History of the 4th Michigan Infantry Regiment 

"Grand Army of the Potomac"

 1861-1864

I have secured 9 collections of written documents, diaries, letters and eye-witness accounts of the campaigns and battles of the 4th Michigan Infantry. Watch for updates to this history

 This is the History of the 4th Michigan Infantry as seen through the eyes of those who served in the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Troops. I have reproduced the history as close to their own words as possible. I have used other resources when needed to fill in the blanks. I will make adjustments to this history as they are revealed to me.

    The 4th Michigan Infantry was one of the must feared and respected Union regiments who fought in the Civil War. They served in the Grand Army of the Potomac from 1861 to 1864. The 4th Mustered into service on June 20, 1861 at Adrian, Michigan. They mustered out of service on June 29, 1864 at Detroit, Michigan. The 4th was reorganized and sent to the Western theater that same year. They were mustered out of service in Houston, Texas in 1866. This is the history of the original 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry from 1861 to 1864.

The "Canadian Hat" of the 4th Michigan Infantry

We will soon be posting various images of  men of the Fourth Michigan Infantry wearing the "Canadian Hat" so often associated with the regiment in photography

 

 

 

   

 

Flags of the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry

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picture provided by Lowe Hayes

 

Fourth Michigan Soldiers Identification Discs

 

 

Obverse side of the identification discs for Andrew Jackson Kaiser, Morris Kane, and Charles Tomlinson of the Fourth Michigan Infantry

Notice the "Battle Honors" stamped on both obverse and reverse on both Tomlinson's and Kane's

 

Reverse side

From the personal collection of George Wilkinson

 

 

1861

    The fourth Michigan was mustered into service on June 20, 1861. The 4th was organized by Colonel Dwight A. Woodbury. The 4th was assembled and trained at Adrian College in Adrian Michigan. There were 1025 officers and men in the regiment at the time it was mustered into service. These men  were enlisted into service for a period of three years. The 4th Michigan was sent to Washington D.C. to join "The Grand Army of the Potomac" under the command of General "Little Mac" McClellan. The 4th Michigan was assigned to Porter's Corps, Morrell's Division , Griffin's  Brigade . 

    The Companies of the 4th Michigan were as follows :

Mathew Brady's Photos of the 4th Michigan (Washington, D.C. - 1861) The 4th hadn't seen the elephant yet. 

           company b.jpg (6478 bytes)    company c.jpg (19360 bytes)   single soldier.gif (51894 bytes)   zouve company.jpg (10376 bytes)   buddies.jpg (11485 bytes)     

From Library of Congress collection

Please check out the updated photos page for additional photographs from the 1860's

Minor's Hill, Virginia

    The 4th Michigan infantry winter camped here during the winter of 1861-62

A quick look at the camp life of the 4th Michigan Infantry early in the war.

 In 1861 the 4th Michigan infantry carried the buck and ball musket. They were supposed to be replaced by  Enfield rifled muskets in the winter of 1861 - 1862. Upon delivery it was discovered that the new muskets were the same as the old. Here's what transpired during this event:

"For Fun & Frolic"

    "We were armed with the old Buck & Ball musket which we were to exchange for the Enfield rifles. Word was given to the different companies to send details for guns. The company B detail was dispatched. Soon the boxes were brought and opened. Behold a mistake had been made, and the boys thought on purpose. Instead of the Enfield, the boxes contained the same kind of guns we already had. The men were indignant, and refused to accept them, but finally concluded to use them awhile, as they were new and bright. The guns were distributed, and boxes ordered back, a procession formed a la funeral. An escort, with reversed guns, and music, and every conceivable thing that any noise could be got out of, followed to Quarter-master's depot. A volley was fired over the boxes, and the procession returned to quarters. Soon a racket was heard in vicinity of company B. Every other man had a gun sling around his body, and was down on all-fours. The other fellows had a gun thrust between the gun-sling and along the man's spine, firing blank cartridges. As soon as the gun was fired, the man on the ground would assume a sitting posture, with the muzzle up. Then the gunner would ram cartridge , and the gun would immediately assume horizontal, again to fired. There were some 40 of the company engaged in this That night, after the racket, the 14th New York's Sutler lost a barrel of whiskey, rolled out from under his tent early in the evening, while the proprietor was engaged in front with a special delegation sent to occupy him and his assistants, while the feat was being performed. It was never found, but you could buy a canteen-full for $5.00 of one who knew where it was. Details were made to hunt for it, but it was never brought to view, but some of the detail were quite drunk when they returned. "

Excerpts from "Reminiscences, Incidents, Battles, Marches and Camp Life of the Old 4th Michigan Infantry in the War of Rebellion 1861 to 1864"

 by Orvey S. Barrett,

 Lieutenant 4th Michigan Infantry Co. B

published 1888

Barrett, Orvey S., Lenawee County. Enlisted in company B Fourth Michigan Infantry, as Sergeant, June 20, 1861 for 3 years, age 26. Mustered June 20, 1861. First Sergeant. Second Lieutenant Sept 1, 1862. Mustered Feb. 28, 1863. Wounded in action at Gettysburg, Pa. July 2, 1863. Commanding company Feb., 1864. Discharged for disability May 23, 1864, on account of wounds received in action.

 

 

Geo P. Warner's Bible

Presented to Members of Company I by the Fort Street Presbyterian Church (1st Presbyterian Church of Detroit) May 28, 1861

Recovered by Lewis Beitler Co C 2nd Wisconsin at Fairfax Court House July 21, 1861

 (from the Wisconsin Veteran's Museum Collection)

 

 

1862

"McClellan's vice.... was always waiting to have everything just as he wanted before he would attack, and before he could get things arranged as he wanted them, the enemy pounced on him."

General George G. Meade - 1863

Seeing the Elephant  

The Peninsula Campaign 1862

The Peninsula Campaign

 

    In 1862 the Michigan 4th participated in the Peninsula campaign under the command of George B McClellan . It was present at the  Siege of Yorktown. Williamsburg, and Newbridge. The 4th fought valiantly  at Hanover Court House, Mechanicsville, and Gaines' Mills. The 4th sustained heavy loss at the battles  of Turkey Bend, and White Oak Swamp.

The Battle of New Bridge - The 4th Michigan attacks in the advance the Louisiana Tigers defeating them handedly. They are the first Union Regiment to defeat the Tigers in battle. The 4th was out numbered almost five to one. They capture 38 tigers, two artillery pieces, and killed or wound over 123 others.

Mechanicsville  -  The 4th was part of Griffin's Brigade at Mechanicsville. The 4th fought along side the 14th New York, and repelled  Archer's and Field's Brigades as they attempted an assault  of the right center of the Union line.  The 4th entered the battle at approximately 4:00pm. They were supported by Battery B Pennsylvania Light Artillery ( 2 sections ), 1 section of Battery K U.S.  5th Artillery, and 1 section of Battery G 1st Pennsylvania Artillery. The Northerners set up a twisted maze of fallen trees in front of their  works. As the Confederates worked their way across this, the two regiments and artillery batteries laid down a hellish fuselage of lead.  Archer's Brigades' attack broke 40 yards in front of the Union battle line. Archer's Brigade consisted of the 1st, 7th, & 14th Tennessee  Regiments, the 19th Georgia Regiment, and the 5th Alabama Battalion. Archer's Brigade was part of  A. P. Hill's Light Division. This was Lee's baptism of fire as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. It was also his first defeat.

Gaines Mill - The 4th Michigan again fought next to the 14th New York on this day. They were defending the left center of the Union Line. The 4th Michigan was supported by the cannons of Battery C 1st Rhode Island Artillery.  A. P. Hill sent Anderson's Brigade consisting of the 14th, 35th, 45th, & 49th Georgia Regiments, and the 3rd Louisiana Battalion against the 4th Michigan's and 14th New York's works. The 35th & 45th Georgia attacking on the 4th Michigan's front. The 4th had fought for over 2 hours repelling three attacks on their front. The 4th had expended all of it's ammunition. After Anderson's final assault the 4th was relieved of it's position on Union line by  Newton's Brigade the 1st, 2nd & 3rd New Jersey.

    Near twilight Stonewall Jackson's Division arrived on the field advancing into the attack. The  4th Michiganders were again moved into their former position in the Union works. The 4th now fought along side Newton's Brigade. Trimble's Brigade attacked with a veracity that none of the prior confederate regiments had shown.  The onslaught was too much ! Wave after wave of Confederate soldiers attacked.  The ammunition of the 5th Corps. was exhausted. Many of the Union troops gave ground for want of ammunition. On the 4th Michigan's left the 4th New Jersey was surrounded  and surrendered in mass to Trimble's advancing Brigade.  The 11th Pennsylvania who were fighting next to the 4th New Jersey  came under the threat of a flanking movement by the Confederate advance and retired from the field. This forced the 4th Michigan and the rest of Newton's Brigade to retire across the Chickahominy River to fight another day.

     After fighting the Confederate Army all day long at Gaines Mills, General McClellan tells Colonel Woodbury that, "the 4th Michigan Infantry has again," Covered itself in Glory", the greatest honor a commander can bestow upon his troops.

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  Major General Fritz John Porter

Commander of the 5th Corp during the "Battle of the Seven Days"

(under which the 4th Michigan Infantry severed)

 

It was observed by several of the Confederate Generals who fought against Fritz John Porter at Gaines Mill, that, Porter's defense at Gaines Mill was the best  strategically fought battle by a Union General during the Civil War. Oh for want of ammunition! The result could have been very different.

Some very important incites into the battle of Gaines Mill. Fritz John Porter held off  the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia for almost a whole day. He did this with the 5th Corps  and portions of Franklin's Corp approximately 38,0000 men of which 10,000 didn't arrive on the field until after the battle was over ( Irish Brigade ). Porter fought Longstreet's Division,  A. P. Hill's Light Division, and Jackson's Army of the Valley over 60,000 men. It was an amazing feat to defend the Union works against overwhelming odds. Fritz John Porters skills as an engineer and artillerist were displayed at their highest levels during Gaines Mill. If he hadn't held off the Confederate attack the Grand Army of the Potomac would have been flanked and destroyed. This expertise would be surpassed in the following days at the battle of Malvern Hill, a Confederate defeat.

Gaines's Mill, Va. - 15 killed, 41, wounded, and 32 missing

Total Casualties: 88

The  Battle  of  Malvern Hill -  was one the 4th Michigan's finest moments in history.  The regiment lay on the ground to avoid the iron curtain of shot from the Confederate attack. Colonel Woodbury had commanded the 4th to lay down to conserve it's strength for the moment it would be needed to repel the Confederate attack. As the 4th was waiting to engage, Union infantrymen started retreating through the 4th's position. Upon seeing this Colonel Woodbury forsaking is own safety gallantly stood up to rally these troops shouting "We can hold them men!". In that moment the able commander of the 4th Michigan was struck down by a minnie ball. He was fatally wounded in the head. The 4th Michigan would miss it's most capable commander throughout the rest of the war.

  Major General Fritz John Porter  to the 4th, " You have again covered yourselves in Glory! Today the 4th Michigan has saved the Army of the Potomac!"

Malvern Hill, Va. - 41 killed, 100 wounded, and 23 missing

Total Casualties: 164

 

4th Michigan Casualties during the Peninsula Campaign

Hall's Hill, Va. - 1

Yorktown, Va. - 2

Newbridge, Va. - 3

Mechanicsville, Va. - 4

Gaines's Mill, Va. - 15 killed, 41, wounded, and 32 missing

Malvern Hill, Va. - 41 killed, 100 wounded, and 23 missing

Turkey Creek, Va. - 1

Total casualties:  263

 

Henry Seage's Diary of the Peninsula Campaign

 

The following is Henry Seage's  experiences during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. It is being published to provide incite into a 4th Michigan volunteers day to day life during the fight for the Peninsula. This part of the diary also offers a view into the everyday routine of a regiment in the Grand Army of the Potomac. (It is presented here by permission of Steve Roberts any further publication is prohibited without his consent. Violators will be prosecuted to fullest extent of the law.)

Thur     Mar 20 1862      T. Tarsne & I went down to the Tents.  Rained all day. Recd letters from Home and Fidelia.

Fri        Mar 21 1862      Packed up & went to Alexandria 4 miles and went on Board the Flag Steamer Danl Webster at 2 P.M.

Sat       Mar 22 1862      Started down the River at 10 oclock a.m.  Saw Several Rebel Batteries.  Was joined by the Gun Boats.  Wrote to Fidelia

Sun      Mar 23 1862      9 oclock a.m. out of sight of land in Chesapeake Bay. Landed at Fortress Monroe at 3 oclock P.M.  Went about 3 miles and camped.

Mon     Mar 24 1862      Fair.  No drill  Amon got some Oysters.

Tues     Mar 25 1862      Packed up & went about two miles & camped.  Put up Brush Shanty.

Wed     Mar 26 1862      No drill  Out of Crackers  Lieut Parsons boot box for us also some Tobacco & Emery paper.  Recd letter Perry.

Thur     Mar 27 1862      Rose at roll & marched to Big Bethel & back 24 miles

Fri        Mar 28 1862      Jim Tarsney pulled off his stripes because Boys called him Thief.  Went on Guard mounting for H Hartson

Sat       Mar 29 1862      Rained hard.  Wrote to Emory.  Sutler came up got $1.00 in Tickets  Comp drill.

Sun      Mar 30 1862      Went on Picket  Stationed at Burnt Bridge.  Reinforcements came out Charley came along on 3rd relief.

Mon     Mar 31 1862      Was relieved at 10 by the 9th Mass (or NY or Mays)  Dress Parade  Cleaned Gun with sand Paper.

Tues     Apr 1 1862        Attended Court Marshall in Comp B.  Bat drill did not drill

Wed     Apr 2 1862        Comp Drill  Adjutant arrived  Orders came to be ready to leave in the morn.

Thur     Apr 3 1862        Large detail from the Compy for picket.  Compy drill  Inspection.  Wrote Home

Fri        Apr 4 1862        Rose at 3 oclock am & Started for Yorktown took two prisoners  Camped at Cockletown at night  Molasses had to suffer (or supper?).

Sat       Apr 5 1862        Started and marched 3 mile came on to the Fortifications of Yorktown.  Give & recd shell.  on Guard

Sun      Apr 6 1862        Secesh threw the first Shell to day  Little fireing on either side.  9th & 62nd threw up brestwork after dark.  Inspection arms

Mon     Apr 7 1862        Wrote to Ed.  Not much fireing on either side.  fixed our U.S. blankets into a “ponchotent”  Rain  Charley on Guard

Tues     Apr 8 1862        Rain.  Very little fireing  Went after Rations with Dick

Wed     Apr 9 1862        Packed up and moved back a little out of sight to the Peach orchard  Recd two letters from Home.  Emory & West Troy

Thur     Apr 10 1862      Recd New Poncho Tents.  Inspection arms

Fri        Apr 11 1862      Wrote Home

Sat       Apr 12 1862      Regt on Picket  Our comp y did not go.  24 detailed for Camp Guard was on No Hard Bread for dinner

Sun      Apr 13 1862      Am, Dick & I went down to the Niggers & got 1 gal of oysters.  Inspection arms

Mon     Apr 14 1862      Recd a letter from Em.  On Guard.  Boys went down to work on Dock

Tues     Apr 15 1862      off Duty  Inspection & Parade  Comp drill.  Gun Boats fired on the Rebels.

Wed     Apr 16 1862      Was detailed to work on Road by the Bridge.  Heavy cannonading all day on our left Wing  Arch Gilchreist & Allen came to camp from the Fort.

Thur     Apr 17 1862      Canonading on our left this morn  Compy drill.  Inspection  Dress Parade.

Fri        Apr 18 1862      Went on Picket at 4 am  Was on Reserve untill 12 at night then went on Post

Sat       Apr 19 1862      Was Relieved by the 18th Mass Regt about 6 oclock a.m.  Cap Wood (Comp. C) was killed.  Inspection arms.  Recd two letters from home!  Wrote to Fidelia.

Sun      Apr 20 1862      David Worden died  Am. Mark & I were detailed as an escort.

Mon     Apr 21 1862      Did nothing of importance today

Tues     Apr 22 1862      Was detailed to work on the Brestworks  went out 5 am  Rained hard in afternoon  got wet through  Rained all night  Captain & John Stevens arrived

Wed     Apr 23 1862      Rain.  Cleaned gun & dried clothes  Dick wrote Home.  Was detailed for fatigue duty to hold myself in readiness at any moment.  Inspection & dress Parade  did not go

Thur     Apr 24 1862      Went to work on Road  Meat brought out at noon.  Charley bought 1 qt of Lasses.

Fri        Apr 25 1862      Rose at 3 am & went to work on Road  came in at noon  went out again at night but came back  did not work.  Rain  Mark got some Rice & cooked it for supper

Sat       Apr 26 1862      Wrote to Ed.  Rain all day & night.  No drill.

Sun      Apr 27 1862      Rose at 3½ oclock & went on Picket  did not Stand Post.  The Rebels shelled us hurt no one  Cap fell in the mud. 

Mon     Apr 28 1862      Fixed up the Tent.  Signed Payroll & Was Paid off $26.00.  Came in from Picket about 6 oclock a.m.  Inspection

Tues     Apr 29 1862      Recd letter from Home  Was on detail to work on Trenches.  The Rebels shelled us all day  Kill one in the 44th N.Y.

Wed     Apr 30 1862      A part of Regt was mustered for pay.  The rest was mustered this P.M.  Rain.

Thur     May 1 1862       Regt went out to work.  I was excused by the doctor  Recd letter from Emory.

Fri        May 2 1862       Heavy fireing by the Rebels  Wrote to Em.  One Shell passed over the camp.

Sat       May 3 1862       Recd letter from Home & Paper from Emory.  Canonading all day.

Sun      May 4 1862       500 detailed for Fatigue duty  found the Rebels had evacuated their works.  Came in camp again & Packed up.  Recd New Blouse coat.  Went out & formed line in front of Rebel works to stop all persons going up.

Mon     May 5 1862       Rain.  Wrote Home.  Packed Knapsacks.  Recd letter from Fidelia

Tues     May 6 1862       Compy Drill.  Dress Parade with music the first time Since Left Hampton.  Bat Drill

Wed     May 7 1862       Nothing of importance today

Thur     May 8 1862       Packed & went on Board the Vanderbilt & went up to West Point  Stayed all night on Boat.

Fri        May 9 1862       Landed in Pontoon Boats from the steamer.  Went about ½ mile & camped.

Sat       May 10 1862     Went on Picket.  Wrote Home.  Came in about 3 P.M.

Sun      May 11 1862     Nothing of importance today

Mon     May 12 1862     Laid around camp all day.  Bought Picture of Woodbury & Morell

Tues     May 13 1862     Started for New Kent Court House at 4 am  arrived at C.H. in the P.M.  had to fall out

Wed     May 14 1862     On Guard  Rain  did not stand a Trick.  Troops turned out & Seward came by

Thur     May 15 1862     Rain  Packed up.  Recd ration of Whiskey  Rain all day.  Put up Tents again.  Did not go.  Recd another ration Whiskey  Chauncey Brown & Seth put their Tents with ours

Fri        May 16 1862     Packed up & went to White House 6 miles.  Marched all day to get there.  Put up Tent at night after dark

Sat       May 17 1862     Cleaned Gun & had it stole when moved tents on a line.  A lot of the compy went down & had a Swim in River.  Inspection arms  Found Gun in Co. G.  Recd letter from Emory.  Dr Strong arrived

Sun      May 18 1862     Wrote to Em.  Went to Church  orders read that we were put on reserve & Morell com Division & Col McQuade com Brigade.

Mon     May 19 1862     Packed up things & Went to Turnstalls Station distance of 6 miles  arrived in Afternoon.

Tues     May 20 1862     Comp drill in manual  Dress parade.  Wrote Home.

Wed     May 21 1862     Packed & went about 6 miles farther.  arrived this P.M.  Dress Parade & Inspection

Thur     May 22 1862     Packed up & went about 6 or 8 miles.  Rain part of the march.  Dick felt Sick.

Fri        May 23 1862     Fine.  Inspection & Dress Parade  Washed Clothes.

Sat       May 24 1862     Rose at 4 a.m. to go reconoitering  Came on to Rebel Pickets about 10 am  1200 Strong at the Chickahominy River & licked them out  Our Regt & 41 Cavalry was our force.  117 Killed & Several wounded of the Rebs & 2 Killed (Piper Co B) & a few wounded.  Recd letter from home.  McClellan met us & said Boys you done nobly to day.

Sun      May 25 1862     Fine.  Wrote Home.  Brigade turned out to the Funeral  Inspection & dress Parade  Threw away old Cartridges & recd new ones.  This camp was named “Camp Michigan” in honor of the victory of the 4th yesterday.

Mon     May 26 1862     Rose at 3 a.m.  Started at 4 & went about 3 miles & Camped.  Rained a little  Recd letter from Fidelia.

Tues     May 27 1862     Rose at 3.  Started at 4 in light marching order & went out to Hanover.  Run on the Rebels & had a fight.  Rebels run & came in again in our rear  Licked them again.  Rain in the morn.  Slept in the Wheat Field at night.  Col Lee & 1000 men taken Prisoners

Wed     May 28 1862     200 or 300 more prisoners came in this morn.  Bot a Hen gave .50 for it.  8 men & a Corporal from our compy for Picket took the wrong road & camped for the night in woods.  J Hewett & I slept together

Thur     May 29 1862     Had bully breakfast of Chicken  Came in from picket about sun rise.  Packed up.  Arrived in camp at 1 oclock at night

Fri        May 30 1862     Washed.  Hard hail storm  Lightning struck to Com Tent of the 44th N.Y.  wounded several.

Sat       May 31 1862     Wrote to Fidelia  Wrote Home  Rain this P.M.

Sun      June 1 1862       Packed light marching orders  two days rations.  Went as far as Dr Gains house & came back.

Mon     June 2 1862       Went on Picket near New Bridge  Wrote to Ed.  Capt Depuy shot Toms Dog.  Bot comb (25).  Rain at night

Tues     June 3 1862       Was relieved by the 44th N.Y. about 12.  Came in had orders to pack & leave at any moment.  Inspection

Wed     June 4 1862       Rain.  Laid around Camp all day  Wrote to Uncle Wm.  Inspection

Thurs   June 5 1862       Signed payroll.  Was paid off.

Fri        June 6 1862       First Mich came & took the place of the 25 N.Y. in Gen Martindales Brig.  Recd letters from Em & Home

Sat       June 7 1862       On Guard  Rain in a.m.  Nothing of importance today  Wrote to Emory

Sun      June 8 1862       Regt went to Guard Bridge  did not go.  Wrote Home

Mon     June 9 1862       Boys came in this A.M. Turned out for review.  Spanish Genl Prim reviewed us.  Inspection

Tues     June 10 1862     Nothing of importance today

Wed     June 11 1862     Am. Mark & I were detailed to guard Gen Pettigrew at Dr Gaines.  Took Gen to White House Landing

Thur     June 12 1862     Was relieved about 9 a.m. by 62nd Penn.  Genl advance of artillery today  Went to Mill Pond to Swim

Fri        June 13 1862     Went on Picket this 2 P.M.  Was on line of communication Stood 4 hours trick.

Sat       June 14 1862     Cooks brot out rations.  Went on post at 3 P.M. again.  Mule came into our lines marked C.S.  Was in speaking distance of Rebel Pickets.

Sun      June 15 1862     Came in this morn  nothing of interest occuring today

Mon     June 16 1862     Graded street & pulled down Tents to dry out the ground  put boughs in Tent.  Wrote Ed

Tues     June 17 1862     Went out to work on long Bridge  relieved Duryeas Regt in the afternoon came in at 6 P.M.  Wrote Home  Recd ration Whiskey

Wed     June 18 1862     Bat Drill before breakfast  Nothing more of interest

Thur     June 19 1862     John Hewitt & I built brush Arbor in front of Tent  Inspection & Bat Drill this 6 oclock P.M.

Fri        June 20 1862     Felt unwell  Lame shoulder  Knapsack drill for lot of Boy’s for not being out  Roll Call  Brigade drill this 5 oclock P.M.

Sat       June 21 1862     Am. Mark & I on Guard.  Heavy fireing on our left.  Comp drill

Sun      June 22 1862     Off duty  Regt went on Picket  Recd letter from Father  Am & I helped carry out veg. soup to the Boy’s  Fixed Tent  Wrote Home

Mon     June 23 1862     Went on Guard again  Regt came in  Rain.  Finished Tent.

Tues     June 24 1862     off duty  Put bunks in Tent  Rain  Recd letter from Em.  Inspection

Wed     June 25 1862     Hot.  Charley & I went to wash clothes.  Wrote to Emory.  Brigade drill  Mr Barrett Allotment Commissioner from Mich spoke to us.

Thur     June 26 1862     No fireing today on front or left but heavy on our Right.  Ordered to pack Knapsacks & be ready to leave at a moments notice  Went on left & had a fight  laid on arms all night  This was battle of Mechanicsville

Fri        June 27 1862     Packed Knapsacks & fell back fighting commenced about 1 oclock  had to fall back  Am Wounded in leg.  Lost Knapsacks   we were routed & retreated bad order  Battle of Gaines Mill

Sat       June 28 1862     Came across the River with Gen Moore.  Found the Regt  Started for James River  went about 34 miles & camped  Rain at night.

Sun      June 29 1862     Started again this morn.  Recd rations.  Went about 6 miles Slept in Woods

Mon     June 30 1862     Started again & arrived at the James about noon.  Were ordered to fall out at 4 P.M.  went out to fight.  Rebels opened on our left  Gun Boats drove them back.  Slept on Field all night.

Tues     July 1 1862        No fireing this morn on front or right.  Went out on Field & waited for Rebels.  They came about 5 P.M.  fought till dark & was relieved   Dick Slightly wounded in Head was left at Hospital  Slept at night with H. Hartson.  Battle of Malvern Hill

Wed     July 2 1862        Fell back to rear on River  found the Regt in afternoon   Colonel was killed yesterday  laid in mud about 6 inches deep.  Genl Shields to day Reinforced us

Thur     July 3 1862        Rebels Shelled us again this morn.  Regt went out to front.  T.  Tarsney, H & C. Hartson & I started after Breakfast for the Regt  got off track  stopped in woods & had dinner.  Arrived at the Regt at dark   went into Tent with Barker & Best & Brown

Fri        July 4 1862        Fired the National Salute.  Had review.  Brigade went out but came in again  was not reviewed.  Wrote Home.  Cleaned Gun

Sat       July 5 1862        Wrote to Carrie Moore.  Had inspection arms.  Recd letters from Home & Carrie.

Sun      July 6 1862        Went down to creek & washed clothes.  Wrote to Emory.

Mon     July 7 1862        Recd letters from Home & Fidelia  Wrote Home.  Inspection  Dress Parade.

Tues     July 8 1862        Barker & I recd a pass from Parson & went down to landing.  Inspect arms. Turned out at 7 P.M. & at 9 P.M.  President Lincoln Reviewed us.  Came in & went to eating beans  Ben had cooked while we were out.

Wed     July 9 1862        Hot.  Wrote to Fidelia  Inspection Arms.

Thur     July 10 1862      Fixed tent.  Heavy fireing down River.  Rain this P.M.

Fri        July 11 1862      Barker & I were on Guard to Genl Morells.  Recd new Blouse & Knapsacks & Shirt

Sat       July 12 1862      Raised tent from Ground  Inspection arms

Sun      July 13 1862      Nothing of importance to day.  Gus went to landing & got some soft Bread.  Inspection

Mon     July 14 1862      Wrote Ed & Em.  Compy drill at 6 A.M.  Inspection arms.  Doc Chamberlain arrived  told me Dick was down at the landing on Board Vanderbilt

            July 15 1862      Went down to landing this morn at six.  Dick came up to camp with Em.  Cooked dinner for us.  After dinner we went back to the Boats.  I went aboard the Vanderbilt with Dick  Came back to camp & got Arch’s Chauncey’s & Franks descriptive list & sent them back with Pease with Dicks.  Were mustered for Pay this P.M.  Bout can of Sardines .60 & had good Supper.  Rain hard this eve  Dress Parade  Bot P. Folio & Paper & Pencil

Wed     July 16 1862      Regt went on Fatigue to cover up the dead cattle around the Butcher Shop’s.  Ben & I went & cut Bark for Bunk.  Rain at Night

Thur     July 17 1862      Comp drill in Bay- Exercise  Went after Poles  put up Bunk.  Cleaned Gun  Ham for supper.  Rain all night.

Fri        July 18 1862      Wrote Home.  Recd letter from Home  No drill  Inspection arms & Dress Parade

Sat       July 19 1862      Recd new Leggins & Caps  did not take cap.  Inspection arms & Dress parade

Sun      July 20 1862      Inspection Knapsacks.  Recd Haversack’s  Wrote letter for Barker.  Charlie went down to Landing to See Am.  Recd letter from Emory.  Dress parade

Mon     July 21 1862      One year ago to day was the Battle of Bull Run.  Moved Camp down nearer the River in open Field  Recd A. Tents.

Tues     July 22 1862      Went down to River & washed  Graded street.  No Dress Parade

Wed     July 23 1862      Recd letter for Dick.  Compy drill. Battalion drill & Dress parade.

Thur     July 24 1862      Was detailed as orderly for Col.  Review of Division  did not go out

Fri        July 25 1862      Review 7½ oclock off duty  did not go out.  Inspection.

Sat       July 26 1862      Thompson & I were excused from drill to go after Boughs  wrote Em.

Sun      July 27 1862      Washed Clothes  Inspection & Dress Parade.  B. Merritt arrived.

Mon     July 28 1862      Comp Drill  Went to landing  Recd letter from Home

Tues     July 29 1862      Co Drill.  Wrote Home.  Inspection

Wed     July 30 1862      Bot Bread & Butter.  Recd letter from Home  Inspection & Dress Parade

Thur     July 31 1862      Recd letter from Home  Wrote to Ed  Rain.  The Rebels planted Guns on other side river & shelled our camp about one oclock at night.  Sent Dick Picture

Fri        Aug 1 1862        Wrote Home  Co Drill in Manual  Genl Inspection.  Dress Parade.  Colonel Childs arrived

Sat       Aug 2 1862        Had orders to be ready to cross the River at 7½ oclock  Stayed all day.  Took one Prisoner.  Went out scouting & run onto Co. A. & was fired into by Co. A. went out with a Flag of Truce.  Recd letter from Emory.

Sun      Aug 3 1862        Gave Tom Shirt to wash  Rain almost all day

Mon     Aug 4 1862        On Guard.  Signed payroll  Recd Pay.  Recd letter from Dick

Tues     Aug 5 1862        Wrote to Dick & Home.  Sent home $16. dollars in allotment  Inspection  Battalion drill & Dress Parade

Wed     Aug 6 1862        Cleaned Gun.  Bot Shirt of Bill Thiel ($2.00)  Inspection

Thur     Aug 7 1862        Nothing of importance.

Fri        Aug 8 1862        Recd letter from Dick.  Co Drill Inspection & Dress Parade  Charley went Home

Sat       Aug 9 1862        Wrote Dick.  Co Drill.  Sold Lemonade.  Inspection & Dress Parade  Recd a letter from Home

Sun      Aug 10 1862      Inspection Knapsacks  Were ordered to pack up & send Knapsacks in Waggons.  Rain  One of the 9th came to the Tent (tight) at night & woke us up  was put in guard House.  Rain

Mon     Aug 11 1862      Was ordered to be ready to go at 2 p.m. Did not go.  Rain in Afternoon

Tues     Aug 12 1862      Brown & I bot box of dates (1.00)  Went to River & washed.  Gale of Wind & Slight Rain.

Wed     Aug 13 1862      On Guard 3rd relief.  Co drill  Inspection & Dress parade

Thur     Aug 14 1862      Was ordered to pack & be ready to go  went about midnight  Recd letter from Home

Fri        Aug 15 1862      Went down the river  passed Chas City Court House about 12 M.  Had to fall out  Burt, Weaver & I slept together 4 miles from Chick River

Sat       Aug 16 1862      Got chicken & eggs this morn & started on  Stopped to roast corn about 10 a.m.  Found the Regt at Burts Ferry at the junction of the James & Chick.  Moved on again & went to Williamsburgh  Jim Harroun & I bunked on Sidewalk.

Sun      Aug 17 1862      Jim & I went a cross the road & got Biscuits for Breakfast.  Bot .50 worth Peaches  Started for the Regt but it had gone on  Felt sick  Went as far as Yorktown  The 7th Mass. Bat- Boys gave us our Supper  Beef Coffee.  Stayed near the Bat- all night.  Learned the Regt was on the old camp Peach orchard.  Our troops were mounting guns on the Rebel Fortifications

Mon     Aug 18 1862      Rose early & went on to find the Regt but it had gone  Dugan, Ed Taylor & I were together today.  Caught Hughs Merritt & Fletcher.  Stoped & bot Pies (.05).  Dugan & Taylor went on at Big Bethel.  Stoped all night at Porters old headquarters

Tues     Aug 19 1862      Started on & met the Regt going to New Port News.  Stoped at Nigs for Breakfast.  Arrived at N. Port News about noon.  Had good Swim  Saw the Cumberland & congress Sticking out of the water.  Went on Board the Belvidere at 3 P.M.

  

 

  The Fourth entered  the Pope Campaign, taking part in the engagements at Gainesville, Manassas.

 

The Antietam Campaign / Maryland Campaign

 Antietam

 The 4th Michigan was held in reserve a long with the 5th Corps at Antietam. There primary purpose was to protect Mc McClellan 20 pound parrot guns. Members of the 4th observed and heard the noise's of the Civil War's must bloodiest day but they were not an active participant in this horrific event.

 

 

Shepardstown Ford

     The 5th corps under Major General Fritz John Porter is given the order to pursue the confederate rearguard and attack and harass it as it retreats from Antietam. The rear guard of the Army of Northern Virginia is under the command of Major General A. P. Hill and Brigadier General Pendleton.

The 4th Michigan is given orders to cross the river and capture the confederate artillery that is harassing the 5th Corps. The Volunteers step off and  ford the river. At the point the 4th crosses it is almost 60 rods wide. As they proceed to the opposite  shore they are harassed by enemy fire. As at New Bridge it sounds like 1000's of bees are buzzing around their heads. Miraculously like New Bridge no one is being hit and the shower of lead passes harmlessly over their heads. As the 4th clears the shoreline they are opposed by 4 regiments. The 4th Michigan attacks and captures four confederate brass 12 pd. artillery pieces. The confederate infantry is vanquished.  The 4th couldn't  continue the attack,  darkness had set in. The 4th Michigan Infantry returns to the opposite shore with the successful completion of their orders. The 4th again crossed the river early the next morning capturing confederate stragglers. They ford back to their lines and return again to their camp.

    The next morning the 118th Pennsylvania is ordered across the ford. The 4th Michigan shows them where they crossed the day before. The 118th crosses the river. After reaching the opposite shore the 118th moves in land at this moment  confederate Major General A. P. Hill launches a counter attack. The rebels take the 118th Pennsylvania by complete surprise. In the battle that ensues the 118th takes 269 casualties and is almost annihilated. The Pennsylvania men retreat across the ford.  Immediately the 4th Michigan is called to arms and moves to the ford. This prevents A. P. Hill's confederates from crossing the river to continue their attack.  Thus ends the pursuit of the Confederate troops after the battle of Antietam. After the battle of Shepardstown the 118th Pennsylvania will  become known as the "Corn Exchange Regiment"

(This history of the Battle of Shepardstown can be verified in the Letters of Sgt. Edward Taylor of the 4th Michigan Co. A, letters of  Pvt. Silas Sadler 4th Mi. Co. G  and the diary of  Lt. John Bancroft  4th Michigan Infantry.

( Provided by George Wilkinson and the Bentley Library))

Sadler, Silas W., Lenawee County. Enlisted in company G, Fourth Michigan Infantry, June20, 1861, at Adrian, for 3 years age 18. Mustered June 20, 1861. Mustered out at expiration of term of service at Detroit, Mich., June 30,1864.

Bancroft, John H., Wayne County. Enlisted in Company I Fourth Michigan Infantry, as Sergeant, June 20, 1861, at Adrian, for 3 years age 18. Mustered June 20, 1861. First Sergeant July 1, 1862. Discharged to accept promotion Sept. 28, 1862. Reported Second Lieutenant, company C, July, 1862. Commissioned First Lieutenant, company K. Sept. 3, 1862. Mustered Sept 28, 1862. Transferred to company H, March 12, 1863. Commanding company H, from July 2, 1863, to Nov., 1863. Commanding company B from May 10 1864. Mustered out at expiration of term of service at Detroit, Mich., June 30, 1864

 

                                                                                                         

 

                                                                                                     Map courtesy of  Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. (SBPA)  a non-profit organization

                                                                                                             Please assist them in their effort to save and preserve this battlefield site from the threat of development

                                                                                    Visit their website at www.battleofshepherdstown.org and offer your support on behalf of the men of the Fourth Michigan Infantry

                                                                                              

  If you would like additional information regarding the battle off Shepherdstown Ford, we highly recommend the book "Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign  September 19-20,1862"

 written in 2007 by Thomas A. Macgrath and published by Schroeder Publications (ISBN 1-889246-39-5). A portion of the proceeds of the book are being donated to SBPA

 

 

                                                                                                     

 

 

The Fredericksburg Campaign

Fredericksburg

BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG

speech by Henry Seage 

March 2, 1899

Companions:

    At the close of the disastrous and bloody battle of Groveton, or as we call it, “The Second Bull Run,” McClellan was called to supersede Pope in command of the Army of the Potomac, and under his lead the army marched into Maryland, and there met the same old enemy, Lee, on the battlefield of Antietam.  I will not dwell here but ask you to cross the Potomac with me in pursuit of Lee's retreating hosts.  Down the Valley we go by easy marches, gradually pushing our enemy back until Warrenton, Va., is reached.  Here the Army comes to a halt and takes a rest.

On the 10th of November, 1862, we receive orders for a Review by Corps, and we begin the preparation for a general “clean-up.”  Guns and bayonets are cleaned, brasses polished, army shoes "shined" by the application of a pork rind, a strong requisition is made on the Company barber, who armed with an empty cracker box as a chair and a razor that has long outlived its usefulness takes position in the Company street and awaits the coming of his victims.  “None but the brave deserve a shave” is his motto, and brave they must be who voluntarily face such a torture.  But the skinning process is at an end, guns and bayonets glisten in the sunlight as we take position, while the bugle sounds the assembly.

    Out in front of the little village of Warrenton, on the crest of a range of hills, we take our position in the Corps.  Down the pike is seen a cloud of dust and shortly after “Little Mac” (as he is called by the boys) accompanied by a full staff halts to the front and right of the corps,          and as he passes, in company with our “Fitz John,” each Brigade massed in close column gives them a cheer.

     After the review there is read to each regiment Little Mac's “farewell of the Army,” and we return with sad faces and hearts to our camps to speculate as to who will succeed to the command.  But at parade we are relieved from further speculation by the reading of general order of Gen. Burnside, who “with doubts and misgivings assumed command” by order of the President.  Under our new commander we break camp on the 16th  of November, 1862, and continue our march southward and on the night of the 23rd, in a drenching rain, we halt near Falmouth.  Here we remain till December 11th, when at 4 A.M. we break camp and head for the River and Fredericksburg.

What a train of thought does the mention of Fredericksburg bring to each of us!  As we file out of camp we hear the signal gun and then follows a heavy cannonade.  Then we realize in part what is in store for us.  Arriving at the River opposite the town, we halt and learn that the pontoon bridges have not been laid.  But first the pickets and sharpshooters who have taken refuge in the houses along the bank must he dislodged.  So thirty pieces of heavy artillery are placed in position and hurl their deadly missiles upon the city; the lighter batteries join in the fearful din and uproar and for a time all other sounds are lost in their thundering reverberations.

The fire slackens and the engineers attempt to lay the bridges, but in vain.  Back they come, leaving their dead and dying.  Then all the available batteries are brought up and join the thirty great guns and begin their work of destruction.  The roar is indescribably awful, the city walls of brick hurl back a thousand echoes which beat up against the bluff and roll back again, convulsing the earth as though the heavens were rent asunder.

Once more the fire ceases and silence succeeds the fearful din of battle.  Slowly the cloud of smoke rolls back and there stands the city in utter desolation.  A huge column of black smoke towers above the city, while livid flames leap and hiss with fiery tongues from roof to roof.

But still the pits are held by the “Johnnies,” and it is apparent that the artillery cannot dislodge them and the bridges cannot be laid unless the Rebs are driven out by a bold dash.  Volunteers are called for to cross in boats and the 7th Michigan Infantry offers its services and is soon on its way, while the enemy rain upon them a storm of leaden hail.  Unflinchingly the old 7th presses forward and, gaining the opposite shore sweep the rifle pits and houses and capture several prisoners.  The bridges are then laid and the Army crosses and takes position in the streets of the city.  But to the old 7th Michigan Infantry belongs the glory of opening up a highway for the army and making victory possible and retreat sure.  The occupation of the city having been accomplished, the next move is to drive the Rebels from their stronghold in the rear of the city.  The Rebel lines extend from the River, six miles above the city, in the form of a semi-circle to Port Royal below, and occupy a very strong position, guarded by a range of low hills.  Immediately in the rear and only about half a mile from the city was the center of the Rebel line of battle and was known as “Marye's Hill.”  On the crest of this, Lee had planted several guns and at its foot was a heavy stone wall, behind which the Rebel Infantry was posted.  About one hundred yards in front of this stone wall was a deep ditch, which had been filled with water by tapping Hazel Creek.

General Sumner commanded the right, Hooker the center and Franklin the left of our line, my regiment, the 4th Michigan Infantry, being in the center under Hooker.  The disposition of the troops occupied the entire day and night of the 12th; and dawn of the 13th of December found us in line and ready for the signal.  This was to be given by Franklin, who was to push the Rebels on the left flank, in the hope that Lee would take troops from our right and center and so weaken it that Hooker and Sumner could break through and gain Lee's rear and communications and force a surrender.  My recital must now be confined to the part of the line in which our regiment bore a conspicuous part.  Our Corps filled the streets of the city, except those leading out to the Rebel's position.  Not a house escapes the prying eyes of our soldiers.  Costly pianos were used to cook our coffee.  Beautiful oil paintings were hung on the line of stacked arms.  Captain Parsons’ darkey, boots and all, had found a resting place on a satin covered sofa, while here and there soldiers could be seen , taking solid comfort in beautifully upholstered furniture, studying and reading the many books taken from the deserted houses of the first families and so we put in the time, waiting for the signal gun.

About nine A.M. we hear the roar of battle, away off to our left, and we know that Franklin has crossed and is seeking to turn Stonewall Jackson, and about ten A.M. word comes that he has driven the Rebel line back nearly a mile.  Then the order comes for us to advance – we fall in, “take arms,” right face, and at a double quick we turn the streets to the right, leading out to the Rebs' position.

As the column comes into view the Rebs greet us with shot and shell and grape, but on we go at a double quick and are soon outside the city; swinging into close column by divisions the Corps moves on over the gradual slope up to the Rebel’s line.  We are left in front and the 3rd Division is in the advance, followed closely by the 2nd.  Soon we reach a little ravine or depression and we halt in support of the two divisions ahead.  These are now fairly within the “horse-shoe” with Marye's Hill the objective point.  The Rebel artillery is concentrated and rain upon them a perfect storm of grape and canister.  No troops can withstand such a tempest of ruin and the head gives way and falls back on the 2nd Division, and that, too, is thrown into disorder.  Back these come on our division, will the first division catch the panic and it, too, fall back?  Griffin, realizing the critical moment, orders: “Lie still, boys, and let them pass through.”

Soon the fleeing ones are jumping over us, but assured by Griffin's words we lie flat and let them pass, when word comes, “Forward First Division” and away we go to the front on a double quick.  Soon we are passing over ground just abandoned by the 3rd Division, and what a sight!  Over the bodies of headless, armless, legless, disfigured men we pass.  To the right and to the left are the lifeless forms of the slain.  Oh!  What a sacrifice, for what: History has yet to record how far that “slaughter pen” tended to bring to a close the war.  But on we go, with a yell.  Up to this time we have been sheltered in a measure by the smoke, but as we pass on and near the hill the smoke is above our heads and seeing a fresh column close to their works, the Rebels redouble their fire and add to the storm of grape the Infantry fire from the stone wal1, for we are now within musket range.

Before this terrible storm our boys go down in hundreds, but we press on, so close to the hill that we are soon out of the range of the cannon in front.  But from the right and left our Division is plowed by the Rebel cannon.

Reaching the old R.R. or ditch embankment, we discover a new enemy – the ditch with water neck deep.  One thought seems to move the whole Division, for we are now without general orders, and instead of attempting the passage of the ditch we lie down and refuse to make a further useless effort.  If we succeed in crossing the ditch, then the stone wall must be  scaled, then the batteries above taken at the point of the bayonet.  All this flashes through our minds and we know that with our terribly thinned ranks and without support this is impossible.  So we flatten ourselves on the ground and return the fire of the Rebs.

    Shortly after taking position we hear the yell of the Irish Brigade on our right and witness that splendid charge of the 69th, 63rd, and 88th New York, 28th Massachusetts and 116th Pennsylvania, five regiments composing this Brigade.  With wonderful courage did these brave men charge against that stronghold, until two-thirds of their number strewed the ground.  Never in the history of the Army of the Potomac was there such a pitiless, useless, hopeless slaughter.  Never did men fight better, or die, alas, more fruitlessly than those thrown against these heights and stone walls, bristling with an hundred cannon.  Night only put an end to the slaughter.  About midnight we were recalled and we again stack arms in the streets of Fredericksburg; but now there are but a few.  Thousands of brave men who, only a few hours before, had marched along these streets, had reveled in the luxuries of these deserted houses of the proud and aristocratic Virginians now lie dead only a few steps away.

It would seem incredible that on the very heel of this horrible carnage, Burnside should decide to renew the attack on Marye's Hill the next day.  But such was the case.  But thanks to Hooker and Sumner, who refused to be a party to it, the orders were not issued.

So we remain in the city during the 14th and 15th and on the night of the 15th our Corps, the last to leave, was withdrawn and re-crossed the River and into its old camps it went, but with only a little over half the men that moved out of these camps on the morning of the 11th of December.

The next day (December 16th) the Rebels again occupied the town and thenceforth the Pickets fired across the stream with as business-like an air as though the Rappahannock had always been the boundary line of two hostile empires over which no armed force had ever ventured.

H.S. Seage

Color Serg't 4th Reg. Mich. Infantry

Company E

Detroit, Mich., March 2, 1899.

Footnote:

from:            Michigan Commandery Loyal Legion, Vernor Building, Detroit, Mich.

Copied by: The Works Progress Administration, June 8, 1937

now in:       Michigan Historical Collections, The University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, Mich.

(This narrative is posted here with the permission of Steve Roberts descendant of Henry Seage. It is posted for it's scholastic value and is not for commercial use without permission from the owners and heirs there in:)

Seage, Henry S., Hillsdale County. Enlisted in company E, Fourth Michigan Infantry, Sept. 27, 1861, at Hudson, for three years. Mustered Oct. 8, 1861. On detached service with Company K, First Infantry, by order, July 6, 1864, Petersburg, Va., Sargent. Discharged at expiration of term of service near Petersburg Va., Sept. 10, 1864. Was in the following battles: New Bridge, Siege of Yorktown, Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Hanover Court House, Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Shepardstown Ford, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Rappahannock, Mine Run, Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Spottsylvania Court House, and North Anna River

4th Michigan casualties at Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg, Va. - 14

 

1863

The Chancellorsville Campaign

Kelly's Ford - Early spring in 1863 prior to the advance to Gettysburg the 4th guarded the Kelly's Ford protecting it from incursions by the confederate cavalry. As had been the 4th's responsibility in 1862  it  protected the flank of the Grand Army of the Potomac.

Chancellorsville

    May 2nd Arrived at Chancellorsville build breastworks. General Griffin arrives with the rest of the Division. The battle has started in the right center  of the Union lines. The 4th is under arms for the whole night.

     May 3, 1863 the 5th Corp is ordered forward stem the tide of  the Stonewall Jackson's advance. The 11th Corp has completely collapsed in front of Stone Jackson's Division's attack. The 11th Corp is retreating through the 5th Corps lines. General Meade commands General Griffin to choose two Regiments to advance forward to  a rise in the ground and Form a battle line to stop the confederate advance. Griffin chooses the 4th & 16th Michigan Infantry Regiments. They double quick  to the high ground. Once there they deploy into a battle line of over 1000 rifles.  The 4th is on the left flank and the 16th is on the right. They are deployed and ready to address the advancing confederate division. Griffin's Battery is deployed on the rise. They are to the left of the 4th. Griffin's battery contains 12 artillery pieces.

Here's their conversation waiting for the confederate's attack:

Gen. Meade: "Have you placed your regiments in position general?"

General Griffin: " I have!"

Gen. Meade: " But are they troops on whom you can depend?"

Gen: Griffin: "General they are Michigan Men!"

Gen. Meade: "But will they hold their ground?"

Gen Griffin: "Yes General!, THEY WILL HOLD IT AGAINST HELL!"

    Stonewall Jackson's troops advance through the trees. Griffin's batteries fire. They throw solid shot and canister into the rebel battle lines. The Michigan Troops give a loud Wolverine yell! Jackson's troops attack.  As they approach the 4th's & 16th's battle line the Michigan troops show extreme patience. The Wolverines wait until the confederates are within 150 yards of their line before they fire a volley from over 1000 rifles. Jackson's troops suffer huge casualties and retreat back to the tree line. They attack six more times and are  repulsed in the same manner. The Wolverines have held allowing the remnants of the 11th Corp to retreat safely behind the 5th Corps  works. The right side of the tree line erupts in flame. The 4th can hear the yells of the wounded as they are engulfed in the flames.  

THEY HELD IT AGAINST HELL!

    After the battle the 4th Michigan is ordered into the 5th Corp's Earthworks. The 4th moves to right and is positioned behind the 16th Michigan who are manning the works. The confederates have dug in behind in the tree line. They snipe at the 4th Michigan as they rest behind the works. No one can raise their head for fear of being shot by the confederate sharpshooters. A confederate battery had been moved forward and lobs shells at the 5th's Corps works. most of these fall behind the 4th where the 11 corps is recovering. Some of these hit the trees above  the 4th raining debris on the soldiers. Two fourth Michigan boys are killed by falling shrapnel. A member of company G is killed by a sharpshooter as he tries to hide from the debilitating sun.

     Through out the day different parts of the line erupt into exchanges of fire with the confederates. Tiring of the confederate shelling the Irish Brigade is ordered forward to silence the confederate cannon. The Irish jump off at 3:00 pm. they run across the field under heavy rebel fire. The Irish Brigade move into the confederate works. The hand to hand combat is fierce. Again fire erupts in the woods. The wounded are again heard screaming as the blaze in gulfs them. Within 10 minutes the Irish Brigade retreats to the safety of the Union works. As they return the numbers are reduced by 25%.

    May 4th - The rebels press their last attack at noon. The attack is broken by Griffin's battery. The word comes from General Hooker that the 5th corps is to press into the wood and clear them of rebels. The 4th Michigan moves to the front of the breastworks and steps off deploying as skirmishers in the advance of the attack. As the Michigan men move forward they give a Wolverine yell firing and reloading as they advance across the field. The grotesque and deformed bodies from previous attacks lie everywhere. Some burned so severely you can't tell if their Union or Confederate, black or white.

    The fourth pushes in the rebel skirmish line. Rebel soldiers fall back to the safety of their works. The 4th Michigan gets within 20 to 30 rods of the confederate earthworks when the rebels batteries open up with grape and canister shot. The 4th moves into shallow dip in the ground. They hug the ground to avoid being hit by buzzing rebel projectiles . Firing from the hallow they exchange fire with the confederates for several minutes. The order is given to withdraw to their works. As they return to their lines they bust the rifles that are laying on the ground against several trees. This insures that these rifles can't be used by rebels at future time. 30 men are killed or wounded during this action. It starts to rain. This signals the end of the battle of Chancellorsville. The rain is so heavy it is useless continue the fight. The Army of the Potomac starts to move out toward U.S. Ford at 10 o'clock that evening.

( This history of the 4th Michigan at Chancellorsville can be verified in the diary of Private James Houghton, Company K, 4th Michigan Infantry ( Bentley Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Houghton, James, Drafted Feb. 10, 1863, for 9 months, from Cohoctah. Mustered April 7, 1863. Assigned to company K Fourth Infantry. Joined regiment April 19, 1863. Discharged at expiration of term of service at Bealton, Va. Nov. 11, 1863.

Chancellorsville, Va. - 30 +

The Gettysburg Campaign

 

Saving The Flag

"Saving the Flag" - Don Troiani artist

Wheatfield - The Battle of Gettysburg

July 2, 1863

" You are know standing on free soil once more and now give three cheers for the free states!"

- Harrison Jeffords

 as the 4th Michigan Regiment stepped the soil of the state Pennsylvania.

The 4th was moving towards the Battle of Gettysburg. The men gave a deafening Wolverine cheer

Gettysburg - The 4th's moment  in time: the "Wheat field "July 2, 1863 Gettysburg, Pa.. After being  pushed to limit by the confederate onslaught. The 4th Michigan regiment  secured  the "Wheatfield ". During this time there was major action  on Stony Hill. The Union forces under Zook were  overrun by Confederate troops. This left the Michigan 4th's flank unprotected.  As the 4th Michigan advanced the color bearer shouts out "Colonel I'll be damned if I don't think we are faced in the wrong way! The rebs are up there in the woods behind us, on the right!" The Confederate infantry attacked. The 4th Michigan pivoted rearward  folding on  it's center to address this new threat. The 4th Michigan upon having to defend itself on two fronts  had to retreat. As they were leaving the field the color bearer dropped the colors and ran from the field. The 4th Michigan's standard  was captured.  Colonel Harrison Jeffords seeing this rallied his remaining troops and rushed to save the colors. Colonel Jeffords was bayoneted by a Confederate infantryman as he reclaimed the 4th's flag.  Colonel Harrison Jeffords died of his wound on July 3, 1863. Colonel Jeffords, a 26 year old attorney from Dexter, Michigan, was the only officer to be bayoneted on either side during the Civil War. His words as he was bayoneted were " Mother, Mother , Mother".  After fierce fighting the 4th lost it's colors. This valiant attempt to save the flag stemmed the tide of the Confederate attack allowing the Union forces to effect a solid defense behind the "Wheatfield." This saved the day for the Army of the Potomac.  (hurrah!, hurrah!, hurrah!) 

Colonel Harrison Jeffords

(from Monroe Historical Museum collection)

 

 

Veterans of the Fourth Michigan at the dedication of the Wheatfield Monument

 

 

4th Michigan casualties at Gettysburg ( Wheatfield )

Wheatfield - 25 killed, 64 wounded, and 76 missing

Total casualties: 165

Houghton, James, Drafted Feb. 10, 1863, for 9 months, from Cohoctah. Mustered April 7, 1863. Assigned to company K Fourth Infantry. Joined regiment April 19, 1863. Discharged at expiration of term of service at Bealton, Va. Nov. 11, 1863.

Seage, Henry S., Hillsdale County. Enlisted in company E, Fourth Michigan Infantry, Sept. 27, 1861, at Hudson, for three years. Mustered Oct. 8, 1861. On detached service with Company K, First Infantry, by order, July 6, 1864, Petersburg, Va., Sargent. Discharged at expiration of term of service near Petersburg Va., Sept. 10, 1864. Was in the following battles: New Bridge, Siege of Yorktown, Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, Hanover Court House, Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, Shepardstown Ford, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Rappahannock, Mine Run, Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Spottsylvania Court House, and North Anna River

after_the_battle_2.gif (88562 bytes)

photo of the Wheatfield after the battle

Mathew Brady picture

National Archives collection

 

 

6th_map.jpg (81409 bytes)

map by John Heiser

from the book

" the 4th Michigan Volunteer Infantry at Gettysburg"

"The Battle of the Wheatfield"

 

 

1864

                                                                                                                The Wilderness Campaign

Shield Pin of Corporal Hiram L. Hartson

wounded during the battle at Spotsylvania Court House

from the George Wilkinson collection

 

Spotsylvania Court House 

    May 10th 1864 the battle of Spotsylvania Court House  General Warren commander of the 5th corps orders the 1st Division 2nd Brigade to advance on Anderson's Confederate works on Laurel Hill. They are to probe  for weaknesses in Porter Alexander's works. If a weakness can be detected he will advance the 5th Corp through it  and take the works.

    Warren orders  an artillery barrage of Anderson's  works. Although it appeared that nothing could stand through the Union fuselage Porter Anderson had used the lull to strengthen his earthworks. The works remained as strong as ever. At dawn the 4th Michigan Infantry and 22nd Massachusetts Infantry  are deployed as skirmishers and advance down the Brock road. Parker's artillery begins to fire canister and explosive shot into them. Undaunted the 4th and 22nd continue forward. Behind Log breastworks Kershaw's & Field's infantry  fire wall of lead into the skirmishers. Caught in a crossfire the skirmishes retreat to their works.

    During this time Sgt. Moses A. Luce tumbled into a ditch. He lay prostrate. This is his account of what happened. "Listening to the whiz of the balls over my head and the cries of the wounded and yells of the enemy with all the speed I had I ran down the hillside and across the valley under the fire of the enemy, and succeeded in reaching the first rifle pit of our pickets and leaped into it." Learning a fellow officer lay wounded between the lines he crawled back towards the Confederate works. The officer's leg had shattered by a ball. Not being able to lift him Sgt Luce knelt so the officer could climb on his back. "Then rising and in a stooping position I carried him rapidly to the rear of our Line." For this Sgt Moses A. Luce of Co E was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

United States Army Official Record

The Congressional medal of Honor

LUCE, MOSES A.

Rank and organization: Sergeant, Company E, 4th Michigan Infantry. Place and date: At Laurel Hill, Va., 10 May 1864. Entered service at: Hillsdale, Mich. Born: 14 May 1842, Payson, Adams County, Ill. Date of issue: 7 February 1895. Citation: Voluntarily returned in the face of the advancing enemy to the assistance of a wounded and helpless comrade, and carried him, at imminent peril, to a place of safety.

Luce, Moses A., McDonough, Ill. Enlisted in company E, Fourth Michigan Infantry June 20, 1861, at Adrian, for 3 years, age 22. Mustered June 20, 1861. Sergeant Jan. 1, 1863. Won Congressional Medal of Honor for valor at Spotsylvania Court House May 10, 1863. Mustered out at expiration of term of service at Detroit, Mich., June 28, 1864

Wilderness & Spotsylvania Court House - 10 killed, 62 wounded, & 8 missing

total casualties:  80

 

Siege of Petersburg

4th Michigan casualties  for the Wilderness Campaign and the siege of Petersburg

North Anna, Va. - 2

Totopotomoy, Va. - 2

Bethesda Church, Va. - 6

Petersburg, Va. - 4

Picket, Va. - 1

Total - 15

                                                                                                                          

                                                                                                                                  

                                                           1864-65         

4th Michigan is reorganized and sent to the Western theater

 

                                                                                                                                                  

 

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