On February 6, 1862, 22-year-old John Sebastian Fries mustered into the ranks of theFifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. The illiterate son of German immigrants, he followed hisbrother into the rapidly expanding Union army. Tall by the standards of the day at 5’10”with sandy colored hair, gray eyes and a light complexion, he came from a family thatfarmed the hills and valleys of a small rural community on the outskirts of Cincinnaticalled Petersburg. A few weeks later his regiment steamed down the Ohio and would beamong the first to arrive at an isolated spot on the Tennessee River known as PittsburghLanding. It was the beginning of a journey for young Fries and the other members hisregiment that would last three long years. John Fries, my great-great grandfather was thestarting point in the creation of this book. Fries like many other enlisted men wasilliterate, meaning the only evidence of his service were sketchy military recordsproviding his physical description and monthly roll call reports. Nothing else about hispersonal war experiences exists. But an overpowering desire to know more about hisexperiences propelled me on an academic odyssey of sorts that sent me deep into thestacks of several libraries, into the archives of the Ohio Historical Society, and to hike theShiloh battlefield where he fought more than 140 years ago. While I found out virtuallynothing about him I discovered the fascinating story of the men whom he accompanied towar, the Fifth Ohio Volunteer Cavalry. Largely recruited from the counties surroundingCincinnati, his regiment was assembled by two Hamilton County residents, ColonelWilliam Henry Harrison Taylor and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Tinsley Heath. Taylor,the son-in-law and nephew of former President William Henry Harrison was born andraised in the old South. His executive officer, Heath, was a young attorney who went onto a stellar career in law. The history of the regiment they recruited in the summer of 1861 has been assembled here for the first time from letters, records, newspaper accountsand other primary sources. But, my telling of the Fifth Ohio’s story goes beyond thetypical regimental history. It also attempts to demonstrate my belief that the Fifth Ohiowas a reflection of the attitudes and beliefs of the communities from which it was created.