During the Civil War, four sons of HARRY and HANNAH OLDROYD of Shreve, Wayne County, Ohio volunteered to serve in infantry units in Ohio and Iowa.
The oldest son, ELMER G OLDROYD enlisted for three years into Company G of the 14th Iowa Infantry In October 1861. Before the war began Elmer had gone to Iowa to join his fiancee who had recently moved with her family to Toledo, Tama County Iowa.
Back home in Ohio, two of his brothers, ASBURY B OLDROYD and CHARLES W OLDROYD, had enlisted together in September 1861 both into Company C of the 16th Ohio Infantry. Charles soon advanced to Corporal, Sergeant and finally as a 1st Lieutenant of Company C.
A fourth brother, WILBUR F OLDROYD, later enlisted into Company D of the 169th Ohio Infantry. For ninety days in the summer of 1864, Wilbur's regiment served as garrison guards in the ring of defenses around the outskirts of Washington DC, preventing rebel cavalry raids on the Nation's capital.
Elmer's regiment, the 14th Iowa, fought in the important battle at Fort Donelson and the bloody battle of Shiloh. At Shiloh, April 6 1862, they stood at the center of the area now remembered as the "Hornets' Nest". The men of the Nest withstood wave after wave of rebel attacks, driving them off from mid-morning until almost sundown. Finally as the sun was sinking they were surrounded and, all but out of ammunition, and were forced to surrender.
Their stubborn bravery however prevented the rest of Grant's scattered army from being quickly defeated, and bought for Grant the second chance to re-organize, re-supply and re-enforce his army with fresh troops coming upriver. The next day Grant went on to win a crucial victory, driving the crippled rebel army back into their defenses 20 miles away.
Most of Elmer's company were taken to POW camps throughout the south. Elmer however had been shot in the head before the surrender and had been sent back to the medical tents for treatment. The ball had cut a groove in his scalp but he had barely escaped serious injury. When the battle ended Elmer searched carefully among the wounded and dead for his companions and then sent a detailed letter back to Iowa for the families of the missing men to reassure them that their loved ones still lived. Elmer was later promoted to Sergeant but was discharged in June 1863 for illness, possibly a complcation from his head wound, and was sent home to Toledo Iowa to recover.
Asbury and Charles went with their regiment, the 16th Ohio, on Sherman's Yazoo campaign to surround Vicksburg. They particpated in the costly battle at Chickasaw Bayou just after Christmas 1862. Charles was captured during this fight but the enemy had no facilities for keeping prisoners, so he was quickly paroled and exchanged. Asbury was either slightly wounded in this battle or else caught malaria or some fever from the swamps. By February he was discharged by the company surgeon. When Charles returned to the regiment he was part of the fierce battles at Champion Hill and the siege of Vicksburg. In October 1864, after three years of hard war Charles was mustered out with his regiment.
After the War Elmer, Asbury, and Wilbur returned to Shreve. Elmer was a watchmaker, Asbury a farmer and Wilbur a physician. All three are buried with their wives and family members at Shreve.
Charles and another brother Thomas B Oldroyd, moved to Kansas. Thomas ran a funeral home and furniture store in Arkansas City, while Charles lived in Ottawa where he served as the Franklin County Assessor.
Elmer, Asbury, Charles and Wilbur all later applied for pensions and those records are on file at the National Archives.
A close cousin also enlisted from the Wooster area, OSBORNE OLDROYD, who served at Vicksburg and after the War became one of the country's top experts on the life of Abraham Lincoln, serving as a founder and curator of the Lincoln museums at Springfield Illinois and at Ford's Theater in Washington DC. He also wrote a best selling biography of the martyred president.
Researchers of this Oldroyd family might be interested in knowing that recently a book containing a diary and letters of members of Company G of the 14th Iowa was published by the small town museum of Traer Iowa not far from where Elmer once lived. The book details in first person acounts, the activities of Elmer's company through the war, and contains the dramatic letter Elmer wrote from the Shiloh battlefield telling of the battle, his close call wounding, and informing loved ones back home in Iowa of the fates of their soldiers. The book is called SOLDIER LIFE - MANY MUST FALL and can be found at the Traer Iowa museum website: