Michael H. Handley, also known as “Hanley,” was born in 1828 in Ireland.
Michael immigrated to the United States and was probably the same Michael “Hanley” who was working as a day laborer, unable to read or write and living in Lansing’s Second Ward, Ingham County, Michigan by 1860.
Michael, who was unable to read or write, stood 5’5” with blue eyes, gray hair and a florid complexion and was a 33 year-old farmer probably living in Ingham County when he enlisted in Company G on May 10, 1861. He allegedly deserted on June 13, 1861, at Detroit, the day the Regiment passed through that city on its way to Washington. However, on August 1, 1861, Frank Siverd of Company G informed the Lansing Republican of several mistakes in a recent issue of the paper, among them “The printer made Hendley [Handley] deserter in Detroit, . . . Everybody knows Mike.” (inferring perhaps that Handley would never do such a thing?)
And in fact Handley had not deserted but had been transferred to the Third Ohio infantry, commanded by Colonel Isaac Morrow, by order of Michigan Adjutant General John Robertson of Detroit. (The reasons for this are unknown) In any case, Michael was mustered into Company B, Third Ohio infantry at Camp Dennison, near Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 13, 1861, and probably joined the company on June 25 at Benwood, outside of Wheeling in western Virginia. The Third Ohio was involved in McClellan’s campaign in western Virginia July 6-17, 1861: at Middle Fork Bridge, July 6-7 and Rich Mountain July 10-11. On September 8 Frank Siverd wrote to the editor of the Republican informing him that “We had a communication a few days since from Michael Handley. He left our Regiment at Detroit, by mistake, and General Robertson sent him on with the Ohio 3d, which went to Western Virginia, instead of to Washington. Mike was in most of the battles during McClellan's brilliant career in the West, and has consequently seen more service than we have. It seems to us that he should have been reported to our Regiment instead of being a deserter.”
The Third Ohio was posted in various locations in Kentucky through February of 1862 when they moved to Nashville, Tennessee, which they occupied, from February 25 to March 17. They advanced on Murfreesboro, Tennessee, March 17-19, undertook a reconnaissance to Shelbyville and Tullahoma, Alabama, March 25-28, moving to Fayetteville on April 7 and Huntsville, Alabama April 10-11, which the Union forces captured on April 11. Fleeing rebels were pursued to Decatur, Alabama, April 11-14, and the Regiment saw action at Bridgport on April 27 and West Bridge near Bridgport, April 29. The Third Ohio remained on duty at Huntsville until August 23 when they marched to Louisville, Kentucky in pursuit of Confederate General Braxton Bragg, from August 23 to September 25. The pursuit continued from October 1-15.
Michael was present for duty with the Third Ohio from January of 1862 through August, and was wounded in the right side of his chest on October 8, 1862, at the battle of Perryville (or Chaplin Hills), Kentucky. He was discharged on March 3, 1863, at hospital no. 7 in Perryville for a gunshot to the chest, “the ball entering the middle lob of the right lung so injuring him as to render him unfit for military duty.” According to a statement he gave in July of 1863, the ball that had wounded him at Perryville had remained lodged “near the union of 9th rib and spinal column.”
It appears in April of 1863 Michael applied for and received a pension (no. 16736).
Although he gave Detroit as his mailing address on his discharge paper, Michael quite probably returned to Ohio and was possibly living in the Newark, Licking County area when he applied for enlistment in the Veterans’ Reserve Corps (also known as the “Invalid Corps”) on July 7, 1863. On July 10, Major Charles Johnson, of the VRC in Columbus, Ohio, “respectfully returned” Michael’s application. According to Major Johnson Handley was “‘not meritorious and deserving’ as he was so drunk when he arrived at this office that he could not stand.”
Interestingly, Michael, who was probably working as a laborer in Ohio, reentered the Third Ohio infantry in Company B on December 30, 1863, at Newark, Licking County, Ohio, crediting Newark’s Third Ward. He received $60.00 bounty and $13.00 advance on his pay. Michael was present for duty from January of 1864 through April, and reported as company cook from February through May. He was probably still present for duty when Company B was mustered out of service at Camp Dennison, Ohio, in June of 1864. Michael was subsequently transferred to Unassigned, Twenty-fourth Ohio infantry on June 8, at Chattanooga, Tennessee, probably to complete his term of service. He was reported as a straggler as of November 11, 1864, at Atlanta, Georgia and was quite possibly under arrest at Columbus, Ohio, as of February 7, 1865.
There is no further record.