While no actual Civil War battles took place in Northeast Ohio, the role that its men played in the war was still a significant one. The 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which is better know as the 7th OVI, was a heroic group of men from all over Northeast Ohio who served proudly in the American Civil War. The 7th OVI was initially composed of 1800 men in 10 companies and was in fact only one of a number of infantry units composed of men from the state of Ohio. Indeed, when President Lincoln called on troops to join the war effort in April of 1862, there were enough volunteers from across Ohio to fill the entire quota of 75,000!
Most men from the 7th OVI were true Cleveland boys with a strong spirit to fight for the Union. These were men of culture and good social status, including clergymen, students, teachers, bankers, farmers, and mechanics. When the 7th Ohio was called into service on April 30, 1861 Colonel E.B. Tyler was chosen to lead the infantry. The 7th Ohio mustered at Camp Taylor in Cleveland, located near what is now East 30th and Woodland Avenue. The troops then were moved to Camp Dennison near Cincinnati to receive further training, weapons, and uniforms. It was here that most of the 7th signed up for three years of service to defend the Union. After their service began, they headed out to West Virginia on June 26, 1861.
When Colonel E. B. Tyler was promoted to General, William R. Creighton, with whom the history of the Seventh is identified, took over as Colonel of the 7th OVI. Creighton was part of the old Cleveland Light Guard militia unit which formed the nucleus of what became the 7th OVI. He led the 7th through many famous battles such as Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg before he lost his life in the Battle of Ringgold, Atlanta on November 27, 1863. On that same day, Creighton's Lieutentant Colonel, Orrin J. Crane, also lost his life. Both Creighton and Crane always led their men into battle showing great courage and valor.
After Creighton and Crane lost their lives, the 7th headed south to aid in the Atlanta campaign. Before the campaign began, however, the 7th Ohio was pulled from action at the front because their enlistment time had expired. Those who wanted to continue to fight for the Union joined the 5th Ohio. The rest of the regiment was mustered out, with its men paid and discharged at Camp Cleveland on July 8, 1864.
A war historian wrote of the 7th regiment that "[a]ll in all, considering the number of its battles, its marches, its losses, its conduct in action, it may be safely said that not a single regiment in the United States gained more lasting honor or deserved better of its country than the Seventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry." The unit lost 10 officers and 174 men to hostile action and 2 officers and 87 men to disease. The memory of the 7th OVI, however, will live forever in marbled monuments around the country. One such monument can be found in Woodland Cemetery in Cleveland, where both Creighton and Crane are buried.