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CAPTAIN JOHN H. GROCE
was one of the worthiest of the many young men of Pickaway county, who gave their lives for their country, and a man whom, had he lived to mature years, would doubtless have won, through his superior talents, high distinction. He was the son of Bently and Martha V. Groce, and was born in Circleville, April 13, 1840. His education was partially obtained under the teaching of Hon. James A. Garfield, and was very thorough and complete. He was a young man of intellectual tastes, a successful teacher, and intended to practice the profession of law.
He had intense patriotism, and so it came about that when the war of the Rebellion began, he was one of the very first to answer the call for volunteers. He went out as a member of company G, Second regiment, Ohio volunteer infantry, for three months, and was appointed orderly sergeant. After the elapse of a short time, he, in connection with Jacob W. Taylor, enlisted a company of men to serve three years, or during the war. Their company was assigned to the Thirtieth regiment, and Mr. Groce was elected its first lieutenant, his commission bearing date of August 22, 1861. Immediately after being mustered into service, the regiment was ordered into West Virginia. Lieutenant Groce did not go, however, but returned home upon a furlough, with orders to recruit for the service. He joined the force in a few days after, and soon received the appointment of adjutant of the regiment. On the nineteenth of November, 1861, he was promoted to the captaincy of the company he had enlisted. He served in that capacity until June, 1864, when he was appointed assistant inspector-general of the Second brigade and Second division, under General Lighburn, in which position he remained up to the time of his death. He was engaged in numerous skirmishes, in the early part of the war, and at Vicksburg commanded a fleet of boats, under the eye of General Sherman, and was eminently useful in protecting the crews compelled to run the gauntlet of the rebel shore batteries. In this capacity he first attracted the attention of General Sherman, whose confidence he ever after held. After taking an active part in various expeditions, he was selected, in 1863, to lead the "forlorn hope," on the second of May, in the storming of one of the rebel forts at Vicksburg. He commanded one hundred and fifty men, whose duty it was to make the assault and lay a bridge over a ravine in the interior of the works. His command was assailed with a terrible fire, but neither he nor his followers quailed in the performance of their stern task. All of his men were killed, except twenty-tree, and he himself was painfully and dangerously wounded. He lay in the trenches until night, when, faint from the loss of blood, he made his escape to the Union lines, amid a perfect shower of bullets. He was generously complimented for his bravery by General Blair and other officers. Being unfitted for duty, he came home on a furlough, where he remained until his wound was partially healed. It was during that furlough that he was presented with a sword, in token of his friends' appreciation of his gallantry in the memorable siege of Vicksburg. He returned to the army the following winter, joining the force at Lark'nsville, Alabama. His active spirit led him into numerous encounters with the enemy, in one of which he severely injured his wounded arm. With his regiment he returned home on a furlough, but went back to the south, just after the battle of Resaca. From this time he was attached to McPherson's corps and participated in all of the principal battles up to the fall of Atlanta and the battle of Jonesboro. He participated in Sherman's march to the sea, and was, with others, especially detailed to storm Fort McAllister. Whenever there was a deed to be done which required especial courage and daring, he was certain to be employed. It was at the storming of Fort McAllister that he lost his life. He fell by the shot of a sharpshooter, while in advance of his division, reconnoitering the enemy's works, December 18, 1864. He was buried near the spot where he was shot down, and after the army obtained possession of Savannah, his remains were sent to his home and friends by his friend, Captain Earnest.
Captain Groce was emphatically a military man, and well deserved the name, "bravest of the brave." He went to the front fearlessly, though with premonition of death, and no persuasion of friends could deter him from remaining in the service as long as there was need for men to bear arms in their country's defence.
He was popular among the people of Circleville, and the same qualities that made him generally liked and respected by them, caused him to obtain and hold the love of his men in the army. His death was a sever blow to his parents, whose solace he was, and was deeply deplored by the whole people of the town which had been his home. he died in his twenty-fourth year.