Prewar occupations


There was a wide variety of occupations represented among the soldiers who enlisted in the Old Third in 1861, from architect to butchers, cabinet-makers to dentists, doctors to engineers, grocers, librarian, plow-makers, shingle-makers, surveyors, tailors, students, teachers, teamsters to tinsmiths and wool-carders, among many others. Nevertheless, the farm accounted for more than half of the occupations represented, reflecting the overwhelmingly rural nature of contemporary American society. At least 798 (58%) of the 1,374 reported occupations were directly related to the farm, and if one adds the 162 common laborers, a total of 960 (69.8%) men were either farmers or common laborers (and quite often both). The next highest represented occupation was carpentry with 60 men (4.3%) who stated that they worked in that trade before the war, followed by 59 (4.2%) in the lumber industry, 34 clerks (2.4%), 23 blacksmiths (1.6%) and 23 shoemakers (1.6%).(photo: George Powers; source: Grand Rapids Democrat.)

If we add the farmer/laborer group to the next five occupations, 1,159 men (84.3%) of the regiment fall into seven occupational categories.

Interestingly, of the three Grand Rapids companies, A company had 8 (23.5%) of the 34 clerks, Company B company had 11 (18%) of the 60 carpenters, and the predominately German (C) company accounted for 24 (14.8%) of the 162 common laborers. The Muskegon company (H) had the highest number of the 162 laborers, (48, or 29.6%), reflecting the fact that Muskegon was one of the major sawmill communities in western Michigan.

In alphabetical order we see the following prewar occupations represented in the Third Michigan Infantry:

1 architect
3 attorneys
1 baker
1 bar-tender
23blacksmiths
4 boatmen
1 boilermaker
1 bookbinder
1 bootmaker
2 brewers
1 bricklayer
1 broom-maker
2 butchers
5 cabinetmakers
60 carpenters
2 carriage-makers
1 caulker
2 chair-makers
2 choppers
3 cigar-makers
34 clerks
1 cloth dresser
1 confectioner
1 constable
2 cooks
10 coopers
1 coppersmith
1 currier
1 daguerreotype artist
3 dentists
1 electrolyker
11 engineers
1 fanning mill maker
375 farm laborers
424 farmers
2 firemen
3 fishermen
1 foundryman
2 furnacemen
3 gardeners
5 grocers
1 gunsmith
2 harness-makers
1 hostler
2 jewelers
162 common laborers
1 librarian
1 log driver
1 lumber dealer
37 lumbermen
4 machinists
1 manufacturer
1 marble worker
10 masons
17 mechanics
7 merchants
5 millers
3 millwrights
2 ministers
1 moulder
6 musicians
1 news-dealer
15 painters
5 physicians
1 plasterer
1 plow-maker
8 printers
1 raftsman
3 railroad workers
1 rope-maker
1 saddler
1 saloon-keeper
2 sash-makers
22 sawyers
6 shingle-makers
23 shoemakers
8 students
2 surveyors
1 tailor
11 teachers
10 teamsters
1 thresher
3 tinsmiths
1 toll collector
1 trapper
6 wagon-makers
1 watchman
1 well-digger
2 wood turners
1 woodsman
1 wool carder

Next: Education