Charles Henry McElroy

Charles Henry McElroy was born on March 19, 1830, in Gambier, Ohio, to James McElroy and Maria Burrows, both natives of Ireland. At the time of Charles’s birth, James served as an Episcopalian deacon and a tutor at Kenyon College. The McElroy family moved to Delaware, Ohio, in 1832, before settling in Staunton, Virginia, eight years later. From 1850 to 1852, Charles attended the University of Virginia, where he studied International Law and Government. He was admitted to the Virginia bar in the summer of 1852 but followed his parents back to Ohio later that year. After working for several years as a civil engineer, he joined the Ohio bar in 1855. The City Council of Delaware, Ohio, elected him mayor in 1857 and 1858"without regard to party and with but little opposition." He married Caroline Murray on October 28, 1858, and together they had seven children: Lilian E., born August 21, 1859; Bessie S., born around 1862; Delia K., born around 1863; Kathleen D., born August 16, 1866; George H., born around 1866, who died at age 15; Caroline M., born December 23, 1867; and Frances H., born March 8, 1872.

In June 1861, McElroy helped organize the Lenape Greys, a local militia company that met nightly to drill and parade. That August, after President Abraham Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers, McElroy began recruiting men for the 1st Ohio Infantry. The following month, the Greys "put the question of volunteering to [a] vote." The company assembled in a line, and McElroy asked those who were willing to enlist to step forward. Only two men answered the call. McElroy, however, was determined to "raise a company even if his own men deserted him," and he secured a commission as a first lieutenant in Company D of the 20th Ohio Infantry on September 10, 1861. He urged his neighbors to volunteer, arguing that "your Country needs youmust have you." He encouraged them to "come forward promptly to sustain the Government, put down rebellion and rebuke sympathizers with treason." A local newspaper likewise appealed to the "patriotism of our people," asking families to feed and shelter the new recruits.

McElroy was mustered into service on September 28, 1861, at nearby Camp Chase and soon received a promotion to captain. The regiment spent the winter stationed in Kentucky, and in February 1862 they joined the assault on Fort Donelson in Tennessee. After the battle, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant detailed the 20th Ohio to escort the captured Confederates to prison camps throughout the North. As their steamboat passed by Eddyville, Kentucky, the crew steered toward shore, attempting to help the Confederate prisoners escape. Along the riverbank, a small crowd cheered for Jefferson Davis and cursed the Union soldiers. McElroy resolved the crisis by aiming his pistol at the pilot's head and ordering him to put the boat back on course.

The regiment took part in the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 and spent the following months guarding the roads and military stores near Pittsburg Landing. In recognition of McElroy’s meritorious service, Ohio Governor David Tod appointed him as major of 96th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served in campaigns along the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, participating in the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou and the subsequent Siege of Vicksburg. McElroy’s health, however, rapidly deteriorated during his service, as he contracted typhoid fever, dysentery, neuralgia, and rheumatism of the chest. He briefly returned home to Ohio on sick leave in April 1863, and he spent early July convalescing in the field hospital at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Due to the severe state of his health, the surgeon of the 96th signed off on McElroy’s request for discharge for disability on July 5.

After making a partial recovery, McElroy returned to practicing law in Ohio. He attended a Union Party Convention in Delaware County in August 1866, and over the next few decades, he helped organize reunions for his Civil War regiments. He also joined the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal veterans’ organization, and eventually became commander of his local post. In 1878, he was elected to a third term as mayor of Delaware, again receiving a large vote “without regard to partisanship.” He served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas from 1882 to 1892, after which he became a solicitor for the Fidelity Building Association and Loan Company. In 1896, he helped organize the Delaware Bar Association, and he served as its president for the next eight years.

Two of his children died youngBessie in 1870 and George in 1881and his wife Caroline followed on December 6, 1883. In 1882, McElroy had begun receiving a $10 monthly pension for the residual ailments incurred during his military service. The pension increased to $20 in 1899. He died at his home in Delaware on March 1, 1904, at the age of 74, and was buried next to his wife in Oak Grove Cemetery.

Image: Charles Henry McElroy (courtesy Ohio Wesleyan University).


Charles H. McElroy Calls for Volunteers

Charles H. McElroy Raises a Volunteer Company

Caroline McElroy Raises Money for Soldiers' Families

Name:McElroy, Charles Henry
Alternative names:
  • Soldier
  • UVA (Union)
96th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
20th Regiment Ohio Volunteer InfantryD
Branch of service:Army
Enlistment1861-09-10Delaware, OH
Commission1861-09-10Delaware, OHaccepted31
Muster In1861-09-28Camp Chase, OH
Muster Out1862-07-12Mustered Out
Muster In1862-08-19Camp Delaware, OH
Muster Out1863-07-05Vicksburg, MSDischarged for Disability
Residence at UVA:Fincastle, VA
UVA Begin Year:1850
UVA End Year:1852
Residence at enlistment:Delaware, OH
Rank In:Captain
Rank Out:Major
Highest rank achieved:Major
Person 1Person 2NumberRelation Type
McElroy, Charles HenryMcElroy, Charles Henry329419application-invalid
McElroy, Charles Henrynoneapplication-minor
McElroy, Charles Henrynoneapplication-parent
McElroy, Charles Henrynoneapplication-widow
McElroy, Charles HenryMcElroy, Charles Henry222353certificate-invalid
Birth date:1830-03-19
Birth date certainty:certain
Birth place:Gambier, OH
Death date:1904-03-01
Death place:Delaware, OH
Causes of death:disease: neuralgia
Occupations:Attorney, Judge, Civil Engineer, Mayor
Person 1Relation TypePerson 2
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofHall, Lilian E. McElroy
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofMcElroy, Kathleen D.
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofMcElroy, Caroline Murray
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofMcElroy, Francis H.
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofMcElroy, George H.
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofMcElroy, Delia K.
McElroy, Charles Henryparent ofMcElroy, Bessie S.
McElroy, Carolinewife ofMcElroy, Charles Henry

Compiled Service Record for Charles H. McElroy, RG 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; Pension Record for Charles H. McElroy, RG 15, National Archives and Records Administration; United States Census, 1860, 1870, and 1880, accessed through; James R. Lytle, 20th Century History of Delaware County, Ohio and Representative Citizens (1908); George Irving Reed, Bench and Bar of Ohio (1897); “Charles H McElroy and Caroline Murray,” Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993, accessed through; Delaware Gazette, January 29, 1869, accessed through; Delaware County, Ohio, Burial Index, 1784-2011, Delaware County Genealogical and Historical Societies,; The Dayton Herald, March 2, 1904, accessed through; The Marion Star, March 2, 1904, accessed through; Delaware Gazette, June 21, 1861, accessed through; Delaware Gazette, August 2, 1861, accessed through; Delaware Gazette, September 13, 1861, accessed through; Delaware Gazette, October 4, 1861, accessed through; David L. Mowery, "Following the Footsteps of a Soldier: Pvt. Samuel S. Churchill, 20th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry," Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, 1998, accessed through; "Camp Chase Chronicles 1861," Albert Castel, "The War Album of Henry O. Dwight, Part I: The First Encounter," Civil War Times, Vol. 18 (October 1979), 12-17.