Friday, August 23, 2013

Michigan in the Civil War

Michigan in the Civil War

Michigan and Slavery
An estimated 12 million Africans were forced across the Atlantic Ocean between 1450 and 1808, the year the United States outlawed "importing slaves" from Africa. The men who drafted the United States Constitution debated about slavery and the legal status of enslaved people. The Constitution they wrote viewed enslaved people as property. But there were people—enslaved and free Africans, African Americans and European Americans—who challenged the idea that anyone could be considered property. They sought either to keep slavery from growing or to end it entirely.
Slavery was legal in the territory that would become Michigan until the adoption of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Michigan prohibited slavery when it adopted its first state constitution in 1835. The people who resisted slavery by escaping to Michigan, or assisted those people who had escaped, shaped communities and lives in a state that would soon send thousands of its citizens into the bloodiest conflict in American history, in part, to determine whether or not any person could be considered property, a slave.
Before the Civil War, many Michigan citizens helped slaves escape from the South, via the Underground Railroad, a secret, often informal, organization of safe hiding places and people willing to provide transportation between them. Michigan's Underground Railroad stories document the lives of African Americans who escaped enslavement in rural and urban communities in states including Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Virginia and Mississippi. A large number of them ran away from Kentucky by themselves, in pairs and in groups of acquaintances or families.

Those escaping slavery often used political and religious networks of African and European men and women, rather than specific routes. They traveled through places like Ohio, Indiana and Illinois on their way to Michigan. Most traveled by foot and/or wagons. Some made direct journeys from the South, while others spent short or longer times in communities along the way.
Antislavery activists used many strategies, including public demonstration, challenging and changing the laws, forming antislavery organizations or religious congregations, holding public meetings, and speaking and writing against slavery. Through religious and/or political affiliations, European American and legally free and formerly enslaved African American women and men in Michigan often knew each other. They provided safe places for African Americans who escaped slavery, food and sometimes clothing. They helped create opportunities for the formerly enslaved to start new lives in Michigan in tolerant communities.
Michigan has many Civil War heroines. Among them were Quakers who worked in the Underground Railroad. Born a Quaker, Laura Smith Haviland lived in Adrian and led escaped slaves to freedom in Canada. She was so effective in her abolitionist activities and her work for the Underground Railroad that Southern slave owners offered a $3,000 reward for her capture. She and her family opened one of the first schools in Michigan to admit black boys and girls. A historical marker stands at the Raisin Valley Friends Church in Adrian where her father was the first pastor. Laura Haviland is buried in the church cemetery.
Another Michigan Civil War heroine was Sojourner Truth. Born a slave in New York in 1797, she was freed in 1828 and became an advocate for abolition (making slavery illegal) and for woman suffrage (giving women the right to vote). In 1856, she moved to Battle Creek. She traveled throughout the nation preaching about emancipation and the rights of black people and women.
While black and white communities did not always live side-by side, they sometimes joined together to resist attempts of "slave owners" to take formerly enslaved women and men back into slavery. In several cases, they provided defense and protection against the men and women who claimed ownership over African Americans who had escaped to Michigan. Their tactics included confrontation, legal battles, writing and speaking about slavery and the need to end it.
Civil War
According to the 1860 U.S. census, Michigan had a population of 749,113. Although Michigan did not fight any battles on its soil, its soldiers fought in practically every major battle and campaign during the American Civil War.
Michigan made a substantial contribution to the Union during the Civil War. While far removed from the fighting in the war, Michigan supplied a large number of troops and several generals, including George Armstrong Custer. When, at the beginning of the war, Michigan was asked to supply no more than four regiments, Governor Austin Blair (January 2, 1861 – January 5, 1865) sent seven. Upon the arrival of Michigan's 1st volunteers in Washington D.C. (known as Washington City at the time), May 16, 1861, they were the first to arrive from a western state, prompting President Lincoln to remark, "Thank God for Michigan!"
Colonel Willcox (later promoted to brevet major-general) soon led the 1st Michigan Volunteers at the First Battle of Bull Run (aka Manassas), Virginia, on July 21, 1861. During the conflict's initial major engagement, WIllcox, while leading the 1st Michigan, was wounded and captured during the repeated charges against the enemy's position. Because of Willcox's action at Bull Run, he was awarded the Medal of Honor (in 1895), with the following citation: At Bull Run, Va., 21 July 1861, "led repeated charges until wounded and taken prisoner."
More than 90,000 Michigan men, nearly a quarter of the state's male population in 1860, served in the war. In addition to the approximately 600 men who joined the Union Navy, Michigan raised 36 regiments and 7 companies infantry volunteers (including 1 regiment of Colored troops), 1 regiment of sharpshooters, 12 regiments and 2 companies of cavalry, 1 heavy artillery regiment, 14 light artillery batteries, 1 engineer regiment, and numerous small independent units. During the war, 4,007 officers were commissioned; 2,067 left the state with regiments; 1,940 were promoted from the ranks, except 10, who were appointed from the regular army, and a small number were commissioned to recruit within the state.
Among the more celebrated units was the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, which, as a part of the famed Iron Brigade, suffered considerable losses at the Battle of Gettysburg while defending McPherson's Ridge. George Armstrong Custer's "Michigan Wolverine" Cavalry effectively battled J.E.B. Stuart at Gettysburg on the East Cavalry Field. The 4th Michigan Cavalry, however, was ordered to capture Confederate President Jefferson Davis in May of 1865.
Several Union generals hailed from Michigan, including George Armstrong Custer (graduated last in his class of 34 cadets at West Point, but was soon considered one of the greatest Civil War cavalry generals), Elon J. Farnsworth, Byron Root Pierce, Orlando Metcalfe Poe (who also oversaw the burning of Atlanta, for which action he was honored by Sherman), Israel Bush Richardson (mortally wounded at Battle of Antietam), and Orlando B. Willcox.
Prior to Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, Michigan Governor Austin Blair had already committed Michigan's support to the Union cause. Blair, an ardent abolitionist and supporter of the Union, pledged his state's commitment in his first inaugural address in January of 1861:
"Secession is revolution, and revolution in the overt act is treason and must be treated as such. It is a question of war that the seceding states have to look in the face. They who think that this powerful government can be disrupted peacefully have read history to no purpose. The sons of the men who carried arms in the seven years war with the most powerful nation in the world, to establish this government, will not hesitate to make equal sacrifices to maintain it." See also Michigan and the American Civil War (1861-1865).
No definite action was taken until word was received of the firing on Sumter, followed by the first call for troops. The news was as a trumpet call "to arms." Gov. Blair issued a proclamation April 16, calling for ten companies of volunteers, and proceeded to Detroit to attend a meeting held there that afternoon. Michigan's quota was one regiment of infantry, to be fully clothed, armed and equipped, and it was estimated that $100,000 would be necessary for this purpose. The treasury was comparatively empty and the state was in no condition to meet the requirements promptly. This being made known, a resolution was passed at the Detroit meeting, pledging the city to a loan of $50,000 to the state, and calling upon the state for a like amount. Those present pledged $23,000, and in a very short time $81,020 had been subscribed. This enabled the state treasurer, "Hon. John Owen, to negotiate a loan, chiefly from the state's own citizens, sufficient for the needs of the hour, and this, together with all subsequent indebtedness of a like nature, was assumed by the state."
"Michigan was enabled to respond promptly with well-drilled troops, sending into the field during 1861, thirteen regiments of infantry, three of cavalry, and five batteries of artillery, a total strength of 16,475 officers and men, besides thirteen companies, which had gone into service in regiments of other states, having failed to find service in those of their own. Ten of these regiments, one battery and one company had been partly armed and wholly clothed and subsisted by the state. All these organizations were well officered, Gov. Blair making careful selections in the face of tremendous pressure for the appointment of men unfitted for the positions."

By July 1, 1862, 27,000 men had been enrolled in the state. This included the Lancer regiment, a particularly fine body of horsemen, principally from Canada, fully equipped with the exception of horses, and the "Chandler Horse Guard," a four-company battalion, fully equipped and mounted. These two organizations were not accepted by the government, and were disbanded before leaving the state. The enlistments without these two organizations numbered 25,734, including 2,028 recruits for organizations then in the field, an excess of several thousand over the state's proportion. African-Americans, known as colored troops, throughout the state actively displayed their dedication to war effort as well and in February of 1862 entered Federal service as the First Colored Infantry. They, like so many Michigan soldiers, played a vital role in the Union war effort working to disrupt Confederate supply lines in South Carolina and Florida.
Enlistments dragged after the disastrous Peninsular Campaign (March - July 1862), and to stimulate the patriotism of the people public meetings were held. One of these, held in Detroit July 15, 1862, was disrupted by a mob, whose members drove every speaker and officer from the stand, pursuing them into the Russell House and other places near by. "This exhibition of treason aroused the lethargic spirit of the people" and a week later an immense gathering was held, at which pledges of patriotism, means and persistent support were given, and measures taken for recruiting the regiments. Resolutions were adopted, favoring the raising of means, both by the city government and by citizens; treason was roundly denounced; enthusiastic addresses were made and loudly applauded by thousands of all conditions and walks of life — acres of ground being crowded by patriotic people. Bounties of from $10 to $30 were offered by individuals for enlistments in their respective wards; one laboring man offered $50 towards raising half a company in his ward; another offered $1 each to every man who enlisted from the city of Detroit.
The report of the adjutant-general at the close of 1862 indicated a total enrollment of 45,569 troops since the beginning of the war. This did not include fully 1,400, known to have gone into regiments of other states, nor several hundred who had gone into the regular army.
The total number drafted during the fall and winter of 1863 was 6,383. Of these, 261 were sent to the rendezvous at Grand Rapids, 643 furnished substitutes (of whom 43 deserted), 1,626 paid $300 commutation money, 596 were exempted for physical disability, 330 as aliens, 204 for unsuitableness of age, and 1,069 failed to report. At the end of the year 1863 an aggregate of 53,749 had been mustered in. The offer of the government to accept reenlistment of soldiers with the title of "veteran" was accepted by 5,545 men. By Oct. 1864, this gave the state a total credit of 83,347 from the beginning of the war.
In 1864, the state was targeted by Southern sympathizers who had fled to Canada, that place being a convenient rendezvous. The Confederate government sent paid emissaries there for the purpose of fomenting trouble. Being on the border, Michigan was continually threatened and found it necessary to be constantly on guard against probable invasions. Several companies were kept on duty in and about Detroit to guard the city from pillage and the torch, armed steam tugs were continually occupied in patrolling the river, and a small force guarded the arsenal at Dearborn, where were stored 35,000 stands of arms.
A party of 4 men, led by Bennett G. Burley, boarded the passenger steamer Philo Parsons at Detroit, for Sandusky, Sept. 19, 1864, and were joined at Sandwich and Amherstburg, Canada, by 30 more. This party seized the boat shortly before reaching Sandusky and the steamer Island Queen at Middle Bass island, and announced their intention of capturing the U.S. war vessel Michigan, which was guarding Johnson's island, on which were 3,000 Confederate prisoners. The Island Queen was finally cast adrift. In the party was a Capt. Beall, who appeared to be in command and who subsequently stated he was a Confederate officer. The Parsons was afterwards steered towards Detroit, some of the passengers being put ashore on American soil. The steamer was afterwards found at Sandwich. It also transpired that Burley was commissioned an acting master in the Confederate navy, and that an effort to get possession of the Michigan and liberate the prisoners had been authorized by President Davis. "Burley was extradited and tried in Ohio, the jury failing to agree as to the nature of the crime. Being recommitted, he broke jail and fled the country, returning to Scotland, his native land."
The success of the Union army during the fall of 1864 and the winter and spring of 1865 brought the war to a close and orders were at once issued to cease recruiting and drafting. The adjutant-general's department showed that Michigan had enlisted and drafted 90,747 men, though the provost marshal-general gave credit for only 90,048. Of these, 1,661 were colored, 145 were Indians, and 14,393 were foreign-born, "representing nearly all countries of Northern Europe, France and French dominions, Spain and Spanish-America. The amount paid by drafted citizens of Michigan as commutation money was $594,600."
14,753 Michigan soldiers died in service (including 623 at Andersonville Prison in Georgia). 4,448 of these deaths were combat deaths while the majority, more than 9000, were from disease, a constant fear in crowded army camps with poor food, sanitation and exposure issues and pre-modern medicine. This put Michigan's loss at sixth highest among the Union states (the non-state U.S. Colored Troops losses also exceeded Michigan's).
In 1865, Governor Austin Blair, in one of his final gestures as acting governor, established the Michigan Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument Association in order to collect funds for a monument commemorating Michigan's sailors and soldiers killed during the Civil War. Voluntary subscriptions from citizens were collected and sculptor Randolph Rogers, who had created similar Civil War commemorative monuments in Ohio and Rhode Island, was chosen as the artist for the monument. The state's foremost Civil War monument was unveiled on April 9, 1872. Attending the dedication were Generals George Armstrong Custer, Philip H. Sheridan and Ambrose E. Burnside.
Early in June, 1865, arrangements were made for the reception of the returning troops and as they entered the state they were taken in hand and substantially entertained. The use of the upper story of a large freight house at Detroit was donated by the Michigan Central railroad and fitted up as a dining room with a seating capacity of 2,000. From that time until June 10, 1866, 19,510 Michigan and 3,506 Wisconsin troops were cared for at that place. Similar arrangements had been made at Jackson and in the same period of time 10,659 soldiers received the cordial, substantial reception accorded those who rendezvoused at Detroit.
Gov. Henry Crapo (January 3, 1865 – January 6, 1869), who succeeded Blair, issued a proclamation on June 14, 1865, welcoming and thanking the returning Michigan troops. In conclusion he said:
"We are proud in believing that when the history of this rebellion shall have been written, where all have done so well, none will stand higher on the roll of fame than the officers and soldiers sent to the field from the loyal and patriotic state of Michigan."
Care of the Wounded and Sick
Michigan's part in the care of suffering soldiers was a creditable one. Her surgeons were ready at all times to meet the exigencies of the times and many of her own soldiers, as well as those of other states, owed their lives to the promptness and solicitude shown by her medical men and the agents appointed by the governor. The legislature of 1863 appropriated $20,000 for the work, and in 1865 an additional sum of $25,000. Gen. Joseph K. Barnes was appointed surgeon-general, and his selection proved to be a happy one. After the battle of Gettysburg, the surgeons, with their assistants, left for the scene, with a quantity of sanitary stores, prepared in large part by the women of the state. No distinction was made in treating the wounded, the wounded Confederate also receiving careful attention. After the engagement at Perryville in 1862, several thousand sick and wounded Confederates were in the hospitals at Harrodsburg, Ky. Surgeon William H. DeCamp of the Mich, engineers and mechanics was detailed as medical director, in charge of all the hospitals at that point, and his attitude was such as to elicit the voluntary written thanks of the surgeons of the Confederacy in attendance.
The Michigan Soldiers' Relief Association of Washington, D.C, is said to have been the first to commence its work in the field at the east and the last to cease, beginning as it did in the autumn of 1861 and continuing until Sept., 1866. This association was formed by Michigan people at the capital, with Hon. James M. Edmunds president, Dr. H. J. Alvord, secretary, and Z. Moses, treasurer. Membership assessments were necessary at first, but as soon as its organization and aims became known to the people of the state, contributions began to pour in until they had aggregated $24,902.24. In the trying period of Grant's great battles, when sickness and wounds were the greatest, the association established the famous Michigan soup house at City Point, which relieved the suffering of thousands, regardless of state. It followed closely in the wake of the Army of the Potomac in its Peninsular Campaign, found plenty to command its attention after the second Bull Run and the various engagements which filled the hospitals at Washington, Baltimore and Fortress Monroe, and later at Alexandria, Frederick City, Annapolis, New York and Philadelphia In 1863, after the campaign in Maryland and Pennsylvania, including bloody Gettysburg, and in 1864, following the battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania, and the operations about Richmond and Petersburg, the hospitals were filled. The necessities were great, but the association met them with the aid of the Christian and U.S. sanitary commissions. In the later days of the war a home was established in Washington, where the wounded and sick, passing through the city, were given shelter. For many days the bread consumed averaged over 300 loaves daily, and imperfect records showed over 8,000 names of those furnished one or more meals. At the conclusion of the active campaign of Sherman's army, Michigan regiments, quartered at and near Washington, were supplied with vegetables, pickles, bread and tobacco. See also Michigan and the American Civil War (1861-1865)
After the conflict, Lansing, the capital, was so designed as to give a special military museum, and in a large, commodious room may be found Michigan's battleflags, in regimental order, in vertical cases of novel construction in the center of the apartment, reaching almost to the ceiling and of heavy plate glass. Other cases ranged about the walls contain many interesting relics, including Confederate flags captured by the regiments. A Roll of Honor was prepared under a resolution of the state legislature in 1869. It was completed in 1872 and contains the names of all citizens of Michigan who had fallen in battle, or died in consequence of wounds received during the war, or who had died in southern prisons or hospitals. The roll shows 14,855 names, engrossed on English parchment and required two years time on the part of John Radiger. It is in two volumes, bound in Russia leather, with ornamental brass trimmings and fastenings.
Michigan's timber and mining industries were expanded under the control of large Eastern corporations and their output rose dramatically during Reconstruction.
After the war, the local economy became more varied and began to prosper. The Upper Peninsula proved to be a rich source of lumber, iron, and copper. Michigan led the nation in lumber production from the 1850s to the 1880s. Railroads became a major engine of growth from the 1850s onward, with Detroit the chief hub. During the 1870s, the lumber industry, dairy farming and diversified industry grew rapidly in the state. Michigan's population, consequently, doubled between 1870 and 1890. Continue to Michigan Civil War History.

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