Clark County’s last Union soldier honored. Here’s what made Charles Needles notable

A veterans’ organization has dedicated a bronze plaque at the grave of Clark County’s last surviving Union Civil War veteran.

In a release, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War said the plaque recognizes Charles William Needles, who served during the war in the 8th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and 184th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

During his military career, Needles held a few claims to fame, including being kicked out of the Army for being underage, re-enlisting and being wounded at the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. After the war, he served in the 6th U.S. Infantry, a unit that accompanied the 7th Cavalry Regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, ahead of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

A dedication ceremony was held at the cemetery, with about 50 people participating, including Needles’ great-grandson Robert L. Needles, great-granddaughter Kathryn L. Mink and great-great-grandson John A. Needles, as well as Springfield Mayor Warren R. Copeland and officials from the Ohio Department SUVCW and Sons of Veterans Reserve.

The plaque is part of an effort by the SUVCW to identify the last surviving Union Civil War veteran in each county in the nation. In Ohio, the organization said it identified the last Union veteran in 86 of the state’s 88 counties, and placed plaques on about a third of their graves.

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SUVCW said Needles was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, a Union army veterans’ organization, held honorary memberships in multiple other local veterans’ organizations, and for many years served as grand marshal of the annual Springfield Memorial Day Parade.

Though he was originally from Champaign County, after his military service Needles lived in Springfield until he died in 1944 at the age of 96. At the time, he was one of just 16 survivors in the state.

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