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.
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.
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.