Biography of Captain Ebenezer Z. Hays
Coshocton County, OH Biographies

Captain E. Z. Hays, the subject of this sketch, a veteran of the Civil war and the oldest member of the Coshocton bar, was born in Belmont county, Ohio, December 10, 1837. His father was born in Maryland and was taken by his parents, about 1806 to 1810, to the blockhouse at Wheeling, West Virginia. He and his twin brother being carried "over the mountains" in a sack thrown across the back of a horse on which the mother rode. The father, John Joseph Hays, married Susan Laughary and went to farming on the hill above where Bridgeport now stands and there Captain E. Z. Hays was born. The family is of Scotch Irish Presbyterian stock. Beginning with the Revolution and ending with the brief contest with Spain there has been a representative of the family in all our wars. In the spring of 1852 John J. Hays removed to a farm opposite Warsaw in this county. In politics he was an old line whig, later becoming identified with the republican party, being one of its organizers in this county, and always active and influential in its councils.

Ebenezer Z. Hays was the eldest child and only son in a family of four. The son having, by teaching school, acquired a liberal academic education, read law with C. C. Leonard (then one of the first lawyers of Coshocton county), was admitted to practice, by the supreme court of Ohio on the 9th day of February, 1859, and the next day was engaged, with his preceptor, in trying an important case in the Coshocton common pleas court.

During the summer of 1859 he replenished his depleted purse by growing a fine corn crop, his father generously furnishing the land, the teams and the board for the young lawyer and allowed him to pocket all the proceeds. Being now in funds, he went to Illinois and engaged in school teaching until the Civil war broke out, when he enlisted in an Illinois company for the first three months' call, but that organization failing to get into the service and thinking the "Three Months' Men" would put down the rebellion, he returned to Ohio until the war was over, much displeased with himself for not getting into the army.

When the call came for three hundred thousand troops, E. Z. Hays was among the first to write his name upon the enrollment sheet of that organization that became known in history as Company K, Thirty second Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He entered the service as a private but his fitness, his faithful discharge of duties and his personal courage soon brought him a second lieutenant's commission, which was followed by cornmissions as first lieutenant and captain. Of his services for the Union we quote from a letter from Brigadier General B. F. Potts, late colonel of the Thirty second Ohio Infantry, a letter now treasured by Captain Hays as a priceless possession. General Potts says, "Captain Hays served with distinguished honor for over three years, earning his respective promotions by gallant conduct on the field. Having been in the service with Captain Hays during his entire term of service, I know his worth as an officer a.nd his genial qualities as a gentleman." The Thirty second Ohio as a whole, participated in twenty three engagements, in the sieges of Vicksburg, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia, in all of which Captain Hays had a part, either as a private, company or staff officer.

In Fremont's campaign up the valley of Virginia in the spring of 1862, Private Hays was made a prisoner near Cross Keys, and with some three thousand others confined in the fair grounds at Lynchburg, Virginia, from where, in July of that year, he effected his escape, but after traveling for fourteen nights up the James river, having several adventures on the way, he was recaptured within ten miles of personal friends who would have hastened him on his way. His captors took him back to Lynchburg fair grounds, where the colonel commanding t.he rebel guards ordered him confined in a stall and decorated with a ball and chain. As he was being taken to his place of confinement, he with his guards passed within a few feet of the guard lines of the general prison pen, at a point where the prisoners were permitted to come close to the line for bartering with hucksters, and they, the prisoners, having learned that an escaped prisoner was being taken to the ball and chain department, were crowded thickly near the guard line; Private Hays took in the situation, purposely dropped his cap, stooped to pick it up, which caused his guards to pass a couple of paces beyond him, when instead of falling in with them as they certainly expected, he with head down, bolted for the inside of the line. The ground being literally covered with little shelter tents, he was soon out of sight of the guards, who found much difficulty in working their way through the press of prisoners who contrived, innocently (?) enough, to be ever in the way. The fugitive, crawling from tent to tent, soon contrived to effect a change of clothing from rebel gray (coat, pants and cap, which he had captured in his wanderings) to Yankee blue, got a shave and a good wash, all of which combined to work so decided a change in his appearance that neither his guard nor his captors recognized him, although they passed within a few feet of where he lay upon the ground intently (? ) perusing an old copy of the Statutes of Virginia. Not many men of tho Union army have the unique record of having broken into rebel prison. In a few days after his return to Lynchburg the prisoners confined there were sent to Belle Isle in the James river, from where he with several thousand others were paroled and turned in to Uncle Sam's hands at Akin's Landing, Virginia, about the 4th of September, 1802, and brought to Anapohs, Maryland. Having been exchanged and promoted to second lieutenant of Company K, be went with his regiment to the southwest, where he became a part of the army with which General Grant made his masterly Vicksburg campaign. Captain Hays with his regiment participated in all the battles incident to that campaign excepting that of Black River Bridge. At Champion's Hill they captured, by a brilliant bayonet charge, the First Mississippi Battery, Company K, passing directly through its line of guns.

As a commissioned officer Captain Hays soon won the confidence and esteem of his superior officers and the love and respect of the men he, from time to time, came to command. At the second battle at Champion's Hill, Mississippi, February 5; 1864, in command of two companies, he was sent to reinforce the skirmish line. In a brief time the two officers on the line who ranked him were both severely wounded. The command of the four companies and of the line then devolved upon him. He pushed his men forward with such determination and dash that the etiemy was routed with considerable loss and pursued by his skirmishers into and through Jackson (the state capital) to the banks of Pearl river, where they saved from destruction the pontoon bridge which the rebels had thrown across that stream. Colonel Potts, commanding the brigade, was so well satisfied with his work on that occasion, that he said, "Hays, my boy, you are down on my book for promotion."

When in Sherman's campaign to Atlanta, the brigade to which Captain Hays belonged charged the right wing of the rebel army in its strong posi tion on top of Brushy Mountain, he was the first commissioned officer of his regiment over the rebel works and directed the fire that drove back the rebel reinforcements that were coming up their side of the mountain. These are only two of many incidents in his army life, but they will suffice to show the kind of a soldier and officer he was.

On retiring from the service, Captain Hays formed a partnership with Colonel Josiah Given and engaged in the claim agency business in Columbus, Ohio. The firm was very successful, but Colonel Given, being made postmaster of the house of representatives at Washington, D. C., the firm was dissolved, Captain Hays going to Cadiz, Ohio, where he engaged in the practice of law, and where, on the 14th day of March, 1867, he was married to Miss Eliza Welch Beebe, eldest daughter of Walter B. and Maria B. Beebe. One child, Stuart Beebe Hays, now of Coshocton, Ohio, was the fruit of this union. On the call for troops for the war with Spain, this son responded promptly, entering the service as a private in Company F, Seventh Ohio Infantry. In a very short time he became first sergeant of his company, which position he held until the muster out of his regiment.

After his marriage Captain Hays removed to Circleville, Ohio, and engaged in publishing the Circleville Union, the republican organ of Pickaway county, a service he performed to the satisfaction of the republicans of that county. Selling that paper he bought the Sunday Morning Times at Zanesville, Ohio, which he converted, into the Daily Morning Times, now known in the newspaper world as thc Times Recorder. Captain Hays has been employed in newspaper work in Cahfornia and Colorado, besides being a frequent and acceptable correspondent, from time to time, of divers Ohio papers. He is also the author and editor of a history of his regiment that has had a liberal sale.

On the 11th day of July, 1879, the Captain's wife died at Cadiz, Ohio, and in the fall of 1880 he went to the Pacific coast in search of health. Returning he located at Warsaw, where he has since been practicing law, and where, on June 24, 1889, he was married to Mrs. Josephine (Butler) Darling, only daughter of Felix Butler and Nancy (Farquhar) Butler.

Captain Hays has been an active member of the Grand Army of the Rcpublic and was assistant adjutant general of this department from 1896 to 1897, one term. He very frequently served as commander of his post, as its delegate to department encampments, as district delegate, as aide on the staff of several department and national commanders, and as delegate at large for Ohio. In line with his military life was his appointment by Governor Nash as one of the commissioners for the state of Ohio for the purpose of locating and erecting monuments upon the Vicksburg (Miss.) National Military Park to such Ohio commands as participated in the campaign and siege of Vicksburg. At the dedication of those monuments, he delivered one of the principal addresses; see "Ohio at Vicksburg," page 351. He has been in demand for Memorial (30th of May) addresses and as speaker at camp fires and on other occasions.

Politically Captain Hays has been an active but liberal republican, frequently representing his county in state conventions and sometimes filling a place on a county ticket predestined to defeat. He was, in the fim4 Harrison campaign, a member of the state central committee, and was held at state headquarters as a supernumerary speaker, in which capacity he made numerous political speeches throughout the state. In his younger days he was always actively engaged in state and national campaigns. He stood with Roosevelt in the Taft-Foralcer campaign in Ohio in the spring and early summer of 1908, and was largely instrumental in securing the nomination of an anti Foraker canddate for the legislature.

Centennial History of Coshocton County, Ohio
By William J. Bahmer
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1909

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