In 1862, President Lincoln put out the call for volunteers to serve in the Union army. The war was not going well for the North, and the Union was in danger of being defeated. Several hundred men, mostly farmers, from the counties of Cuyahoga, Medina, and Lorain joined the Union army. This unit was organized at Cleveland in August 1862 and became known as the 103rd Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The 103rd Regiment saw action in Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee. The regiment’s brilliant war record and outstanding service to the United States government is a bright page in U.S. and local history.
The 103rd mustered out on June 12, 1865. It lost during its term of service two officers and 137 enlisted men killed and mortally wounded, and three officers and 106 enlisted men by disease, a total of 248 fatalities.
During the war, the men of the 103rd formed a tight bond with each other. They did not want to go their separate ways after the war ended, never to see each other again.
In 1866, some of the veterans of the 103rd Regiment gathered together and formed the 103rd O.V.I. Association. In 1907, the Association became a corporation and purchased property in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. This property became the permanent home of the corporation. The veterans and/or their descendants have held an annual reunion every year since 1866. The members of the 103rd O.V.I. are not a re-enactment group, they are the actual descendants of the men who fought in the 103rd Regiment. The 103rd O.V.I. is a unique organization and the only one of its kind in the entire United States.
Today, the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry is a three-fold organization. We are comprised of the The 103rd O.V.I. Company, The 103rd O.V.I. Memorial Foundation, and The Sons and Daughters of the 103rd. Each group is deemed with different responsibilities to ensure the history and perpetuate our organization as a whole.
The 103rd O.V.I. Company was formed and incorporated on August 19th, 1907. The corporation was formed for the purpose of acquiring, leasing, owning, operating and maintaining the grounds for camping, boating, bathing and other legitimate amusement purposes, and to provide suitable facilities for the encampment and entertainment for the surviving members of the 103rd Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Infantry, their families and descendants, and associations and organizations.
In 1908 after years of holding their reunions throughout Northeastern Ohio, The 103rd O.V.I. Company purchased the 4.5 acres of land on the shores of Lake Erie in Sheffield Lake, Ohio. The reunions for the Regiment have been held continuously on these grounds since. Over the many years buildings and cottages have been erected upon the grounds.
The Company consists of a 15 person Board of Directors that is charged with the responsibility to oversee the assets of the company and the operations of the grounds and buildings.
The 103rd O.V.I. Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization that was incorporated and chartered in 1971. The Foundation is dedicated to perpetuating the heroic deeds and services of the men who served the Union during the Civil War. One of the main functions of this organization is to house, preserve, and to display the Civil War relics and artifacts, which have been inherited, collected, or donated by the descendants of the men of the 103rd Regiment. These relics and artifacts are on display at the 103rd OVI Museum located on the grounds in Sheffield Lake, Ohio
The Sons and Daughters of the 103rd OVI are charged with the responsibility to organizing and coordinating the annual reunion. Volunteers of the descendants organize daily activities, which include meals, entertainment, games, flag lowering, and worship services for the week long encampment.