Peter A. Bogardus

Peter A. Bogardus was born 1835 in New York.

There was a Peter Bogardus living in Pittsfield, Washtenaw County, Michigan in 1840. In 1850 there was a 17-year-old New York-born farm laborer named Peter “Bogart” living with and/or working for Henry Miller in Salem, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

In any case, Peter eventually left New York and moved westward, settling in Michigan sometime before 1850 and in Grand Rapids, Kent County before 1859. Peter was living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, when he married Michigan native Matilda (1835-1919) on May 24, 1854, in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, and they had at least four children: Edward S. (d. 1864), Robert A. (b. 1850), Isadore (b. 1859) and Jessie M. (b. 1862).

Soon after arriving in Grand Rapids Peter became a volunteer fireman for “Alert” company No. 1, and on January 5, 1859, was elected secretary and treasurer for the company. That same year he also joined the Valley City Guard, one of three militia companies which formed in Grand Rapids before the war, and in March of 1860 he was elected Fourth Corporal of the company. Peter would remain active in the VCG until the company was enrolled as the nucleus of Company A into the Third Michigan in the spring of 1861.

In addition to being a fireman and a member of the volunteer militia before the war, Peter also worked as a ward constable, probably in the Third Ward (where he resided). On the evening of December 28, 1859, it was reported that Peter had just returned “from the north woods, bringing with him two prisoners whose names are James Mapes and Henry Ansenor. They are charged with stealing lumber sleds and a variety of useful farming implements from J. M. Lane of Solon.”

By 1859-60 Peter was reported to be residing on the west side of Jefferson Street between Maple and Elm Streets, and in 1860 he was still working as a constable and living with his wife and children in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward; also residing with them was one Joanna Walling, a 19-year-old domestic from the Netherlands.

When the Third Michigan infantry was organized in Grand Rapids in late April of 1861, the staff of the new regiment relied heavily on the prewar local militia companies to provide officers for the first new companies then being formed at the old fairgrounds located along the old Kalamazoo Plank Road (present-day Division Street) just about two miles south of the city. For example, Byron Pierce who had served as captain of the Valley City Guard was appointed to command Company K while another captain of the VCG, Samuel Judd, was appointed to head up Company A.

Indeed, the command structure of Company A filled quickly, and several former VCG officers and noncommissioned officers found commanding billets in other companies. Fred Worden, at one time a Lieutenant in the VCG, became First Lieutenant of Company F, under the command of Captain John J. Dennis, and Peter Bogardus was 26 years old when he enlisted as Second Lieutenant in Company F on May 13, 1861.

Shortly after the regiment arrived in Washington on June 16, 1861, Peter was presented a sword by members of his company. On June 30, “ as Captain B. R. Pierce of Company K, was forming his company for dress parade, Sergeant Dickinson stepped forward, and in behalf of the company, presented to the Captain an elegant dress sword. . . . At the same time company F, through Sergeant [Abram] Martindale, presented their Lieutenant, Peter A. Bogardus, with a handsome regulation sword and belt, costing 22 dollars. Both presentations were accompanied by neat speeches, and responded to in appropriate and feeling terms. The fortunate recipients of these favors were taken completely by surprise, as they had received no intimation of the affair until the time of presentation.”

Dan Crotty of Company F wrote after the war that shortly after the battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, a detail from the Third Michigan was formed “to guard the tools that are used for building forts and other duty. There are 20 of us on the detail, commanded by Lieutenant Bogardus, . . .” Indeed, Frank Siverd of Company G, wrote home on September 8, 1861, that “At Fort Pennsylvania is a small detachment of the 3d Michigan under command of Lieutenant Bogardus of Co. D, this officer is highly complimented by the engineer corps for the efficiency with which he discharges his duty at his post.” (Crotty noted that the fort was located on a bluff overlooking a valley below.)

Peter was promoted to and commissioned First Lieutenant on August 11, 1861, but in late September suffered a fall from his horse which apparently incapacitated him for some time. On October 17, 1861, he wrote to General McClellan seeking a 20-day furlough. “I have the honor,” he wrote, “to inform you that some three weeks since I received an injury of my right ankle, by being thrown from my horse, near Fort Scott, Va while on duty, being at that time Lieutenant in command of the guard of that post which injury up to several days since has confined me to my quarters, and as the surgeon informs me, that it will yet be at least four weeks before I shall be able to resume my duties.”

In fact, Peter never did “resume his duties” and resigned his commission on December 26, 1861, presumably as a consequence of his injury in October.

After he left the army Peter returned to Michigan, probably to Grand Rapids. In any case, he was in Saginaw when he died on April 24, 1863, and his body was returned to Grand Rapids. The funeral was held at the home of Deacon Robert Davidson, on LaGrave Street, and conducted under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity. Peter was buried in Fulton cemetery: block 7, no. 23.

By 1880 Matilda was living in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward; also living with her was her youngest daughter, Jessie. In 1892 his widow was still living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 470820). By 1896 she was living at 27 Lagrave Street in Grand Rapids, and in 1916 at 1214 Terrace Ave., N.E., Grand Rapids.