Capt. John H. Rhodes, Co. K, 43rd OVI

After the April 1862 resignation of Capt. William Walker, John H. Rhodes became captain of Company K, 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a position he held for virtually the rest of the war. When Company K Private Edwin Lybarger was promoted to 2nd sergeant, he began studying military tactics., and Rhodes sketched him in the act.

Battle of Corinth, Oct. 4, 1862

Company K and the 43rd OVI fought in the Battle of Corinth on the second day, Oct. 4, 1862, in fiercely fought defense of Battery Robinet. Edwin was severely wounded, but recovered and rejoined Company K the following January. Eight other Company K men died of their wounds at Corinth. The injury affected Edwin for the rest of his life, according to his son Harry Swayne Lybarger: “A minnie ball went through Father’s knee, and while he was able to return and finish the war, he was always slightly lame, and as a boy, I could always outrun him. From the time I first knew him he carried a cane frequently.”

Battle memories still vivid after 50 years

John Rhodes wrote to Edwin on Oct. 4, 1914:

My dear old comrade: I don’t forget fifty-two years ago to-day – nor will you or any other of our comrades who participated with us in that fierce little battle of Corinth, Miss. Not as large as many other battles of that war but few of them excelled it in close contact and fierceness. Hand-to-hand fighting at the right of our regiment at battery Robinet but I don’t remember that it extended to the left as far as our Co. K. I do remember that it looked at one time as if it would reach us and changing my sword from my right hand to my left I got a little Colt revolver I had carried into my right to be ready but I don’t think I fired a shot. I have no recollection of the revolver since. That Oct. 4 was…a nice bright warm day I remember, perhaps not as warm as to-day, it was certainly hot enough while the engagement lasted.

Facts to Fiction:

Read an excerpt of Jennifer Wilke’s historical novel-in-progress, The Color of Prayer,

inspired by these historical facts and Edwin Lybarger’s Civil War diaries.

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