Manning Force

Manning Ferguson Force

Manning Force pen and ink from Osborn H. I. Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, 1885
Born (1824-12-17)December 17, 1824
Washington, D.C.
Died May 8, 1899(1899-05-08) (aged 74)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Place of burial Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861 - 1866
Rank Brigadier General
Brevet Major General
Commands held 20th Ohio Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Medal of Honor

Manning Ferguson Force (December 17, 1824 May 8, 1899) was a lawyer, judge and soldier from Ohio. He became known as the commander of the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Union Army during the American Civil War, and was a recipient of the Army Medal of Honor for gallantry in action.

Early life and career

Manning F. Force was born in Washington, D.C., where his father, Peter Force, was the mayor. He attended Harvard College until 1845, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1848. The following year, Force moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and began his law practice.

Civil War

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Force joined the Union forces as major of the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, serving in the Western Theater as part of General James B. McPherson’s 17th Corps.

Colonel Force's 20th Ohio bore the brunt of the Battle of Raymond, Mississippi, in the Vicksburg Campaign. Osborn Oldroyd related the number of casualties from the 20th Ohio to his commander: "I took the roll-book from the pocket of our dead sergeant, and found that while we had gone in with thirty-two men, we came out with but sixteen - one-half of the brave little band, but a few hours before so full of hope and patriotism, either killed or wounded. Nearly all the survivors could show bullet marks in clothing or flesh, but no man left the field on account of wounds. When I told Colonel Force of our loss, I saw tears course down his cheeks, and so intent were his thoughts upon his fallen men that he failed to note the bursting of a shell above him, scattering the powder over his person, as he sat at the foot of a tree."[1]

Following the Siege of Vicksburg, Force marched on to northern Georgia, where he fought in the Atlanta Campaign. He was severely wounded in the face during the Battle of Atlanta and was disfigured for life. For his valor during the Atlanta Campaign, Force was promoted to major general of volunteers in March 1865. In 1892, he received the Medal of Honor. The citation read, "Charged upon the enemy's works, and after their capture defended his position against assaults of the enemy until he was severely wounded."

The thirty-seven-year-old lawyer began the conflict as a major and ended as a brevetted major general. Sgt. Osborn Oldroyd noted his leadership when he wrote in his diary:"As Colonel Force called us to 'Attention' this morning one of the boys remarked, 'I love that man more than ever.' Yes, we have good reason to be proud of our Colonel, for upon all occasions we are treated by him as volunteers enlisted in war form pure love of country…." In his memoirs printed after the war, Force stated: "When lying there (in the trenches outside Vicksburg) it sometimes occurred to me, what a transformation it was for these men, full of individuality and self-reliance, accustomed always to act upon their own will, to so completely subordinate their wills to the wills of other men...Their practical sense had told them an army differs from a mob only in discipline, and discipline was necessary for self-preservation."[2]

Postbellum activities

After the war, Force returned to Cincinnati, where he became a justice of the Superior Court of Cincinnati. He also authored several law books and became a prominent writer as well as a lecturer.

Manning Force is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.[3] His papers and documents are housed in the Manning Ferguson Force Collection of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center.

Medal of Honor citation

Rank and organization: Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. Place and date: At Atlanta, Ga., July 22, 1864. Entered service at: Cincinnati, Ohio. Born: Washington, D.C. December 17, 1824. Date of issue: March 31, 1892.


Charged upon the enemy's works, and after their capture defended his position against assaults of the enemy until he was severely wounded.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Manning Force.


  1. Oldroyd, page X.
  2. Oldroyd, page Y.
  3. "Judge Civil War Generals" (PDF). The Spring Grove Family. Retrieved July 17, 2014.


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