General Otho French Strahl, one of the choicest spirits that embraced the cause of the South, and finally offered all upon her altar, was a native of Ohio, who had settled in Tennessee and was practicing law at Dyersburg when the great war of States began. Although of Northern birth, both of his grandmothers were Southern women, and perhaps had much to do with moulding the sentiments which made him such an ardent sympathizer with the South.
When Tennessee was making ready to cast in her lot with the Southern Confederacy, the young lawyer entered the Fourth Tennessee regiment as a captain (May, 1861). Early in 1862 he became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. As such he shared in the hardships and glories of the campaigns of Shiloh, Bentonville and Murfreesboro, in which he so conducted himself as to be promoted colonel early in 1863, and then to the rank of brigadier-general, July 28, 1863.
In the hundred days’ campaign from Dalton to Atlanta in 1864, he and his men added to their already magnificent record. Mr. S. A. Cunningham, who was a boy soldier in his brigade at Franklin, November 30, 1864, has given in his magazine a graphic account of the conduct and death of his commander on that fateful day. Mr. Cunningham being that day right guide to the brigade, was near Strahl in the fatal advance, and was pained at the extreme sadness in his face. He was surprised, too, that his general went into the battle on foot.
The account of Mr. Cunningham continues: “I was near General Strahl, who stood in the ditch and handed up guns to those posted to fire them. I had passed to him my short Enfield (noted in the regiment) about the sixth time. The man who had been firing, cocked it and was taking deliberate aim when he was shot, and tumbled down dead into the ditch upon those killed before him.
When the men so exposed were shot down, their places were supplied by volunteers until these were exhausted, and it was necessary for General Strahl to call for others. He turned to me, and though I was several feet back from the ditch, I rose up immediately, and walking over the wounded and dead took position, with one foot upon the pile of bodies of my dead fellows and the other upon the embankment, and fired guns which the general himself handed up to me, until he, too, was shot down.”
The general was not instantly killed, but soon after received a second shot and then a third, which finished for him the fearful work. “General Strahl was a model character, and it was said of him that in all the war he was never known to use language unsuited to the presence of ladies. ”
While the army was camped at Dalton on the 20th of April, 1864, services were held in the Methodist church by Bishop Charles Todd Quintard, of the Episcopal church. On this occasion Bishop Quintard baptized General Strahl and presented him to Bishop Stephen Elliott for confirmation, with three other generals of the Confederate army — Lieutenant-General Hardee and Brigadier-Generals Shoup and Govan.
Source: Confederate Military History, vol. X, p. 334