Morse

Edward Morse buried in Garfield Park cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Now that I'm returning to Grand Rapids, one of my first projects is to rephotograph the gravesites of the men of the Old 3rd. The photos I took more than 20 years ago we limited in scope, quality and quantity. I hope to rectify that over the coming months.

whether I get around to posting all of the "reshoots" here or not remains to be seen -- I've already shot more than 600 images to date. But here's a sample of what I'm doing now, environment shots as well as multiple closeups:






William H. Morse

William H. Morse was born in 1833 or 1838 in New York, the son of Benjamin (b. 1810) and Louise or Louisa (b. 1808).

New York natives Benjamin and his wife were married presumably in New York and between 1834 and 1835 settled in Michigan. By 1850 William was living on the family farm in Lowell, Kent County where William helped his father and attended school with his younger siblings. He was living in Lowell, Kent County where he married Lucy Kenyon on November 20, 1858, and they had at least one child, S. L. (b. 1859). By 1860 William was working as a farm laborer living with his wife and child in Bowne, Kent County. (His parents were also still living in Lowell.)

He was 28 years old when he enlisted in Company C on May 13, 1861, along with Benjamin Morse who was also from Lowell (they were possibly cousins), although William was transferred to Company F before the Regiment left Grand Rapids for Washington, DC, on June 13, 1861. He was seriously wounded in the knee by a gunshot on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and by early July was a patient in Buttonwood Street hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As of July 26, he was in the Fifth Street hospital in Philadelphia, suffering from a “very severe wound in thigh and knee” and was believed to be “in a critical state.”

Indeed he was. William died of his wounds on August 8, 1862, at Fifth Street hospital and was originally buried on August 8 in Glenwood cemetery: section L, lot 37, grave 3, but then reinterred in Philadelphia National Cemetery: section B, grave no. 111.

In 1862 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 4495). Subsequently a pension application was filed and granted for at least one minor child (no. 76950).

Edwin S. and Henry M. Morse

Edwin S. Morse was born on April 13, 1834, in West Bloomfield, Ontario County, New York, possibly the son of Lysander and Eliza (Douglas, b. 1811

Lysander married New York native Eliza, possibly in New York where they resided for some years. The family came to Michigan in 1836, and settled in Ottawa County in 1854 where Edwin lived until the war broke out. By 1860 Eliza was living with the Robert Jennings family in Nunica, Crockery Township, Ottawa County.

Edwin was 27 years old and probably living near Nunica when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861, along with his younger brother Henry. Edwin was shot in the right knee on July 18, 1861, at Blackburn’s Ford, near Bull Run. The Enquirer described Morse’s wound “as severe, but not dangerous.”

William Drake, also of Company A, described what happened. “You have undoubtedly heard,” Drake wrote a friend shortly after the engagement at Blackburn’s Ford, “that one of our boys [Edwin Morse] had his knee cap partly shot off.” His brother, Henry “eased him up while he fired again & [Edwin] was then carried out of the Hell Hole by Yankee of our Co. [Henry] retreated sideways or backwards loading & firing as he went -- one of the boys asked why he did so -- ‘oh’ said [Hank] ‘my mother told me never to be shot in the back.’”

Severe or not, Edwin was hospitalized soon afterwards and was reported driving an ambulance from August of 1862 through May of 1863 Edwin. In June was a nurse in a hospital in Washington, DC, in July a driver in the ambulance corps, in October a teamster in the Third Brigade, and in November in the ambulance corps, probably working as a teamster. He was on detached service with the Brigade in December, was a teamster in the ambulance train from January of 1864 through April, in May was with the Brigade wagon train, and he was mustered out on June 20, 1864.

Following his discharge from the army Edwin returned to Michigan, either to Ottawa County or possibly to Kent County. Edwin was married to Canadian-born Elizabeth (1848-1937), and they had at least five children: Mrs. Nora Hamilton (b. 1868), Sarah (b. 1870), Edwin L. (b. 1875), Minnie (b. 1879 and Fred R. (His daughters were also Mrs. Lester C. Fox, Mrs. George Holland.)

By 1870 Edwin was working as a farmer and living with his wife, child and mother in Nunica, Crockery Township, Ottawa County; next door lived his brother Henry and his family. By 1880 Edwin had moved his family to Nelson, Kent County, where he was working a farm next to his brother Henry and living with his wife and children in Nelson.

Edwin was living in Grand Rapids in 1874. By 1880 he was operating a livery stable with his brother Henry and living with his wife and children in Cedar Springs, Kent County. (Next door lived his brother Henry and his family.) He was still living in Cedar Springs, Kent County in 1883 when he was drawing $2.00 for a wounded right knee (pension no. 134,095).

By 1888 he was back in Grand Rapids, and in 1889 and 1890 he was reported to be working as a “car driver” and living at 745 Hall Street in Grand Rapids; and in 1890 he was reportedly living with his brother Henry in the Tenth Ward. In 1894 he was residing in Wyoming, Kent County, but had returned to Grand Rapids the following year and was living on Morton avenue in Grand Rapids in 1907, and in 1909 at 31 Worden Street where he lived the remainder of his life.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, of Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids and of the First United Brethren church in Grand Rapids.

He died of anemia in Wyoming, Kent County on Sunday, December 10, 1911, and the funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday at the First United Brethren church. He was buried in Garfield Park cemetery: B-58.

In late December of 1911 his widow was still living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 735452).

Henry M. Morse was born on May 11, 1838, in Michigan, possibly the son of Lysander and Eliza (Douglas, b. 1811).

Lysander married New York native Eliza, possibly in New York where they resided for some years. His family came to Michigan in 1836, and by 1860 Eliza was living with the Robert Jennings family in Nunica, Crockery Township, Ottawa County.

Henry stood 5’6” with blue eyes, light hair and a sandy complexion and was 23 years old and possibly residing in Kent County or Crockery, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861, along with his older brother Edwin. During the engagement at Blackburn’s Ford, Virginia on July 18, 1861, Edwin Morse was shot in the knee and helped off the field by his brother. William Drake, also of Company A, described what happened. “You have undoubtedly heard,” Drake wrote a friend shortly after the engagement at Blackburn’s Ford, “that one of our boys [Edwin Morse] had his knee cap partly shot off.” His brother, Henry “eased him up while he fired again & [Edwin] was then carried out of the Hell Hole by Yankee of our Co. [Henry] retreated sideways or backwards loading & firing as he went -- one of the boys asked why he did so -- ‘oh’ said [Hank] ‘my mother told me never to be shot in the back.’”

George Miller of Company A and a tentmate in the winter of 1861-62, described Henry as “a young fellow of 24, small, having a great conceit of his own strength; but an agreeable fellow.”

During the battle at Fair Oaks, Virginia, on May 31, 1862, George Miller was reported missing in action, and in early June Henry, who had been a good friend and a comrade in Company A, felt compelled to write to George’s mother and express his own grief over George’s disappearance and presumed loss during the battle. “I am grieved,” wrote on June 7, “to write such news to a father that has lost his son. Your son was a dear friend of mine, but since the last battle we can't find anything of him. The last was seen of him, he and a boy in our company was seen to go toward the Rebels. That was the last seen of either of them until after the battle. The boy that was with him was found dead, but G.W. could not be found, he probably was taken prisoner, and I pray that he is for then he will be restored to you again. I have got his likeness and if you have not got one I will send it to you although it was a present to me while we were at Camp Michigan.”

Henry was reported a teamster in August of 1862, but by October 11 he was absent sick from chronic diarrhea. He remained absent sick through May of 1863, was a nurse in the hospital in July, a nurse in the hospital at Annapolis, Maryland in August and September, and a nurse in a hospital in Washington, DC from October through November. He was absent sick from December of 1863 through May of 1864, and was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.

Following his discharge Henry returned to Michigan and for a time worked in Grand Rapids as a laborer. Henry was married to New York native Elizabeth “Lizzie” (1843-1889), and they had at least two children: Mary (b. 1867, Mrs. C. W. Weaver?) and Dora (b. 1869, Mrs. J. L. Dodge?).

He was working as a carpenter in Grand Rapids from 1867-68, boarding on the east side of Ottawa between Hastings and Bridge Streets. By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Nunica, Crockery Township, Ottawa County; next door lived his brother Edwin and his family and his mother Eliza. By 1874 Henry was living in Grand Haven, Ottawa County. By 1879 he was residing in Cedar Springs, Kent County, where he lived for some years. Indeed, by 1880 Henry was operating a livery stable with his brother Edwin and living with his wife and two daughters in Cedar springs, next to his brother Edwin and his family.

Henry was living with his brother Edwin in Grand Rapids Tenth Ward in 1890 and in 1895. He was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 2534) on November 18, 1895, was discharged from the Home and readmitted on October 10, 1898.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. In 1875 he applied for and received pension no. 418,545.

Henry died of pernicious anemia on August 12, 1915, at the Home hospital, and the funeral service was held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Lyzen’s chapel. He was buried in Elmwood cemetery, Cedar Springs.

In 1916 his widow applied for a pension (no. 1076559) but the certificate was never granted.

Benjamin Morse

Benjamin Morse was born on September 20, 1844, in Livingston County, New York, the son of Nathan (b. 1801) and Betsey (b. 1807).

Both New York natives, Nathan and Betsey were presumably married in New York sometime before 1831 and resided in New York for some years. By 1850 Benjamin was attending shcool with his older siblings and living on the family farm in Groveland, Livingston County, New York. Benjamin left New York and headed west, possibly with his family, eventually settling in western Michigan by the time the war broke out.

He stood 5’6” with gray eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion and was 17 years old and probably working as a farmer and living in Lowell, Kent County when he enlisted as Corporal in Company C on May 13, 1861, along with William Morse who was also from Lowell (they were possibly cousins and it is possible that Benjamin was named after William’s father).

According to George Miller of Company A, who knew Benjamin before the war, soon after the Regiment arrived in Washington, Ben was stricken with measles. In late June Miller reported that Ben had just recently recovered from measles, but was presently doing well. But his illness lingered on. By the first week in August Miller wrote home that “Ben Morse is not very tough, he has not been since he had the measles.” Three days later Miller wrote that “Ben Morse has been in poor health but he is gaining now I believe. All the rest of the boys from our neighborhood are in good health.”

By October 15, Morse had fully recovered and, according to Miller “is well and looks as tough as buffalo beef.”

Morse was reported missing in action on July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Virginia, returned to the Regiment on August 8 at Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, and was wounded in the head on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run. He eventually rejoined the Regiment and was again wounded and missing in action on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia. Morse returned to the Regiment as a paroled prisoner-of-war on October 1, 1863, and reenlisted on December 21, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Lowell. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough for thirty days, probably at home in Michigan, during the month of January, 1864, and if so probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Early in the morning of May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, Morse captured a stand of colors from the Fourth Georgia Artillery, which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1891. In her 1966 work on Michigan Civil War Medal of Honor Winners, Minnie Dubbs Millbrook wrote that “while in the line of duty and while on a charge on the rebel breastworks on the morning (3:30 a.m.) of May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia,” Morse “captured a rebel flag (artillery) and that said flag was turned over to the commanding officer of the Regiment and went to Washington, DC. A letter dated September 20, 1864, was discovered in the War Department naming Benjamin Morse as the captor of the flag, and he was also mentioned in a report of General Winfield S. Hancock as the captor. William Renwick of company D, same Regiment, was also named as captor of the flag in the same action, but he too was seemingly overlooked at the time, and as he never applied for a medal he did not receive one.” The medal was issued to Morse on February 24, 1891.

Harrison Carll, who was Orderly for Company C, Fifth Michigan, wrote in 1925 that in fact he and Morse captured the Colonel and the flag.

The attack was a complete surprise, and once inside their lines everything was in confusion, commands became mixed, and the excitement and enthusiasm was so great that everyone was trying to outdo the other fellow. The success was complete. Going over the works, similar to those in the Wilderness, except that they were stronger, with two tiers of logs, we found some of them asleep, others just getting up; some were eating.

A Colonel was pulling on his boots, and when the 5th’s flag struck the works a 3d Mich. boy [Morse] and myself had him collared. The flag was captured and my 3d Mich. comrade took charge of both the flag and the Colonel.

Benjamin was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was reported as a Corporal and provost guard in June of 1865. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana

After the war Benjamin returned to Lowell where he married Canadian-born Almira G. Blakeslee (1838-1932) on August 13, 1865, and they had at least five children: Charles (b. 1866), Lewis (b. 1868), Marsh, Allen (1873-1940) and Willard.

Ben was living in Lowell in 1870 working as a farm laborer and indeed lived virtually all of his postwar life in Lowell. By 1880 he was working “On fruit tress on a fruit tree nursery” and living with his wife and children in Lowell. He was still living in Lowell in December of 1895 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association,

Benjamin received pension no. 71,075 (dated September of 1865) for a wound to the right side of his head; by 1883 he was drawing $8.00 per month.

Benjamin served as president of the Soldier’s Relief Commission for Kent County for some years, was a deputy sheriff in Kent County for ten years and for over twenty years he was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic Wilson Post No. 87 in Lowell.

He died of paralysis at home in Lowell on November 24, 1908, and was buried in Oakwood cemetery, Lowell. The Lowell Ledger wrote that Morse had been

A good citizen, a kind neighbor, a devoted husband and father has gone. A brave soldier, our beloved commander has finished his service here and reported to the Supreme Commander. We look at the vacant chair and are grief stricken; our tears flow; we are encompassed by sorrow. He whom we loved and honored has passed through the valley of the shadow, nor shall we again see him until we have traveled the same pathway.

With faltering, broken voices and streaming eyes we laid him away. On his breast was the badge he honored, and over him the flag he fought for and loved. May our trust in the Great Commander teach us to say “God knoweth best, He doeth all things well.”

Comrades, we are listening to the roll call. Whitened locks and faltering steps are ours. Soon the call will be completed and the last comrade borne to the grave.

“When death comes, as come it must,
To dissolve this Union band,
It's links shall not return to dust,
They'll be joined at God's right
hand.”

Those who knew our comrade best, loved him most. No braver man ever shouldered a musket. His record as a private soldier is unsurpassed. A grateful country has recognized his bravery. His devotion to the Grand Army and this Post was known outside our ranks. May our organization, which was as ‘the apple of his eye’ be maintained as a monument to his memory and of those gone before until old age and death make it no longer possible.

To the devoted wife and family we offer our deepest sympathy. May the memory of a devoted husband, a kind father, who has left a legacy a name written high in the list of the bravest, be to them not only a guide but a benediction.

“Close his eyes; his work is done.
What to him is friend or foeman;
Rise of the moon, or set of the sun,
Hand of God, or kiss of woman.

Leave him to God's watching eye.
Trust him to the hand that made him;
Mortal love weeps idly by,
God alone has power to aid him.”

In December of 1908 his widow was still living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 671320).

In early September of 1995 a special plaque commemorating Benjamin being awarded the Medal of Honor was place at the gravesite.