Gettysburg

Michigan Monuments at Gettysburg

So, my wife and I were in Gettysburg recently and spent a morning tracking down all the memorials dedicated to Michigan units who fought at Gettysburg. All photos from May 2019.

(Steve Hawks has put together an incredibly comprehensive website that provides details of the Gettysburg memorials including inscriptions, locations and much more. The links below will take you to the relevant pages on the site.)

1st Michigan Infantry Located off Sickles Avenue in the Rose Woods loop; close to the 5th Michigan monument.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

3rd Michigan Infantry Located at the southeast edge of the Peach Orchard along Birney Avenue.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

4th Michigan Infantry Located on De Trobriand Avenue just before Sickles Avenue.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

5th Michigan Infantry Located on Sickles Avenue just before the loop in Rose Woods; close to the 1st Michigan monument.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

7th Michigan Infantry Located just west of Hancock Avenue and south of the "Copse of Trees."

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

showing the “copse of trees,” the high water mark on the far right. photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

showing the “copse of trees,” the high water mark on the far right. photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

9th Michigan Battery The monument is along Hancock Avenue almost directly opposite the Pennsylvania memorial.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

16 Michigan Infantry Located about a third way down the front slope of Little Round and close to the Michigan Sharpshooters memorial. There is a path to the monument.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

24th Michigan Infantry Located just west of Gettysburg on Meredith Avenue.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

Michigan Cavalry Brigade Located in the East Cavalry Field on the eastern side of Route 15 and out of the normal flow of tourists to the park.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

detail, relief showing Brigade in action against confederate cavalry. photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

detail, relief showing Brigade in action against confederate cavalry. photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

Michigan Sharpshooters Located about half-way down the slope of Little Round Top and close to the 16th Michigan monument. The memorial is not accessible except by scrambling over rocks and through the underbrush; but the park asks you to remain on the paved path since they are presently restoring the landscape.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

photo © Steve Soper. All rights reserved.

3rd Michigan buried at Gettysburg PA

Of the 171 Michigan soldiers buried here 10 (not 11) were members of the 3rd Michigan Infantry; three errors are noted, however: Erson Smith was not killed but taken prisoner and died of his wounds in Richmond in September of 1863, Reuben Tower is listed incorrectly as Reuben "Power" and John M. Brown is incorrectly reported in the 3rd Michigan cavalry.

Orin Dwight Wade

Orin Dwight Wade was born in 1839, possibly in Ohio, the son of Jonathan C. (1813-1895) and Margaret (Stevens or Stivers, 1811-1883).

Orin’s father was born in New York and his mother in Pennsylvania and they were probably married sometime before 1839. His family eventually settled in Ohio by possibly 1839 and certainly by 1845. His father probably brought the family onto Michigan sometime afterwards. By 1860 Jonathan and Margaret were probably living in North Shade, Gratiot County. It is possible that Orren was the same Oren Wade who was working as a farm laborer for the David Abot family in Villanova, Chautauqua County, New York in 1860. (Curiously, William Wade’s family was living in Chautauqua County, New York in 1850.)

Orin was 22 years old and probably living in Ionia County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) In April of 1863 Orren was reported as a bugler and on furlough -- although the reasons are unknown.

In any case, Orin eventually returned to the Regiment and was wounded severely in the right shoulder and chest on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where the Regiment was engaged at the Peach Orchard, and died the following morning in the First Division, Third Corps hospital.

Charles Price of Company G described Wade’s death in a letter home.”Early in the forenoon,” wrote Price on July 30, “our Regt was then near the front supporting the skirmishers; he was Corp[oral] and one of the color guard. Our company was next to the colors [and] he was struck by a piece of shell near the right shoulder blade; it cut his back and lodged in his lungs. He said that he could not live; he spoke of his folks [and] said that it would kill his mother. He seemed to worry more about his folks than he did [about] himself. He said that he was willing to die if that was to be his fate. He wanted me to write to his folks and send his memoranda home. I helped put him on to a stretcher but did not take his book. He was carried to the rear and died the next morning. I did not see him after he was put on the stretcher.”

Orinn was originally buried on Lewis A. Bushman’s farm, in the field near the barn but subsequently reinterred in the Michigan plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery.

In 1884 his father remarried one Mary Thayer Chapman (b. 1817) in Oceana County, and by 1889 was living in Michigan when he applied for and received a pension (no. 274830).

Reuben Tower

Reuben Tower was born in 1834 in Michigan, the son of Joseph (b. 1814) and Philena (b. 1815).

Vermonter Joseph married New York native Philena, probably in New York or perhaps in Michigan. In any case they quickly settled in Michigan and by 1850 Reuben was working as a farmer with his father in Oakfield, Kent County. By 1860 Reuben was working as a school-teacher and living at Cook’s Hotel in Otisco, Ionia County. (His father would find work as a carpenter in Otisco in 1863.)

He was 27 years old and still residing in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. Reuben was a Sergeant when he was awarded the Kearny Cross for his participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3, 1863.

He was a Sergeant when he was shot in the head and killed on July 2, 1863, while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, during the second day of the battle of Gettysburg. He was buried in the Michigan plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery: section B, grave 19. (He is erroneously listed as “Reuben Power” on his headstone in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.)

In 1870 His mother was living in Michigan when she applied for and received a dependent mother’s pension (no. 486190).

Silas E. Thurston

Silas E. Thurston was born in 1840 in New York, the son of Susan (b. 1816).

New York native Susan Thurston and her 9-year-old son Silas were living with the family of Lyman Church, a grocer in Genesee Falls, Wyoming County, New York in 1850. (Susan was still listed as Thurston and she and Silas were reported at the end of the Church family listing int he census records for that year.) By 1860 Susan had married Mr. Church and Silas was working as a day laborer and living with his family in Genesee Falls. According to Susan the family left New York and in August of 1860 settled in Flint, Genesee County, Michigan. Silas was possibly living in Lansing, Michigan, in the Spring of 1861 when he became a member of the Lansing company called the “Williams’ Rifles,” whose members would serve as the nucleus of Company G.

Silas was 21 years old and probably living in Ingham County when he enlisted in Company G on May 10, 1861. According to Frank Siverd of Company G, by the end of the year he had been detailed as a hostler. He was reported as hostler for the Regimental surgeon in September of 1862. (His stepfather Lyman died of insanity in Flint in 1862.)

Silas was wounded in the lungs on July 2, 1863, while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, during the second day of the battle of Gettysburg. Silas was originally buried in George Rose’s field but subsequently reinterred in the Michigan plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery: section A, grave 4.

Sometime around 1868 Silas’ mother moved to Lynden, Illinois, where she resided for about seven months, then ten months in Delavan, Wisconsin, in Pavillion, Michigan for seven months and back in Delavan where she was residing in 1869 when she applied for and received a dependent mother’s pension (no. 301207).

Robert Sligh

Robert Sligh was born June 24, 1827, in Ayton, Berwickshire, Scotland, the son of Robert (1790-1858) and Elizabeth (Bogue Cleghorn, 1795-1858).

According to one source, the elder Robert and his family immigrated to North America during the winter of 1833-34, settling in or near Grafton, Haldimand Township, Ontario, Canada. In 1833 his James W. moved from Canada to Rochester, New York and in 1846 to Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan where he worked as a merchant before the war. His father Robert and his family followed some years later.

The younger Robert was 34 years old, and probably living in Kent County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. (His brother-in-law John Nelthorpe would also enlist in Company K.) Robert’s older brother James served as Captain in the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics and died in 1863 in Tennessee; there is a memorial to him in Oak Hill (north) cemetery, Grand Rapids, where their parents are buried.

Robert was wounded in the thigh on July 2, 1863, while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, during the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, and apparently died in Gettysburg from his wounds. He was buried in the Michigan plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery: section B, grave 17. Both of Robert’s parents as well as his brother James are buried in Oak Hill cemetery in Grand Rapids.

James Nelson Pierce updated 1/7/2019

James Nelson Pierce was born in 1833 in England or Ireland.

James immigrated to America and eventually settled in western Michigan. By 1860 he was probably working as a carpenter and living with the Gottlieb Martin family in Ada, Kent County.

James was living in Nelson, Kent County when he married New Hampshire native Sarah M. Towns (1836-1932) on December 8, 1854, probably in Nelson, Kent County, and they had at least three children: James E. (1857-1935), Mary E. (born 1859), Perley O. (born 1862).

He was a 26-year-old carpenter probably living in Nelson or Ada, Kent County when he enlisted in Company A on August 14, 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Nelson.

James joined the Regiment September 18 at Fairfax Seminary, Virginia, and was shot in the arm, wrist, head and neck on July 2, 1863, while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, during the second day of the battle of at Gettysburg. James died of a wound to his neck on July 5. He was buried in the Michigan plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery: section D, grave 15. One source listed him as having died in one of the hospitals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but this is probably incorrect.

In October of 1863 his widow applied for and received a pension (cert. no. 27388); the following year she married Bradford Reed in Nelson, Kent County. In 1865 a guardian named Benjamin Stiles was living in Nelson, Kent County when he applied for and received a pension on behalf of three minor children (cert. no. 73336). Sarah eventually married George Marshall and was listed as Sarah Marshall and living in White cloud, Newaygo County in 1890. She married Chauncey Anible in 1917 and eventually became a resident of the Michigan Soldiers’ Home where she died in 1932 and is reportedly buried in the Home cemetery.

James O’Neil

James O’Neil was born in 1838 in New York.

James left New York and had settled in western Michigan by 1860 when he was probably a news dealer living with and/or working for Bradley Salter, a saloon-keeper in Muskegon, Muskegon County.

James was 23 years old and probably still living in Muskegon when he enlisted in Company H on May 6, 1861. He was wounded in the right lung while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, during the second day of the battle of Gettysburg, on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and subsequently died from his wounds on July 3 or 5 in one of the hospitals at Gettysburg.

In either case, he was buried in the Michigan plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery: section A, grave 8.

No pension seems to be available.

July 2, 1863: In the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg

On Sunday, June 21 there was heavy skirmishing along the edges of Lee’s advance northward, at Upperville near Gainesville, Virginia, at Haymarket and Thoroughfare Gap, Virginia, and at Frederick, Maryland. Nevertheless, the following day found the confederate armies continuing northward passing out of Virginia into Maryland on their way to strike at the North on its own soil. The previous attempt to carry the war to the North had ended in failure along the banks of Antietam Creek outside the small Maryland hamlet of Sharpsburg. Lee was determined not to fail this time. (photo: Third Michigan monument on the edge of the Peach Orchard.)

By Wednesday, June 24, confederate forces under Generals James Longstreet and A.P. Hill began crossing the Potomac into Maryland to join General Ewell’s Second Corps. On June 25 General “Jeb” Stuart received permission from Lee to take his cavalry and pass between the Federal army and Washington, joining the Confederate army north of the Potomac. On Friday, Confederate General Jubal Early (of Ewell’s corps) entered Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He left the next day, Saturday, arriving soon afterwards in York, Pennsylvania where he accepted the surrender of the town.

Confederate forces were also moving toward Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. On Sunday Lee learned that the Federals were moving north of the Potomac and decided to alter his plans for the invasion of Pennsylvania. Rather than driving on toward Harrisburg, the state capital, he ordered his Third Corps under A. P. Hill to converge on Gettysburg and Cashtown.

Lincoln had grown weary of Hooker’s continued vacillation and indecision about confronting Lee’s movement northward and at last decided to replace him. On June 27, the War Department ordered General George Gordon Meade to assume command of the Army of the Potomac, and at 7:00 a.m. the following day, General Meade received Halleck’s orders placing him in command of the Army of the Potomac. General David Birney was relieved of command of the Third Corps by Major General Daniel Sickles, and returned to command the First Division. (The Third Michigan infantry was part of the Third Brigade under Colonel Regis De Trobriand; and the Third Brigade was part of the First Division.)

The day Hooker was relieved turned cloudy when the Third Michigan Infantry regiment, under the command of Colonel Byron Pierce, left Point-of-Rocks, Maryland at 9:00 a.m., passing through Jefferson, Maryland after dinner, moving towards Hagerstown. Sometime around dusk the regiment bivouacked at Middleton, Maryland. A dentist in Grand Rapids, Michigan before the war, Pierce had begun the war as Captain of Company K in the Third Michigan and in two years had developed into an extremely capable commander.

It was cloudy when the regiment commenced its march at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 28, passing through Middleton at about 9:00 a.m., and through Frederick about 2 p.m., when they halted for dinner. The regiment bivouacked for night about six miles from Frederick.
But where were they going? Lansing native Edgar Clark of Company G wrote his wife Catharine that “We [hear] all sorts of rumors about the whereabouts of the rebels. I presume we will find them before long.”

Find them they did.

It was a cloudy and misty morning when the Third Michigan marched off from at 6:00 a.m. on Monday, June 29, passing through several small towns. Around sunset the regiment passed through Taneytown, about four miles from Pennsylvania line and halted for the night. On Tuesday, it rained nearly all day. The Third Michigan left is previous night’s bivouac at around midday, marched about five miles to the left, and halted about one-and-a-half miles from Emmitsburg, Maryland. George Bailey of Company F recalled that they passed a number of rebel prisoners before they made camp for the night.

July 1 was cloudy and rainy when the Third Michigan broke camp and marched about one mile, where the Brigade was halted to provide cover for along the Fairfield-Gettysburg road and protection for the Corps trains moving toward Gettysburg. At about 2:00 p.m. General Birney was ordered to take his other two brigades and proceed on to Gettysburg, and report to Major General Howard who was then engaged with the enemy. The Third Michigan, however, remained behind, at least for the moment. The regiment set up camp on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Academy at Emmitsburg, where they remained through the night of July 1. One member of the 110th Pennsylvania, which was bivouacked with the Third Michigan, recalled later “The gentle sisters seemed a good deal alarmed at the advent of the soldiers and prospect of war at their door.”

At around 2:00 a.m. on July 2 Colonel De Trobriand received orders to strike camp and rejoin the rest of the Third Corps near Gettysburg. At about 3:00 a.m. the Third Michigan broke camp and marched off, passing through Emmitsburg and crossing into Pennsylvania at 6:00 a.m. The distance, noted Colonel De Trobriand, was only seven or eight miles, but it had rained, and the roads were terrible.

The Third Michigan came up to the front at the line of battle near Gettysburg sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. joining the rest of Birney’s First Division. The regiment rested briefly in the Third Corps area, somewhere along the slope of the high ground near Little Round Top. The Michiganders found Birney’s division with its left near Little Round Top and its right in a direct line toward the cemetery, “connecting on the right with the 2nd division of this corps.” The division’s “picket line was in the Emmitsburg road, with sharpshooters some 300 yards in advance.” By mid-afternoon, the Union line of defense ran roughly along the eastern side of the Emmitsburg Road to the Peach Orchard, where Birney’s First division held the line.

At about 2:00 p.m. De Trobriand’s “woefully under strength” Third Brigade, consisting of the 3rd and 5th Michigan regiments, “both small but of the best kind,” and the 17th Maine, the 40th New York, “the largest in the brigade,” and the 110th Pennsylvania, which was the smallest in the brigade with only six companies, was put in the fight.

Expecting an attack on the left General Birney assigned De Trobriand’s Third Brigade to a wooded area at the edge of the “Wheatfield,” in the center of his division’s line.

Colonel De Trobriand positioned the 5th Michigan and 110th Pennsylvania on the southern edge of a wooded ridge just west of the Wheatfield, with the 3rd Michigan on his western front, the right portion of the regiment being extended to the Peach Orchard, and deployed as a skirmish line at the Emmitsburg Road, connecting with the skirmish line of the 5th Michigan near the Rose house, a little east of the road. The 40th New York and 17th Maine, also in the same woods, De Trobriand held as a second line of reserve, with the 40th on the left and the 17th had its right at the northern edge of the woods about one hundred yards from the Peach Orchard, in the rear of the 3rd Michigan. (photo: Fifth Michigan monument.)

If this deployment sounds a bit confusing it was – and in fact remains so to this day. In general, however, De Trobriand’s Third Brigade formed the primary Union defense of the area today known as the Wheatfield, and at the Peach Orchard the Union line bent back east-southeast, wrapping around the southern edge of the Wheatfield in the direction of Little Round Top. What is fairly clear is that the 3rd Michigan was set out as skirmishers connecting with the troops at the Peach Orchard, that is the 3rd Michigan occupied the space left between De Trobriand’s Brigade and Graham’s Brigade on the right.

In general terms, by the middle of the afternoon of July 2, Birney’s First Division was deployed roughly as follows: Ward’s Brigade held the left of the line, De Trobriand in the center, and Graham on the right in the peach orchard, with his right on the Emmitsburg road. The 3rd Michigan in essence connected the Third Brigade with Graham’s Brigade in the Peach Orchard.
While the brigades of Birney’s division were maneuvering into their positions, the rebels, under generals McLaws and Hood, part of Longstreet’s First Corps, in the woods just west of the Emmitsburg Road, began pushing forward in large numbers heading for the road. De Trobriand’s skirmishers soon became hard-pressed. With the Union artillery beginning to fire at the rebel advance elements, De Trobriand pushed the 3rd Michigan forward to the Peach Orchard in an effort to stem the advance of the rebel skirmishers. De Trobriand held the 17th Maine and 40th New York in reserve in the wooded area directly behind the Third Brigade line, ready to defend the Wheatfield.

However, it soon appeared that the confederates were moving in a large force to turn the Union left. Third Corps commander General Daniel Sickles at once advanced his line to repel the attack. As he pushed his Graham’s First Brigade forward Birney soon discovered a 500-yard gap just south of the Wheatfield between the Emmitsburg road and a stony hill. He covered the gap by deploying the 3rd Michigan and Third Maine in front of it as skirmishers. Colonel Pierce moved the 3rd Michigan by the right flank to the left of the “Peach Orchard”, of which the Confederates held a portion, where he deployed Companies I, F and K, deploying forward on the right of Company F. The regiment drove out the rebel skirmishers back to and a bit beyond the Rose stone house and barn on the left of the Emmitsburg Road, leaving the 3rd Michigan’s right in front of the Peach Orchard close to the road.

The 3rd Michigan found itself to the left of the 141st Pennsylvania of Graham’s First Brigade. Graham ordered the 141st Pennsylvania, 3rd Maine and 3rd Michigan to advance and they crossed the southern edge of the Peach Orchard and went in on the left of the Second New Hampshire attacking Kershaw’s South Carolinians who were advancing across the road. Kershaw’s rebels were advancing in two columns, with one column advancing in the direction of Ward’s and De Trobriand’s brigades. As this was happening the 141st Pennsylvania and 3rd Michigan were ordered forward engaging the left flank of the South Carolinians as advanced. The second rebel column was marching up the Emmitsburg Road to the point occupied by the Pennsylvania and Michigan regiments.

The 3rd Michigan drove the Confederate skirmishers back to and beyond the Rose house and barn on the left of the Emmitsburg road, and found their right resting in front of the orchard, near the road. “Upon gaining this position,” wrote Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Pierce of the 3rd Michigan, “we discovered that the enemy was massing his forces on our left. I reported the same to General Sickles, and kept him informed of the enemy's movements. During the engagement, the enemy made several attempts to retake the [Rose] house and barn, but were repulsed with heavy loss, our men fighting with a desperation never before witnessed, and at times at a range of not over 50 yards.”

Company A of the 3rd Michigan was detached to support a portion of Graham’s First Brigade line on the right, and they advanced to the brick house on the right of the Emmitsburg road, holding that position until they were overpowered by superior forces. It was not long afterwards that the 68th Pennsylvania began to give way. At the order of General Sickles Birney had pushed his line too far forward and found himself overextended. Birney’s division began to feel the stress of the moment. “My thin lines,” he wrote later, “swayed to and fro during the fight, and my regiments were moved constantly on the double-quick from one part of the line to the other, to reinforce assailed points.

The “Peach Orchard” position was fast becoming untenable for the Union forces as the confederates could enfilade fire and flank the federal troops. It is unclear whether Graham gave the order to withdraw or the troops just began to move rearward on their own, but apparently all this was too much for the forward units as the 3rd Maine, after exchanging a few shots with the enemy withdrew, followed very soon by the 3rd Michigan.
As the 68th Pennsylvania line began to crumble and its troops fall back, the salient created by overextending Birney’s line too far forward was doomed, one observer has written.

The Wheatfield Road line became untenable because an enemy force at the Peach Orchard could enfilade and flank it; the Emmitsburg Road line could not be held because an enemy force at the Peach Orchard could assail its left and reach its rear. Whether at Graham's orders or at their own volition, the 3rd Maine and 3rd Michigan regiments pulled back from their position facing Kershaw and changed front to the west. This left the 2nd New Hampshire and the 141st Pennsylvania on the original line fronting south with flanks open, facing Kershaw's men in their front, and with Barksdale’s and Wofford's men threatening their right. Thus, the two Federal regiments had no option but to fall back and change front to the west.

According to the commander of the 3rd Michigan, since most of Graham’s force had retired (from the right) and the 3rd Michigan held their position until about 7:00 p.m., when the left had retired so far that the 3rd Michigan was in danger of being flanked, thus the 3rd Michigan “retired in good order” and aided “in bringing off a portion of two batteries” left on the field.
In any case, units of the Second and Fifth Corps relieved Birney’s division from the front line about dusk, and his troops moved to the rear. The 3rd Michigan rejoined the brigade at about this time and marched across the Taneytown road where Birney’s division bivouacked for the night.

It was about this time that General Birney was informed that General Sickles had been seriously wounded in the leg. (He would in fact have his leg amputated.) “At 6 o'clock.” Birney wrote soon afterward, “I found Major-General Sickles seriously wounded, and, at his request, took command of the troops.

At about the same time that Sickles was wounded, Colonel Byron Pierce of the 3rd Michigan was wounded, and his brother Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Pierce, took over temporary command of the regiment.

The following day, Friday July 3 was clear and warm as the remnants of Birney’s division occupied the rear of the Union line along Taneytown Road just on the southeast edge of Cemetery Ridge. The Third Brigade formed a second line to support their batteries, and the 3rd Michigan was moved to their first position along the Taneytown road that they had occupied upon arriving on the field the day before, July 2. At about 3:00 p.m. the 3rd Michigan was ordered forward at the double quick to where the Confederates were trying to pierce the center of the Federal line, and was detached and sent to the support of the Second Division, Second Corps. Although the regiment was reported as never actually engaging the Confederates in fact some elements of the 3rd Michigan assisted in repulsing the confederate attack; several men were wounded.

Allen Shattuck of Company G said later that during “Pickett’s Charge” on July 3, although the 3rd Michigan “did not fire a shot they received their share from the enemy’s guns and did their duty in holding this very important point. Having vanquished the enemy, large details were made from many regiments. Here again the ‘Old Third’ came in for their full share of carrying and caring for the wounded and prisoners, working all night to get the wounded rebels into comfortable quarters.”

After the failure of Pickett’s efforts to take the Union line along Cemetery ridge on July 3, Lee was forced to evacuate his position and began retreating from Gettysburg on Saturday, July 4. The following day began clear but rained hard in the afternoon as the rebels continued retreating out of Pennsylvania into Maryland. The following day, Sunday began cloudy and misty. “All quiet on the lines,” Bailey noted. “The rebels are dusting out.”

The 3rd Michigan remained inactive at Gettysburg after the battles of July 1-3, aside from providing details to assist in burying the dead.

It rained almost all day Sunday, July 5 and again nearly all day on Monday, July 6. The regiment had orders to march, “but did not go.” Bailey also observed to himself “There is a very bad odor begins to arise from the battlefield. The dead are most all buried, but not as they should be.” Andrew Kilpatrick of Company E wrote in his journal, “Our men are all busy burying the dead, and picking up arms. Many wandering over the field looking at the terrible sights caused by the determined strife.”

On July 7, it was again cloudy and misty; it rained heavily that day and the mud was deep. The 3rd Michigan left Gettysburg at around daybreak and marched some twenty miles, passing back through Emmitsburg, Maryland before making camp for the night.

“Through the mercies of a kind Providence I am still spared in life,” wrote Edgar Clark of Company G to his wife Catherine the day before the regiment left the battlefield,

we have been through tough times since the 1st of the month. We arrived on the battleground on the 2nd of the month and we fought them very hard. Although we had to yield the ground for a short time we soon regained all that we have lost. We lost a good many men killed and wounded. Among the wounded is Sgt. [Joseph] Stevens. A shell tore off his knapsack which wound[ed] him so bad that he left the field. Sgt. Bissell from Wacoustra was wounded in the hips. . . . [I]f you had seen the dead and wounded rebels that I saw. I stood on one spot and counted more than 100 close to me. We [had] 12 large pieces of cannon firing on them. I went over the battleground on the morning of the 4th and was two hours giving the wounded water to drink. I had a very long and interesting talk with one of the eight Virginians we captured. We captured four flags and about 2,000 prisoners. Our loss was not so large as theirs. I found out it makes a good deal of difference if we attack them or they attack us. I got some rebel trophies which I will send to you.


(Photo: Third Michigan monument, looking south and west with the Peach Orchard to the far right, in the non-grassy area.)

I took this photos some 15 years ago and quite a lot has changed in the Peach Orchard and at Gettysburg itself (like a brand-new visitor's center). They have replanted the peach trees at least once that I know of -- but the ground is the same, the monuments haven't moved and it's still an awe-inspiring place to visit. I especially recommend visiting the Peach Orchard late at night, just before the park closes. Incredible.

Oliver M. Culver

Oliver M. Culver was born in 1842 in New York.

Oliver left New York state and moved west, eventually settling in western Michigan with his family, probably in the Grand Rapids area, sometime in the late 1850s.

He was possibly the same Oliver Culver who was arrested in Grand Rapids in the summer of 1859, charged with theft. On July 26, 1859, the Grand Rapids Enquirer reported that one “Oliver Culver, a young lad, was brought up, charged with stealing a pair of boots from a man in Alpine. Plead guilty, and was sentenced to pay a fine, or 40 days in County jail. Funds being scarce with him, he choose [sic] the latter, and was committed.”

In any case, by 1860 Oliver was probably working as an apprentice painter in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward.

Oliver was 19 years old and still living in Kent County when he enlisted with his parents’ consent as Eighth Corporal in Company K on May 13, 1861. (He was possibly related to George Culver also of Company K and/or Noah Culver of Company I.) Oliver was reported AWOL in August of 1862, but he eventually returned to the Regiment.

He was shot in the head and killed on July 2, 1863, while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, during the second day of the battle of Gettysburg.

He was buried in the Michigan plot, National Cemetery at Gettysburg: section B, grave 18 .

No pension seems to be available.

Charles R. Burgess

Charles R. Burgess was born 1837 in Michigan, the son of John M. (1815-1891) and Catherine (1815-1860).

His parents were both born in New York and were married March 23, 1835, possibly in New York. In any case, Charles' family moved from New York to Michigan sometime before 1836. (In 1840 there was one John Burgess living in Avon, Oakland County and one in Burns, Shiawassee County; both had one male under the age of 5 living with them.) By 1850 the family had settled in West Michigan and Charles was attending school with his siblings and living with his parents on the family farm in Cannon, Kent County. In 1860 he was working as a farm laborer working and possibly residing in Ada, Kent County. (He was probably related to Maynard Burgess who in 1860 was living with his family in Cannon and who would join the Third Michigan in 1862.)

Charles was 24 years old and probably still living in Kent County when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was on duty with the signal service in October of 1862, but in February of 1863 he was a cook in the Regimental hospital, and from March through April he was a nurse in the Regimental hospital. He eventually returned to duty with the regiment and was shot in the head while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard, on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg.

According to one Charles Borst, Burgess “received a severe wound in the head soon after entering the field; that medical aid was rendered; and that, thus maimed he again entered the ranks and fought with heroic valor until an arm was severed from his body, which wound occasioned death.” On August 15, 1863 the editor of the Grand Rapids Eagle wrote that “Charlie, for 2 long years followed his Regiment through all its bloody conflicts, repeatedly signalizing himself for valiant and heroic deeds; and now, in the hour of dawning victory, he lies a sacrifice upon the altar of his country. He was a youth of promise, beloved and respected by all who known [sic] him. He leaves a bereaved family and desolate hearth-stone. May his silent sleep be the sweet repose of a soul conscious of heaven's approving smile, removed from the distracting scenes of chaotic strife, this dark heritage of sorrow and ‘vale of tears’, crowned the recipient of a paradise of life, an eternity of love.”

On October 13, the Eagle reported that “Funeral services in honorable memory of” Charlie Burgess, “will be held at Cannonsburg on the first day (Sabbath) of November next. And thus one after another of the brave men who left the Valley City with the glorious ‘Third, have passed away, filling patriot graves, until its ranks number but comparatively few of the original gallant band. Nearly every battle field in which the Army of the Potomac has been engaged, has been moistened by the blood of the brave boys of the Third Mich. -- Honored by the memory of the fallen brave, and green be the turf that covers their patriot graves.”

Charles was buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery: section A, grave 6, Michigan plot.

His father apparently remarried New York native Betsy F. Fallass (1814-1888) and by 1870 they were living in Cannon, Kent County and in 1880 in Fallasburg, Kent County. In 1890 his father was living in Lowell, Kent County when he applied for a dependent’s pension (no. 461378), but the certificate was never granted. John had apparently died in or about 1891.

John M. Brown

John M. Brown was born in 1842.

John was 19 years old and probably living and working in Newaygo County, Michigan, when he enlisted with the consent of the Justice of the Peace in Company K on May 13, 1861. During the opening phase of McClellan’s “Peninsular” campaign in Virginia, John was left sick at the hospital in Yorktown, Virginia, where he remained hospitalized from about May 4, 1862 through September.

From the battlefield at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on December 15, John wrote home to Michigan to a woman named Mariette, whom he had apparently known before the war.

With pleasure I attempt to scratch a few words to let you know that I am well. We have been in three days fight, and we are lying now on the brow of a hill supporting a battery. There is not much firing at the present time. The pickets [are] shooting some. There is wounded and dead men lying on the battlefield within 20 rods of us, and we went out with a flag of truce yesterday and today for permission to bring our wounded away and bury our dead, and the Rebs wouldn’t accept it, so the men has to lie on the field hollering for help and then we [dare] not go and get them. I can see them this present moment. Our pickets & the Rebel pickets is within talking distance. We can see the rebels. The main body of them is a half a mile of us. We are in the center. They are fighting on the left wing & right. There is some hard fighting before we can take the heights the rebels has possession of. We can see the rebels plain, and there is orders for us not to shoot unless they go to advance. I don’t know what minute I have to advance, so I cant write much & another thing, I can’t think of half of what I want to write, for my mind is on the fighting & I can’t think of anything else. Write soon. Perhaps I may get your letter, and I may be lying cold. There was some killed in my regt & a good many in the brigade. I will write more about it next time. I can’t express my feelings to you at present. Oh it looks hard _ men with their heads blowed off. Read this if you can. I got a letter from you the other day. Your friend, John M. B[rown]

He eventually recovered enough to be assigned on detached duty and by March of 1863 was reported on duty at Brigade headquarters. He apparently remained on detached service from the regiment and in April he was reported to be on recruiting duty, probably in Michigan.
John soon rejoined the Regiment, however, and was shot in the right knee on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, probably while the Regiment was hotly engaged in the Peach orchard on the second day of the battle. He was subsequently hospitalized in Gettysburg where his leg was amputated at the First Division, Third Corps hospital.

John died of his wounds on July 12, 1863, at a hospital in Gettysburg, and was initially buried on Michael Fiscel’s farm and subsequently reinterred in Gettysburg National Cemetery: section D, grave 13.

There is no pension available.

Hiram Blood

Hiram Blood was born 1844 in Kent County, Michigan, the son of Francis Alonzo (1807-1896) and Annie or Amy (Bigelow, 1810-1853).

Massachusetts native Francis married New York-born Annie, possibly in Michigan or perhaps in New York. In any case, Francis came to the Michigan Territory before 1830 and settled in Kent County sometime before 1840. By 1850 Hiram was attending school with his siblings and living with his family on a farm in Walker, Kent County. Francis remarried at least once and possibly twice following Annie’s death: first to New York native Sophia (b. 1808) and then to Eunice. In any case, by 1860 Hiram was working as a farm laborer, attending school with six of his sibling and still living with his family on a farm in Walker (His older sister Rosa was the local teacher.).

Hiram stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer probably living in Walker, Kent County when he enlisted in Company I on August 17, 1862, for 3 years at Grand Rapids. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.) He joined the Regiment on September 8, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia.

Hiram was shot in the head and killed while the Third Michigan was engaged in the Peach Orchard, on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Hiram, mistakenly listed as “Herson Blood” on his grave marker, was buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery: section B, grave 5.

No pension seems to be available. (Francis died in 1896 in Grant, Newaygo County and was reportedly buried there.)

Remembrance Day at Gettysburg

As a holiday Thanksgiving has reportedly been around in the US since 1619, and while George Washington proclaimed "Thanksgivings' in 1789 and agian in 1795, it wasn't until the American Civil War that it became a national holiday. In early October of 1863 President Lincoln called for a national day of Thanksgiving to be held that yearon the final Thursday. It has been held as such ever since.

In keeping with that same spirit there was an enormous "Remembrance Day Parade on November 21 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Antietam National Park Ranger Mannie Gentile was there to film it and he captured thousands of Civil War reenactors and lots of brass bands. It's really quite an awesome thing to see and hear.

Anyway, Mannie put a short clip of excerpts from his film online at YouTube. To check it out just click here!

Best to you all this holiday!