Union Army Veteran Clark McAllister Rests in Evergreen Cemetery
For Clark McAllister, the road from Union City to Appomattox was as practical as drying his boots by the campfire after a day lone march in the rain. Before his final bivouac in Evergreen Cemetery, he served in some of the most important campaigns of the Civil War.
David and Susan McAllister came to Greenfield Township in 1836 from New England. Clark’s brother, David, was born in 1825, and Clark was born on February 28, 1837. Ten other brothers and sisters completed the McAllister family.
When he was 17 years old in 1855, Clark lived in both Ohio and Minnesota and in 1859, he crossed the plains with an ox team, visiting Washington, Oregon and California, and engaging in gold mining in Idaho. After his gold fever had ended, Clark returned to his family farm where he remained until November 1863. Then he enlisted in Company K, 83rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Hatcher’s Run, Five Forks and Appomattox.
Soldiers like Clark McAllister who fought in the Wilderness could never forget it. It was a tangle of second growth woods located ten miles west of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Wilderness was a snare of trees and brush about 12 miles wide and six miles deep along the south bank of the Rapidan River.
For the Union Army, the Wilderness was a place to be crossed as quckly as possible. On the other hand, General Robert E. Lee considered the Wilderness his ally that would balance the Union’s numerical strength in men and artillery. When Lee learned on May 4, 1864, that the Union Army was heading into the Wilderness, he calculated that he could stop it there. About 118,769 Yankees marched in dusty columns into the woods and 62,000 Rebels moved to stop them.
In the May 5 and 6, 1864 fighting in the Wilderness, both armies used nearly all of their forces. Union casualties totaled nearly 18,000 and the Confederate casualties were estimated to be about 10.800. A northern private wrote that “it was a blind and bloody hunt to the death in bewildering thickets rather than a battle.”
The Battle of the Wilderness marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy because for the first time, Lee faced an opponent who would press on despite the cost. General Grant’s overland campaign pressed on to other bloody battlefields, and so did Clark McAllister.
Next, Clark participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, a wild melee in dark woods with every soldier trying to fight his way back to his own lines. Clark was wounded in the head, one of the 18,000 Union casualties.
Despite his own 9,000 to 10,000 casualties, General Lee had managed to delay General Grant for two weeks at Spotsylvania, which permitted other Confederate forces to resist Union attacks at Richmond and in the Shenandoah Valley without having to contend with the Army of the Potomac.
His wound wasn’t serious enough to keep Clark out of the Battle of the North Anna River. This battle was the highpoint of the 1864 Overland Campaign which began with the Battle of the Wilderness and continued at Spotsylvania Courthouse. Lee’s plan after Spotsylvania was to keep fighting Grant behind earthworks until the Confederates could crush the Union Army. From May 23 to 26, 1864, the armies of Lee and Grant fought. The battle involved 68,000 Union soldiers and 53,000 Confederates. Grant withdrew and then moved to within a day’s march of Richmond.
From May 31 to June 3, 1864, Clark McAllister fought in the Battle of Cold Harbor. Cold Harbor was Lee’s last great victory in the field, but the Union troops advanced more deeply into Virginia. Clark participated in the Petersburg campaign from June 15, 1864 to April 1, 1865, as well as fighting in the extended Union lines to Hatcher’s Run.
Lee could not prevail against Clark McAllister and the rest of the Union Army. On April 2, 1865, he pulled out of Petersburg one step ahead of the Union Army and on April 6, he retreated to the Appomattox River. The last engagement that Clark participated in was Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865. He was mustered out of the service by a general order of the war department on June 28, 1865, and received a pension of $12 a month.
Clark was one of the six McAllister brothers who served in the Civil War.
At the end of the Civil War, Clark returned to the family farm and cared for his parents until their deaths. David McAllister died in September 1871 and Susan McAllister in May 1891.
After his marriage to Miss Araminta N. Ormsbee, Clark McAlister continued to attend the Methodist Church in Union City. His pastor, the Rev. F.S. Neigh, conducted his funeral service on December 17, 1931, from his home on Sherman Street in Union City. Clark was a member of the Union City Grange, John W. McLane Post of the GAR, and Clement Lodge. Clement Lodge members conducted the funeral rites of the order at Evergreen Cemetery. Today Clark “sleeps peacefully in Evergreen Cemetery.”
He sleeps peacefully until he again hears the bugle call of General Grant’s army and joins the ramp of marching feet to once again save the Union.
Owen J. McAllister
Owen J. McAllister of Wesleyville was the brother of Clark McAllister and one of six brothers who served in the Civil War. He was a member of the 83rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and lost his right arm at Spotsylvania. Members of the Post 6, G.A.R. of Erie, of which he was a member, attended his funeral. He was buried at Wattsburg Cemetery.
David McAllister died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. F.L. Alverson, east of Union City, early on Saturday morning, December 12, 1901. He had been an invalid and not able to work for the past fifteen years and had been cared for by his children.
David was born in Vermont and moved with his family to Erie County when he was a small boy. He lived in Union and Amity Townships for most of his life.
During the Civil War, he was drafted into the Army and served in the 98th Regiment. His four brothers also served in the Union Army. David married Miss Harriet Mason and they raised a family of six children. His obituary in the Union City Times said that he was an excellent citizen, an accommodating neighbor and a kind father.