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Ohio honors citizens who give their lives in military service for their country with the Ohio Military Medal of Distinction.
The medals are presented to family members of fallen service members during a joint session of the General Assembly. The day also includes a memorial program that includes remarks from the governor and a wreath laying ceremony.
On May 21, 2013, the General Assembly presented medals to families of 16 fallen service members.
In his remarks, Senate President Keith Faber noted that Ohioans have always served on the front lines "to preserve and protect our freedoms."
He particularly noted Ohio’s service during the American Civil War.
"During the Civil War, more than 300,000 Ohioans served in the Union Army, more per capita than any other state."
PolitiFact Ohio knew that Ohio has a deep history of service in the Civil War, and asked Faber for support of his claim.
His staff referred us to data from the Ohio Historical Society, a nonprofit organization, partially funded by the state, that champions and preserves Ohio history. It maintains, by law, the state archives of Ohio.
As part of its commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the historical society published an article that discussed Ohio’s war effort.
"Although most of the American Civil War was fought outside of Ohio’s borders, the Buckeye State played a huge role in determining the outcome," the article notes. "Between 319,000 and 330,000 Ohioans served in the Northern army for varying lengths of time."
The level of recruits, according to the Historical Society, was more per capita than any other state.
"Three out of every five Ohio men between the ages of 18 and 45 served at various times in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War. Ohio men fought in every major battle of the war."
In all, almost 3 million men served in the Union army during what remains the bloodiest military conflict in American history, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History. Nearly 360,000 federal troops were killed during the war. About 160,000 Confederate soldiers perished.
PolitiFact Ohio checked the historical society’s Civil War pages and found other notable points from Ohio’s role in the Civil War:
- When President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 recruits in April 1861, Ohio's quota was 13,000. Sixteen days after Lincoln’s call for troops, enough Ohioans had volunteered to meet the full national requirement. More than 100,200 men enlisted that year.
- The more than 300,000 Ohioans who served in war represent the third largest total from any Union State. (In the 1860 Census, Ohio was the third most populous state, behind New York and Pennsylvania, which were Nos. 1 and 2 for providing troops.)
- Among those who served from Ohio, more than 200 reached the rank of general, including several Confederate generals.
- Five veterans of the war with links to Ohio became president. The state lays partial claim to Ulysses Grant, who was elected from Illinois, and Benjamin Harrison, who was elected from Indiana. They were both born in Ohio. Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield and William McKinley all served with Ohio units and were elected president as Ohioans.
Faber’s claim was that more than 300,000 Ohioans served in the Civil War and that the per capita enlistment was the highest in the nation. The Ohio Historical Society, the state’s official archive, backs his claim.
On the Truth-O-Meter, it rates True.
The Ohio Channel, Joint Legislative Session: Presentation of the Ohio Military Medal of Distinction, May 21, 2013
The (Canton) Repository via CantonRep.com, "Our Civil War -- a house divided in Ohio, too," article by the Ohio Historical Society," April 11, 2011
Ohio History Central, American Civil War, site researched and maintained by the Ohio Historical Society
Ohio Historical Society Collections Blog, "Ohio in the Civil War: Interesting Facts," April 16, 2011
Ohio Historical Society, Online Relic Room: Flags by Heroes Borne, Civil War Room
Ohio Historical Society, About OHS
U.S. Army Center of Military History, Civil War Research and Commemoration
CivilWar.net, Union Troops furnished and losses
Springfield News-Sun, Ohio Military Medal of Distinction Ceremony, May 21, 2013
The Columbus Dispatch, "Statehouse ceremony remembers fallen soldiers from Ohio," May 22, 2013
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