Saturday, September 6, 2014

#64 Medal of Honor recipient at Salem Cemetery (100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida)

Grave of Private Ira Hough
Salem Methodist Church near Graceville
A final resting place of a Union hero of the War Between the States (or Civil War) is #64 on my list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

Please click here to see the full list as it is unveiled.

Visitors to historic Salem Cemetery in northwestern Jackson County are often surprised to find the grave of a Yankee soldier who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The peaceful burial ground is the final resting place of Private Ira Hough of Indiana, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Ira Hough later in life
Hough was 19 years old when he enlisted in Company E, 8th Indiana Infantry. Nearly 6 feet tall, he had black hair, black eyes and a fair complexion. The young soldier was already a veteran by the time he found himself engaged in the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, on October 19, 1864.

The first hours of the battle had not gone well for the Union army. Storming out of early morning mists and fog, the Confederate soldiers of Gen. Jubal Early had attacked the Federal force of Gen. Philip Sheridan. Early had fewer than 15,000 men compared to the 32,000 Union soldiers in Sheridan's army, but his attack was well-planned and fierce.

In early fighting, the outnumbered Confederates overran the Union VIII and XIX Corps before finally slowing in the face of a desperate stand by the men of the VI Corps. By 10:30 a.m., however, Early had defeated all three corps and the Union army was in retreat.

Sheridan at the Battle of Cedar Creek
Library of Congress
Sheridan had been in nearby Winchester, Virginia, when the battle erupted. In a desperate gallop still remembered as "Sheridan's Ride," he reached the battlefield to find his army shattered and on the verge of complete destruction. Rallying his troops, he led a counterattack that finally turned the tide of the battle and forced Early's hard-fighting Confederates to withdraw.

Grave of Isaac Hough
Among the troops that rallied to the general's flag for the counterattack was the 8th Indiana Infantry. Private Ira Hough, of Company E, was on the main battle line as Sheridan pushed forward and was one of 20 men credited with breaking into the Confederate lines and capturing the flags of their Southern foes.

The act was one of such distinction that all 20 men were named recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. President Abraham Lincoln personally presented Hough with his medal on October 26, 1864.

The young soldier from Indiana continued to serve with his regiment until the end of the war, when he returned home and resumed his pre-war occupation of farming. He married Elizabeth Moore in 1868 and continued to live in Indiana for more than 20 years.

Salem Methodist Church in Jackson County, Florida
In 1888 and well after the end of Reconstruction, however, he and Elizabeth relocated to a farm in northwestern Jackson County between Graceville and Chipley. They raised their family and lived there until her death in 1902.  Ira mourned his lifelong companion and relocated to Missouri for a few years after she passed away, but by 1907 was back in Florida.

He died at the home of L.J. Collins, Jr., on October 18, 1916. He and Elizabeth rest side by side at Salem Cemetery adjacent to Salem Methodist Church in Jackson County.

To reach Salem Church and Cemetery from Graceville, drive south on State Highway 77 for 5 miles and turn right on Tri County Road. Follow Tri County Road for 3.5 miles and you will see the church on your right at the intersection with Hickshill Road and Christy Lane.

Please click here to see other installments in the list of 100 Great Things about Jackson County, Florida.

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