Archive for June, 2011

The Upper Peninsula in the CIVIL WAR

U.P. men enlist with the ‘Michigan devils’

By JOHANNA BOYLE – Journal Ishpeming Bureau (jboyle@miningjournal.net)

The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE – The year was 1861. In April, after declaring that they would secede from the United States, forces representing the 11 Confederate states attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

The events of the war are a popular subject in the study of American history – slavery, the conflict between North and South and the battles, of course.

While you might not find mention of the Upper Peninsula in many histories of the Civil War, the seemingly remote region felt both the positive and negative effects of the fighting that is normally associated with events that happened far to the south.

From 1861 to 1865, 90,000 Michigan men fought in the war effort, including 1,209 from the Upper Peninsula. Houghton County contributed 460 soldiers, while Marquette County sent 265.

“Most of them were infantry and calvary because the people up here were farmers, miners and woodworkers,” said Gary White, commander of the Albert and James Lyon Camp No. 266 of The Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, an organization which researches and tracks Civil War veterans. “They could endure a long march. They were tough.”

Michigan’s First Infantry was originally organized and recruited throughout the state beginning on April 15, 1861, for 90 days of service. When it became clear the war would last longer than 90 days, the infantry was reorganized on June 28. The infantry began leaving Michigan on Sept. 16, which was when men from Marquette County left to join the war.

Seventy-nine volunteers from Marquette County served with the First Michigan Infantry, fighting in 51 battles and sieges.

The first group of men to leave departed Marquette on a ship called The Planet, which carried them to Detroit in late summer of 1861.

More would follow them, however. While Marquette County sent 265 men to fight in the war, only one of those veterans who left Marquette and died in the war has so far been identified as being returned to be buried here.

Albert T. Jackson

Albert T. Jackson enlisted in Company B of the First Michigan Calvary as a corporal on Aug. 8, 1861, at the age of 27. He transfered through several companies before being wounded on Sept. 19, 1864, at Winchester, Va. He died of those wounds on Nov. 12 and is buried in Park Cemetery.

Another young man also enlisted in Jackson’s company – Edward M. Watson. Copies of his letters back to Marquette to his mother and sisters are housed in the John M. Longyear Research Library in Marquette.

Watson, who left Marquette as a 21-year-old, began by writing to his family describing life in the various camps he was stationed in, meeting other soldiers from Marquette and the battles he fought in.

In a letter to his sister Til from Nov. 23, 1861, while he was stationed at Camp Rucker near Washington, D.C., Watson writes about wanting to go visit the “Marquette boys” who were stationed nearby as part of the First Michigan Infantry.

“Al Jackson wants to go too, by the way. Al is the best drilled man in the company and every man knows it too. I shouldn’t wonder if he was promoted some day. He deserves it for he studies the tactics more than any one of us, he lent me one of his books and told me he wanted me to study it,” Watson wrote.

Watson himself didn’t seem to start out as strongly as a soldier as Jackson, telling his sisters about being reprimanded for not waking up on time or for carrying out his duties incorrectly.

Often Watson wrote about missing Marquette and the people there.

“This week Wednesday though is Christmas. I wonder what we will have for dinner? Bean soup and pork like enough, how I should like to be at home about dinner time on that day, it makes my mouth water to think about the good things,” he wrote in December 1861.

Early in 1862, Watson and the others from Marquette began to see some fighting action, which he related in his letters – at first, with an air of excitement of finally leaving camp and joining in the battle.

“It seems the rebels have got a prety (sic) good opinion of our fighting propensities, for when they retreated through Strausburg they told the inhabitants that the Yankees were coming and the Michigan devils were leading them,” Watson wrote. “The people down here have been told the awfulest stories about what we are going to do when we got here and how we were going to treat them, that would actually make a timid person shake in their boots to hear the worst of it …”

Watson was eventually wounded in action, shot in the neck on Dec. 10, 1863, in Morristown, Tenn. In 1864 he was promoted to captain, but was not mustered. He retired as a 1st lieutenant due to his wounds.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.

Coming next: Wednesday, in part two, the series will look at the impact of the war on the region’s iron mining industry.

Ore for the war – The Upper Peninsula in the Civil War Part II

by Johanna Boyle, Marquette Mining Journal

NEGAUNEE – You only have to walk through Ishpeming or Negaunee to see the impact mining has had on the area, from street names like Iron and Hematite to now unused mine pits that dot the landscape.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Marquette County and the rest of the Upper Peninsula didn’t just send men to fight – iron ore from the region also went to help build cannons and ammunition.

Iron ore was first discovered near Teal Lake in present-day Negaunee in 1844 by a surveying team led by William A. Burt, a United States deputy surveyor, who noticed their magnetic compasses were thrown off by what turned out to be the ore in the area. In 1845, a party from downstate Jackson formed the Jackson Mining Company and began hauling ore to Marquette.

Then the Civil War erupted.

“It was Michigan’s iron ore that assured the economic and industrial success of the cities, which manufactured iron and steel materials. Yet until the time of the Civil War, the history of all Marquette Range mines was one of struggle and discouragement. However, the large requirements for iron brought about by the War caused a demand for iron ore from the Upper Peninsula that for the first time made these mines successful financially since they became a patriotic necessity,” wrote historian Victor F. Lemmer, in an article in the Skillings’ Mining Review in 1960. Lemmer, founder of the Gogebic County Historical Society, also worked to publish information for the Michigan Civil War Centennial Observance Commission on the impact of the war on the Upper Peninsula.

In 1857, the Jackson Mine, located in Negaunee, made its first regular shipments of iron ore, totaling 12,442 tons. By 1860, three iron mines were operating in Upper Michigan – the Cleveland, the Jackson and the Lake Superior.

In 1861, the war began, with a curious result. Total iron ore shipments from the region dropped to 49,909 tons for all the mines, down from 114,401 tons shipped in 1860.

“This was no doubt due to the attitude of the people resulting from the feeling that the mines must close to enable the men to fight to save the Union,” Lemmer wrote. “However, in 1862 as need for implements of war manufactured of iron and steel became more and more apparent, the shipments of the same three mines totaled 124,169 tons.”

By 1865, the end of the war, there were eight mines operating, with total shipments totaling 193,758 tons.

“The iron produced is soft and strong, answering equally well for mill or foundry use… It is too soft for railheads, but is unequaled for the base of the rain and for merchant bar and is now being successfully used for bessemer steel,” said a Maj. T.B. Brooks, an assistant of the Geological Survey of Michigan in 1870 of the ore produced by the Marquette range, as quoted by Lemmer.

Compared with copper that was mined in the Keweenaw Peninsula, mining on the Marquette Range was “easier,” Lemmer wrote, and “all the miners had to do initially was to break up the ore with crowbars, pickaxes and sledgehammers; and shovel it into wagons. It was easy to smelt. Iron of the best quality was produced.”

Today, with the only active mining in the county being carried out by Cliffs Natural Resources at the Empire and Tilden mines, the remaining mine pits serve as tourist attractions and reminders for longtime residents of the area’s history, but in the 1800s, the mines also served to bring in population to the remote area.

In 1860, the total population of the Upper Peninsula was 21,599 people. In 1864, that population had increased to 26,139, an increase of 21 percent.

By 1870, Irish, Cornish and Swedish immigrants made up 30, 27 and 18 percent of Ishpeming’s population, with waves of immigrants from other countries, such as Italy, until the yearly 1900s. In 1910, 38 percent of Ishpeming’s population was foreign born, many still drawn to work in the mines that began around the time of the Civil War.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.

COMING NEXT: Thursday, in part three, the series will look at how two of the U.P.’s forts, Fort Wilkins and Fort Mackinac, were involved in the Civil War

The Upper Peninsula in the Civil War – Part III

by Johanna Boyle, Marquette Mining Journal

Originally published June 30, 2011

MACKINAC ISLAND – Beginning with the attack on Fort Sumter, the American Civil War’s battles often played out around military forts and garrisons in the southern United States. Although battles might not have been fought in the Upper Peninsula, the region’s two military forts did play a small part both during and after the war.

In the eastern U.P., Fort Mackinac, located on Mackinac Island, was first constructed by British forces in 1780 after Fort Michilimackinac, located in what is now Mackinac City, was determined to be too vulnerable to American attack. The fort was returned to the Americans after the war of 1812.

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the fort became increasingly obsolete as the frontier moved westward. During the Second Seminole War (1837-1840), the Mexican War (1848) and the Santee Uprising (1857-1858), soldiers were sent from the fort to give support, as they were during the Civil War.

“There wasn’t much action up here,” said Steve Brisson, chief curator for the Mackinac State Historic Parks. “The company that was here left right away.”

With the soldiers stationed at the fort sent to help guard Washington, D.C., one soldier was left behind to guard the fort, Brisson said.

In 1862, however, the fort saw some new arrivals in the form of three civilian prisoners of war, guarded by a company of Michigan volunteers, known as the Stanton Guard, named for Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who determined the location for the three prisoners.

“He wanted to get them out of Tennessee,” Brisson said.

Washington Barrow, Josephus Conn Guild and William G. Harding were all wealthy residents of Tennessee, sympathetic to the Confederacy, Brisson said. After being arrested in April of 1862 by Andrew Johnson and refusing to sign an oath of allegiance to the Union, the three were sent to Detroit and then to Fort Mackinac.

“They were well treated. They were allowed to roam about the fort and the island even,” Brisson said, provided they were accompanied by their guards. “They occasionally dined with the commander of the guard. They weren’t in a prison cell.”

Although they were allowed to send and receive mail, by the end of the summer Barrow and Conn Guild both agreed to sign the oath of allegiance and were released. Harding, however refused and was transfered to a military prison in Ohio later that year. After the departure of the prisoners, the Stanton Guard was disbanded, leaving the sergeant as the lone caretaker.

“There was the community here. It wasn’t exactly the middle of the wilderness,” Brisson said, comparing Fort Mackinac to Fort Wilkins in Copper Harbor.

After the war, soldiers returned to Fort Mackinac, which was closed in 1895.

Fort Wilkins, on the other hand, was pretty much abandoned during the Civil War.

Established in 1844 to help safeguard mining interests in the Keweenaw Peninsula, Fort Wilkins helped keep the peace in what was a remote area, said fort historian John Griebel.

“It was pretty much wild,” Griebel said. “Having the fort here kept law and order.”

After several years, however, many of the mines surrounding the fort had been exhausted and by 1864, troops were removed from the fort, which stood vacant until 1867.

Following the Civil War, however, the fort saw activity once again, housing troops that had enlisted for a longer period of service. Fort Wilkins housed troops from the Veterans Reserve Corps, made up of men who had been wounded but were still on active duty.

“Fort Wilkins became a place for the misfits,” Griebel said.

In 1870, the fort was closed once again with 19 men stationed there. During the summers, however, visitors can see what life was like at the fort before and after the war thanks to re-enactors. This year on Aug. 11, 12 and 13, re-enactors portraying members of the Michigan infantry will hold a three-day encampment at the fort, doing demonstrations and displays of Civil War-era life. At other times during the summer, the fort’s regular re-enactors showcase life before and after the war.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.

COMING NEXT: Friday, in part four, the series will look at the impact of the war on local railroads.

Upper Peninsula in the Civil War – Part IV

‘Iron horse’ played key role in Union victory

by Johanna Boyle, Marquette Mining Journal

Originally published July 1, 2011

MARQUETTE – In the 1840s, iron ore was discovered in what is now the city of Negaunee. Although the ore was at first easy to mine, with miners having to “break up the ore with crowbars, pickaxes and sledgehammers; and shovel it into wagons,” in the words of U.P. historian Victor F. Lemmer, getting it out of the Upper Peninsula was a different story.

Although railroad promoters began discussing the idea of a railroad from Negaunee to Marquette in 1851, a plank road was first completed using mules for power, and was replaced in 1854 by an iron-strap railroad, with the full rail system completed in 1857.

Then the Civil War began in 1861.

“The requirements of the Civil War brought about the realization that the movement of iron ore by hundreds of thousands of tons from the mines to the furnaces required steel railroad systems on a large scale,” Lemmer wrote in the Skilling’s Mining Review in an article on the Civil War and its impact on Michigan mining.

With the opening of the Sault Ste. Marie locks on 1855, the building of a permanent dock for the Marquette Range in Marquette in 1859 and finally the extension of railroads across the Upper Peninsula, it became easier to deliver the U.P.’s ore to the war markets.

“As the Civil War progressed and the dependence of the North upon Upper Peninsula iron became greater, a railroad was begun to link Marquette with Escanaba and thus assure northern industry of iron ore during the winter,” Lemmer wrote of the route completed in 1864.

Menominee and Escanaba were connected by rail in 1872, which was later extended to L’Anse. Houghton and Ontonagon railroads from the southern portions of the U.P. in 1883 and 1889.

The building of those railroads meant work, bringing immigrants from the rest of the country.

Commander of the Albert and James Lyon Camp No. 266 of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, Gary White has his own ties to those who arrived to construct the railroads.

White was adopted into the Goodman family, which was descendant from a man named Peter Fitzpatrick who arrived in the area to help survey for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad running between Marquette and Escanaba.

Fitzpatrick, who is buried with his wife, Kate, in the Ishpeming cemetery, arrived in Negaunee in 1859 looking for work as a railroad surveyor.

“He snowshoed up,” White said of the trek Fitzpatrick made from Green Bay, Wis.

Born in Ireland in 1839, Fitzpatrick was 9 when his father, a school teacher, died. With his mother and siblings, Fitzpatrick traveled to New York and then to Detroit and finally Green Bay.

“He was always working,” White said. “Even when he was going to school, he paid for school by carrying fagots (bundles of wood).”

When the Civil War began, Fitzpatrick refused to fight.

“He would do other work. He wouldn’t go out there and actually fight,” White said, adding that the decision was due to Fitzpatrick’s family morals.

When the war made necessary the connection of Marquette and Escanaba, Fitzpatrick went to work as a surveyor. After the completion of the railroad, he continued working for the Chicago and Northwestern as a dispatcher until he retired in 1902.

While working as a surveyor, Fitzpatrick came across property he liked in what would become Little Lake. That property still serves as the family’s camp. Fitzpatrick and his wife had 10 children. One of the daughters married a man by the name of Goodman, whose family established a lumber mill in the Gwinn area.

Although he wasn’t involved in any battles, Fitzpatrick’s part in constructing the U.P.’s railroads brought a family to the area, stemming from the impact of the Civil War on the area.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.

COMING NEXT: Saturday, in part five, the series will look at the soldiers who came home after the war.

Upper Michigan in the Civil War – Part V

Marching home again: Vets come to the U.P.

By Johanna Boyle, Marquette Mining Journal

Originally published July 2, 2011

NEGAUNEE – During the American Civil War, Marquette County and the rest of the Upper Peninsula sent soldiers and iron ore, feeling the impact of the conflict despite being far north of any actual fighting. When the war ended, however, the county saw an influx of new residents, many of whom had fought in the South.

Whether drawn by work in the mines or in the forests, men came to Marquette County and established new lives after the fighting.

Negaunee resident Alan Nelson has been working to gather the histories of those Civil War veterans with a connection to Negaunee, finding a wide variety of stories and reasons they came there.

“I’ll be darned if I know,” Nelson said with a laugh when asked if he had found a central theme that drew veterans to the area. “That was something I’d been wondering about.”

Some found work in the mines, some cutting lumber, some on the railroads and a few set up their own businesses.

“There were miners and there were lumber workers,” Nelson said. “There was a whole variety of things besides that.”

One of the most interesting stories Nelson has so far come across is that of Samuel Cary, the only known African-American Civil War veteran to have lived in Negaunee.

“That is a fascinating one,” Nelson said.

According to Nelson’s research, Cary was born in Ohio sometime between 1833 and 1838. He enlisted in the army in December of 1863 and was mustered into Company A of the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry, a black cavalry unit, when it was formed in 1864.

Coming to Negaunee shortly after mustering out following the war, he is listed in the 1870 census as working as a barber.

“He was an inveterate gambler,” Nelson said.

In 1896 he bet his barber shop against $100 in a championship prize fight and lost everything, eventually ending up a barkeeper in Ishpeming.

Cary was married in Negaunee to a white woman named Elizabeth Tifft, 10 years before such a marriage would have been allowed by law. Married at the Negaunee Methodist Episcopal Church, the story did not end as happily for Tifft, who was confined to an asylum 12 years before Cary died of a stroke in 1898.

While many men who fought in the war were born in the United States, some came from other countries.

Martin Heiser was born in Germany in 1830 and immigrated the United States in 1855. He lived in Hancock and enlisted in the 16th Michigan Infantry in 1861 and was mustered out in 1865. Coming to Negaunee after the war, he remarried and worked as a carpenter, building a home on Peck Street and working on the interior of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Negaunee.

Others were drawn to the beauty of the area.

Nelson also uncovered the story of Peter Trudell, born in Quebec, Canada, in 1840. Trudell came to the United States to help fill the shortage of working men created by the draft, first working in shipyards in Ohio. After enlisting in Chicago as a bugler, he saw no action and mustered out in 1864. Later, after returning to Canada and then the United States once more, he began working as a sailor on the Great Lakes, eventually settling in Negaunee after becoming “impressed with the area,” Nelson said.

He worked as a pumpman at the water tank for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad at the Negaunee roundhouse and later opened a newsstand inside the city’s post office, which he operated for 20 years.

Although they arrived for different reasons, veterans of the Civil War came to settle in the area, leaving their mark on their new communities.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.

U. P. Civil War Connection

By Ashley Palumbo WLUC-TV 6, Marquette, Michigan

Originally printed July 12, 2011

HOUGHTON – Though the Civil War was fought along fronts more than a thousand miles away, the Upper Peninsula played a significant role in the Union’s eventual victory. Dozens of names are on a plaque at Veterans Park in Houghton – a public reminder of the 73 men who served their country and lost their lives during the Civil War.

“In the three counties that make up the Copper Country, about 850 men were either drafted or enlisted to go into the Civil War,” says Michigan Tech history professor Larry Lankton. “That’s about two-thirds of the total number of soldiers from the Upper Peninsula.”

But the U.P. provided much more than manpower. Between the Keweenaw’s booming copper industry and the growing success of iron mining along the Marquette Range, Upper Michigan helped supply the military with two very essential metals.

“Copper was used for everything from buttons to buckles to bronze cannons,” Lankton says.

“Iron ore was put into gun metal as well as cannon balls, rails, railroad tracks, steam boilers and also steel for bridges,” says Barry James, curator of the Michigan Iron Industry Museum.

The Jackson Mine in Negaunee was one of only three iron mines operating at the start of the Civil War, but by 1864, ten new companies had formed and production had increased by 80 percent, despite a shortage of workers.

“Many men were going off to fight in battles and join the Union army,” James says. “The others coming to take their place didn’t want to work in mines in certain locations, so many would work in places that were safer.”

As with other wars, social unrest was common across the U.P. workers went on strike, drinking and violence were rampant, and the Quincy Mining Company formed its own militia to protect the property. But the consequences of the war weren’t all bad.

“The government hadn’t been involved prior to the Civil war in doing much on behalf of citizens that were suffering financially, but they felt obliged to provide some kind of economic relief to the families of soldiers,” Lankton says.

You can look at artifacts and learn more about U.P. mining in the Civil War era at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee.



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Civil War graffiti covers this Virginia home

by Libby Zay 

Graffiti is now a fairly common part of our culture’s dialogue, but did you know soldiers in theCivil War also tagged, doodled, and conversed with one another on walls? Inside a two-story home in Virginia, historians are slowly uncovering one of the largest collections of Civil War graffiti that has ever been found.

Interior of the Graffiti House at Brandy Station, Virginia. Photo by Libby Zay.

Now known as the ‘Graffiti House,’ the home served as a field hospital for the Confederacy around the time of the Battle of Brandy Station and later became a headquarters for Federal forces. Soldiers from both sides signed their names and drew inscriptions on the walls during the war, resulting in a collection of over 200 individual pieces that cover the upstairs rooms from floor to ceiling.

“Yanks caught hell,” reads one 1863 inscription. Later, a Yankee trumped the declaration with a huge, showy tag that claims the territory for the “Army of the United States of America.” Back in the day these guys didn’t have spray paint, sharpies or wheat paste: instead they used soot from a chimney to do their scrawling and scribbling. It’s amazing to think that several layers of wallpaper and paint preserved their work.

Similar graffiti can be found in churches, courthouses and private homes in towns where battles were waged, but much of it has been lost of the years. At the Graffiti House, some rooms sit half uncovered as archaeologists slowly restore the collection of caricatures, messages, autographs and inside jokes. Downstairs, the tradition continues in the “Hall of Honor,” where visitors (including some descendants of soldiers) can sign their names and leave messages just as our forefathers did.

The Graffiti House is located just outside of CulpeperVirginia in Brandy Station, making it an easy day trip from Shenandoah National Park. Check their website for visiting times, as the volunteer-run attraction has limited hours.

Civil War hero to be honored

The city of Sioux Falls Veterans’ Memorial Park Advisory Board will dedicate a new monument Tuesday in honor of Sgt. Isaac Fry at Veterans’ Memorial Park.

The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by a patriotic concert by the Municipal Band at 7 p.m. at the park, at the intersection of Bailey Street and Walts Avenue (south of the Casa Del Rey restaurant).

Fry is a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his heroic acts while serving in the Civil War. This dedication will be the ninth Medal of Honor recipient’s citation displayed at the park, including Sioux Falls native Joe Foss.

Community members are encouraged to bring lawn chairs to the event.

For information, please contact Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation at 367-8222.

Remembering the 1,040-man West Michigan regiment who fought in Civil War 150 years ago

By Garret Ellison | The Grand Rapids Press  

GRAND RAPIDS — In the shadow of the old South High School on Hall Street SE, current home of the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center, sits a boulder steeped in history.

A Civil War memorial boulder is re-dedicated during a ceremony commemorating Cantonment Anderson Saturday outside the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center. The ceremony included several readings, and a speech from Mayor George Heartwell. (Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press)

The large rock, inscribed with the words “Cantonment Anderson,” is a tribute to the Third Michigan volunteer infantry regiment soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, and it rests on the site of the regiment’s original muster in May 1861.

The boulder, first dedicated in a reunion of surviving regiment members 100 years ago, was rededicated in a memorial ceremony on Saturday, two days shy of the regiment’s 150-year departure anniversary.

A new informational tablet also was unveiled that details the history of the spot and the men who left there to fight and die in the war.

“These were real people in a very real time,” said historian David Britten, superintendent of Godfrey-Lee schools and author of the book “Courage without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard.”

By horseback, stagecoach and train, scores of men from the surrounding counties arrived in Grand Rapids following the call by President Abraham Lincoln for troops to preserve the union following the April 12, 1861 attack on Fort Sumter by Confederate rebels.

They organized into companies on 40 acres at the Kent County Agricultural Fairgrounds along Kalamazoo Plank Road, or what’s now South Division Avenue. It was not a beautiful spot, said Britten, but rather a swampy area in need of proper barracks.

The name “Cantonment Anderson” is an apparent homage to Major Robert Anderson, former commander of South Carolina’s Fort Sumter, said Bruce Butgereit, executive director of History Remembered Inc.

Excerpts from soldier’s letters describe a race track that was used for camp drill and a semi-circular, two-story hall that lodged 700 men in shared ship-style bunks with a straw beds and blankets. The smell was apparently quite awful.

Meals were mostly beef, bread, butter and potatoes, with an “indescribable” soup for dinner and coffee in the morning. Camp was a rowdy place full of men who “soon found out what it was like to be in the south wearing wool in July,” said Britten.

The 1,040-man regiment left for the front via the rail depot at Leonard and Plainfield, marching through downtown to the waved handkerchiefs and tearful good byes of the city’s residents, said Butgereit.

The Third Michigan saw action in a dozen campaigns before being disbanded mid-war, when the remaining men were rolled into the Fifth Michigan regiment, Britten said.

Men from the “Old Third” fought and died in storied battles like First and Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Appomattox and Gettysburg.

The regiment was originally commanded by Colonel Daniel McConnell, who resigned after six months. Stephen Champlin took over as colonel. He died in 1864 and is buried in Fulton Street Cemetery.

Saturday’s ceremony was presented by the Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the Gen. John A. Logan Camp No. 1, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

The Schubert Male Chorus sang the national anthem and “America,” as color guard volunteers in period dress performed rededication rituals preceding the tablet unveiling.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell read an account from a book by acclaimed Civil War author Bruce Catton, describing the actions of the Third Michigan in a battle near Sharpsville, Pa., where the greenhorn regiment had a “baptism by fire.”

It’s easy to forget that 150 years ago, battles were fought hand-to-hand, said Heartwell.

More than half of the Third Michigan suffered some kind of casualty, said Britten, whether it be a battle injury, disease or the result of primitive field medical treatments that often did more harm than good.

More than 286 Third Michigan men died in service. Some were captured by the Confederacy. Two men received Congressional Medals of Honor; Benjamin K. Morse, buried in Lowell, and Walter L. Mundell, buried in St. Johns.

“This boulder and tablet ensures that they haven’t been forgotten,” said Butgereit. The original boulder was placed on site by the Sophie deMarsac Campau chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution on June 13, 1911.

Press stories about the dedication in 1911 said about 130 members of the regiment survived at the time and 65 of them attended a banquet to mark the 50th anniversary of their deployment at the Morton House in downtown Grand Rapids.

“As the soldiers gathered the air of patriotism and the ardor for the flag and its meaning was so prevalent it seemed old Cantonment Anderson never would be forgotten,” the Press wrote of the original dedication of the boulder. “It will be remembered long after the passing of the men who immortalized the neighborhood. School children will see the boulder and oft be reminded of the men in whose honor it was placed.”

Britten said the 126th Army National Guard Cavalry Regiment stationed at the Grand Valley Armory in Wyoming traces its roots to the Third Michigan.

E-mail the author of this story: localnews@grpress.com

Jamestown dig probes historic church and Civil War earthwork

By Mark St. John Erickson, merickson@dailypress.com | 247-4783

JAMES CITY —— When archaeologist William Kelso began digging at Jamestown in 1994, few historians gave him much chance of finding the long-lost English fort of 1607.

Most believed the pioneering outpost had disappeared into the James River by the 1800s. Some noted that Kelso himself was among several luckless archaeologists who had probed the site before and come away empty handed.

( Daily Press / June 10, 2011 )

But 17 years after first sinking their shovels into the soil, Kelso and his team have not only found the “Holy Grail” of American archaeology but also rewritten the story of the nation’s first permanent English settlement.

Instead of being lost, building after building left its footprint in the ground, preserving a townscape that was previously known only through scattered descriptions. A million artifacts have surfaced too, debunking many long-held myths about the Jamestown colonists’ character.

When the team uncovered the 1608 church where Pocahontasmarried John Rolfe, the 2010 find ranked among the world’s most important. But that triumph hasn’t stopped the celebrated archaeologist — who turned 70 in March — from launching one of his most ambitious seasons.

In addition to searching for the west end of the church, Kelso and his staff — aided by the students of the Jamestown Rediscovery summer field school — will probe the remains of an unusually well-preserved “mud and stud” structure that may have been the fort’s 1608 guardhouse. They’ll begin exploring a previously untouched area near the 1907 Memorial Church and open up a critical part of the Confederate earthwork heaped on top of the forgotten fort in 1861.

They’ll also hunt for signs of an expansion that may have doubled the fort’s size — and convinced settlers to move their church to the middle of the newly enlarged outpost in 1617.

“Our original goal was to find the fort — then trace its evolution through time,” Kelso says.

“There’s so much left to discover here you could keep digging for years.”

( Joe Fudge, Daily Press / June 8, 2011 ) Jamestown Rediscovery's-David Givens, center, works with a crew inspecting some of the artifacts from the dig.

Scoured for hundreds of years by farmers’ plows — and churned up by Civil War shovels — all evidence of the 1.1-acre triangular fort might have disappeared had not so much of it been buried so deeply.

Removing all the soil stirred up after Jamestown was abandoned in the late 1600s has been a epic task for the archaeologists, especially since virtually every shovelful must be removed by hand — then carefully screened for the artifacts first noted by laborers during the construction of the Civil War earthwork.

In some cases the early-1600s layer was completely shaved away by later roads and utility trenches, Kelso says. That’s why the discovery of the church came as such a surprise when the field school students began reexamining a discouragingly low part of the site last summer.

“It’s a good thing the postholes were so big and so deep — or they wouldn’t have survived the plows,” Kelso says, pointing to a rectangular pattern of stains that — so far — perfectly matches William Strachey’s 1610 description of “a pretty chapel” 24 feet wide and 60 feet long.

“We just got one little taste of that posthole over here — and it was sunk at least 5 feet in the ground.”

Just as demanding is the intense detective work that follows, during which the archaeologists try to puzzle out the meaning of countless stains left by all the structural posts, fences, ditches, trash pits and other features cut into the soil over the past 400 years.

Yet — one after one — those clues have added up to a groundbreaking view of the early 17th-century landscape here, providing insights into the past that no one had imagined before.

“It’s very rare for buildings like this to survive well enough that you can actually read them,” Kelso says, looking down at the unexpectedly well-preserved footprint and floor of a building that may have been the fort’s guardhouse.

“The only reason we know it was here was because of the later chimney that fell down on it, protecting it from the plows. Hopefully, we can learn what it was built for.”

Kelso and his team are stepping outside the original triangle, too, investigating a Civil War “bombproof” structure as well as the remains of a palisade wall from a lost expansion.

Discovered 8 years ago, the line of posts disappeared just a few feet away after being shaved away by construction of a later road.

But more evidence might be found in an area that has never been explored.

“What’s so exciting here is that this part of the site is so unknown,” Kelso says. “It’s like starting all over again.”

 

Banners of glory: NY state to display Civil War flags in new exhibit at Capitol

By Chris Carola, The Associated Press

In this June 8, 2011 photo, Sarah Stevens, a textile conservator for New York state, does restoration work on a 7th New York Regiment Armory flag in Waterford, N.Y. Eight Civil War flags will go on exhibit at the Capitol in Albany on July 12 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

WATERFORD, N.Y. — A Confederate flag with links to president Abraham Lincoln and the first Union officer killed in the Civil War will be the centrepiece of an exhibit featuring New York’s large collection of banners from the conflict, state officials said Thursday.

The flag Col. Elmer Ellsworth was carrying after removing it from the roof of the Marshall House in Alexandria, Va., on May 24, 1861, will be part of an eight-flag exhibit opening July 12 in the “War Room” on the second floor of the state capitol. It’s believed to be the first time the banner will be on public display since the war, according to Christopher Morton, assistant curator at the New York State Military Museum.

Ellsworth, the 24-year-old leader of a New York infantry regiment, was shot and killed by innkeeper James Jackson. Ellsworth had just descended from the roof of Jackson’s hotel where the staunch secessionist had been flying the flag since shortly after the war broke out in April 1861. A Union soldier fatally shot Jackson after the innkeeper fired a shotgun into Ellsworth’s chest.

With the war’s first major battles still weeks away, Ellsworth became the North’s “first martyr,” while Jackson received equal billing in the South.

Adding to the notoriety of Ellsworth’s death — and the Marshall House flag — was his status as a close friend of Lincoln and his family. The young officer had spent time playing with the president’s young sons at the White House, where Lincoln, using a spyglass, could see the large Confederate flag flying in neighbouring Virginia, which had seceded from the Union on May 23. A day later, Lincoln ordered Union troops to cross the Potomac River and occupy Alexandria.

Ellsworth and a small detachment headed to the Marshall House, where he was shot on a stairway inside the inn while holding the bundled-up flag.

“It has an appeal to both the North and the South,” Morton said of the banner, which has large swaths missing thanks to souvenir hunters who cut out pieces in the aftermath of Ellsworth’s death. “I can’t say it’s the most important flag for the whole war, but it’s certainly up there.”

The Capitol exhibit, “1861: Banners for Glory,” features seven other flags unfurled that year. It runs through June 2012, the first of five such exhibits commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war.

State textile conservators have been working on the banners in the exhibit as part of New York’s decade-long effort to conserve its collection of 2,000 battle flags dating back to the War of 1812. About 900 are from the Civil War. Most are from New York units, although a handful of Confederate flags are among the collection.

Many of the flags are ripped and holed from bullets and shrapnel. A few still show blood stains, a vivid reminder of the terrible toll colour bearers suffered on the 19th-century’s smoke-obscured battlefields, where flags were used to mark a regiment’s position and serve as a rallying point.

Sarah Stevens, one of the state experts who works on the flag collection, said she tries to push aside thoughts of the men who held the historic flags she’s conserving, but the condition of many of the 150-year-old relics doesn’t make it easy.

The Marshall House flag is “stained with blood” believed to be Ellsworth’s, Stevens said. The banner is an example of an early Confederate flag known as the “Stars and Bars,” a forerunner to the better-known rebel battle flag typically used by Southern armies later in the war.

Stevens, associate conservator at the state’s Peebles Island Resource Center in Waterford, works in the climate-controlled warren of spacious rooms in a converted textile mill on an island where the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers meet north of Albany. Owing to the fragile conditions of the Civil War banners, the painstaking preservation process and last year’s state budget cuts, they’ve conserved only about 500 flags.

The cost of the Capitol exhibit was covered by a $30,000 grant from the Coby Foundation, a New York City organization that funds projects in the textile and needle arts field. Another $13,000 in private donations from historic groups and individuals paid for the banners’ preservation, according to the state parks department, which operates the Peebles Island facility, the headquarters of the state Bureau of Historic Sites.

New York’s collection of Civil War battle flags is the largest in the United States, Morton said.

“It not just the quantity … it’s the quality, the historic significance, the relevance that makes the New York state collection the most grand in the nation,” he said.

New York began collecting flags from its state regiments while the war still raged. The first ones arrived in Albany in 1863, and an official flag presentation ceremony was held two years later on July 4, nearly three months after the conflict ended.

By then, the Marshall House flag was already in the hands of New York state, Morton said. Like hundreds of others, it remained furled around a staff and displayed in tall wood-and-glass cases in the Capitol, where more than a century’s exposure to humidity and light caused further deterioration of the banners.

Some of the flags remain in the Capitol displays, awaiting their turn at the conservators. Others are stored at Peebles Island or the military museum in Saratoga Springs, 50 kilometres north of Albany. Morton said the state hopes to someday have the entire collection under the same roof.

Ceremony salutes Berks soldiers who served in Civil War

By Ron Devlin, Reading (Pa.) Eagle

Garrett Hyneman, 69, Muhlenberg Township, at the grave of his great-grandfather, Henry Hyneman, a Civil War veteran buried in Aulenbach's Cemetery. Reading Eagle photo by Jameson Sempey

Standing on hallowed ground Saturday in Reading’s Aulenbach’s Cemetery, Craig Breneiser invoked President Abraham Lincoln’s immortal words to pay tribute to Berks County soldiers who died in the Civil War.

“They made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives at the altar of their country in order that – as Lincoln said at Gettysburg – a nation might live and a government of the people, by the people and for the people should not perish from the Earth,” Breneiser said.

Breneiser, an amateur Civil War historian, was the featured speaker at a ceremony observing the 150th anniversary of the start of the conflict that claimed the lives of 620,000 Americans.

While Aulenbach’s is the final resting place of 522 Civil War soldiers, Saturday’s tribute was dedicated to 15 who were wounded or killed during the war.

Cemetery manager Sandy Stief marked their graves with American flags and lanterns whose flames flickered in silent reverence as about 50 people gathered in their honor.

“It’s amazing how many Berks County residents served in the Civil War,” Stief said. “Berks County played a crucial role in the outcome of the war.”

Stief’s great-grandfather, George Burkhart of Reading, was a captain with the 55th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was wounded in battle. Stief’s husband, Donald, donned a Union Army uniform and portrayed Capt. Burkhart, whose unit was at Appomattox Court House when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered April 9, 1865.

The 45-minute ceremony began with Berks County Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach hoisting a Civil War-era flag with 33 stars in its field of blue.

Actually, there were 34 states at the start of the Civil War. Kansas had been admitted Jan. 1, 1861, about three months before the war started with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.

Eleven of the 34 states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America under President Jefferson Davis.

Re-enactors in Union blues snapped to attention as Garrett Hyneman, a member of the Ringgold Band, blew taps.

One of the soldiers being honored was Hyneman’s great-grandfather, Henry Hyneman of Reading, who fought in 24 battles with the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry. Henry survived the war, but suffered a stroke while attending the 50th anniversary of the battle in Gettysburg.

He died a few days later.

“To me, the Civil War is a very personal thing,” said Hyneman, 69, Muhlenberg Township, a retired elementary school principal.

Munching on hardtack, a crackerlike staple fed to the troops, participants got a taste of battlefield fare Civil War-style.

Biting into a hard crusted wafer, Leinbach observed: “It’s like saltines without the salt, but a lot harder. Then again, if you’re hungry, I guess it did just fine.”

Breneiser, whose great-great grandfather survived the infamous Andersonville prison camp, characterized the war in eloquent terms.

“In the end, the Civil War was the crucible that forged the country we know today,” he said. “It was personal, and the men who went to war, North and South, instinctively knew they were doing more than just fighting; they were building a future.”

Contact Ron Devlin: 610-371-5030 or rdevlin@readingeagle.com.

 

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