Daniel G. Crotty

Daniel G. Crotty was born December 27, 1840 or 1841 in County Clare, Ireland, the son of Michael and Jane or June (Tracy).

Daniel left Ireland and came to America, probably settling in Kent County, Michigan by the time the war broke out.

Daniel stood 5’6” with blue eyes, black hair and a light complexion, and was a 20-year-old shoemaker possibly living in Lowell, Kent County in April of 1861 when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. He received the Kearny Cross for his participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 3, 1863. The Cross, one report said,

is a bronze medal in the shape of a Maltese cross, bearing engraved on its face the words ‘Kearny Cross, and on its reverse side ‘Birney's Division. The medal was one of the very first issued by the government during the war. It was presented to Serg’t. Crotty in 1863, shortly after the battle of Chancellorsville, and while he was on duty before Fredericksburg. Crotty had served under General Kearny up to the time that gallant soldier was killed on the picket line the night of September 1, 1862. Gen. D. B. Birney succeeded Gen. Kearny, and it was in the following year that Gen. Birney distributed among select men who had served under Kearny the famous Kearny medals. Thirty of these medals were given to each Regiment, three for each company. The task of designating the men who were to receive the medals was assigned to captains of the various companies. For his valorous record as a soldier Serg't. D. G. Crotty was selected as one of the three in his company to receive a Kearny Cross.

From that day to this he has treasured this medal as only a true soldier who fought under Phil Kearny can treasure such a badge of honor.

Serg’t Crotty was so near Gen. Kearny when the latter was shot to death that he saw in the dusk of the evening the flash of the rebel musket that sent the fatal bullet.

“We had been fighting that afternoon”, said Mr. Crotty today, “but a storm came up and stopped the battle. After the rain had stopped and just on the edge of night Gen. Kearny rode out along the picket line looking closely after his men, as was his invariable custom. In the dusk he failed to see the rebel pickets and was soon in their lines. They ordered him to surrender, but he wheeled his horse around, put spurs to him and darted for the Union lines, hoping to escape the fire he knew was sure to follow him. Kearny leaned forward in his saddle and as low as possible to escape the bullets. But the aim of the Johnnies was too true. One bullet struck him in the back, a mortal wound, and our gallant and loved commander had met the soldier's fate”. Mr. Crotty has had engraved on the vacant spaces on his Kearny Cross the names of the principal engagements in which he served.

According to Dr. James Grove, Surgeon of the Old Third, in August of 1863, while the Regiment was encamped at Sulphur Springs, near Warrenton, Virginia, Daniel reported sick. “He stated to me,” Dr. Grove said some years later, that he was suffering from hemorrhoids, which “were aggravated by the constipation.” Dr. Grove noted that Crotty “was acting Color Sergeant at the time and did not often appear at Surgeon’s call during my connection with the regiment.”

Daniel was a Corporal when he reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Bowne, Kent County, and was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864. He probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Daniel claimed years later that he distinguished himself during the battle of the Wilderness in early May of 1864, and in 1900 he attempted to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his participation in that action. In March of 1900, according to one source, Michigan Congressman Bishop sent a letter to then Secretary of War Elihu Root, asking that a medal be awarded to Crotty. The Congressman attached affidavits from various officers who had served in the Old Third,

which make him one of the heroes of the Civil war. Chief among these is a letter of endorsement from Colonel M. B. Houghton, of [Tustin], Michigan, under whom Crotty, who is now a resident of Detroit, served. “Few men in America,” says Colonel Houghton, “can show as brilliant a record as can Lieutenant Crotty. I witnessed his conduct in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil war, in all of which he conducted himself with great gallantry.” Colonel Houghton relates that at the battle of the Wilderness the Third Michigan was in the Division led by General Hancock. They led the attack and drove the enemy back to reserves, where it became necessary to halt and reform broken lines. Houghton stood talking with General [then Colonel Byron R.] Pierce when Color Sergeant Crotty was seen carrying the flag forward into the very front of the enemy. “I wish you would stop Crotty”, cried General Pierce, “and bring back our colors.” Whereupon the commanding officer of the Regiment went forward and induced the courageous Crotty to get out from under fire and in line with his Regiment.

He never received the Medal of Honor.

Daniel was transferred as a Sergeant to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was absent on furlough in November. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on May 8, 1865, replacing Lieutenant Ernest Synold of Company A, but he was never mustered as such. Sometime in the late spring the Fifth Michigan was sent to Jeffersonville, Indiana to be mustered out of service (with the regiment). On June 25, 1865 Daniel was admitted to Jefferson hospital in Jeffersonville, suffering from an ulcer on the right arm; he listed his nearest relative as a brother John who was living in Hainesville, Ontario. Daniel was mustered out as Sergeant on July 5, 1865 at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Daniel returned to Michigan and on September 25, 1865, married Michigan native Anne McMahon (1842-1929) at St. Andrews church in Grand Rapids. They had at least 9 children: Elizabeth (b. 1866), George (b. 1868), Daniel G. (b. 1869), Mary F. (b. 1872; Mrs. A. F. Kuney), Margaret A. (b. 1874), John D. (b. 1876), Arthur B. (b. 1878), Francis J “Frank” (b. 1881) and Charles H. (b. 1883).

In 1874 Daniel published the only known book on the history of the Third Michigan infantry Regiment, Four years Campaigning in the Army of the Potomac, which sold for $1.50 a copy and was printed in Grand Rapids by Dygert Bros. He spent much of the year traveling around the state selling copies of the book. As far as we know Daniel did not keep a journal or diary during the war and, sadly, the book appears to be based solely on Crotty’s vague recollections rather than any hard evidence. Nor did he base his observations on any other written work, such as diaries or journals of other soldiers. This lack of attention to specifics, combined with a flowery style of prose makes the work greatly suspect as to its veracity. Of even greater curiosity is that even though Daniel was a member of the postwar Old Third Association and attended many of its reunions, he was never called upon to provide any of the historical details at any of the annual meetings. Rather, it was left to Allan Shattuck, formerly of Company G, who was in fact the official Association regimental historian and who gave all of the historical speeches.

By 1868 Daniel was working as a shoemaker in Pontiac, Oakland County, and in 1870 he was working as a shoemaker and living with his wife and three children in Southfield, Oakland County. (Also living with Daniel was Irish-born Ann Crotty, age 70.) He may have possibly lived for a time in Grand Rapids and Effingham, Illinois briefly, but eventually settled in Muskegon, Muskegon County where he worked as a shoemaker for many years. By 1871 he was engaged in a boot-and-shoe shop on Pine Street in Muskegon, and was constable in 1879, the same year the Grand Army of the Republic Kearny post number 7 was organized in Muskegon and he became a charter member (he transferred to the Grand Army of the Republic Fairbanks Post No. 17 in Detroit in 1897). In 1880 he was working as deputy sheriff and living with his wife in Muskegon. He was appointed Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms of the Michigan House of Representatives in Lansing in January of 1881.

Daniel also worked for some ten years for the Muskegon Milling Company as a traveling salesman. On February 19, 1887, while traveling in northern Michigan, Crotty was injured in a railroad accident and hospitalized in Reed City. Fred Worden, also formerly of Company F and living in Reed City at the time, wrote a letter-at-large, published in the Democrat on February 22, 1887 to his comrades describing Crotty’s recent accident and subsequent difficulties. According to Worden, Crotty was “in poor health in consequence, struggling for a living for himself and family, while on a business trip for a firm in Muskegon, going to Luther on the G. R. & I. [railroad], on the 19th inst., met with a serious injury, and is now lying in the hospital in Reed City, the train running off the track and tipping over, dislocating his shoulder and shattering the edges of the socket, and other injuries, which will take a long time to get over, if not lasting through life.”

Daniel was still living in Muskegon in 1888, 1890, and in 1892 he was a salesman for a wholesale clothing operation out of New York City.

In 1896 Daniel moved to Detroit where he became an instructor in the public schools, and where he spent his remaining years. In 1907, 1912 and 1915 he was residing at 163 Harrison Avenue. By 1920 Daniel was living in Detroit along with his wife Anne, two daughters, his son George and a grand-daughter and five boarders. Sometime in 1921 Daniel suffered a stroke and as a result was partially paralyzed and reported to be “in such a helpless condition that he needs the constant care of another person.”

Daniel was a Catholic, member of Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and received pension no. 268,864 (June of 1888), and drawing $50.00 per month by 1921. He was also involved in forming the Muskegon County Veteran’s Association.

Daniel died of apoplexy at his residence 2835 Harrison Avenue in Detroit on December on 25, 1921, and the funeral was held at 8:30 on Wednesday at St. Vincent’s church. He was buried on December 28 in Mt. Olivet cemetery, Detroit.

In 1922 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 917023).