While most people’s attention was focused on what was happening in Pennsylvania and at Vicksburg, or on the developing election campaign in Ohio, an incident occurred across the line in Holmes County that became known as the “Battle of Fort Fizzle.”
The Conscription Act of 1863 sparked a lot of anger and protests, including riots in places like New York City, Chicago and Boston. People especially resented the provision that a drafted person could pay a commutation fee $300, or could hire a substitute.
In other words, if you had money you could avoid serving.
In Holmes County, a mob had attacked the officer sent to the county to enlist men into the service. A provost marshal captured the ringleaders, but local residents freed the four men and built “Fort Fizzle” near Glenmont to resist future attempts to arrest the four.
The protesters armed themselves with guns and, according to some sources, had four pieces of artillery in the fort. However, other sources doubt that any cannon were ever in the fort. They were certainly never used.
Gov. David Tod sent 420 soldiers (including the 3rd Ohio Infantry) to disarm the men and implement the draft.
On June 17 there was a brief skirmish in which two protesters were wounded and the rest scattered into the woods. A deal was made for the four leaders to turn themselves in and the soldiers returned to Columbus.
Of the four ringleaders, only two went on trial and one was convicted and sentenced to six months hard labor at the Ohio Penitentiary.
President Lincoln commuted the sentence before it was completed.
For the rest of the story
The rest of this article is available to Mount Vernon News subscribers. To continue reading, please log in or purchase a subscription. Click here for the June 22, 2013 e-edition. The article will only be available for thirty (30) days.
Contact Chuck MartinEmail
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.