Capt. Robert Wilson (1822 - 1862)

Located in the southeast corner of the Riverside Cemetery and standing alone in a grove hemlock near Route 224 is a large granite monument with the following inscription.

Private 1
st Penn’a Vol’s
Vera Cruz, Chapulta
Palo Alto, City of Mexico
We killed more Mexicans in
Bayonet charges than by bullets
Captain Co. H 105 O.V.I.
Killed Battle of Perryville, KY
Buried Mackville Church, KY
Oct. 8, 1862

Robert Wilson did not come from a wealthy Poland family nor was he a politician with wide acclaim, so why was he given such an imposing megalith? We can find out by turning the clock back 140 years to August 1862. It was then that an Army Recruiter came to Poland and stood on the porch of Sparrow's Stone Tavern on Main Street and encouraged the town's young men to fight to preserve the Union Flag and to abolish slavery in the South. Robert Wilson was a 40 year old tailor who was married and had 3 small children, ages 7, 5. and 2, but the excitement of returning to military service overcame his sense of duty to his family. And besides his stories of the Mexican War made him a hero in the eyes of the men enlisting that day and they wanted him to be their leader now that the State of Ohio was being threatened by the Confederate Army that was marching ever closer towards the cities along the Ohio River.
The next we know is that by mid-September Robert Wilson has received a commission and is leading Company H of the 105th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and heading south out of Louisville to meet the Rebels. That fall was the driest in recorded history. So dry, in fact, that it was possible to walk across the Ohio River in many places without getting wet. Both the Northern and Southern Armies were in desperate need of water and there was a rumor that the Chaplin River at Perryville, Kentucky still had water. As fate would have it, both armies arrived in Perryville on October 7th with the Confederates occupying the Town and the Union Forces holding the hills to the west overlooking the river. The 105th was 9 miles away in Mackville the morning of the 8th. With only time for coffee they marched toward the sounds of artillery guns with empty stomachs and dry canteens. Orders came to move up without delay and defend the left flank of the 33rd. Brigade of the Second Corps.
The following are excerpts from the Official Rcord (Vol. 16 pg. 1065) as written by Colonel Albert Hall, Commander of the 33rd two days after the battle..."the Brigade reached the field about 3:OOPM...the Confederates moved up to within 100 yards without discharging a musket....The 105th Regiment delivered to the enemy a most terrible and destructive fire, receiving in return the fire of an enfilading battery and a rebel brigade concealed in the woods...the engagement lasted less than an hour....not an officer and but a few of the enlisted men flinched from the hail of death or left their positions until ordered by their officers.... of the mortality of our wound I speak with choking sorrow. Captians L. D. Kee Company I and Robert Wilson of Company H are no more, the former dead the later mortally wounded. Braver men never lived; truer patriots never offered a holier sacrifice to their country's cause."
After the battle Capt. Wilson was transported back to Mackville in an ambulance where he died and was buried. Six years later the government moved his body to a new National Cemetery at Camp Nelson located about 20 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky. Wilson remained in the memory of Ira Mansfield, who as a 20 year old enlisted private in Company H had fought beside Capt. Wilson at Perryville, and who returning to Poland after the war became a wealthy coal mine owner. In 1916 as a Trustee of the Riverside Cemetery Mr. Mansfield paid to have a monument erected in the new section of the Cemetery, having it dedicated to his boyhood hero and comrade in battle.


As darkness fell over the hills above the Chaplin River 7,400 Americans lay dead and wounded on the battlefield. Confederate General Braxton Bragg soon realized that, although his 16,000 veterans had won a tactical victory that day, they had only met one Corps of 20,000 soldiers and that another two corps of 28,000 men were preparing to attack the next day. Against the wishes of his staff, Bragg ordered a retreat that eventually leads to the South withdrawing completely from Kentucky. The people back home read very little about the fighting that took place at Perryville. Their newspapers were filled with the gruesome details of the loss of 23,000 men at Antietam Creek in Maryland on September 17th and of President Lincoln's preliminary text of the Emancipation Proclamation on September 23rd. As a result even today little is remembered and little is written of the fighting that took place on the 8th of October. After the battle Union General Buell was relieved of his command for his failure to use the other two corps and for not pursuing the weaken Confederates. The men of the 105th O.V.I, continued to fight in the battles for Chattanooga, for Atlanta, and were with Sherman as he marched across Georgia to the Sea. Little is known of what became of Robert Wilson's wife and children. Their names show on the 1870 U.S. Census and then disappear. It would be interesting to know how she was able to manage financially.

PS. There is one small reference in an 1880 Youngstown City Directory where a Nancy Wilson owned a Candy Store in the City. Haven’t been able to determine if she was the widow of Capt. Wilson.