SIDNEY — Richard Metzger, an author and member of the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable, will be one of the presenters during Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend. Metzger will be presenting a brief history of Battery M (Schultz’s Battery) of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, a unit comprised largely of Shelby County “boys” that saw action through several major Civil War battles.
A lifelong resident of the Miami Valley and a graduate of Capitol University, Metzger is retired following a career in the Montgomery County court system. He lives in Dayton with his wife, Susanna.
An avid reader and military history enthusiast, Metzger has read extensively on the topics of the American Civil War nearly all his life. Just nine years of age when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he began closely following events as they unfolded, creating his own maps and coloring them to show troop movements.
He visited Gettysburg for the first time in 1966, and was “hooked.” When he learned that his great-grandfather had served in Schultz’s Battery, he began a near lifelo dng quest to learn as much as he could about the unit and their campaigns. Over the years, he ha s visited more than two dozen sites where the unit saw action.
Currently serving as vice-president of the Stillwater Civil War Roundtable, Metzger has spoken several times on the struggle between the Union and the Confederacy. The author of George and Louisa: The Achbach-Zeng Heritage (copies of book can be found at the Amos Memorial Public Library and the Shelby County Historical Society), Metzger details his great-grandfather’s Civil War service. He is currently writing a second book about Schultz’s Battery.
Battery M (Schultz’s Battery) was comprised primarily of German speaking “boys” from Shelby County. There were some additional German speaking recruits from both Miami and Auglaize counties.
Schultz’s Battery was mustered into service in 1861, and fought in a number of major battles during the war. Those engagements included Shiloh, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain and the Siege of Atlanta, among others.
Despite Battery M being in the thick of battle on numerous occasions, the unit suffered few casualties. Three men were killed in action, two while on detached service to another battery.
“Batteries don’t get very much credit for the role they played in the war,” Metzger stated. “Battery M, frequently referred to as ‘Schultz’s Battery’, was involved in several heroic actions – I want them to get the recognition they deserve.”
“Whenever I visit one of the battle sites and see the position in which the cannon of Battery M were placed, I stand in awe and wonder at how men could march forward into a hailstorm of bullets and cannon fire and not run the other way,” Metzger stated.
“I decided to write my great-grandfather’s story when I visited the Chickamauga battlefield,” Metzger continued. “When I stood on Horseshoe Ridge where my great-grandfather helped stave off Confederate attacks against that hill and keep the entire Army of the Cumberland from being overrun, I knew I had to write his story.”
Metzger has presented several programs to his fellow Stillwater Civil War Roundtable members. The group attempts to promote and enhance the knowledge, education, and preservation of historically significant lands and facilities and the historical significance of the Civil War. The group meets monthly September through May, at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center in Troy.
“We are delighted that Richard (Metzger) will be able to share his knowledge with visitors during the weekend,” stated planning committee member Doug Slagel. “To my knowledge, he has spent more time researching Battery M than any other individual alive today. He has visited every site where Schultz’s Battery saw action, and is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about the unit.”
“In addition to exposing visitors to camp life, civilian camp followers, skirmishing and battles, the planning committee plans to have several speakers talk about topics of interest,” stated Shelby County Historical Society Executive Director Tilda Phlipot. “The full schedule of speakers as well as the other activities will be posted in advance, so that visitors can plan their visit to take advantage of those events of interest.”
Metzger’s presentation on Battery M is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 17, at 3:30 p.m. His appearance and other educational programs offered during the event will be held in a tent located at Kaiser Dell in Tawawa Park.
The large granite monument erected at the south end of Sidney in Schultz’s Battery Park stands as a tribute to the affection the men had for their unit, and for their commander, Frederick Schultz. Schultz commanded the battery through the entire war.
Although no Civil War battles were fought anywhere near Sidney, a considerable number of local men served in the Union Army during the Civil War. In fact, the 1860 Census records that Shelby County had a population of 17,493. Of that number 8960 were male, and a staggering 14 percent of them served in the Army during the war. Of those, 25.58 percent (326) died in the service of their country.
The Civil War Living History Weekend is slated to be held in Tawawa Park Sept. 17-18. The two-day event will include skirmishing between Confederate and Union troops, major battles fought both days, a number of educational presentations, a band concert Saturday evening, and church services Sunday morning. The event is being co-sponsored by the Shelby County Historical Society and the city of Sidney.