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BIO: Colonel Elias Nigh; Lawrence County, Ohio

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BIO: Colonel Elias Nigh; Lawrence County, Ohio

Posted: 1281876927000
Classification: Biography
Surnames: Nigh
COLONEL ELIAS NIGH – was born in Fairfield county, Ohio, in 1815.  His father, Samuel
 Nigh, was a native of Maryland, and settled in Ohio in 1802, and died in 1877.  The subject
 of this sketch has experienced all the vicissitudes common to young men desirous of
 becoming worthy the confidence and respect of their fellow-men, and to battle for the
 same single-handed, and whatever station in life he has adorned has been won by true merit
 and an indomitable will.  As a lawyer, soldier or legislator, all trust has been faithfully and
 satisfactorily maintained, from the simple clerkship in a country store to a temple of
 justice, legislative hall or battle-field, the one verdict--worthy—is the universal sentiment
 of those who knew him.  Colonel Nigh was the first officer in the union army who
 introduced slave labor as a relief to the soldier, as will be seen by the following
 reminiscence, and for that act he deserves credit.  Colonel Nigh was chief quartermaster
 of Buell’s army, and, after the battle at Pittsburg Landing, Buell’s army moved to Northern
 Alabama, with headquarters at Huntsville.  Colonel Nigh arrived there on the evening of the
 29th of June, and the next morning he was notified by Captain Slocum, General Mitchell’s
 quartermaster, that General Sill’s command, at Battle Creek, on the Memphis & Charleston
 railroad, was suffering for the want of forage.  Sill’s brigade was a part of Mitchell’s
  division, which was detached from the main army at Nashville and ordered to take
 possession of Huntsville, while the main army was on its march to Pittsburg Landing, and
 was in command of Huntsville, when the main army under Buell, arrived there the last of
 June.  The country was full of corn, and Colonel Nigh at once directed Captain Slocum to
 send out his division, teams to bring in corn, and he would have a railroad train there in the
 evening to take the corn out to Sill’s brigade during the night.  Captain Slocum informed
 Colonel Nigh that that was impossible, as General Mitchell had ordered all his teams out
 early in the morning to bring in cotton for the New York company, which was composed of a
 Mr. Hoop, General Mitchell’s son-in-law, Compstock and others, of Columbus and Cleveland.
  Colonel Nigh at once telegraphed to the quartermaster of Garfield’s and Waggoner’s
 brigades, at Mooresville, a station eighteen miles west of Huntsville, to send out all the
 teams to bring in corn and he would have a train there to receive it.  Colonel Nigh then
 reported to General Buell and asked a detail of thirty men to go with the train to load the
 corn; a detail was ordered from General Lyttle’s brigade, two miles away.  The camps were
 full of slaves, who had collected about the armies; the detail did not arrive in time and
 Colonel Nigh directed the officer in charge of the train to enroll thirty negroes, furnish
 him with a copy of the roll to take the place of the detail of soldiers, which order was
 executed in less than ten minutes, and the train started.  Colonel Nigh immediately
 reported what he had done to General Buell; he approved it, and requested him to
 substitute negroes in place of detailed soldiers at all the posts along the line of the
 railroads.  The army was then guarding about 400 miles of road.  Colonel Nigh immediately
 telegraphed to the quartermasters at all the posts and directed them to enroll negroes to
 do the post work, and the details of soldiers were relieved before night.  Over 1,000 men
 were thus relieved from the quartermaster’s department and added to the efficient force
 of the army.  General Buell also directed Colonel Innes, commanding a regiment of engineers
 and mechanics, who were rebuilding railroad bridges destroyed by the rebels, to make a
 similar substitution for detailed soldiers who were doing the rough work; he had about
 2,000 soldiers so employed; so that within a day or two over 3,000 muskets were added to
 the effective force of the army.  General Buell at once reported what was done to the
 secretary of war, who approved it and issued an order directing the employment of negroes
 to do all the rough work throughout the army where it was practicable, and from that on
 the negroes became an effective aid in the prosecution of the war.  This matter is written
 out full to substantiate the claim we have heretofore made that Colonel Nigh was the first
to introduce the services of the negro in the armies in an organized form.  When General
 Buell was relieved from his command the records of the army were sent to Washington, and
 there lost or suppressed, so that this matter never got into history.


"Atlas of Lawrence County," Ohio; Hardesty - 1882; Lake - 1887 Atlas Published by H. H. Hardesty & Co., Publishers, Chicago and Toledo, 1882.

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Posted for genealogical purposes only. I am not related. If you have a question or can add ancestors or descendants for this person please post to this thread for the benefit of other researchers.

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