Name: Richard K. Hulse
Highest Rank: First lieutenant (promoted to captain, but never mustered)
Unit: 125th Ohio Infantry Regiment
Service Record: Enlisted on August 14, 1862. Fought at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the Atlanta campaign, Franklin and Nashville. Mustered out on September 25, 1865.
Richard K. Hulse was born on February 7, 1828, in Brazetta, Ohio, to Henry K. and Rhoda Rowley Hulse. He was educated in the Trumbull County schools and at Farmington Academy. In 1847 he learned the blacksmith trade. He married Hannah Payton on July 4, 1849, and the couple settled in Kinsman, Ohio, where they raised seven children.
On August 14, 1862, Hulse enlisted in the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment as it was being organized. Then 34, he stood 5 feet 6 inches and was very muscular due to his years of blacksmithing. He was promoted to first sergeant of Company B on January 1, 1863. Once training was completed, the 125th headed for Franklin, Tenn.
After taking Franklin from the Rebels that February, the Federals, including the 125th, settled in as an occupation force. When the pontoon bridge over the Harpeth River, used to establish a line of communication with the rest of the brigade, was washed away during a storm, Hulse volunteered to swim a horse with a line attached across the river at night.
Hulse’s first major battle came in September 1863 at Chickamauga, where the 125th stood with Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas on Snodgrass Hill. At Chickamauga the 125th earned the sobriquet “Opdycke Tigers” (after its colonel, Emerson Opdycke) for its fierce fighting on September 20. The 125th was the last regiment to leave the field, having fought just as well as veteran regiments.
Hulse survived the siege of Chattanooga and commanded Company B in November 1863 during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. The 125th was one of the first regiments to reach the ridge top. Taking the lead, its men continued to chase the enemy south, capturing numerous prisoners, guns and equipment.
Hulse was promoted to second lieutenant on April 3, 1864, and advanced to first lieutenant the following July 19. He commanded Company K during the Atlanta campaign and the battles of Franklin and Nashville. At Nashville he moved through heavy gunfire to capture a Confederate cannon, then with the help of his men turned it around and fired several times on fleeing enemy troops with their own weapon. He subsequently commanded Company C to the end of the war. In 1865 he was promoted to captain.
After Hulse was mustered out of service on September 25, 1865, at Victoria, Texas, he returned home to Kinsman and studied law under Judge Albert Yeomans, his former Company B commander. Admitted to the bar in 1869, Hulse practiced in Kinsman until 1902. Before his death at age 87 in 1915, he attended several of the 125th’s reunions. A Freemason and lifelong member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he also served as vice president of the Kinsman branch of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.
Originally published in the May 2007 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.