By Brad Gottfried
Born on February 20, 1840, in Chatham Ohio, Leonidas H. Inscho enlisted in Company E, 12th Ohio Infantry on June 16, 1861. He had risen to the rank of corporal by the time his regiment, part of Col. Eliakim Scammon’s brigade (Kanawha Division, IX Corps), marched to Fox’s Gap on the morning of September 14, 1862.
Inscho’s citation reads: “Alone and unaided and with his left hand disabled, captured a Confederate captain and four men.”
Inscho’s deeds are best described in his own words:
“. . . our regiment, with others, charged the Confederates, who were posted behind a stone wall on the side of the mountain. As we approached the enemy, a rifle-ball struck my gun, wounding my left hand. While stopped to examine my piece and my hand, the regiments made a flank movement to the left, leaving me alone near the wall. A Confederate captain was on the other side, and as he came near me, I caught him by the collar and told him to surrender. He refused, and pointed his revolver at my head, but I caught it by the barrel and turned it up just as he fired. I clung to the revolver and disarmed him, and grabbing him by the shoulders began to pull him over the wall. He struggled vigorously and struck me in the face several times, but I got him over the wall and knocked him down compelling him to surrender.
“I then turned my attention to some of his men, who were taking refuge behind a clump of trees. I pointed my revolver at them and demanded their surrender. Four of them dropped their guns and came over to the Union side of the wall, but a fifth man came up to me with his gun in his hand and swore he would not give up to a Yankee. He took aim at me as he spoke, and I dropped behind the wall just as he fired. He turned to run away and I at once rose from my position and emptied the contents of my revolver into him. I then ordered the captain and his four men to fall in, and marched them over to the colonel of my regiment [Carr B. White].”
Inscho’s 12th Ohio was up against the 23rd North Carolina of Brig. Gen. Samuel Garland’s brigade (Maj. Gen. D. H. Hill’s division) and the regiment did shift to the right to attack Confederates near the Wise house, as Inscho described.
Inscho would fight with his regiment until it was mustered out during the summer of 1864. He subsequently re-enlisted in the 23rd Ohio and rose to the rank of lieutenant. Inscho was wounded again at the battle of Third Winchester on September 19, 1864. A comrade noted how he, “never was sick a day during his whole term of service, and never missed a roll call, drill or guard duty.”
After mustering out of service on August 7, 1865, Inscho returned home to Ohio, married in 1870 and opened a grocery store. He would not receive his medal until January 31, 1894. He died on November 12, 1907.
Inscho slipped into obscurity until a local historian learned of his exploits. The mayor of Newark, Ohio subsequently proclaimed November 12, 1988 as “Leonidas H. Inscho Day” that included placing a bronze marker at his grave site.
This is the twenty-first essay in our monthly series “Finding Antietam – A Guide’s Story.” Each month, we’ll feature the story of one of our guides and what sparked their interest in Antietam and the Civil War, and why they became an Antietam Battlefield Guide. Antietam Battlefield Guide Brad Gottfried shares his story this month.
My interest in the Civil War began as a youth—probably when I was about 10 years old. I was too young to digest more factual books on the war, so I concentrated on picture books, such as the big American Heritage book on the Civil War.
Growing up in Philadelphia, the Gettysburg battlefield was the closest to my home. I would visit frequently, but when I was able to drive, I made my first trip to the Antietam battlefield. I always felt a special connection with these fields and returned as often as I could. I earned my degrees, started a family, and took jobs in the Midwest. A decade passed without visiting the battlefield. My family drove back to Philly for a wedding and I saw the sign to the battlefield, so we got off Route 70 and headed to the Visitors Center. One of my lasting memories is my five-year-old daughter in tears when she saw the movie. She got it. She understood what these men sacrificed and it moved her deeply. I was proud that it was not merely a superficial experience for her.
As a trained scientist, I study things, and after I earned my doctorate, my studies mainly involved biological topics, but with a family, it became easier to study something I could do at home. That launched my study of the Civil War. Fourteen books later, I am still learning, but now concentrate on map studies and, of course, Antietam.
After retiring in 2017, I looked around for things to do and noted that I could be an Antietam volunteer. I joined and also became an Ambassador. It was just a natural progression to become a guide. I now return to the battlefield frequently. Yet, I never lose my awe of what it must have been like to fight on that blood-soaked day for something these men deeply believed in. Walking the fields never becomes common-place or routine and I learn some new perspectives every time I visit. There are so many stories, so many things to learn, that it would take a life-time and more to truly understand the battle. As a life-long student, Antietam has become a wonderful teacher.