Civil War ‘veteran’ to stop by Sidney for SOCWLHW

Staff report

SIDNEY — Noted Sidney resident and Civil War veteran Edmund Elgin Nutt, portrayed by Neil Allen, will take center stage at Sidney, Ohio’s Civil War Living History Weekend. Capt. Nutt (aka Allen) will talk about his experiences during the war, first as a three-month enlistee with the 15th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) and then as a member of the 20th OVI.

As a member of the 20th OVI, Nutt was promoted from private to sergeant in Company F, then to second lieutenant, then to first lieutenant and subsequently to captain. He was one of thirteen soldiers to earn a XVII Corps medal of honor during the Battle of Atlanta. Nutt led two charges against the Confederates on July 22, 1864, gaining ground both times. He then organized the defense of Bald Hill, holding the position until relief arrived just after midnight.

Nutt was severely wounded near Atlanta on Aug. 14. He recovered, and after the war, returned to Sidney, and throughout the remainder of his life, remained active in veteran’s organizations. He was active in the Neal Post 62, Grand Army of the Republic from the time of its founding, and served as its commander. He was also quite active in the affairs of the Ohio Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, and served as Department Commander, having been elected at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Ohio Department in Canton in 1894.

Nutt was also active in the 20th Ohio Volunteer Veterans Infantry organization, serving as its president. He hosted annual reunions of Companies B, F, K and I in Sidney, always on August 22 to celebrate the Battle of Atlanta. The invitations would always include the idea of bringing “family and friends” and encourage those coming to have “well-filled baskets, haversacks and canteens”.

Nutt was a successful businessman, husband and father. He married Arvesta Vandemark, and together they had six children, all of whom lived to adulthood. Both with his brothers and singularly, he engaged in the grain business, first in Pemberton with his brother William with whom he had served in the war, then in Sidney with Isaac Newton and John M. Together they owned the Old Stone Bridge Warehouse, a business he operated after his brothers retired until the time of his death.

A member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Nutt was a Republican and took an active interest in political affairs. He was a candidate for state senator in 1897.

Allen has portrayed Captain Nutt previously. On June 20, 2013, during the Graceland Cemetery tour of Civil War veteran’s graves, Allen, portraying Nutt, wept when he told those on the tour of how he could not forget the sacrifice of the men under whom he served. The 20th OVI lost a total of 360 men during the Civil War, many of those killed in the Battle of Atlanta.

“I have the utmost respect for veterans,” Allen said. “They sacrifice in a way that only other veterans can truly understand – and the Civil War was unlike anything the world had ever witnessed – truly the first modern war. Men were being killed in numbers unimaginable today,” Allen continued.

“The 20th Ohio saw action in multiple theatres,” Allen said. “From the capture of Fort Donelson to Shiloh to Holly Springs to Port Gibson to Vicksburg to Atlanta to Sherman’s March to the Sea to the surrender of General Johnston’s Army to the Grand Review, the 20th witnessed so much history it is unfathomable.”

Allen portrayed Capt. Nutt again on July 17, 2014, when the Shelby County Historical Society observed the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Atlanta in an event at Brookside Park. In that event, Capt. Nutt was portrayed welcoming his men back to camp, wounded, devastated, and forlorn after participating in the darkest day of fighting that Shelby County has ever known. On July 22, 1864, more men from Shelby County were killed on the battlefield at Atlanta than on any other battlefield in the history of our county.

“Neil is a wonderful volunteer who has portrayed Captain Nutt extremely well at past events,” said Tilda Philpot, director of the Shelby County Historical Society. “He will certainly bring Capt. Nutt back to life for his audience and at the same time, help those in attendance better understand the terrible cost Shelby Countians paid during the Civil War.”

Allen’s presentation on Capt. E.E. Nutt’s wartime service 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.

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.

Staff report