneficial, and on Monday morning, he marched with his command to Stone Creek (Stone River) and in short shared its fortunes in battle.  The excitement seemed to sustain him, but when it was over he became quite ill and suffered from pain in his limbs and hips which continued for several weeks, making it impossible for him to perform his duties.  At first he did not regard his lameness as serious, and since the surgeons were busy with wounded men some distance from his quarters, they were not called to see him and he took no medication.  He applied for a leave of absence, but was refused for lack of a surgeon’s certificate.  By this time he was able to walk about a little and called on the Assistant Surgeon.  At consultation he advised him to resign, encouraging him only with the remark “when warmer weather comes, you will feel better.”  Before the return of the resignation, he was appointed Provost Marshall, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 14th Army Corps.  Being now entitled to ride a horse, his main objection to remaining in the service was removed, but he never regained his former strength and health, and was several times sick in his quarters.  His inability to walk any considerable distance, without becoming lame continued and a horse was necessary to keep him with his command while marching.  His ast service was as a staff officer in a temporary brigade, commanded by Colonel C.H. Grosvenor, in September and October 1864.  This was part of a force operating under Generals Rosseau and Stedman against General Forrest.

After being mustered out, Captain Pearce’s health was poor even in dry and warm weather, and he was always plagued with a continuation of the disease, which forced him to retire from business.  Captain Pearce wrote many wonderful letters while he was in the service.  They were saved for he intended to write a book on his war experiences; but after he began such a book, his manuscript and letters were destroyed one night in a fire which destroyed his office. The only letters which survived were a few that made practically no reference to the war.

This narrative would scarcely be complete without noting that Captain Pearce’s father, James Madison Pearce, and his four brothers, George W., William H., John Richard, and James all enlisted in the Union Army.  The father came out of the war as Colonel Pearce; George W. came home safely; William H. was in Company I, 54th O.V.I., was wounded in the right lung and left leg, from the results of which he died, April 18, 1879.  His mother and his physician made affidavit, his mother claiming pension, May 1, 1880.  John Richard died in Wellington, Kansas in March 1891, where he lived, leaving a wife and several children.  He was murdered, but the murderer nor the motive were ever found.  He had served in the 18th Indiana Infantry, was promoted to Lieutenant and served three years in the war.  His family and his children continued to live in Kansas.  I do not know anything of the service of George or James.  I do know they lived to be elderly men for I have seen both of them – James as late as 1926, before he died in Bainbridge, Ohio.  I think that the family of Colonel James M. Pearce fully made up for fact (mentioned earlier) that our early ancestor, Job Emmanuel, had been a conscientious objector at the time of the Revolution.

After the war, four more children were born to Alexander and Amanda, James Ben­jamin, August 29, 1865; Anna Dana, June 5, 1869; Charles Allen, July 15, 1873; and Milton Lotts, August 9, 1875.  As to Captain Pearce after the war, he owned a part interest in a family grocery, and when able helped to conduct it.  About 1867, he was appointed Assistant Assessor of Internal Revenue, and held that post until the end of President Johnson’s administration.  In 1869, he became half owner of a hardware store with George Lantz as partner.  After 1875 he became the sole proprietor of it, but his health became so feeble, that he was unable to stand the annoyances and responsibilities of business, so he sold out in 1880.  At times he was unable to do any business, except an occasional case which came before him as Justice of the Peace.  Later, in 1881, he was part owner and manager of a newspaper, and did some work as editor.  It was during this period in 1883 that McArthur had a very destructive fire, destroying his letters and manuscript that he was writing concerning the war.  He was very discouraged and gave up the struggle. 

It must have been at this time that my Grandmother Amanda entered the business world, putting out her shingle as Mrs. A. Pearce, Fashionable Milliner, Market Street.  Opposite Will House. My mother, Minnie C. Pearce, served as her model and sales lady and was assisted by Ida Ward, daughter of James Ward, Amanda’s brother.  I have a letter written to my mother in May 19, 1887, showing she was in business at that time and doing very well.  My mother at that time was visiting with Uncle Milton Lotts’ family in Galesburg, Illinois.  Shortly after my mother’s return that fall the family received a severe blow by the death of Anna Dana Pearce, who died from a perforated ulcer at the age of eighteen.  She was a popular, light-hearted girl with a great talent in music.  She was an accomplished piano performer and devoted to her church.  I do not know when my grandmother terminated her business, but I am certain it was before my mother’s marriage in 1889.

The Pearce home, 312 W. Mill Street is owned by Ben L. Pearce, a grandson, was originally purchased, as nearly as I can tell, about 1858, from a Nelson Richmond.  To this property was added two rooms on the west for Alexander’s mother-in-law, Samantha Pilcher Ward, who came there with her young son to live.  Judson Caldwell Ward, the son, was born after his father’s death in 1857. There my great grandmother continued to live and carry on her business of carpet weaving.  Although I was only four years old when she died, February 4, 1896, I remember some things about her very well – her jovial disposition (her name for me was “old stick in the mud”), the sound of her loom which fascinated me so much I have always wanted one, and the sight and smell of her old corn-cob pipe, still in the hollow of an apple tree which grew outside her door, found long after she was gone.