Albion Tourgee

Albion Tourgee, 105th Ohio Infantry

By the middle of the day on September 20, 1863, the center of the Union Army was shattered. Confederates under the command of Henry Benning positioned themselves in Poe Field, threatening the Union flank and rear around Kelly Field. To counter this threat, the 105th Ohio launched what seemed like a suicidal attack across Poe Field against Benning's Georgians. Remarkably, Benning retreated and the 105th Ohio passed in rear of the surging Confederate Army and escaped to the west and up to Rossville, Georgia. 

Among the Buckeyes making this charge was Lt. Albion Tourgee. However, Tourgee's greatest achievements came not on this battlefield, but in the courtrooms where he continued the fight. In 1863 he said to friends, “I don’t care a rag for ‘the Union as it was. I want and fight for the Union ‘better than it was.”After the war, Tourgee became a lawyer, and championed civil rights for African Americans. In 1896 he argued against segregation and the emerging Jim Crow laws before the Supreme Court, contending that segregation was impossible since there are no differences between people based on the color of their skin. He lost this case, known as Plessy v. Ferguson, but his legacy to create a "Union better than it was" continues on into the modern era.