A Civil War Biography

Manning Ferguson Force

Force was born 17 December 1824 in the District of Columbia. His father, Peter Force, was the mayor of Washington DC from 1836 until 1840 and Manning attended schools in the national capital before heading to Harvard. He graduated from the law school at Harvard in 1849. The following year he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and established a law practice. He also became a member of the Cincinnati Literary Society.

When the war began Force offered his services to the 20th Ohio Volunteer infantry regiment and was assigned as a major on 26 August 1861. The 20th became part of James B McPherson's XVII Corps. Force was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 11 September 1861 and saw his first action during the campaign to capture Fort Donelson. He commanded the 20th at Shiloh and during the advance on Corinth, Mississippi. He was promoted to colonel on 1 May 1862 and commanded the 2nd brigade/ 3rd division/ XVII Corps during the siege of Vicksburg. Following his brigade's participation in the capture of Jackson, Mississippi he was promoted to brigadier general on 11 August 1863. He commanded the 1st brigade/ 3rd division/ XVII Corps during the Meridian campaign. The XVII Corps joined the main army in Georgia on 8 June 1864. On 22 July 1864 as Un ion forces moved into the city of Atlanta, Force was wounded in the face, scaring him for life. He wouldn't return to active duty and command of the 1st brigade until October 1864. He commanded the 1st during the March to the Sea. He commanded the 3rd division/ XVII Corps during the Carolinas campaign.

He was brevetted major general of volunteers on 13 March 1865. Following the Grand Review in Washington DC, Force was given command of the military district of Mississippi. He remained in Mississippi until he mustered out on 15 January 1866. Following his military service Force returned to Cincinnati and resumed his law practice. He was elected to the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. In 1877 he was elected to the superior court and served until 1888. During this period he also was a professor at the Cincinnati Law School; was active in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion; and was president of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, now the Ohio Historical Society. After retiring from the bench he was named commandant of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Sandusky, Ohio. On 31 March 1892 he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his 22 July 1864 actions at Atlanta. The citation reads: "Charged upon the enemy's works, and after their capture defended his position against assaults of the enemy until he was severely wounded." He was still serving as commandant of the soldiers' and sailors' home when he died on 8 May 1899. Up until his death Force wrote extensively on Ohio history, the Civil War, and the law. His writings can be found today in the archives at Harvard, the Ohio Historical Society and other places.

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