Perrysburg resident Dan Masters, the author of eight books, will be speaking both Saturday and Sunday during Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend. The event is scheduled to be held in Sidney’s 230 acre Tawawa Park on Sept. 17-18.
Masters’ interest in the Civil War began more than a quarter century ago as he began researching his family’s genealogy.
“One day I sat down with my grandmother,” Masters said in a city of Sidney press release. “We were going through the part of her family who had lived in the Chillicothe area. She had a Civil War discharge certificate belonging to James Morrow of the 1st Ohio Cavalry. She had no idea who he was or how we might be related.”
“That discharge certificate started me beginning the genealogical research, travel, and digging through old records,” Masters continued. “I discovered that James Morrow was her father’s grandfather, and hence my great-great-great grandfather.”
During the 25 years since, Masters has researched and written several books, had several articles published in both regional and national publications, and is one of the most prolific Civil War bloggers in the field today. His website “Dan Masters’ Civil War Chronicles,” ranks as one of the top five Civil War blogs in the country. Much of his work has focused on the contributions Ohioans made during the war, including the members of his family.
“In addition to James Morrow, I found three other direct Civil War ancestors, all of whom served in the Union army,” he noted. “Two of the men served in units raised in Indiana, and two in Ohio units.”
“My genealogical research project led to my discovering these four direct ancestors, but several other uncles and cousins who also fought during the war,” Masters said. “Two of those uncles did not come home and both are buried in national cemeteries located in Tennessee. One of them died of wounds sustained at the Battle of Stones River while the other died of disease in Memphis in 1863.”
“I’ve always had a deep interest in U.S. history and in particular, military history,” Masters said. “When I speak, I like to joke that during the Civil War, the Army of the Cumberland was the family business,” he continued, “and, in a way, it was. All four direct ancestors served in that army during the conflict.”
Masters has direct ancestors who served in the 1st Ohio Cavalry, the 89th Ohio Infantry, the 37th Indiana Infantry, and 140th Indiana Infantry. Other relatives served in the 21st Ohio Infantry, the 144th Ohio Infantry, the 39th Indiana Infantry, and the 89th Indiana Infantry.
After publishing his first book in 2003 (No Greater Glory: A Regimental History of the 144th Ohio Volunteer Infantry), Masters spent more than a dozen years cataloguing and documenting the thousands of letters written home by soldiers that were reprinted in Ohio’s Civil War-era newspapers.
“It was a veritable treasure trove of incredible accounts of the war that had been relatively untapped,” Masters said.
“The small, home-town newspapers of the time often ran letters from their soldier-correspondents in each issue,” he stated. “It was an eye-opening experience to discover just how many letters were out there.”
Those letters comprise the foundations of much of his work. He published his second and third books in 2017 and has published one title per year since under the Columbian Arsenal Press imprint.
His most recent work (Echoes of Battle) is his most ambitious effort yet. It includes hundreds of accounts written by Ohioans covering the first 18 months of the Civil War. Every major battle from Bull Run to Shiloh and Antietam is covered in this book, the first of a trilogy he plans to publish. He is currently working the second volume. In addition, he is writing a study of the Stones River campaign.
The Battle of Shiloh will be Masters’ topic on Saturday during Sidney’s Civil War Living History Weekend. He will discuss the services of one of Shelby County’s local regiments, the 57th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Company I of the 57th Ohio was raised in Shelby County, and Shiloh marked the regiment’s first time under fire. The 57th Ohio was among the first Federal regiments to come under fire during that battle. Master’s talk will recount the horrors of that battle and of Civil War combat in general.
On Sunday, Masters’ presentation will concentrate on the 57th Ohio’s experiences during the July 1864 Battle of Atlanta. That battle ranks as the most intense of the regiment’s four years of Civil War service.
“At one point during the battle, the regiment was simultaneously fighting on both sides of their breastworks,” Masters noted. “The Confederates were coming at them from all sides. “It’s unbelievable, incredible really that any of these men survived.”
Masters will be available before and after his talks with copies of his books for sale which he will sign for those wishing to purchase them. He’s also happy to talk about his ongoing research.
A native of northwestern Ohio, Masters works as the plant traffic manager for Materion Corporation based in Elmore, Ohio. Masters’ resides in Perrysburg with his wife Amy and five of his six children. His oldest son is currently stationed in South Carolina serving in the U.S. Air Force.