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gates from the various divisions and brigades
one hundred and sixty-five officers, a large number of whom were afterward efficient in active service during the rebellion, including such men as Generals William H. Lytle, James B. Steadman, Q. A. Jones, John Ferguson, and James H. Cantwell.
In addressing the convention Governor Chase said: “Let me assure you, gentlemen, that I regard an organized volunteer force in which no one is conipelled to enlist, and which depends for its strength upon the individual promptings of the hearts of those who compose it—as well worthy of respect as it is in accordance with the spirit of our republican institutions. In such an organization I see peace secured in every community, and the surest guarantee for safety against invasion from without. In assisting to complete it, you will never find me wanting.”
Responsive to the views of the Governor, the assembled officers resolved, among other things: “That as our Government is one in which the people are their own rulers, and the Government derives its support from the people, it is of vital importance that standing armies of magnitude should never be introduced; and that, in view of this fundamental republican principle, it is necessary that a citizen soldiery should be well organized, to protect the rights of all the people and defend the Government in all times of danger;” and “that the experience of the old States and of our larger cities proves the necessity of such a military organization; and that, while seventeen States are, by pecuniary outlay, fostering and strengthening their militia, and that, while it is undeniable that their cities have been saved from riot and untold sacrifice of life and treasure by virtue of such organized militia, it is not wise, in the third State in this Union, to stand alone, and be the only leading State to refuse pecuniary aid to those who are ready to give time and substance to the development of a well-regulated and restricted military system.”
This convention—which, it is perhaps proper to observe, was composed of men of all parties, many of whom had served ably and well upon the battle-fields of Mexico—through its appropriate committees, drew up such amendments and modifications of the law of March, 1857, as were warranted by experience and judgment. The principal amendment was for the establishment of a military fund, to be appropriated to the care
REORGANIZATION OF STATE MILITIA SYSTEM.
of the arms of the State, to providing armories in the counties, and to the purchase of camp-equipages and the like, for the volunteer companies. In presenting these proposed modifications in the Ohio
House of Representatives, at the session of 1859, Colonel Richard C. Parsons, of Cleveland, offered a report from the Military Committee (prepared upon consultation with Governor Chase, and at his wish), which closed in these words: “It has passed into a truism, that “in time of peace we should prepare for war. It is one upon which we should act-act in view of a wise provision for our future-act in view of the history of the past. At present our State and nation are blessed with peace. I trust this state of things will long continue. But the time may come when all will be changed. It may become necessary for our nation, and for our State, that we shall appeal to arms for the protection of our rights. It may be that the time will come when a well-disciplined, perfectly organized and equipped citizen soldiery shall form a tower of strength. If this be so, I have faith to believe that in that day the Ohio State Volunteers’ will prove true to the trust reposed in them. Identified, as they are and will be, with every fibre of our State government; fighting, as they will be, for all that they hold dear; strong in the consciousness of numbers, discipline and education; backed by the people and acknowledged by the people, they will demonstrate again the truth that it is our country's militia instead of its army, that we can rely upon in case of actual danger."
During the summer of 1858 such progress was made toward a substantial organization, that a general review was held by the Governor on the 3d of July—at which time seven companies of artillery paraded, and infantry commands were present from the First, Second, Third, Eighth, and Seventeenth Divisions.
At the close of the year the Adjutant-General of the State (Colonel Carrington, afterward of the Eighteenth United States Infantry) reported the force to be one hundred and fifty companies, and that ten battalions had been organized and equipped; whereas, prior to 1857, not a single regiment existed in the State.
During the same year Governor Chase caused his adjutant
general to publish a volume of military regulations; and to this, in 1861, by authority of the General Assembly of the State, tactics were added, making together a volume of more than four hundred pages. That officer was also sent to New York and Massachusetts, to attend brigade and regimental reviews and field exercises in those States, for the purpose of making practical observations and securing such helps as would assist in bringing the Ohio volunteer militia up to a standard of actual efficiency.
Of the character of this volunteer system, thus practically initiated and organized by Governor Chase—in despite of the foolish and persistent ridicule heaped upon it by the enemies of his administration and of its great usefulness at a critical and important conjuncture of public affairs, it is only necessary to state that within sixty hours after receipt of President Lincoln's first call, in April, 1861, for seventy-five thousand volunteers including a call upon Ohio for two regiments—twenty companies of this command were started for Washington by Governor Dennison, successor to Governor Chase; and that notwithstanding a partial decline of the volunteer militia, and want of legis lative support, Governor Dennison was enabled to send into Western Virginia nine full regiments of State militia before her first United States volunteers were mustered into the service.
One of the most painful of the duties devolved on Governor Chase during his first term grew out of the “Breslin defalcation," and its concealment by Gibson, Breslin's successor in the important office of Treasurer of State. Breslin had misapplied, during his incumbency, nearly half a million of dollars, —and the defalcation was adroitly concealed from Governor Chase and all the other State officers, for almost a year and a half after they came into office. Gibson succeeded in this by representing the money as having been actually received from Breslin (who was Gibson's brother-in-law), and as being actually in the Treasury, and by deceiving the legislative committees, and those officers of the State whose duty it was to examine into its condition. Without going into the methods of this concealment, it is enough to say that it was successful until July, 1857, when, finding it impossible to provide sufficient funds to pay the interest on the State debt
THE BRESLIN DEFALCATION.
accrued and due in that month, Gibson disclosed the defalcation to the Auditor of the State, and the Auditor communicated the fact to the Governor. Mr. Chase at once went to the Treasurer's office, and after some conversation which more precisely disclosed the facts, insisted upon Gibson's immediate resignation. Gibson denied the Governor's authority to require it. The Governor admitted that he had no such authority, but added that as Gibson had represented the money which had been abstracted as having been actually in the Treasury, and now admitted that it was not there, he was upon his own showing
- a defaulter; and the Governor said he could not accept Gibson's explanation to be true until established by proof. He went on to say that the constitution of the State authorized the Governor to fill any State office made vacant by disability, and that he should take the responsibility, if Gibson did not resign, of assuming the fact of the defalcation and instituting a prosecution against him as the author of it; the first step in which would be, his arrest; and of considering his arrest as creating a disability, and thereupon of appointing his successor. Gibson saw the force and logic of the Governor's position, and asked time to consider and consult his legal advisers. Mr. Chase assented, and fixed two o'clock in the afternoon (it being then about eleven in the morning) as the hour at which he would expect Gibson's decision. He called again at the hour agreed upon. Gibson meantime had consulted with his friends and his lawyers; their counsel was indicated by his action-he handed the Governor his resignation; his successor was appointed, gave the necessary bonds, and entered upon his duties that very afternoon; and he afterward, in another office, became also a defaulter, and died by suicide.
Governor Chase took upon himself this summary method of action as a duty he owed to the State, and as necessary to protect its interests, and incidentally to defend the party which had put him into the Executive office from virtual responsibility for the defalcation. He saved the credit of the State by taking immediate measures to provide--and did provide money for the payment of the July interest.
Soon after this event, Mr. Chase was again nominated for Governor; this time by acclamation, and seriously against his
wishes. The election of Mr. Buchanan in the fall of the preceding year; the lassitude and depression which usually follow defeat in a presidential campaign ; and above all, the defalcation-which the enemies of his administration did not hesitate to charge upon the Governor himself-made the canvass for reelection peculiarly disagreeable and difficult. He was obliged to go through the State, and everywhere explain the facts to the people. In effect he conducted the canvass entirely alone, for there was no congressional election in that year to awaken an interest in national topics and secure the help of candidates for Congress pleading their own cause before their own constituencies. There was an American candidate in the field as before, and he was opposed on the Democratic side by a man of great energy and ability-Payne, of Cuyahoga. But despite all opposing influences, he was reëlected by a small majority-less than fifteen hundred-and ran somewhat ahead of the average of the ticket.
Some conception of the vast labor he performed during this second canvass may be gathered from a letter written to his youngest daughter under date Columbus, September 13, 1857:
“Since I wrote you last, I have traveled much and have made many speeches-partly about the defalcation; partly about slavery, and partly about other things. First, I went to Loveland; then up across the country to Marietta, traveling all night to get there (Tuesday night of week before last)—and where I made & speech to a large crowd of people. I rode about twenty miles the same evening to Coolville, in Athens County, where I made another speech. I went next morning to Pomeroy, and made two speeches; one in the forenoon and another in the afternoon. The next morning I went in a carriage to Gallipolis, where I spoke to the people in the court-house. My next speech was to be made at Irontonmore than fifteen miles distant—the next day. We had to go by carriage, and started immediately after I was through my speech at Gallipolis. The road was very rough; and two miles from the town one of the horses became so lame that he could not travel, and we had to return on foot. We procured another pair of horses; started again and traveled all night, without stopping, and even then did not reach Ironton till about nine o'clock in the morning. There I made a speech in the afternoon; and you may depend upon that I was glad the next day was Sunday, when I could rest and go to church instead of speaking. Monday came but too soon, and I had to go to Portsmouth, where I went in a carriage, and made a speech in the market-place. The next day I went to Jackson by rail