"Squirrel Hunter’s Discharge" awarded to John Kerns
The Squirrel Hunters were Ohio’s salvation of the state. They were so named for their dress and mannerisms. These Civilian soldiers were called up in response to Governor Tod’s plea for a defense of Cincinnati.
On August 29-30, 1862, Confederate General E. Kirby Smith and his army completely destroyed a segment of the Union army at Richmond, Kentucky. Not until late Saturday night, August 30, did Cincinnati receive word of this defeat. News spread to this northern city that Smith was to invade and distress signals rang out. Ohio’s Governor Tod issued this proclamation:
Our southern border is threatened with invasion. I have therefore to recommend that all the loyal men of your counties at once form themselves into military companies and regiments to beat back the enemy at any and all points he may attempt to invade our State. Gather up all the arms in the country, and furnish yourselves with ammunition for the same. The service will be of but a few days duration. The soil of Ohio must not be invaded by the enemies of our glorious Government.
There was no defense of Cincinnati pertaining to a large force. The only obstacle in the Confederate General’s way was a few unmanned guns in back of Covington and the crossing of the Ohio River. Volunteers anxious to preserve their part of their Union answered an immediate response through the State. Men of all walks of life answered to the call of the defense of Cincinnati. Laborers, farmers, mechanics and many other occupational skilled men were to drop their labors and heed to the call. A total of 15,766 men responded from the Buckeye State. Warren County had a total of 436.
"From morning till night the streets resounded with the tramp of armed men marching to the defense of the city. From every quarter of the State they came, in every form of organization, with every species of arms. The ’Squirrel Hunters,’ in their homespun garments, with powder- horn and buckskin pouch."
"Half-organized regiments, some in uniform and some without, some having waited long enough to draw their equipments and some having marched without them; cavalry and infantry; all poured out from the railroad depots and down toward the pontoon bridge. "The ladies of the city furnished provisions by the wagon-load; the Fifth Street markethouse was converted into a vast free eating saloon for the Squirrel Hunters; halls and warehouses were used as barracks."
(Taken from Reid’s, Ohio in the War.)