From The Sunbury News, May, 2016:

Because You Asked . . . .

Memorial Day is More than Picnics

         - Remember Your Heroes

By Polly Horn, Curator of the Myers Inn Museum

My Hero

Robert Wilson Whitney, a.k.a. "Wild Bill" in the wagon. Looking Across Sunbury Village Square from about 6 S. Vernon Street where Whitney's great-great grandson David Brehm's law office is in 2016.

White house across the square is Henry Cook's house owned by Allen Wandle in 2016.

Buildings to the right are before the K of P Hall was built. House at right is   Molly's Flowers in 2016.

Robert Wilson Whitney was born in Trenton Township in 1844 to Eliza and Horace Whitney (a Delaware County Pioneer). Horace’s first wife, Nancy, died giving birth to their seventh baby and Horace married Eliza who was to bear him 9 more children - Robert was their second.

He grew up on his father’s farm and enlisted for three years in the Civil War on August 18, 1862 at the age of 19 at Camp Delaware. He was 5' 8¼" tall, light hair, grey eyes. He mustered in on September 11, 1862 as a Corporal under Capt. Cockrell in Company H of the 121 Regiment Ohio Infantry. Dr. F.B. Williams, the staff surgeon for Company H, examined Whitney and found him to be a sound and able man with no afflictions or disabilities whatever.

Without military training the 985 men of the 121st who had mostly been farmers marched out of Delaware for Cincinnati where they were issued worthless Prussian muskets and served guard duty. Still with out training the regiment was sent to Kentucky where they were in the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. During the engagement, Whitney was severely injured when he was run over by a team attached to a caisson belonging to the Artillery - the wheel passing over his left thigh near the knee. He was sent to hospital where he remained for several weeks. Dr. Williams treat Whitney in the Field Hospital near Perrysville, noting varicose veins began to develop and make their appearance while he was dressing the wound.

When Whitney was well enough to travel, he rejoined his unit.. In March of 1863 General Gordon Granger took over the regiment, trained and drilled the men until it was one of the best in the brigade. That month Whitney was promoted to 1st Sergeant. They were active in the Tullahoma Campaign in July. The unit protected Gen. Rosecrans’ right flank at the Battle of Stones River in Murfreesboro in August In September 1863 in the battle of Chickamaugua, GA, Whitney took two gunshots - one passing through his left arm and one entering his left side coming out near his back bone totally disabling him at the time. When the wounds healed, he rejoined his unit.

Having survived the "Valley of Hell" in Georgia on June 26, 1864, Whitney was one of the 164 officers killed or wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27th., when a musket ball struck his left breast and followed it around coming out on the left side near his backbone totally disabling him at the time. He was treated in G.H. No. 2 in Nashville, Tennessee, in June 1864. He never recovered enough to carry a full set of accouterments while in the army. He was discharged in Washington D.C. on June 8th 1865.

In 1869, he married Angeline Degood in Porter Township. They moved to Trenton Township to a family farm near his father on Longshore Road then known as Whitney Road. There they had 6 children but only 3 girls and one son lived to be adults.  Robert and his father Horace Whitney were indentured for $400 to build the frame one room school on Hartford Road at the intersection of Whitney Road

Although he was disabled he lived a very ordinary life.On August 3rd 1871 when Whitney applied for a disability pension it was not for the gunshot wounds but for varicose veins. Dr. Williams remembered the accident and was sure ensuing varicose veins were caused by the caisson accident. They bothered him until Robert died in 1926 at the age of 82.

Robert’s son Oatfield became an Ohio Senator, his grandson and great grandson were judges of Delaware County Common Pleas Court, two grandsons were Mayors of Sunbury where one owned The Sunbury News and the other owned Whitney Insurance Agency and later served as Sunbury’s Post Master.

Robert W. Whitney

Remembering your heroes on Memorial Day is a good way to pass their stories on to future generations. Make is as much a part of Memorial Day as your family picnic.
Many thanks to the Honorable Henry Shaw who secured Whitney's Civil War records for Judge William Duncan Whitney, Robert's great grandson.

. . . . And Now You Know

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