The Battle of Athens


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On this edition of Conversations from Studio B, Ron Luce talks with historian Cyrus Moore about a 1904 skirmish between the Ohio National Guard and U.S. Army troops on the streets of Athens, Ohio.

In August 1904, members of the Ohio National Guard and U.S. Regular Army were stationed in Athens County to conduct a mock battle, designed to test the soldiers in a realistic scenario as well as test the officers' ability to command and organize a large number of troops.

During the encampment, the soldiers were prohibited from entering Athens, due to the large number of Athens saloons and concern that the troops would become intoxicated. However, there were reports of drunken soldiers before the mock battle even started.

On August 19, a drunk U.S. Army regular was put under arrest by National Guard Provosts after shooting six rounds from his pistol. The soldier resisted arrest and was "clubbed into insensibility," according to reports.

Later that evening, a group of 80 to 100 infantrymen marched into Athens and confronted the Provosts outside the jailhouse. Tensions escalated and shots were fired.

This led to a battle on Washington Street, during which one guardsman was killed and five were wounded.