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History of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) online

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coln was on December 19, 1864, for 300,000, but before most of the
states had completed their quotas the necessity for more men had ceased
to exist. Under this last call i\Iichigan furnished 7,860. During the
entire war the state furnished a total of 89,787. Reduced to a three-year
basis the aggregate was 80,111. The population of the state according to
the Federal census of 1860, was 749,113. Out of every eight and one-
third of her population, men, women and children, she sent a fighting
unit to the war.

Troops Raised in State and County

Duriug tlie war the following number of organizations were raised
in the state and mustered into the service of the United States for various
periods. The organizations do not, however, represent all the men fur-
nished, for large numbers were sent as recruits to fill and strengthen
old organizations already in the field:

Cavalry — For three years service and over, a total of twelve regiments
and two companies.

Heavy Artillery — For three years service and over, one regiment.


Light Artillery — For three years service ami o\cr. one rcirinient : for
three years service, eleven batteries, or a total ol' one rcj,niiiciit mikI clcvin

Engineers — For three years service and over, one regiment ; for three
years service, one company. Total, one regiment and one company.

Sharp Shooters — For three years service, one regiment and two com-
panies ; for one years sei'vice, two companies. Total, one regiment and
four companies.

Infantry — For three years service and over, thirteen regiments; for
three years service, seventeen regiments and two companies; for thi'ce
years service, one regiment of colored troops; for one years service, two
regiments; for three months service, one regiment. Total of infantry,
thirty-four regiments and two companies. Total of all arms, fifty regi-
ments, nine companies and eleven batteries. When it is understood that
it was Michigan's policy to fill the ranks of the old regiments with
recruits rather than create new organizations, this is a most creditable

Of the 89,123 soldiers furnished by Michigan, Calhoun county was
ei'edited with 3,878, or one soldier in every 23 furnished by the state in
the war for the preservation of the Union.

Any one who thinks this large proportion of the citizenship of the
state was enlisted as soldiers without effort is grievously mistaken and to
suppose there was not more or less prevalent an anti-war sentiment
would be a serious error. Governor Blair in his message to the legislature
in January, 1862, defined the issue so clearly that no one could be mis-
taken when he said, "He who is not for the Union, unconditionally in
this mortal struggle, is against it." The spirit of opposition was so
pronounced at one time in the city of Detroit that a public meeting,
called on the Campus Martins in that city, for the purpo.se of .stimulating
enlistments, was surprised by a mob of men who furiously interrupted
the deliberations and entirely broke up and dispersed the meeting, driv-
ing the officers from the stand and compelling some of them to seek
shelter and safety in the Russell house, which at that time stood near by.

The adjutant general of the state in his report for 1862 gives a
brighter view of the general sentiment when he says, "The response of
the people of the state to the President's call was patriotic and prompt
almost beyond expectation. Individuals of every degree of prominence
forthwith began to interest themselves in the business of filling the regi-
ments. Communities gave to it their time and their almost exchisive
attention, while, better than all the substantial masses of the people
offered themselves in person. War meetings were held in almost every
village and township in the state. Representatives of all classes con-
verted themselves either into recruits or recruiting officers and among
the most efSc-ient of the latter were ministers of the gospel, some of whom
led the men they had enlisted into the field."

Press and Church for the Union

Among the forces that made for Union Sentiment and the prosecu-
tion of the war to a successful issue was the loyal press fliroughout the


state. Its services in "strengtheniug the hands of public officers, in
moulding public opinion, in favor of loyalty to the government, in
encouraging patriotism among the masses and inspiring those at the front
with a iieroisni leading to gallant deeds, cannot be overestimated."

During the entire war the Christian church of the state without
regard to denomination, "generally proved by its pronounced patriotism
and manifest devotion to the cause of the country an element of immense
success. From the time that Sumter was fired upon until Lee and John-
son laid down their rebellious arms and Davis fled for his life, it encour-
aged and nerved by word and deed the soldiers in the field, aided much
in the recruitment of men by its approval of the cause and its openly
avowed abhorrence of rebels and those who sympathized with them and
opposed the war."

This sustained devotion to the Union by the press and church and
people at home was surpassed only by the heroism and valor of the
soldiers in the field. Their conduct at Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg,
Stone River, Chickamauga and many other fields of conflict added im-
perishable lustre to the fame of the commonwealth of Michigan. As the
end of the w^ar drew near and the triumph of the Union arms became
assured manifestations of praise, of appreciation and of gratitude to the
soldiers took many forms of expression.

Governor Blair, the steadfa.st friend of the soldiers from the begin-
ning to the end of the war, in his last message to the legislature, January
4, 1865, said, "Again, and for the last time, I commend the Michigan
troops to your continued care and support. They have never failed
in their duty to the country or to the state. Upon evei*y great battlefield
of the war their shouts have been heard and their sturdy blows have been
delivered for the Union and victory. Their hard-earned fame is the
treasure of every household in the state. In every situation their bravery
has won the approval of their commanders and their heroic endurance
of hardships has added lustre to their name."

The Grand Muster-Out

The armies of the Confederacy having surrendered in the spring of
1865, the muster-out of the troops and the disbanding of the Union
armies followed as rapidly as cii-cumstances would allow. By July 10th,
the Michigan regiments had nearly all reached the state. On the 14th
of the same month, four years and three months, to a day, from the
low'ering of the flag over Sumter, Governor Crapo, who had succeeded
Austin Blair in the executive chair, welcomed by proclamation the
Michigan soldiers back to their state and homes. Among other things
he said: "In the hour of national danger and peril when the safety,
when the very existence, of your country was imperiled, .you left your
firesides, your homes and your families to defend the Government and
the Union. But the danger is now averted, the struggle is ended, and
victory, alisolute and complete victory, has perched upon your banners.
You have conquered a glorioiis peace and are thereby permitted to
return to your homes and to the pursuits of tranquil industry to which


I welcome you. And not only for mj'self, but for the people of the
state do 1 tender you a most cordial greeting. ' "

One of the greatest, if not the greatest day Detroit aiul Michigan
ever saw was July 4, 1865, when amidst a mighty concnursi' dl' sokliers
and citizens the state received back the flags she had ciitnisird to lier
soldieiy — these flags now, 1912, rest secure in air-tight ri((])tacl('.s in the
state military museum in the capitol building in Lausing and constitute
the most interesting feature of a large collection of treasured mementoes.
Major General Orlando B. Wilcox — who as colonel commanded the first
regiment the state sent to the war — in his presentation address said,
"Of all these flags there is scarcely one which has not waved in the
thickest of the flght ; scarcely a color which has not seen its heroic bearers
one after another struck down in battle. Many a hand that vigorously
grasped these flag staffs, and led the van now lies crumbling in the
grave : aud uot color bearers alone, but 15,000 others who fought beside
them — the flower of Michigan — return not to receive your thanks and the
plaudits of their grateful countrymen." In concluding his remarks
General Wilcox said, "It only now remains for me, in the name of the
Michigan soldiers, to surrender to the state these flags, tattered but not
stained, emblems of a war that is past. We shall ever retain our pride
in their glorious associations as well as our love for the old peninsula
state." Governor Crapo in receiving them on behalf of the state in the
concluding sentence of his address said, "Let us, then, tenderly deposit
them as sacred relics in the archives of our state there to stand forever,
her proudest possession, a revered incentive to liberty and patriotism and
a constant rebuke and terror to oppression and treason."

Money for the War

In the long struggle which so severely taxed the people of the state
at home and her soldiers in the field, Calhoun county bore her full share.
By only four counties in the state was she outnumbered in the aggregate
enlistments for the war. To aid in procuring volunteers aud to prevent
the necessity of drafts Calhoun county raised and paid through its
various townships, cities and wards the sum of $354,432.32, and in addi-
tion to this sum it raised and paid for the relief of soldiers' families
under the provisions of the soldiers' relief law the munificent sum of
$200,193.66. In addition to these funds, there were constant contribu-
tions through various organizations, as for example the ]\Iichigau Sol-
diers' Aid Society, the Michigan Soldiers' Relief Association, the Chris-
tian Commission, the Ladies' Soldiers' Aid Societies having branch or-
ganizations in every township and ward; local organizations gathering
together in the aggregate large amounts of necessary supplies and send-
ing them to the sick and wounded in hospitals and to the well in the
camps at the front. Everything thought useful and needful for the
soldiers whether sick or well were sent forward. The value of these
in money amounted to many thousands of dollars for which no accounting
was made. It was a labor of love on the part of the people at home


and they found compeusation in the thought that they brought comfort
and good cheer to the soldiers whether in the hospitals or the camps.

Historical Authorities Relied Upon

Calhoun county furnished sixteen companies distributed among ten
different regiments, besides the Merrill Horse, and many enlistments in
other regiments and in batteries. We will endeavor to speak briefly
of these different commands in which the county had a distinct organiza-
tion. Such treatment must of necessity be brief, but will be sufficiently
extended to show our readers the kind of officers and soldiers sent to the
army. For our authority we have relied mainly upon the official "Rec-
ords of the Union and Confederate Armies : War of the Rebellion. Pre-
pared under the direction of the Secretary of War and published by
authority of the Government. " We once asked General Longstreet which
he regarded as the best history of the war from the Confederate point
of view. He replied: "We hav'nt any best history; none that will stand
the test of comparison with the reports published in those volumes,"
pointing to a set of "War of the Rebellion Records" on the shelves in
his library. "Every true history of the war," he said, "must square
with the reports in these books for they contain the correspondence,
orders and reports of the actual participants, made at that time."

We have found "Michigan in the War," by the late Adjutant General
John Robertson, a fruitful source of information. Greely's "American
Conflict" has some valued reference to Michigan troops. To some extent
we have availed ourself of a "History of Calhoun County," published
in 1877 by L. H. Evarts & Company of Philadelphia. For statistics we
have relied largely upon "Statistical Record of the United States Army"
by Frederick Phisterer, an officer in the regular army. For the military
history of each soldier who enlisted from this county we are indebted
to a most valuable compilation made in the office of the adjutant general
at Lansing during the administration of the late Governor Bliss.



First Michigan Enters Virginia — At First Bull Run — Calhoun
County Officers and Privates — Second, Third and Fourth Regi-
ments — Histories op Regiments From the Sixth to the Twen-
tieth, Inclitsive — Twenty-fourth to the Twenty-eighth Regi-
ments and the Thirtieth Infantry — First Michigan Engineers


Shooters — Berdan's First and Second United States Sharp
Shooters — Company I — Western Sharp Shooters — First ilicHi-
GAN Colored Infantry — Forty-second and Forty-fotrth Illinois

We have already spoken of the First j\Iichigan — three montli's regi-
ment, of its prompt recruitment and equipment, of its journey to
Washington and of the favorable comments it received enroute and on
its arrival at the National capital. From the steps of the executive
mansion the regiment was reviewed by President Lincoln, by whom it
was complimented not only on its soldierly appearance but also on the
fact that is was the first regiment from out the great west to reach
the endangered capital.

First ^Michigan Enters Virginia

Eight days after its arrival in Washington it participated in one
of the memorable incidents of the war. The city of Alexandria located
on the Potomac nearly midway between Mount Vernon and the capital
was in the possession of the Confederates. From some of the wiiulows
in the White House 'Sir. Lincoln with the aid of a field glass could see a
Confederate flag floating defiantly over Alexandria.

Death op Ellsworth

An expedition by land and water was sent against the town. The
brilliant young Ellsworth was sent with his regiment, the New York
Zouaves, by steamer down the Potomac while the land force advanced
under General Heintzelman. The latter command included the First
Michigan which was among the first Federal troops to cross the famous
"long bridge" and enter the state of Virginia. Colonel Wilcox com-


manding the First Michigan reported at 5:30 o'clock on the morning
of May 24th, the capture of Alexandria with a number of prisoners.
Colonel Ellsworth had advanced from the river landing and with his
own hands had removed the objectionable Confederate Hag, but in
doing so was shot and instantly killed. His assailant was at once shot
to death by a soldier of the First Michigan regiment. The tragic death
of the promising young officer cast a gloom over the entire country.

At First Bull Run

The First lind the honor to participate in the battle of Hull Run
which took i)l;iic near .Manassas Junction, Virginia, on the 21st of July,
1861. and was the first serious engagement of the war. While this
battle nsullcd disastrously to the Union arms, it brought great credit
to many of the I'nion troops and perhaps to none more than the First
Michigan Infantry.

Ma.ior General Heintzleman who commanded the division in which
the First t(iu|iti'iiiliiT \K Isiil.

Baker, Daniel. Company I. Enlisted at .M:irsli,,ll, April ll', ls(il.

Becket, James. Company I. Enlisted .'it M:ir-

Online LibraryWashington GardnerHistory of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) → online text (page 59 of 74)