LIMA — Author Mike Klinger, an ex-Delphos resident, has unique insight about U.S. Civil War soldiers.
That’s because he has a handful of ancestors connected to the 118th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a regiment that was organized in Delphos circa August 1862.
“They’ve been unsung heroes,” Klinger said. “Their accomplishments are overlooked.”
That isn’t the case anymore. The history buff did extensive research about that regiment and published a book with the self-explanatory title “The History of the 118th Ohio Volunteer Infantry XXIIIrd Corps.”
Among Klinger’s relatives with ties to the 118th regiment: A great-great-grandfather and his brother, plus a great-great-great-uncle who wrote a diary about experiences related to the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865.
Lima alone provided 110 men to the cause. They were stationed in eastern Tennessee, where the soldiers subsisted on starvation rations for six months.
“Their suffering was every bit as bad as that of Valley Forge,” Klinger said.
The regiment’s 270 members would proceed to join Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman for the Atlanta campaign. In Georgia’s Battle of Resaca, according to Klinger, the infantry lost 116 men within 10 minutes. Survivors advanced to hold positions at Franklin and Nashville.
The author has been fascinated with war history for as long as he can recollect. “As I kid, I often walked past the memorial in Delphos,” Klinger said.
About three decades ago, he began pursuing details about Ohio’s 118th regiment and bought ads that stated he was seeking insight and items left over from the Civil War.
“Eventually, a memorabilia collector and historian (Larry Strayer) in Dayton contacted me about an old diary and badge from members of the Ohio regiment,” explained Klinger, who also reached out to potential sources to pinpoint soldiers’ pension records.
Klinger’s chronicle consists of quotes from the regimental surgeon’s day journal and a half-dozen diaries.
The Delphos Canal Museum proved to be a treasure trove of correspondence for Klinger’s purposes, as he pored through old missives written in German by Capt. Rudolph Reul.
Klinger said that he found no previous books about Ohio’s 118th infantry of volunteers. Starting in 1912, many soldiers met at reunions in Lima Memorial Hall, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
His tome, available at Barnes & Noble and via Amazon.com, has 470 pages including a roster, index and roughly 90 images of soldiers and Camp Lima.
“My hope is that my work can become a resource for first-hand accounts,” Klinger said.