Ohio Cover


A Military History

Michael Mangus

Westholme Publishing, Yardley, Pennsylvania, 2016, 376 pages

Book Review published on: November 21, 2018

Westholme Publishing is in the process of creating a series of state military histories. Currently, only four are complete: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, and Missouri. My interest in Michael Mangus’s Ohio: A Military History comes from a desire to know more about my local history and how it is interwoven with broader American military history. Mangus hits a proverbial “home run” with his comprehensive discourse on the wide breadth of Ohio history ranging from ancient to contemporary times. He sets a foundation by presenting the reader a perspective of Ohio’s ancient history that includes an informative look at the native peoples before European settlement. The artifacts and landmarks left in Ohio by the Paleo-Indians and those from the Archaic Period provide a clear understanding of the span of time Ohio has had human inhabitation, and there are indications these early people took measures to defend themselves.

Mangus discusses a diverse blend of topics and dynamic eras of conflict that bring the reader through the colonial period, early American history, and into the more current conflicts in the twenty-first century and how Ohioans were involved. For me, the most intriguing history is that of the early settlements and frontier days of the Old Northwest Territory, which Mangus explains with great clarity. He touches on events I had heard of growing up, placing them in a chronological sequence that provides the reader with a greater understanding of the conflicts that transpired between Native American tribes and different European powers in the territory that would become Ohio. He articulates the early settlers’ failure to understand the differences between native tribes that exacerbated conflicts and hindered those with good intentions from working toward productive relations and peaceful coexistence.

My only disappointment with the book is an absence of any discussion about the Black Brigade of Cincinnati. The brigade’s brief existence for only three weeks during the Civil War was truly a unique aspect of Ohio’s military history. Capturing this organization’s formation and brief service would have added an increased level of depth to an already finely put together section addressing the Siege of Cincinnati.

Mangus does enlighten the reader on Ohio’s extensive history in calling out the National Guard or state militia in response to crises. I was unaware of the numerous state missions to quell unrest, control labor disputes, end prison riots, and restore law and order that are dotted throughout Ohio’s history. The book also documents the numerous instances in which the Ohio National Guard saved lives and alleviated human suffering caused by natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and blizzards. The most intriguing event in Ohio’s military history was the border conflict with Michigan. Two state militias were willing to fight each other to enforce their respective views on the state boundary.

This book is a great source document for those interested in the significant breadth of Ohio military history. There is an extensive appendix of Ohio military monuments, historic sites, museums, and memorials with the notes and a list of further readings. The appendix itself proves to be a valuable resource to a student or researcher looking to dig deeper into the specific study of Ohio history. There are many interesting historical locations dispersed across the state that can help provide a greater understanding of significant events and places that had an impact on Ohio and the entire region’s history.

Overall, Mangus has created a well stated and interesting military history of Ohio. The vastness of military subjects could, and in many cases does, fill volumes of fascinating history tomes regarding the “Buckeye” state. For the Ohio history aficionado, this is a great place to start in developing an understanding of the military actions and contributions that occurred in the state as well as the broad support provided for the military by Ohioans throughout the Nation’s history.

Book Review written by: John Kloeker, U.S. Army, Retired, Wilder, Kentucky