Emerson Opdycke

Emerson Opdycke, whose baptismal name seems to have been Samuel Emerson Opdycke, was born on his father's farm in Hubbard township, Trumbull County, Ohio, January 7, 1830. His father had served in the War of 1812, whereas his grandfather was a captain of New Jersey militia in the Revolutionary War. In 1837 the family moved to Williams County, Ohio; Opdycke himself, however, returned to Trumbull County in 1847 and made his home with a married sister in Warren. During the gold-rush days he twice went to California, but ultimately settled in Warren where he engaged in the mercantile business and became thoroughly indoctrinated with abolitionist teachings. He enlisted immediately after First Manassas and was mustered in on August 26, 1861, as a first lieutenant of the 41st Ohio. Opdycke proved to be one of those rare volunteer officers plucked from civilian life who worked at his new profession. His colonel was William B. Hazen, a Regular Army officer who conducted a class of instruction for his regimental subordinates; Opdycke consistently stood first in this class. He was soon detailed to instruct other officers in his brigade and was promoted captain on January 9, 1862. After service at Shiloh, where his conduct was favorably noticed, he resigned in September, 1862, in order to help recruit the 125th Ohio of which he became lieutenant colonel on October 1, 1862, and colonel on January 14, 1863. The 125th Ohio was a tower of strength at Chickamauga on the famous Horseshoe Ridge; and at Chattanooga, Opdycke commanded a half-brigade which was one of the first commands to reach the summit of Missionary Ridge. During the Atlanta campaign Opdycke rendered distinguished service at Rocky Face Ridge, at Resaca where he was badly wounded, and at Kennesaw Mountain where he led an assault of a IV Corps brigade on the rocky and wooded heights. He commanded another brigade of the same corps from August, 1864, until the close of the war, especially distinguishing himself at the battle of Franklin, Tennessee, where his brigade, in reserve behind the Carter house, threw back the penetration of the Federal line made by the Confederates under P. R. Cleburne and J. C. Brown. For his services here he received the brevet of major general of volunteers and tardily on July 26, 1865, was given the full rank of brigadier. After the war General Opdycke lived in New York, where he engaged in the wholesale dry goods business. On April 22, 1884, he accidentally shot himself in the abdomen while cleaning a pistol; he died three days later of peritonitis. His remains were sent to Warren for burial in Oakwood Cemetery.

Previous Page

Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.