The 8th Ohio served in the American Civil War from 1861 to 1864. It was reactivated in 1898 for service in the Spanish-American War, and again in 1917 for service in World War I. It was formally deactivated in 1919.
The 146th Infantry Regiment's history began with the formation of the 8th Ohio Infantry on 4 May 1861, in Cleveland. On 8 July, the regiment loaded onto trains and traveled to Grafton, Virginia, termed the “seat of war” by LTC Franklin Sawyer. From July 1861 through March 1862, the 8th Ohio was a part of George B. McClellan’s army in the conflicts during the Western Virginia Campaign. During this time, the regiment fought a series of small skirmishes around Mount Beverly, Mount Grafton, and Mount Romney in the Appalachians, but saw no serious combat. On 1 March 1862, the 8th Ohio moved to Winchester, Virginia, located in the Shenandoah Valley, and would serve in the Gibraltar Brigade under BG Nathan Kimball in MG James Shields's division. While in the Shenandoah Valley, the 8th Ohio participated in its first real battle, the Battle of Winchester, where it attacked and defeated a portion of Stonewall Jackson's force, while suffering almost twenty-five percent casualties. In all, the 8th listed 46 men as killed or wounded.
On 17 September 1862, the 8th Ohio had its toughest fighting yet during the Battle of Antietam, and suffered a total of 162 casualties. In early December 1862, replenished by new recruits, the 8th Ohio participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg, where it was initially assigned as skirmishers after crossing the Rappahannock River on pontoon bridges. The regiment took shelter inside a cluster of buildings in the town of Fredericksburg approximately 150 yards from the Confederate line. From the comparative safety of their position, the men witnessed the series of bloody and futile attacks on Marye's Heights ordered by Ambrose Burnside. After firing relentlessly for hours from the houses and with its ammunition exhausted, the 8th Ohio withdrew under heavy enemy fire to the rear of the Union line. Following the disaster at Fredericksburg, the 8th Ohio encamped until April 1863 in the town of Falmouth, Virginia. In May, LTC Franklin Sawyer and the regiment served as reserves during the Chancellorsville Campaign.
The 8th Ohio arrived at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on 1 July 1863 and entered the defensive lines at Cemetery Ridge with 209 men in its ranks. When Confederate Generals James Longstreet and A. P. Hill launched attacks aimed at rolling up the Union line from south to north, the 8th was quickly shifted to a position near the Emmitsburg Road, where it engaged in a series of attacks and counterattacks on 2 July with Mississippi troops under BG Carnot Posey. After a restless night, the 8th held their position in the fields west of Emmitsburg Road, dueling with Confederate skirmishers for much of the morning of 3 July. Following a lengthy cannonade in the early afternoon, over 12,000 Confederates under George Pickett, Isaac R. Trimble, and Johnston Pettigrew stepped off from Seminary Ridge and marched towards the Union line on Cemetery Ridge; the start of the infamous Pickett's Charge. Facing a force several times its number, the 8th Ohio held its advanced position and was able to flank portions of a Virginia brigade under COL John M. Brockenbrough. Assisted by artillery fire from Cemetery Hill and Ziegler's Grove, the 8th succeeded in routing much of Brockenbrough's force, the first brigade to ever break and flee during GEN Lee's tenure in command of the Army of Northern Virginia. The 8th then shifted and poured fire into the flank of other Confederate regiments. As the assault waned, the regiment collected over 300 prisoners of war. As the Ohioans reentered the Union lines, they were given a salute of arms and cheers from the other regiments. The 8th Ohio rested on 4 July before joining the Army of the Potomac in the pursuit of the retreating Confederates into Virginia. It served in the subsequent Bristoe and Mine Run Campaigns, but saw no further significant combat in 1863.
The 8th Ohio did not see significant fighting until the Overland Campaign. On 8 May 1864, the regiment halted a Confederate assault on the Union lines in the dense woods known as the Wilderness. The next day, the regiment was again attacked and managed to hold its ground despite serious losses. After fighting at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, the 8th marched southward as Ulysses S. Grant continually sidestepped Lee and relentlessly moved towards Richmond and Petersburg. With only three weeks left in their original three-year term of enlistment, on 1 June the regiment was sent forward in the ill-fated attacks at the Battle of Cold Harbor, where it again suffered considerable casualties before withdrawing. After the attack at Cold Harbor, the regiment was placed in reserve until its enlistment expired. On 24 June, the 8th Ohio withdrew from Petersburg and was sent back to Ohio. A number of men stayed in the service and were transferred to Company A, 4th Ohio Infantry on 24–25 June.
After days of celebrations and salutes, the regiment officially mustered out of service on July 13, 1864, with only 168 men left in the ranks. The 8th Ohio lost during service 8 officers and 124 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and 1 officer and 72 enlisted men by disease (a total of 205 fatalities).
After fighting in most of the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac, the 8th Ohio had acquired a reputation as one of the best fighting units in the Union army. It is memorialized with monuments at Antietam and Gettysburg, as well as an inscription at the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Cleveland's Public Square. Its national battle flag is in the collection of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, and some artifacts and records in the Western Reserve Historical Society.
On 25 April 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, beginning the Spanish-American War. The 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service on 13 May 1898 in Columbus, Ohio, and had 48 officers and 838 enlisted men on its roster. They arrived at Camp Alger, Virginia on 20 May, and trained there until 5 July, when they received orders to deploy to Santiago, Cuba under the command of GEN Nelson A. Miles. The regiment arrived in Siboney, Cuba on 10 July and reinforced the V Army Corps under GEN William Rufus Shafter. 0600 on 11 July, the American lines were ordered to open fire on the Spanish defenses. The barrage was very effective and much damage was done to the defending force. The batteries opened upon the enemy from El Pozo Hill, and the American fleet fired its shells into the city of Santiago. Every preparation had been made for a combined assault both by land and sea. Spanish General Toral had twice refused to make an unconditional surrender, and GEN Shafter, Commodore Winfield Scott Schley and Commodore William T. Sampson determined to give the Spaniards only one more chance and then destroy the city of Santiago with the batteries from the shore and on the war-ships. As the day progressed, the firing became heavier. From the sea, the bombardment was begun by the USS Newark with its 8-inch guns, and then the USS New York and USS Brooklyn followed. The men of the 8th Ohio could see the men of the Signal Corps on a high ridge wigwagging to direct the shots to the ships. The first heavy volley fired from the American lines almost effectually silenced the Spanish soldiers in the trenches, and hardly a sign of life could be seen there. The Siege of Santiago ended shortly after, on 17 July 1898, and the remained on occupation duty in Cuba until 18 August. They returned to the US on 26 August, and mustered out of service on 21 November 1898. In Cuba, the 8th Ohio lost 4 officers and 68 enlisted men due to Yellow fever.
The National Defense Act of 1916 reorganized the US Military, and in time for World War I, the 8th Ohio was reorganized into the 146th Infantry Regiment, and was assigned to the 37th Infantry Division, the "Buckeye" division, at Camp Sheridan, Alabama in August 1917. The regiment trained together and expanded its size before arriving in France on 22 June 1918. The 146th was assigned to the 73rd Infantry Brigade alongside the 145th Infantry Regiment and trained under French Army tutelage in the Bourmont sector. On 4 August, the 146th went into the frontline in the Baccarat sector and continued to train under the French VI Corps. On 16 September, it was transported to Robert-Espagne where it remained for 4 days. The Ohioans were then sent to Récicourt, and then to Avocourt where they joined the V Corps' advance during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. After continuous fighting, the regiment was relieved on 1 October 1918 when they had reached Cierges. After resting behind the lines, the 146th was sent to Hooglede, Belgium in the Lys sector, arriving on the frontline on 22 October. Attached to the French XXX Corps, the regiment advanced on the Scheldt River until they were relieved on 5 November, and enjoyed some rest at Tielt before moving back into the fray on 8 November. Attached to the French XXXIV Corps, the 146th advanced on, and forced a crossing of the Scheldt River on the night of 10–11 November. The Ohioans resumed the advance on the morning of 11 November, but were halted at 1100 due to the Armistice of 11 November 1918. When the 146th Infantry Regiment returned home to Ohio in 1919, it was formally deactivated.