470. July 23, 1997 -- Wilkison Beatty was unusual soldier:
Journal-News, Wednesday, July 23, 1997
Wilkison Beatty was an unusual soldier
By Jim Blount
Wilkison Beatty wasn't an ordinary soldier. Dr. Henry Mallory, Beatty's first commanding officer during the Civil War, considered him "in many respects the most remarkable man who ever lived in Hamilton."
Dr. Mallory also described Beatty (sometimes spelled Beaty) as "physically the best made man I ever saw." He was 6-foot-2 and weighed 225 pounds "without one ounce of surplus fat," said Dr. Mallory. "His courage and bravery were so well known that few ever antagonized him," he added
Beatty's reputation was well established before the start of the Civil War in 1861. "He was a man of means and owned one of the largest and best farms in Butler County," said Dr. Mallory, "and was an extensive stock raiser and pork packer for years." His numerous awards won at the annual Butler County Fair were added evidence of the skill of the Millville farmer.
There was another side of Beatty. He also was known for his charity and kindness, including his assistance to victims of the 1849 cholera epidemic.
He enlisted in the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the summer of 1861. At age 64, the volunteer was old enough to be the grandfather or great grandfather of many of the volunteers in the regiment, which was known as "The Butler Boys."
Beatty joined the 35th as a private in Company I, which was commanded by Captain Henry Mallory, a Hamilton physician. Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer, commander of the 35th, knowing the private's reputation as a horse expert, quickly appointed Beatty wagonmaster of the regiment.
Army regulations said the wagonmaster was responsible for the welfare of the regiment's horses and supervised the teamsters and servants who handled the horses and the wagons. Regulations specified that an infantry regiment have at least six wagons which "must carry nothing but forage for the teams, cooking utensils and rations for the troops, hospital stores and officers' baggage."
Beatty was responsible for 96 horses, or 16 teams of six horses, according to regimental histories.
In an average Union regiment, the useful service of a horse was brief, often just a few weeks, because of abusive use and lack of knowledge in feeding, watering and caring for the animals. The 35th's horses -- thanks to Beatty -- were an exception.
In January 1863, in an attempt to strengthen the Union cavalry, camps were searched for horses which could be transferred to mounted regiments. Beatty reluctantly surrendered his 96 charges to artillery units, which sent their faster horses to the cavalry. In return, the 35th received "scrubby army mules" to pull its wagons
Members of the regiment noted that when the trade was made, the 96 horses were the same animals that the 35th had acquired when its service began in September 1861.
One reason for their endurance was Beatty's insistence that no one ride the horses, including the regiment's wagonmaster. In more than 17 months of service, the 96 horses -- and Beatty -- had marched hundreds of miles through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.
Beatty resigned as wagonmaster in December 1863, some believe because of his disappointment in losing his original contingent of 96 horses.
Before returning to Butler County, he operated a hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn. The 69-year-old Millville strongman died Sept. 30, 1866, or 17 months after the Civil War ended.
# # #
471. July 30, 1997 -- No challenge too great for Wilkison Beatty:
Journal-News, Wednesday, July 30, 1997
No challenge too great for Wilkison Beatty
By Jim Blount
Wilkison Beatty "had not one particle of education, but a great deal of natural sense," said Dr. Henry Mallory, who ranked the Civil War wagonmaster as "in many respects the most remarkable man who ever lived in Hamilton."
Beatty's lack of schooling apparently was his choice. He was born into a land-rich Butler County family, which apparently could have afforded to educate him. When as a teenager, he was apprenticed to an uncle, Beatty ran away.
The strong-willed Beatty also was a man of several names. He was named for the controversial and contriving General James Wilkinson. The general, who periodically resided at Fort Hamilton, was second in command to General Anthony Wayne.
Instead of Wilkinson, Beatty wrote his first name as Wilkison or Wilkason. His surname was spelled both Beaty and Beatty.
Through inheritance and purchase, he acquired land in several Butler County locations, including Hamilton and Rossville. Despite his relative affluence, Beatty was a hard worker, not a gentleman farmer.
Beatty had several business ventures, including a butcher shop in the 1840s in Rossville (which merged with Hamilton in 1855). He was best known as a successful farmer and breeder of horses, cattle and hogs on his Butler County properties.
Although 64 years of age, Beatty joined the 35th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861, soon after the start of the Civil War. As detailed in a previous column, he was assigned as the regimental wagonmaster because of his extensive experience and knowledge in breeding and handling horses..
Dr. Mallory, his first commander during the Civil War, was impressed with the strength of the 225-pound, 6-foot-2 farmer. Mallory said Beatty "was fully conscious of his own strength, and yet not quarrelsome. But woe to the man who tramped on his toes."
In his 1895 book, Gems of Thought and Character Sketches, Dr. Mallory recalled an incident in 1861 soon after the 35th OVI had left Hamilton. The regiment departed Sept. 26, assigned to guard the railroad line between Covington and Lexington, Ky.
"The command was ordered to Cynthiana, Ky., where it arrived during the night, and where it was hoped to surprise a rebel command that was understood to be at that place," the former captain explained. "The (Confederate) force, however, had left some hours before we reached there."
"As this was the first Union command that had gone into Kentucky, the citizens in large numbers visited the camp to see what a Yankee regiment looked like," Mallory said. One of the curious visitors was the mayor.
Addressing Beatty, the mayor boasted "there were 300 southern soldiers here yesterday and they could have whipped this whole regiment," which numbered more than 900 men.
"You're a liar," the 64-year-old Beatty replied.
"The mayor asked Beatty if he was responsible for what he said," Mallory said, "and intimated that he would send him a challenge.
"Beatty replied at once that he would accept, and while he knew nothing about the code of dueling, he believed that the challenged party had the right to choose the weapons."
Mallory reported that Beatty "said that they would select butcher knives, adding that he followed gutting hogs for a living when at home, and that he considered it slow work when 1he could not gut three a minute."
"That settled the mayor, and Beatty heard no more of him after that," recalled Mallory, who left his medical practice in Hamilton to captain a company in the 35th OVI.
# # #