Category: Ohio

Drowned in the Tennessee River

Thanks to WorldVitalRecords from MyHeritage, I may have just found a RETTIE who served with the 12th Ohio Cavalry during the American Civil War.

Mustered In

Louis RETTIE was (allegedly) 18 when he enlisted on 1 Sep 1863 in Company E of the 12th Ohio Cavalry.1,4 This company was recruited from the Highland, Mahoning and Summit counties of Ohio.2 The 12th Ohio Cavalry was organized at Camp Taylor in Cleveland, Ohio and mustered in on 24 Nov 1863 for a three year period of service under the command of Colonel Robert W. Ratliff.2,3 The regiment was involved in the Battles of Cynthiana and Saltville I and II.3 (As an aside, there’s an interesting article here on the Saltville Massacre).

Mustered Out

Sadly, having outlived the end of the war, the young Private RETTIE drowned a few months afterwards on 1 Sep 1865 in the Tennessee River at Pen Hook Ferry, Tennessee.1,4 Perhaps the rider and his horse were swept away by the current whilst attempting to ford the river? Or perhaps the ferry itself got into difficulties?

Around the time of this tragic incident, the regiment was attached to Cavalry Brigade, District East Tennessee from Jul 1865 to Nov 1865 and it saw duty in middle Tennessee, eastern Tennessee, and North Carolina.2,3 The 12th Ohio Cavalry mustered out of service on 14 Nov 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.2,3


Q. Was his name really Louis RETTIE?1 An alternative source says it is Lewis RETTY!4 Clearly one or both of the transcribers has it wrong.

Q. Was the location of his death really Pen Hook Ferry?1 Again we have a transcription issue, with the alternative source saying Pin-hook Ferry.4

Q. Where exactly is Pen Hook/Pin-hook Ferry? There is a Pen Hook Road near Monterey in Tennessee, but it’s a long way from the river. However, I can find ‘Pin Hook Road’, ‘East Pin Hook Road’ and ‘South Pin Hook Road’ about 14 miles due West of Sparta, TN – the last of which leads down to the Tennessee River…

Q. Where was Louis born and who were his parents? I’m currently looking through the 1850 census rolls for the 3 counties where Company E was recruited from…


  1. The Roster Commission, Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. 11 (Akron, Ohio: The Werner Printing & Lithographing Company, 1891), p. 600, This source says ‘Louis RETTIE‘ drowned at ‘Pen Hook Ferry’.
  2. Larry Stevens, “12th Ohio Cavalry,” Ohio in the Civil War, January 11, 2012,
  3. Wikipedia contributors, “12th Ohio Cavalry,” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., July 17, 2012),
  4. F.H. Mason, The Twelfth Ohio Cavalry: A Record of Its Organization and Services in the War of the Rebellion, Together with a  Complete Roster of the Regiment. (Cleveland, Ohio: Nevins Steam Printing House, 1871), p. 18, This source says ‘Lewis RETTY‘ drowned at ‘Pin-hook Ferry’.