Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Francis McGuire

Francis McGuire was born in 1841 in Rutland County, Vermont, the son of Francis G. (b. 1804) and Gerusha (b. 1814).

Connecticut-born Francis married Vermonter Gerusha sometime before 1836, probably in Vermont. They settled in Vermont and lived there for some years. By 1850 Francis attending school with his siblings and was living with family in Brandon, Rutland County, Vermont where his father worked as a painter.

Francis (younger) left Vermont and headed westward, eventually settling in Michigan.

He stood 6’1” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 21 years old and probably working as a painter in Shiawassee County when he enlisted in Company G on May 13, 1861. By August he was sick with fever in one of the hospitals around Washington, and in fact, according to Frank Siverd of Company G, by the first week of September Francis was in the Union Hotel Hospital in Georgetown suffering from a fever, “but is now about the streets.”

Francis did not, however, return to duty, and the Republican reported on September 11 that McGuire was suffering from chronic rheumatism and “will have to be discharged from the service.” By the end of September, McGuire had left Union Hotel hospital and returned to the Regimental hospital, still suffering from the effects of typhoid fever. In early December Siverd wrote that as a result of his sickness, McGuire was going to be permanently disabled and would soon be honorably discharged. In fact, he was discharged for fever on December 20, 1861, near Fort Lyon, Virginia.

In 1890 Francis applied for and received a pension (no. 845231).

By 1920 Francis was probably working as a laborer and living in Hutchinson, Reno County, Kansas.

He died on June 13, 1922, in Hutchinson, Kansas, and was presumably buried there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Michael McGrath

Michael McGrath was born in 1825 in Ireland.

Michael was probably residing in Toledo, Ohio, when he married Irish-born Margaret Egan or Doolan (1825-1873), who was unable to read or write, in January of 1851 in Toledo. They were still living in Toledo in 1854 when their first child (John Patrick) was born, but by 1857, when his second child (Margaret) was born, Michael and his family were living in Grand Rapids. By 1860 Michael (listed as “McGraw”) was probably working as a railroad laborer and living with his wife and two children in Plainfield, Kent County.

He was 36 years old, probably a Catholic, when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861, and was transferred to Company D sometime before the Regiment left Grand Rapids on June 13, 1861. Michael was shot in both arms on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and he died soon afterwards. He was presumably buried among the unknown soldiers whose remains were taken from the Second Bull Run battlefield and reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1862 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 4968). By 1870 Margaret was living in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward; also living with her were her two children. After she died (?) in 1873 a pension was filed and received under the name of John Daly, guardian, for a minor child (no. 164,850).

Monday, September 28, 2009

James F. McGinley

James F. McGinley was born in 1834 in either Michigan or in Lowell, Massachusetts.

As a young man James lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts and attended the “Washington School.”

James married Michigan native Ellen (b. 1839), probably in Michigan, and they had at least one child: Mary (b. 1857).

James may have been married a second time (see below).

In any case, James and Ellen were probably living in Michigan in 1857, and by 1860 James was working as a teacher and surveyor living with his wife Ellen and daughter in Manistee, Manistee County, where James was reported as a solid and respectable man in the community. According to T. J. Ramsdell of Manistee, in the years shortly before the war, every Sunday in Manistee

was a free all around fight every Sunday, which could be most easily started by one man's boastfully asserting to another, "I am a better man than you." The merits of the two individuals were quickly put to the test with the eventual participation of the bystanders. A group of small pine trees at the mouth of the river stood stript of their bark where it had been knocked off by the heels of kicking and fighting men. Of one logging crew nicknamed " The Fighting Crew," each individual had one or two ears bitten off. When finally this Sunday fighting became intolerable to the better class of citizens, a subscription was taken by James McGINLEY, from whom this [GAR] army post is named, to buy a horse to bring a Catholic minister from Grand Haven. Thus came Father TUCKER, a fine looking Prussian, the happy possessor of good muscular Christianity, well equipped to deal with these men. At his first services Father TUCKER was moved to take a drunken man by his collar and the seat of his trousers and throw him down stairs, at the most effective means of teaching him not to thus pollute the divine sanctuary. Father TUCKER staid and held services long enough to break up Sunday fighting.

Many years after the war Manistee physician Dr. Lothrop Ellis recalled that in early April of 1861, “as I was busy in the yard of premises known as the ENGELMANN home, McGINLEY came along with a small bundle in his hand. After the usual salutation he told me he was going to Grand Haven to enlist, to travel afoot and alone one hundred miles through forests and along the beach to answer the impulses of his soul to rush to the rescue of his imperilled country. No drum beat, or enthusiasm at home need be added to the sound that came from Fort Sumter.”

If Dr. Ellis recalled correctly, it took James the better part of a month to walk the 100 or so miles Grand Rapids, the nearest enlistment office. He stood 5’6” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a florid complexion and was 27 years old and still residing in Manistee when he enlisted in Company I on May 28, 1861. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.)

Shortly after the Battle of Bull Run, while the Regiment was at Arlington Farm outside of Washington, James wrote his sister.

My Dear Sister: I wrote a note the other day to let you know that I had come safe from the battle, and in it I promised you an account of the fight and I now set about it, supposing that my friends would like to see what is a very scarce article in the newspapers, a correct recital of the events of that eventful Sunday. As I gave you an account of the first fight in the letter I wrote you at Bull Run, I shall commence where I then left off.

Our first fight was on Thursday; on Friday morning we marched back and took possession of the battle ground without any interference from the enemy, and remained there, keeping a sharp lookout, doing picket duty, scouting in the daytime, securing some prisoners, and sleeping on our arms in line of battle every night until Sunday, the nearest troops being several miles in the rear of our brigade. We were afoot as soon as day broke and something seemed to tell me that we were to have a fight that day, so I took my gun and started out to find if my prognostications were correct. Passing to the rear and right of our position to some elevated land, in a widely cleared section, I could see approaching from Centerville and points to our right, toward the left of the enemy's position, long lines of our troops presenting, as you may well imagine, a "gallant array" as they moved briskly along, their long lines of polished gun-barrels floating splendidly in the morning sun. I knew then that we were to have an eventful day and turning on my heel I returned quickly to the camp, thinking that our generals were hurrying things a little and having little confidence in the result, for I knew that we were ill-prepared for the combat; that the enemy outnumbered us largely, and I must say that I made up my mind for the bloodiest kind of a victory if we won any.

When I got back to my regiment a number of cannon had arrived and everything seemed ready for the fray but eating our breakfast, which was soon disposed of. The artillery advanced to the open field and took up its Thursday's position and our regiment was drawn up in line of battle to support it.

At half-past six the first three guns were heard far off on our right. Soon a battery of three guns on our left opened upon the batteries with which we had the contest on Thursday, and our guns shortly lent their huge voices to the deathly chorus, but the only answer was the bursting of our shells in the enemy’s camp. Our fire was kept up briskly for more than an hour before we heard anything from their side; then the increased cannonading on the right, quickly followed by the fierce rattle of musketry in the same direction, told that the work of destruction had commenced. For six long hours the battle raged with unabated fury, the commingled roar of cannon and small arms swelling and lulling like the cadences of a storm. Our skirmishers, though they tried often, were unable to draw a reply from the foe opposite our position, but our rifled cannon fired upon everything that looked like soldiers and every cloud of dust that arose in the woods within three miles. It was to the re-enforcing of Beaureguard by Johnson, whom Patterson had allowed to get away from him, that we owe our defeat. This army of Johnson’s we could see from our position as it came over the hills in the rear of the enemy's left about a mile and a half away, and our rifled cannon threw spherical case shot among them as they crossed a broad, open field, and when the shells exploded you should have seen them scatter, the cavalry breaking from their lines in every direction, their horses rearing and plunging and dashing wildly away, the columns of infantry opening and suddenly halting and dashing forward at a double quick to the cover of the friendly woods. We could tell by the firing and moving clouds of smoke that our right wing was making serious inroads upon the enemy and was driving him back. At about four o'clock word was passed along our lines that the enemy was in full retreat, but we could see his reinforcements pouring in and still doubted our success. Soon we were ordered back into the woods, where the rest of our brigade was stationed, together with two New York regiments, and stacked arms. Hardly had we broken line and set about getting supper when we were startled by a sharp fire of artillery and musketry on our left. All the regiments were ordered to "fall in, double quick;" then came an order, blundered out by some officious fool, to leave everything but our canteens and arms. So we, supposing that we were going to help our boys on the left, doused our blankets, knapsacks, haversacks and jackets, and hardly had we done so when Col. Richardson rode up and gave the orders; "Left face! Forward, double quick, march!" And away we went toward Centerville, followed by the other regiments, thinking still, that we were only going to go ‘round the woods to the fight on the left, but soon found ourselves drawn up in line of battle, near Centerville, three miles from our encampment with our artillery planted on the high ground as a reserve for the retreating right to rally upon. This was the first we knew of our defeat, and we rather expected that the enemy would follow us up, so we all got into position, stacked arms and lay down to rest.

As soon as I could get away from the regiment I went over to the rear among the troops just returned from the fight. It was now about 8:30 P.M. and some tired soldiers were yet arriving exhausted with their hard day's work. Campfires stretched in regular lines away to the left for a mile or more, and soldiers were lying around them. Stragglers were wandering uneasily around in search of their respective regiments, and to my questions as to how the battle went, they in almost every case replied, dolefully, that their several corps were "all cut up!" I met a member of the 1st Rhode Island regiment and he told me that they had lost all their field officers, Gen. Sprague had had two horses shot under him, and were going to Washington to recruit! Since then I have learned that out of 1300 they lost 13 killed and missing! You can see from this how the newspapers came to be filled with such extravagant stories of our loss, and the "Pictorials" with such exaggerated pictures purporting to be taken "By Our Special Artist." On the Washington road several regiments and a large number of stragglers had built their campfires. Here I met Major Wadsworth, aid to Gen. McDowell, who told me that I had better stay with my regiment as the army was going to retreat to Washington. I was surprised for I knew we occupied a strong position and that the enemy must have suffered as severely as we had, whatever our loss was. To my questions he replied that within an hour the disorganized regiments would take up the line of march for Washington and the organized would follow in their rear. I was still incredulous and asked him who he was and he told me. I could not believe that we were to retreat, and concluded that he was drunk. I went back to the Third and laid down on the cold ground without jacket or blanket to keep off the chilly air and went to sleep thinking that a soldier's was indeed a gay life. At eleven o'clock we were aroused, formed in platoons so as to form a hollow square with the greatest expedition, marched half a mile toward Washington and halted on the top of Centerville Hill, while sixteen regiments in good order marched by us and then closed in as the rear guard, to protect the retreat, expecting to hear the enemy’s cavalry after us every moment, but they didn’t trouble us. I have seen a good many different accounts of the battle and retreat but none of them do us justice. Our brigade fought the first battle unsupported, yet I have seen it stated in the papers that the 69th and 71st N. Y. drove the enemy back at the point of the bayonet. For three days we were miles in advance of the rest of the army, yet the papers all persist in saying that we commenced our advance from Centerville at the same time as the rest on Sunday morning. Our Third Michigan was the rear guard all the way in from Centerville, and still others bear off the honors for the present. Col. Stiles, U. S. A., who as well as Gen. McDowell was drunk as a fool that day, and came in with that worthy in the van of the retreat, has informed the Washington papers that his corps of regulars brought up the rear and that was the reason the army was not pursued by the enemy! When we got here, soaking with rain at one o'clock next day I sought shelter in the tents of the regulars, and found them taking a comfortable smoke after having changed their clothes and eaten their dinner! When I say that McDowell and Stiles were drunk, I speak of what I saw myself, and thus you see what drinking whisky has cost us in this single instance, a loss that can only be repaired by the blood of thousands and thousands of precious lives. Our retreat was not so confused as the papers have represented, as you will understand when I tell you that after we had found our line of battle at Centerville I counted twenty-two regiments in line and I am sure that there were many others that I could not see, and after we left there, there was nothing to confuse them. There is one thing I do know and that is that reporters got scarce mighty quick when the cannon balls began to fly around us on Thursday, and on Sunday I'll bet my blanket — that the rebels have got — that there wasn’t a soldier in the army that could have retreated as fast as they did. They thought the army was confused on the same principle, I guess, that a drunken man imagines every one else drunk and himself sober.

I have talked with intelligent men belonging to nearly every regiment, engaged in the battle; and conclude that we had decidedly the best of it with comparatively little loss up to the beginning of the retreat. The minor details of the battle were managed admirably in almost every instance, and if the general management had been as good — i.e. if Patterson had done his duty and McDowell kept sober we would now be in possession of Manassas. Our men fought well and completely dispelled the illusion that the southerners could whip us with the odds in our favor, and what is more, established the fact that they are no match for us even handed, for they never came to the point of the bayonet with our boys, for as soon as bayonets came close they broke and ran. A great deal has been said about their cavalry, especially the "Black Horse Cavalry," but the "Fire Zouaves" taught that organization a good lesson.

Such was the battle of Bull Run as I observed it, a repulse to be sure, but important in its results, teaching us many things material for us to know, silencing clamoring politicians, proving the superiority of our men and ridding us of a drunken commander, who if successful now might have got us into a worse scrape at some future time.

On September 3, 1861, James, who was detached from the Third Michigan, wrote his sister Kate from Four Mile Run, Virginia.

My Dear Sister: Your just appreciation of and kind approval of the course I have pursued through these perilous times gave me great gratification, for nothing can so cheer the heart of the weary toiler in the rugged path of duty as the consoling knowledge that the dear ones who "miss him at home" think that he is doing just what he should do, and are ever ready with words of encouragement for his lonesome ear and to breathe a fervent prayer to Providence in his behalf. That’s right, Kate, stand up for the "stars and stripes." Hurrah for that glorious banner again and again, and my most heartfelt prayer is that I may help to bear it on to victory until it waves in triumph over patriotic Rebellion and all its other enemies, and not another traitor breathes throughout the length and breadth of our country! You are right, there are indeed brave, sober men enough in the United States to whip these dastardly rebels, and its got to be done if it takes the life of every second man in the nation!

The first newspaper accounts of the Bull Run affair were very much exaggerated, but they cropped their excrescences somewhat after they had canvassed it awhile, and the light of truth began to break in upon the excited brains of the "Special Correspondents." No, Kate, I did not see any of that terrible "bowie-knife" work — neither did anyone else. That bowie-knife story couldn't claim as much credit as our yellow-covered literature, that of being "founded on fact;" it had no reality; it was merely a horrid phantasy that sprung, "armed cap-a-pie," like Minerva from the brain of Jove, from the boastful stomach of some deserting Zouave who like many of his comrades and their special patrons of the New York press tried to hide their disgrace by arrogating to the "Pet Lambs" the little hard-earned glory won by other brave fellows on that day. The Zouaves had a few men killed and lost more prisoners that any other regiment in the right wing, and there were more deserters among them than in any other organization in the army. Of course there are a great many brave men among them, and it is true they did much gallant fighting, but as a regiment they fell far short of the expectations that were founded on their future.

I am not at present with my regiment, but with a detachment of 30 men guarding a new fort now in process of construction at this point. Opposite Washington the land is elevated only some twelve feet above the tide, and this "flat" is from one-half to a mile and a half wide, and is bounded on its western side by the famous Arlington Heights, which rise to the height of perhaps 125 feet, abruptly in places, in others with a gentle slope. Opposite Georgetown, in the bend of the river is the northern extremity with no intervening level between the foot of the hills and the river. At this point is Fort Corcoran built by the 69th N. Y., of which you have read so much. The 2d Wisconsin now has charge of the fort, and the 9th Massachusetts is stationed near it. A mile further down on the heights is the "Arlington House," Gen. Lee’s residence, and was formerly the property of Mrs. Washington’s son, Charles Parke Curtis, whose grand-daughter is Lee’s wife. A mile still further we come to the road leading from the much talked of "Long Bridge" to Fairfax Court House. On the river bank at the Virginia end of the bridge, is an extensive and formidable earthwork called Fort Reunion. Here where the road ascends the hill is another strong fort, Fort Albany. These heights are merely bluffs, and after you ascend them you find that they are but the abrupt termination of the table land, exactly like the Manistee, (Mich.) river bluffs. Directly in front of Fort Albany rises a commanding swell of land perhaps 40 feet higher than the fort, and there five companies of the Michigan 3d - Co. I being one - are encamped and are employed with others of our brigade in building there a large fort. From this hill you can see the rebel breastworks on Munson's Hill, four miles or more up the country. Our brigade is the 4th, and is under command of Brig. Gen. Richardson formerly of the 2d Michigan and comprised of the 2d and 3d Michigan, the 14th Massachusetts and 37th New York regiments. We have possession of Forts Albany and Reunion, besides the two new forts. The 14th Massachusetts is one of the new regiments that have arrived since the battle of Bull Run and it took the place of the 1st Massachusetts that was with us at the battle and has been put in some other brigade. In the latter regiments I found many of our old Roxbury, (Mass.) acquaintances, including some of the boys that I knew at the "Washington school."

Below Fort Albany, the bluff circles gradually round toward the river and at this point they almost meet; at Fort Albany is the head of the ravine which runs in the same direction as the bluff and widens until a valley of considerable dimensions and terminating in the valley of Four Mile Run, three-fourths of a mile from the fort. Four Mile Run or creek empties into the Potomac and Arlington Heights ends here four miles or more below Fort Corcoran. Here is a new fort fronting and commanding the valley of Four Mile Run and the London and Alexandria railroad, which passes through it. The valley is perhaps a mile wide and opposite us the hills rise with an easy slope to the elevation of the table land. On the other side of this valley Gen. Blenker's brigade is encamped; to the left, i.e. down the river, the flat lands stretch a mile or so wide, for three miles, to Alexandria, whose trees allow us to see nothing of it from this point but house tops and steeples. It is a beautiful sight on one of those fine mellow mornings of which we have so many here and so few in the North. When we retreated from Bull Run all these hills were covered with timber partly second growth of some 40 or 50 years standing except some forty acres around Arlington House which appears to be of original stock. All but the last have fallen before the sturdy blows of the Northman’s axe. The hill that this fort is on belongs to Lieut. Hunter, U.S.N., whom you will remember as a writer of fiction. Our regiment chopped on this plantation over 260 acres and have chopped nearly a thousand acres in all. McClellan told the boys when visiting them the other day that they had done more work than any other regiment in the army.

You want to know something about camp life; well, we live in tents when we are in camp; sometimes we lay our hands on boards enough to make a floor and sometimes we get straw to sleep on, and when we haven’t either we do the next best thing and sleep on the ground. There is generally two or three men in each company detailed to cook for all the company. The orderly sergeant of each company draws its rations from the commissary at intervals of from one to five days according to the articles drawn. We get the best of salt pork and beef, nice white coffee sugar, good bread, and fresh beef every other day or so as it can be supplied. Also coffee, tea, beans, rice and desecated vegetable for soup. We save rations enough to sell to get us some other things for variety, and we "cramp" as much more as we can reach; perhaps you don't understand the term, but I can assure you the soldiers do. When we were camped away from the rest of the brigade down on Hunter’s place our colonel kept a close guard around the camp, and would let us out only when we went to work for there were a good many cornfields and potato patches near by and he knew that the boys wouldn’t be averse to drawing rations from them. A number of peddlers, taking advantage of our confinement, used to come from the city to sell us their wares charging of course, exorbitant prices, selling pies for 20 cents, watermelons 50 cents, potatoes 50 cents a peck, eggs 25 cents a dozen etc.; it worked quite well for a while until the boys began to run out of change and then the peddlers began to run out of profits although their stock went off faster than before. It was laughable to watch the performance. The peddlers generally had covered wagons and a man at each end to sell stuff, but in spite of all they could do the goods that went out overbalanced the money they took in. I've seen the boys "cramp" cakes and then go back and make the peddler put sugar on them. One day a peddler undertook to get mad about it and before he knew what was going on the soldiers had taken his horse from the thills, unharnessed and turned him loose, had taken his wagon-box to pieces, and but for the interference of the "officer of the day" I don’t know how he would have come out. Another day a fellow came in with a wagon load of watermelons to sell; there hadn't been any in for a day or two and the boys were pretty civil and did not "cramp" any. The peddler was a stranger to the ways of our camp, I guess, for I had never seen him there before; he took umbrage at the way some of the boys were mauling over the melons and told them that they had better let them alone. "All right," said one, taking a melon and stepping back, "Put that melon back heyah!" said the man; the soldier placed his fingers to his nose very significantly; the fellow immediately lifted the butt of his whip to strike him, and was on the point of springing from the wagon when the soldier passed the melon to some one behind him; the man hesitated a moment as if considering what to do, when someone snatched another melon from the other side and put out. Down jumped the peddler and gave chase — the crowd gave way for him but he hadn't gone a rod before he was tripped up, and when he had regained his feet both melon and "cramper" had disappeared, and when he turned toward his wagon he saw soldiers flying in every direction, and when he looked into his wagon-box he discovered that it was empty. That’s what soldiers call "cramping."

Well, it is very evident that McClellan meditates an attack on the rebels within a short time. Troops having been moving all night the last three nights; of their number or object of course I know nothing, for all movements of the army are kept a profound secret. But straws show which way the wind blows and it is from straws that I have drawn the above conclusions.

Sept. 5, morning. Well, all is quiet here this morning, but our brigade is under orders to be ready to march at a moment's notice, with three days’ rations cooked, and we expect that the enemy’s works on Munson's Hill will be stormed to-day. A report has been current here for a couple of days that Jeff Davis died on the 2d of this month at Richmond and we have been hoping that it was true, for his death might save some honest men’s lives. Tell brother John that I think he had better not enlist at present. I think he is needed most at home and that I can do soldiering enough for one family just now. But I suppose he would like to strike a blow for his country, and if things would go wrong with us, and he feels it his duty to shoulder a musket, let him put his trust in the Almighty and perform his part as becomes a true man and a lover of this great republic. Tell all who enlist to beware of the soldier's worst enemy, strong drink. It is the bane of the army and I can see many a fine, brave fellow around me who is nursing within him an enemy, who will sooner or later drag him to the lowest depths of degradation.

Tell father that though I may have been delinquent in other things that I'll never disgrace the name I bear, the race I sprang from, nor the land of my birth on the field of battle. Say to mother that it was the patriotic sentiment she instilled into my boyish heart that sent me forth to do battle for my country, and I bless her for teaching me my duty.

James was apparently away from the regiment but by early spring of 1862 had rejoined his company, when he wrote a friend

I arrived at Camp Winfield Scott, before Yorktown, on the 26th of April, and found my company (I, Third Michigan) detached from the regiment and engaged in running a one-horse steam saw mill “getting out” timber and planking for the batteries, and lumber for hospital purposes. We did what would be called in our Northwestern woods a “driving business,” and although we couldn’t supply the demand, we helped to make our work a great deal more efficient than they could otherwise have done. I see that many of the Eastern journals, with the facility with which they always ignore the services of Western men in this army, have already given the credit of our lumber business to one of the Maine regiments. The mill is situated on the main thoroughfare to Yorktown, from which place it is distant only two miles, and was therefore right under the rebel guns, and could be distinctly seen from their works. They tried hard to shell us out, and their 100-pound and 80-pound shell passed over the mill and burst all around us, without, however, hurting any one, although there were many hairbreadth escapes. We worked night and day, but on Saturday night, May 3d, the rebels fired so “careless” that Gen. Heintzelman, whose quarters were close by, ordered us to shut down. I turned in, and was soon as sound asleep as if my little picket tent had been impervious as the mail of the Monitor to the big shell that were constantly falling and bursting nearby, and was awakened about sunrise by the music of bands. I turned out immediately, to ascertain the cause of the unusual commotion, and learned that Yorktown had been evacuated, and our pickets were in possession. Our people soon began to return, with prisoners and trophies. The Fourth Regiment, Excelsior Brigade, brought in two rebel standards. By seven o’clock our cavalry began to come up from the rear, and passed into Yorktown, the time occupied by them in so doing being four hours. Several batteries of rifled cannon accompanied them. The horses of both arms are in splendid condition, and seemed to “sniff the battle afar off”; and horse and rider appeared eager for the fray. The passage of that gallant cavalcade presented a most magnificent and exciting spectacle and never before did I realize, with all the warmth [?] of poetry and romance, the “pomp and circumstances of glorious war.”

At noon we packed up and joined our regiment and by 3 pm we were on the road to Yorktown. We passed through there about six o’clock, and camped two miles this side – all hands agreeing that we had just as soon fight the rebels somewhere else as at Yorktown. Rain began to fall during the night, and when, at 9 o’clock, we started. The roads were in a delightful condition. We could gear the cannon booming away far in the advance, but made very slow progress through the mud, rain, batteries and ammunition trains. We had “got along” a couple of miles, when we began to hear rumors of severe fighting in advance – ammunition giving out, regiments cut up, etc – but nothing definite, and we pushed on. Soon orders reached us that our brigade (Gen. Berry’s) – we being advance of our division {Gen. Kearney’s) – must come up, if we had to throw away our knapsacks, and we pushed on at a quicker pace – the roads growing worse and more encumbered at every step; on we went sometimes knee deep in mud, sometimes plunging to our waists in creeks that looked more like mud than water, every man “going in on his nerve.” Now in the middle of the road, now helter skelter in the woods on either side – past the infantry of Keyes’ Corps, past cavalry, past artillery, past wagon trains – no one murmuring, every man doing his best and listening intently to the increasing roar of battle in front.

We turned off on a by-road some two miles from the fighting, discharged and newly loaded our pieces. Unslung our knapsacks and started again, striking the main road on the left. We passed a rebel fortification which appeared to have been newly built to command the road, but which, like Yorktown, they had evacuated on the approach of our men. This road was even worse than the other, but we [hurried] on at double quick, past rebel army wagons and . . . through woods for a mile and half, and reached a cross-road at the edge of a plantation. Here we found A. G. McKeever [?], Chief of Heintzelman’s staff, who cried out as we approached, “the Third Michigan will keep the direct road and the other three regiments turn off here.” As we passed McKeever, Capt. [Stephen] Lowing, of our company, asked him, “How goes the battle?” “Not very well,” he replied, “two or three of our regiments had proved d____d cowards and run away from the enemy.” “What regiments?” was asked. “Of Sickles’ Brigade,” was the answer. We dashed on up the road and across the fields to a house that was being used for hospital purposes and halted. In front of us opened a splendid plantation which extended to the James on the left and to the front a mile or more. On our right was thick wood, and in them the fight was in progress. The cheers of the men we could hear rising over the sharp volleys of musketry, mingled with the occasional booming of cannon. Soon the Third and Fourth Maine, of Birney’s Brigade, and a battery of heavy brass pieces joined us, and we went forward half a mile. . . . We were ordered back without seeing a rebel; then we marched off into the woods and went directly towards the battle ground where we arrived at dark, by which time the musketry had entirely ceased, and a couple of rifled guns were throwing missiles occasionally into the enemy’s works. Wounded men were scattered here and there in the woods, along the road, and were being carried to the rear as fast as the mud were permit. Oh! The horrors of war! Well we stood an hour or so in the mud and then returned two and half miles to where we piled our “dunage.” I’ll never forget that tramp through the darkness, driving rain and such mud! Why, I never comprehended the deep significance of the word mud till then. Twelve o’clock, after imbibing a quart of hot coffee of my own manufacture, I stretched myself on the wet ground with my feet to the fire, drew my wet woolen around me, and awoke the next morning with the sun smiling pleasantly on my face. All was quiet, and . . . soon we were marching again and we crossed the battle field where the fight had been the hottest. Many of our wounded were still in the woods. Our dead were everywhere in the woods. I counted , where I crossed the enemy’s rifle pits, within 20 feet of each other, 15 rebels dead, all shot in the forehead; behind the pit was a “slashing” about 10 rods wide, and in it the dead of friend and foe were mingled indiscriminately. This “slashing” extended all along their line, and back in the open country in a line of square earth fort extending from the creek on the York River side to the James. Two miles from the battleground is Williamsburg, and the intervening country is all open, and it was here that our cavalry overtook their rear guar don Sunday afternoon. They drove our horsemen to the woods and there our fellows dismounted and acting like infantry, kept them in check till the infantry came up.

The people say that the rebels did not intend to fight us here, and I do not believe they would if they could have got away. Most of the people in the ancient burg stayed at home, simply because they did not have time to get away, but I have heard some of the most intelligent among them say that they did not expect such considerate treatment.

I have been over the battle field, and am certain the rebel loss is more than double ours, but I will make no estimate because you have got the figures from more reliable sources. Our brigade lost 67 killed and 212 wounded. The fifth Michigan lost the most. In front of where the Fifth fought I counted 67 rebel dead. All the way from Williamsburg here the road was strewn with arms and clothing, and all the bad places are marked by rebel cannon, caissons and wagons. From my person observations and inquiry, I think that when we count their killed, wounded, prisoners and deserters, and make a proper allowance for those “used up” on their hurried retreat over bad roads, we may safely put the enemy’s loss down at 10,000 men in his last grand “strategic movement.”

This is a most beautiful country, and very few of its inhabitants fled at our approach. White flags are flying at every gate.

James was reported as a Sergeant and was probably wounded on August 29, 1862, at the battle of Second Bull Run.

He was serving with the regiment at Camp Pitcher near Falmouth, Virginia in early March of 1863 when he wrote his brother Daniel in Wisconsin.

March 3, 1863 – My Dear Brother: I get letters from our brother occasionally and they amuse me very much; he is a regular Union "Fire Eater" and his letters fairly glow with patriotism. If a few of those, whom I might mention, rejoicing in the profits of "high places" were blessed with half his zeal, 'twould be better far for our poor country. But then human nature is very imperfect, and it would, indeed, be passing strange if the events of now should not exhibit similar phases of man’s frail character, that we read of in the history of other times. We must not expect too much. We need clear heads, steady hands, and true hearts in the ranks and above them. Great times have always produced parallel men, and we only need to go steadily on with this war, and the proper men will be found for the exigency where we least expect them.

We have had somewhat of a "weeding out" among officers in this army, and I am right glad of it, for "Fighting Joe Hooker" is my beau ideal of a soldier; not that I believe that Burnside is a bad or even inefficient officer if he is unlucky. I don' like Sumner nor Franklin, nor never did. Did you read Kearney's famous letter? He called Sumner a "bull in a china shop," and said that his (Sumner's) only experience in the field was in Mexico where "from a rear column he saw the distant flash of a guerrilla fight," and that Franklin's brain was "ossified in a four company garrison on the frontier." Kearney's opinion is worth a good deal. Ah! My boy; he was a soldier! Our division won an immortal name while under his command, and the old 3rd was high in his favor. Joe Hooker commanded the 2d division while Phil Kearney led the 1st division of the 3d corps under Heintzelman during the peninsular campaign. We were the fighting corps in those days. We are now in the 3d brigade, 1st division, 3d corps. Col. Hayman, 37th New York, commands the brigade, Brigadier-General Birney the division, and Brig General Sickles the corps (temporarily). That Dan Sickles is a brick. You probably remember how the radical republicans tried to ride him down at first when the senate refused to confirm his appointment as brigadier-general. He has fought his way upward and his enemies find him irrepressible. I like Sickles because he never went to West Point, and I like Joe Hooker because he can recognize merit in men who are not West Pointers. I see by this morning's papers that the conscript bill has passed both houses - they are getting sensible at last.

I am very sorry to hear of so much grumbling among our troops about the government. What if things don't go just right? Are we to jeopardize our own cause by nonsensical quarrels among ourselves, while the slaveholders grin maliciously and exultingly over our divisions? I hope not. It is the fault of congress that we are not paid, but the new financial measures will brighten matters up in a short time. This army - no matter what croakers may say - was never in better spirits or condition, and under Fighting Joe I believe that we will retrieve our past. The treasury once in working order under the new laws, and one important success of our arms either east or west, and the clouds that darken our horizon will lift and once more our nation shall bask in the general sunshine of prosperity. He's a poor man who succumbs to disaster. Well you are gradually working down the river and may soon have that great water highway again under the "old flag." There are many wild rumors afloat here about the success of your "cut off" at Lake Providence, and we hope that they are true. Remember me to all my acquaintances in the gallant old 16th (Wisconsin). I should like to have helped you thrash those rebs you speak of. It has never been my luck to get into a skirmish. Always a big fight or none. We had a good sight at them at the battle of Fredericksburg, where five Georgia regiments charged upon the 37th New York, and the Third, but with the help of a small battery we soon made them make a very undignified retreat.

There is a good deal of talk about sending our regiment home to recruit. I can’t tell what our chances are, but they have sent home several regiments that were no more reduced in numbers that ours, and we've been in as many battles as any of them. Oh, it would be a proud day for the old Third if it could march back into Grand Rapids, bearing the splendid banner, given us by the ladies of that place, now riddled by the bullets of a dozen battles! How proudly we have borne that flag, and how faithfully our brave boys have guarded it in every danger! There is no blot of dishonor on its fair escutcheon! Not one.

On April 17 he wrote his brother from “Camp Curtin,” Virginia.

Dear Brother: We moved camp two or three weeks ago and built good log quarters here, expecting to stay here for some time. These are the best quarters we have ever had. President Lincoln reviewed us lately, and our division turned out without arms to receive him besides. The old chap looked much older and more careworn than when I last saw him, but Mrs. Lincoln's blooming looks testify that the "cares of state" rest lightly upon her at least. Four corps were out the day we were reviewed, representing a force of 80,000 – probably 65,000 or 70,000 were not. The 1st corps was reviewed separately and has a force of at least 35,000 men. The 11th and 12th corps lay about Aquia Creek and were reviewed together and I am told that they are over 70,000 strong. Beside, 18,000 calvary-30 odd regiments-were reviewed in one body. You see we have an immense force, and if we can only get at the rebs in our strength-not "fight in driblets" as we have heretofore-we will surely win. Old Joe Hooker has been our favorite general for some time and I think we have got a man to lead us at last.

We have now been under marching orders three days. We have packed up and turned over to the care of the Q.M. department, our overcoats and extra clothing, retaining only a shirt, pair of drawers, socks and blanket. We have five days rations in knapsacks and three in haversack, and are to turn in our shelter tents, our rubbers answering every purpose. There are two or three pack mules with each regiment to carry ammunition and the luggage of the officers. We never made such complete preparations for an advance as we have this time. 14,000 cavalry started on the 15th inst., but we have had a heavy rain since which may retard the movement somewhat. It is very evident that an important movement is to be made at once, and God grant we may be successful. This army was never in better spirits or condition.

Affairs seem to be culminating rapidly and the end cannot be far off. Our fleet have met a repulse at Charleston, but I think it will have but little effect one way or the other who holds Charleston. Foster seems to be in a fix in North Carolina, but I guess he will come out all right. I believe that those outside affairs are intended to divert the enemy from this point, and that we are to strike the big blow when the opportunity offers. Whatever is our fate, be it victory or defeat, there is, for the sincere patriot, but one line of conduct, and that is to stand firm and "try again." Things without conscience may desire "peace on any terms," but to men "in the likeness of their Maker" annihilation is preferable to degradation. For my part, my country’s fortune is mine.

He was absent sick in the hospital but soon returned to duty and was wounded, probably on May 3, 1863, at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia; he received the Kearney Cross for his participation in the battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863.

From Camp Curtin he wrote his sister on June 6, 1863.

My Dear Sister: I, too, am very grateful to Almighty God for giving me such uninterrupted good health, for precious as health is to every one, it is inestimable to those who have staked all for the Nation's life. I do hope that Grant will get Vicksburg. You say that people want to know what this army is going to do in case Grant is successful. I can't tell that. We may not gain any great victory, but we can contract to kill off our rebellious friends, over the way, faster than any other army in the United States when we get at them, and what we kill here will not have to be licked in the Southwest. There was quite a fight at Fredericksburg yesterday. Our forces crossed the river again and occupied the town.

And on June 11 he wrote his brother Daniel who was serving in the Sixteenth Wisconsin, from Camp Curtin,

Dear Brother: My commission came only two days after the promulgation of the order forbidding promotions in small regiments; as it is I have received an honorary brevet as second lieutenant and act as such, still holding my place on the rolls as first sergeant of company I. Hooker opposed the consolidation measure of the war department so strenuously that nothing has been done about it in this army. He called it "military suicide." Our governor was here a couple of weeks ago and promised to fill us with conscripts. If he does I will get my full rank and pay. Am very sorry to hear of the consolidation of the old 16th (Wisconsin) but neither your colonel nor any other man can reduce you to the ranks without cause, and you are now, entitled to your discharge under the consolidation act. Of course it is full as honorable to serve your country in the ranks as elsewhere, but that does not justify illegal proceedings, and when a man has fought his way to a higher place he naturally wants to stay there or go up another notch. The latest news from Vicksburg is very flattering and I pray that you may be successful. You seem to think that McCellan is the only man to lead this army, but I think we could not find any one who would do worse. We have just received orders to be ready to move at a moment's notice. One division of our army crossed the river last Friday, just below Fredericksburg, and took over 100 prisoners and have since been building rifle-pits. Sunday a secret expedition of 6,000 cavalry and four picked regiments of infantry, fell in with the enemy on the other side of the river opposite Rappahannock Station. The rebels were about 12,000 strong, but our boys routed them, capturing 200 prisoners and a stand of colors. There is every evidence that we will soon have an active campaign.

On November 2, 1863, he wrote his sister Kate from camp near Warrenton Junction, Virginia.

Beloved Sister Kate: You have read about our falling back, no doubt, so there is no use of my dilating upon it. After the reinforcements were sent west our retreat was a foregone conclusion. Our division had three skirmishes with rebel cavalry in which we suffered but little. One day about 1500 of them got ahead of us on the road and tried to stop us, but they paid dearly for their temerity. What a nice thrashing the 2d corps gave them at Bristow’s Station. I was over the other day and saw over one hundred rebel graves. There are seven buried side by side out of one company of a North Carolina regiment. We looked on at the fight from the heights of Centerville.

Yes, the old 3d was one of the regiments sent to New York to cool off the rioters, and we did have a "good time" up there. We were sent from New York City to Albany and Troy. You ought to have seen how proudly the boys marched up famous Broadway. I can assure you their brown visages scared the Copperheads out of all thoughts of resisting the draft, and the gleam of our bayonets prevented their riotous thoughts from returning. The loyal people overwhelmed us with favors. I never knew how much a soldier amounted to before. We were dined, honored and petted ‘til we were nearly spoiled. Our regiment has just seven months more to serve. That will not be long passing and then I’ll visit all ‘round at least before "I’m off to the wars again."

Well, you have had the draft up there at last. Hope it has "salted" some of the Copperhead leaders. It is rather too bad that "Rosey" had to be relieved, but after all there’s no denying that Grant is the man for the big work. Col. Mallon, of the 42d N.Y., acting brigadier-general, who was killed at Bristow’s Station, came out with our division and used to be Kearney’s adjutant-general. Didn’t Ohio settle old "Val" though. He’ll get tired of "waiting and watching" over there, I guess. Such – and worse – be the fate of all Copperheads! The people will back old Abe as long as he don’t tread on the "constitutional rights" of any but traitors, and the army shouts: "Bully for them!"

On November 15 he wrote his brother from camp near Culpeper, Virginia,

My Dear Brother: We have some stirring times here lately, and we are likely to have more of them before the holidays. Our brigade led the advance at Kelly’s Ford. We charged across the river – water up to our hips – drove the rebs from their rifle pits, capturing 400 of them, losing only about 30 men. The prisoners were mostly of the 24th and 30th North Carolina, and the 2d Georgia infantry regiments. The North Carolinians were exultant over their capture. One of them, a middle-aged man, came up to our colors and looking at them with tears in his eyes, exclaimed: "The good old Stars and Stripes once more, thank God!" We were all much surprised at the outburst of enthusiasm, but it was genuine feeling no doubt.

One old man, grey-haired and venerable, came up to me, seized my hand and shook it as if I had been his dearest friend, saying: "Lieutenant, I’m just where I’ve wanted to be for a long time, and where I would have been long ago if I could!" He was from North Carolina, a conscript, and had been in the army but a few days. You ought to have seen our boys shaking hands and cracking jokes with the North Carolinians after the skirmish, while the Georgians looked grimly on. It was fun. Last Sunday we drove the rebs across the Rapidan in a hurry. They had fine winter quarters, log houses with shake roofs, etc., etc., all of which we are now enjoying. I have got a big tent of theirs and there is seven or eight others in the regiment. I sleep on a rebel bed, sit on a rebel chair, and write this on a table they so generously donated. They hadn’t time to stop for small matters you see.

It was a grand sight to see the Army of the Potomac "go for them," when they made a stand on a high ridge commanding a big plain near Brandy Station. It was the greatest military display I’ve witnessed in all my experience in the army. As I said, they were posted on a ridge; there was a plain between us two miles wide and four long without a fence. We halted behind a piece of woods until all the corps were up, and then started across the plain. First a heavy skirmish line; then three lines of battle with intervals between columns; after the lines, regiments in column by division, artillery in column in the intervals; then ten columns of infantry moving by the flank; in the intervals artillery, ammunition wagons and ambulances, all moving at a quick walk. As you may suppose, the rebels "limbered to the rear" not being disposed to try the shock of 60,000 men at once. In half an hour we had possession of the ridge and our flying artillery and cavalry were pitching into the flying rebel columns far in advance.

We had a hard storm of rain, thunder and lightning last night and this morning, but it is clear and cold this afternoon. While it was yet raining this morning, orders came to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, and immediately afterwards artillery commenced booming a couple of miles in advance. The fight, whatever it was, raged quite fierce for about twenty minutes, but the firing soon became irregular and kept getting farther and farther off, and at last died away in the distance. I have not learned what it amounted to yet, but guess the cavalry have been having a bout, probably the rebs are trying to find out where we are. As soon as the railroad bridge is finished across the Rappahannock, I think we’ll pitch into the enemy on the other side of the Rapidan, and then – may God protect the right!

Didn’t our folks get the start of the rebs nicely at Lookout Mountain? I saw some Southern papers and they all growl considerable about it. By the way, you see Wisconsin has done better than Ohio on the Union question. Good for the Badger state! Hurrah for he 20,000!

Pile on the rails, stir up the coals,
And let the blaze flash higher;
They’re rebel rails, but still they make,
A right good Union fire!

James was detached as a Sergeant on recruiting service in Michigan from December 4, 1863 through March of 1864, and reenlisted on March 27 or 29, 1864, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Manistee, Manistee County. On April 1 he was promoted to First Lieutenant of Company K at Brandy Station, Virginia, commissioned the same day, replacing Lieutenant Andrew Nickerson. He may have been home on veteran’s furlough in April, although this is uncertain.

In any case, James was with his command when he was shot in the right shoulder on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, and was sent home to Manistee in order to recover his strength. He was still at home in Michigan when he was transferred (on paper) to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864.

On June 13, 1864, McGinley was examined by Dr. L. S. Ellis in Manistee. Dr. Ellis certified that after having “carefully examined this officer” he found him to be “suffering from the effects of a gunshot wound through the right shoulder inflicted on the 5th of May, and that in consequence thereof, he is, in my opinion, unfit for duty and unable to travel. I further declare my belief that he will not be able to resume his duties in a less period than twenty (20) days.” McGinley was soon back with the Regiment. By July he had returned to duty and in August was serving as acting Adjutant in August.

James was promoted to Adjutant in September, commissioned on September 1, and commissioned Captain on October 10; his commission was forwarded on October 25. Two day later, James was wounded for a third time and taken prisoner on October 27, 1864 at Boydton Plank road near Petersburg, Virginia.

He died of his wounds the following day; and was presumably among the unknown soldiers buried near Petersburg. (His commission was returned on January 1, 1865.) Dan Crotty of Company F wrote some years after the war that in his estimation McGinley was “as brave a soldier as ever marched.”

The Grand Army of the Republic James McGinley Post No. 201 in Manistee was named in his honor.

In December of 1865 James widow, Agnes L. applied for and received a pension (no. 85551).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Adam McGervy

Adam McGervy, also known as “McGarvey” or “McGervey,” was born in 1828 in Michigan.

By 1860 Adam, who could not read or write, was a railroad worker living at a boarding house in Blendon, Ottawa County, probably run by James Sullivan.

In any case, Adam was 33 years old and probably residing in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861.

Adam died of “quick consumption” in the Regimental hospital near Alexandria, Virginia, on October 18, 1861, and was presumably buried among the unknown soldiers interred in Alexandria National Cemetery (although there is no record of burial in Alexandria National Cemetery).

No pension seems available.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

William P. McErwan

William P. McErwan, also known as “McEwan,” born December 26, 1844, in Little Falls, Herkimer County, New York, probably the son of John (b. 1795) and Sarah (b. 1819).

John was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States where he married New York native Sarah sometime before 1834, probably in New York. They resided in New York for many years and by 1850 William was attending school with six of his older siblings and living with his family on a farm in Salisbury, Herkimer County. Sometime after 1851 his family left New York and settled in Michigan. By 1850 William was attending school with four of his siblings and living with his mother who was farming in Walker, Kent County.

He stood 5’9” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was a 19-year-old farmer still living in Walker when he enlisted in Company K on February 9, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Muskegon, Muskegon County (listing his residence as Walker), and was mustered the same day. He joined the Regiment on March 1 at Camp Bullock, Virginia, was wounded on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, and subsequently hospitalized, possibly in Alexandria, Virginia. He was still absent in the hospital when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he remained absent until he was discharged on June 28, 1865, at Sickles hospital in Alexandria.

After the war William returned to western Michigan. He was married to Canadian-born Celia (b. 1846) and they had at least two children: Gerrude (b. 1867) and Maggie (b. 1869).

By 1870 William was working as a farmer and with his wife and two daughters in Wyoming, Kent County (Sarah was living just a few houses away). By 1880 he had moved to Dayton, Newaygo County and was living in Fremont, Newaygo County in 1890 and 1900. Indeed he spent the remainder of his life in Fremont.

In 1886 he applied for and received a pension (no. 693075). He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic Dobson Post No. 182 in Fremont.

William died of nephritis in Fremont on December 25, 1915, and was buried in Maple Grove cemetery in Fremont: block 3, lot 76.

In January of 1916 his widow was living in Michigan when she applied for and received a pension (no. 874120).

Friday, September 25, 2009

John McDonald

John McDonald, also known as “McDaniel,” was born around 1834 in Lenox, Pennsylvania.

John left Pennsylvania and moved west, eventually settling in western Michigan.

John stood 5’11” with hazel eyes, brown hair and a fair complexion and was 27 years old and probably still living in Allegan County when he enlisted in Company I on May 29, 1861. He may have been shot in the right hand at some point during the war. Although he was reported to be absent sick in the hospital from October of 1862 through August of 1863, he was in fact discharged for consumption on November 28, 1862, at the Third Corps hospital near Fort Lyon, Virginia.

After he left the army John quite possibly returned to Allegan, and mau have in fact reentered the service as a private in Company I, Third Michigan cavalry on August 17, 1863, at Saugatuck, Allegan County for three years, and was mustered the same day. He was reported as a blacksmith as of November 1, 1863, and was mustered out of the service on February 12, 1866, at San Antonio, Texas.

In any case, John eventually returned to Allegan where he was residing in 1894.

He may have been the same John McDonald who was working as a laborer and living with his wife, Ohio native Maria (b. 1845) and their son Alliso (b. 1867) in Hamilton, Heath Township, Allegan County in 1870. (Timothy and emeline McDowell were living in Casco, Allegan County in 1870).

In any case, John settled back in Ganges.

In 1890 he applied for and received a pension (no. 623239).

John died on March 11, 1912, probably in Ganges and was buried in Taylor cemetery, Ganges.

In 1912 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 742924).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

John T. McConnell

John T. McConnell was born in 1838 in Ruggles, Ashland County, Ohio, the son of Thomas or Guian 1809) and Emeline (1816-1882).

John’s parents were married in 1835 in Huron County, Ohio and by 1836 were living in Ruggles, Ohio, whey they resided for some years. By 1850 the family had settled in Cascade, Kent County where John was attending school and living with his family in Cascade, Kent County. In 1852 his family may have been living in Caledonia, Kent County and John was probably living in Caledonia when he probably married Anna Mary Stowe (b. 1843) of Cascade on April 20, 1859. They had at least two children: Clarissa (b. 1862) and Caroline (b. 1867). In any case, John and Anna were living in Cascade, where he worked as a farmer in 1860.

John stood 5’8” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was a 22-year-old farmer probably living in Cascade when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. John may have been hurt during the battle of First Bull Run on July 21, 1861. George Miller of Company A, who was from Bowne, Kent County and probably knew McConnell before the war wrote home that in the aftermath of Bull Run on July 21, McConnell was all right.

In any case, John was absent sick in the hospital from July of 1862 through August, allegedly deserted on September 21, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, but in fact he was still hospitalized.

Although he was returned (officially) to his Regiment on October 6 at Upton’s Hill, he was discharged for consumption on October 27, 1862, at a hospital in Portsmouth Grove, Rhode Island.

John returned to Michigan and may have been living in Caldeonia when he enlisted at the age of 23 as a private in Company E, Twenty-first Michgian infantry, on August 14, 1862, and was mustered in on September 3. he was taken prisoner on March 24, 1865, paroled on May 15 and discharged at Detroit, Michigan on June 3, 1865.

He may have been the same John C. McConnell, who was a witness for Lee Kelly’s pension in Washington, DC in 1863.

In any case, John reutnred to Kent County after the war and by 1870 was farming and living with his wife and two children in Caledonia.

In 1886 John applied for and received a pension (no. 545257) for his service in the Twenty-first Michigan.

He probably died around 1891 when his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 327925).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell was born on March 17, 1827 in Newbury, England.

The son of a dissenting Methodist clergyman, Daniel came to the United States from England with his father and four brothers in 1832, when he was five years old, and settled in Rochester, New York, where he was apprenticed to a local jeweler at the age of 11, a which trade he worked for some four years. At the age of 15 he was sent to Lexington, Missouri to sell a stock of goods, and soon afterwards he moved to Michigan with his father and four brothers but at some point returned to New York.

On either February 1 or March 17, 1847, Daniel enlisted for 3 years at New York City in Company I, Captain W. W. Tompkins, Tenth United States infantry Regiment, and was promoted to Second Sergeant while in New York. He was detailed by Captain Tompkins on recruiting service at Patterson, New Jersey, and was sent by transport to Matamoros, Mexico where he was on garrison duty for some eight months. He eventually returned to the United States, and was discharged as a First Sergeant at Fort Hamilton, Long Island, New York, either in July or on August 24 of 1848.

Following his discharge from the army Daniel returned to western Michigan and settled in Grand Rapids where he “engaged in the dry goods business on Monroe Street in the old Abel Block, a structure which stood about where Platte’s umbrella store is now located.” He worked for some years as a merchant and in 1850 he married New Jersey native Elizabeth Mundy (1829-1887). They had at least two children: Sarah (b. 1852) and Edward (b. 1858-1917).

In the early 1850s Daniel went out to California, probably to try his luck in the goldfields, but soon returned to Grand Rapids where he resumed his business interests and continued to work as a local merchant until the outbreak of the war.

Because of his background of service in the Mexican War, Daniel quickly became involved with one of the two local militia companies in Grand Rapids, the Valley City Light Guards, soon shortened to simply the Valley City Guard, which was organized in 1855. In fact, in June of 1856, McConnell replaced Wright L. Coffinberry as the Captain of the VCG, and by February of 1858 was quickly elected to overall command of the several companies which comprised the “Grand River” Battalion of the Thirty-fourth (later renumbered as the Second and then the Fifty-first) Regiment of Michigan Volunteer State Militia, in Grand Rapids, which he superintended from about through the fall of 1860.

This unit was at one point styled the Fifty-first Regiment, Michigan Volunteer Infantry, and included the three Grand Rapids companies (the Valley City Guard, the Grand Rapids Artillery and the Grand Rapids or “German” Rifles) as well as the “Boston Light guard” from western Ionia County (under the command of Captain Ambrose A. Stevens, who would become McConnell’s Lieutenant Colonel). These four companies of the Fifty-first Regiment would form the nuclei for companies A, B, C and D, respectively, of the Third Michigan Infantry which would be organized in Grand Rapids in April of 1861.

In the period 1859-60 Daniel was still working as a merchant and living on the east side of Lafayette between Fulton and Fountain Streets in Grand Rapids, and in 1860 he was a clerk living with his wife and children in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward; Daniel was worth $10,000 in real estate and $4,000 in personal property.

Notwithstanding the prestige of his rank and position in the militia and in the community as a whole, Colonel McConnell was court-martialed in Grand Rapids on August 20, 1860.

The proceedings of the Court Martial for the trial of Colonel D. McConnell, published by State Authority, in pamphlet form, have been laid upon our table, from which we extract the charges, the order appointing the Court, and the finding of the Court. The specifications under each charge being quite lengthy, is omitted. CHARGE 1st That the said Colonel McConnell has been guilty of disrespect toward his commanding officer. CHARGE 2d The said Colonel Daniel McConnell has been guilty of ungentlemanly, uncourteous, and unofficerlike conduct toward his brother officers, and particularly toward his commanding officer, the said Brigadier General William A. Richmond, and toward the said Major Christopher W. Leffingwell, Brigade Inspector and Brigadier Major aforesaid. CHARGE 3d The said Colonel Daniel McConnell has been guilty of disobedience to the orders of his superior officer, and contempt of his authority.

The above Charges and Specifications having been preferred against Colonel Daniel McConnell, by Major C. W. Leffingwell, an order was at once issued appointing a Court Martial, and notifying said Colonel McConnell thereof: Colonel - The above Charges and Specifications having been duly preferred against you, a Board of Officers, consisting of the following persons, to wit: Major General A. S. Williams, Colonel H. M. Whittlesey, Colonel A. W. Williams, Colonel H. Chipman, Major A. P. Bidwell and Captain John Dudgeon, have been appointed to constitute a Court Martial to investigate said Charges and Specifications, who will assemble at the City of Grand Rapids, on the 20th day of August next, and continue their session from day to day until the same shall have been fully decided. Major William K. Gibson, of the 2d Division, has been specially detailed as Judge Advocate.

The Court convened at Grand Rapids, on the 20th of August, in obedience to order constituting it, Colonel Chipman and Captain John Dudgeon having been excused from serving on the Board, Lieutenant Colonel Stevens was appointed, which, with the others present, constituted a quorum.

The President of the Board, General A. S. Williams, appointed Major A. Wilson, Marshal, to attend upon said Court. The following is the finding of the Court:

The Board of Court Martials Convened at the City of Grand Rapids, on the 20th day of August, A.D. 1860, to hear and determine certain Charges and specifications preferred against Colonel Daniel McConnell, commanding the 2d Regiment in the Sixth Brigade and 2d Division of the Militia of the State of Michigan, by Major Christopher W. Leffingwell, Brigade Major of said Brigade, having heard the proofs and allegations of the Judge Advocate for the prosecution, and Major S. G. Champlain [sic], counsel for the accused, and after due deliberation, and consideration of the same, do find that the said Daniel McConnell is guilty of the first Specification, and the first Charge thereon founded, and that he is so guilty of the third Specification, and the third Charge thereon founded, and that he is not guilty of the second Specification and the second Charge.

And it appearing to the Court from the facts and evidence in the case that Colonel McConnell was laboring under a misapprehension of the law, in regard to the organization of the Volunteer Militia of this State, and that the disrespect to his superior officer, and the disobedience of orders of which he has been found guilty, was the result of such misapprehension, rather than willfulness on his part; and it also appearing that he misunderstood an intimation of the Adjutant General, that it would be proper for him to report to the Adjutant General and receive his orders direct from him, therefore this Court do hereby order and adjudge, by virtue of the authority vested in it, by the Military Law of the State, that the said Colonel McConnell be suspended from his command as Colonel of said 2d Regiment, for and during the period of three months from and including this date.” Adjutant General Francis Curtenius approved the findings on September 8, 1860, and on September 19 issued General Order No. 7: “The sentence of the Court in the [McConnell] case having been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, and Colonel Daniel McConnell suspended from the command of the 2d Regiment of Volunteer Militia, Lieutenant Colonel Ambrose A. Stevens, the next in command, will assume the command thereof until the expiration of the sentence, to wit: the 28th day of November, 1860.”

After the fall of Fort Sumter in mid-April of 1861, and following President Lincoln’s first call for volunteers, the local militia companies in Michigan began organizing themselves as the focal points for the regiments which each state would supply to the federal service. As Colonel of the Fifty-first Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Militia, Daniel, who was 35 years old, was appointed Colonel of the newly organized Second (soon changed to Third) Michigan Regiment of Volunteer Infantry.

Aside from real or imagined political differences with his peers or personal conflicts with his superiors, Colonel McConnell seemed to inspire controversy. On May 22, 1861, while the Third Regiment was forming in Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Enquirer wrote that there was some confusion over where exactly the new company from Muskegon, the “Muskegon Rangers,” was supposed to go -- was it to join the previous Regiments in Detroit or the Third infantry? This confusion caused substantial undercurrent of resentment among the “Rangers” and many of them returned to Muskegon rather than be assimilated into the Third infantry.

“A few days after the fall of Fort Sumter,” wrote the Enquirer, “a successful effort was made at Muskegon in the matter of organizing a military company and raising funds for its support for a finite period. It was at that time supposed, that but a short time would elapse before the Company would be incorporated in some Regiment, and leave for the Regimental headquarters. But time sped on, and little adequate headway was made toward securing this desideratum. Meanwhile, some correspondence occurred between the company and the command of the Third Regiment, stationed in this city. Dissatisfaction was expressed at the nature of this correspondence, on the part of some of the ‘Rangers’.”

Apparently, Daniel “required two things, 1st, that the Company, after inspection by the Regimental surgeon, should consist of only the number of men prescribed by the U.S. call; and 2nd, that there must be at least one person fully capable of instructing the Company in the prescribed drill. The colonel reserving a right, in case there should be no such person in the Company, to select one non-commissioned officer for the ‘Rangers’. These were the primary causes of dissatisfaction. And from these have arisen a hundred rumors of a distorted and audacious character.” But while some in Muskegon (and Grand Rapids) were displeased with McConnell’s handling of the affair, his sense of the importance of discipline could not be underemphasized in other quarters. The Enquirer wrote that

The superior officers to the colonel would have had just cause to censure him, had he disobeyed their orders; and he did only that which it was absolutely necessary he should do under the circumstances. So uncertain were the ultimate intentions of the Muskegon Company, that the Military Board did not assign them to our Regiment; but placed the Georgetown company in the position which the “Muskegon rangers” were to have had. At length . . . the Muskegon Company appeared in our city; and the next day, ascertained that they really did not belong to the 3rd Regiment, at all, in addition to the other real or fancied grievances of which they complained. But Col. McConnell immediately opened a correspondence by telegraph, with the military board at Detroit, and eventually obtained permission for the “Rangers” to be placed in the 3rd Regiment, in case they complied with the conditions which had been accepted by the remaining companies. Further objections were then interposed, and the Rangers were allowed until 8 o'clock Thursday evening to decide upon their action. No answer being given, the Colonel received the Georgetown company, and ordered them to appear at Cantonment Anderson [where the Regiment was forming] at as early a a date as possible. I understand that they will arrive in our city tomorrow evening.

However, the dissatisfaction was soon appeased and according to the Enquirer “all difficulties which may have existed in regard to the Muskegon Company have been satisfactorily arranged, and the ‘Rangers’ have been regularly received as a component part of the ‘Third Regiment’. This will be gratifying news not only to our own citizens, but to the people of the County from which the ‘Rangers’ hailed.”

Daniel stood 5’11” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 34 years old when he became the Colonel of the newly formed Third Michigan Infantry. A correspondent for the Detroit Daily Advertiser described Colonel Daniel McConnell as “well known to the military gentlemen of the State.”

The Third Michigan left Grand Rapids on Thursday morning, June 13, 1861, and passed through Detroit, Cleveland, Ohio, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and arrived in Baltimore on Sunday June 16. According to a letter written from Hospital Steward Walter Morrison to his family in Grand Rapids, “Col. McConnell gave orders the night before that if while passing through Baltimore, a stone should be thrown upon the Regiment, to stop and fire upon the crowd, and if a shot was fired from a window, to tear the house down.” Dan Crotty of Company F wrote after the war that when the Regiment reached Baltimore “Our noble Colonel, Dan McConnell, gave the order to prime our pieces, which gave the roughs who gathered around to understand that we were not to be trifled with. The order is given to get into platoons, for we have a march of about 3 miles to the Washington depot. Our Colonel says: ‘If a man from my Regiment is hurt, the streets of Baltimore will run with blood’.”

The Regiment passed quietly through Baltimore, and upon arrival in Washington, McConnell was ordered to take the Regiment up the Potomac to Chain bridge, above Georgetown. By July 1 the Regiment was encamped on the bluffs overlooking the chain bridge and river.

Colonel McConnell quickly won a reputation for being a “strict disciplinarian.” A correspondent for one Detroit newspaper reported that while in camp near Washington, that “The boys of the Third have already won an enviable reputation in the neighborhood, for quiet and orderly deportment. Some of the farmers in this vicinity have complained of nocturnal descents upon their hen-roosts, milk cellars, and gardens; but they declare that in no instance have the ‘boys in the gray uniform’ been the offenders. Colonel McConnell has declared that if he finds any of his men guilty of these lawless depredations, they shall receive prompt and condign punishment. The Colonel is a strict disciplinarian, which occasionally [brings] a murmur of complaint from those who are impatient of restraint; yet his uniform kindness and courtesy have won for him the esteem of the whole Regiment.”

A correspondent for the Detroit Daily Tribune described Colonel McConnell as “a rigid and strict disciplinarian, and whatever fault may have been found with by either his officers or men, has been from this cause, rather than from any other. All strict disciplinarians are at first unpopular with volunteers, but a period of camp life and service always results in a change of favor of such officers, and this change is now rapidly taking place in favor of Colonel McConnell.”

These reports were confirmed by several members of the Regiment. George Miller of Company A who wrote his parents that the “The Colonel is very strict about giving passes now, some of the soldiers would go out and trespass on the people’s property who would come and make complaints to the Colonel, [and] ever since he has been very particular about giving passes.” On August 8, 1861, Charles Church of Company G described McConnell as “a tyrannical old devil. The boys are all down on him.” And George Lemon of Company H wrote from Arlington Heights that “Our Colonel is not liked very well by any of us. For he has kept closer us closer than there was any need of. We have been confined more than any other Regiment around here.”

An officer serving with Company I observed McConnell’s strict adherence to the rules from a bit different angle, one also touching on the Colonel’s clash with the Captain of Company I, George Weatherwax. A private in Company I, Francis barlow was recommended for discharge due to a chronic disability. Apparently there was some problem at first with his discharge. According to Brennan, he remembered Barlow well “because Col. McConnell [commanding the Third Michigan] & Cap Weatherwax [commanding Company I] had quite a row about having him mustered out of service. It was claimed by the Col. That because of some informality about his muster in, he was not entitled to a discharge certificate.”

Aside from being widely disliked by the rank and file, it soon became apparent the Colonel McConnell was not particularly respected either. On September 11, the Republican credited McConnell for getting some eleven additional Minie rifles for Company G. According to Frank Siverd, orderly Sergeant of Company G and a frequent contributor to the Republican of well-balanced observations on developments in the Regiment, this attribution was wrong. He quickly replied to the paper that “In a recent number of the State Republican we notice an article giving Colonel McConnell credit for presenting the Lansing boys with a number of rifles. All the rifles we have, were got by the boys themselves, without the assistance of any person. The Colonel did, I believe, give permission to a few of the boys to keep the rifles which they picked up in the field or roads where they would otherwise have been left for the enemy. We attribute the error to a mistake in understanding your informant, and not to any desire to give credit where it does not belong.”

Daniel resigned on account of chronic diarrhea on October 22, 1861. On October 17, 1861, McConnell submitted his resignation to General George B. McClellan, then commanding the Army of the Potomac. “I have the honor,” he wrote, “to tender to you the resignation of my commission as Colonel of the third Regiment Michigan Volunteers, and ask that said resignation be accepted. The reasons for urging the acceptance of my resignation is owing to the state of my health. Annexed will be found certificates of Brigade Surgeon D. Willard Bliss and of Surgeon Z. E. Bliss, which will, I trust, give you the required assurance that my resignation at this time is from laudable and proper motives.”

On October 19, Brigadier General Israel Richardson wrote McConnell acknowledging receipt of his resignation, accompanied by the surgeon’s certificate of disability.

You therefore being about to retire to private life, it is entirely proper for me to bear that testimony of your good conduct while under my command which my knowledge of facts justify me in doing, and which should I let this occasion pass away without doing so in all probability in the pressure of coming events would be forgotten

Your Regiment was included in my brigade just before the march upon Manassas, the Regiment as well as yourself was therefore under my command on that occasion.

Notwithstanding the state of your health you remained in command of your regiment from the time of your departure from the Chain Bridge until your return to Arlington Heights. On the march out, and during the battle of the 18th of July [Blackburn’s Ford], as well as on the retreat from Centreville, you discharged your whole duty to my entire satisfaction, and I can bear testimony that both yourself and regiment under your command performed well.

In making my report of the doings of my command, on Sunday and Sunday night of July 21st, by misapprehension of facts, I made a mistake in stating that Lieut Col Stevens was in command of the Regiment. I was led into this error from the fact that Lieut Col Stevens, at Centreville, came to me for orders in relation to placing your regiment in line of battle.

I have since learned that you sent that officer to me for directions, and that you had not relinquished the command.

I was highly pleased with the manner in which your discharged your duty there, and in covering the retreat from Centreville.

Allow me to say I have ever been satisfied, and highly pleased with the courage, as well as ability as an officer, ever manifested by you from the time you entered my command down to our last military operations on the occasion of an [sic] reconnaissance to Pohick Church undertaken on the 18th of the present month.

Believe me you will carry with you in your retirement, my heartfelt wishes for your future prosperity and happiness.

While there were rumors that he was not mentally fit to command, he was reported to be quite ill. Regimental Surgeon Dr. D. W. Bliss included the following letter as an annex to McConnell’s letter of resignation. “Having been your medical advisor for the past four months, and watched with painful anxiety, the steady progress of the disease with which you are afflicted (chronic diarrhea) and bringing to your aid my best professional skill and ability, to no purpose in relieving you, I am reluctantly constrained to earnestly advise you to resign your commission as commanding officer of your regt., and return at once to private life, as the only means of affording any chance of regaining your health. The inclement weather of the approaching season, together with the exposures incident to the tented field, in my opinion, forecludes the possibility of your regaining your health, or being able to perform the arduous duties, which your present position demands of you.” He closed by saying that “The uniform kindness and courtesy you have ever extended to the officers and men under your command, and the care and anxiety you have always manifested for their health comfort, and proficiency.”

Interestingly, in his history of Company K of the Third Michigan infantry David Robinson claimed that there is a letter in McConnell's pension file, dated December 5, presumably 1861, that said “We the undersigned officers of the 3d Regiment Michigan Infantry of Volunteers do hereby certify that we have been in the 3d Regiment Mich. Vols. from its organization up to the present time, and that Colonel Daniel McConnell (lately resigned) did not send in his resignation until charges were preferred against him for Incompetency, Drunkenness, and conduct unbecoming and Officer and a gentleman. He never excused himself from duty, on account of sickness but once or twice of 3 or 4 days; And we as Tax-payers protest against his application for a Pension, knowing that he is not justly entitled to a Pension.”

A second letter in the file claimed that “The charges preferred, would have cashiered him if he had not resigned, of which he was well aware or he would not have sent in his resignation at that time. He was drunk on the 4th day of July 1861, the 6th & 8th of the same month, the 18th of September, 12th of October, and in fact he was under the influence of liquor more or less all the time he was in command of the Regiment, and for this reason we are confident he is not legally entitled to a Pension. If further proof is necessary, you can readily find it by an investigation of this matter.”

In any case, Colonel McConnell would be little missed.

George Miller of Company A wrote that Colonel McConnell “resigned a few days ago and Major [Stephen] Champlin has been promoted to Colonel in his stead. We have a colonel now that we can depend on and we are all proud of him, [as] he looks to the comforts of his men as well as his own, he goes through the camp every little while to see the men in there [sic] tents and see if they want anything, a thing Colonel McConnell never done [sic].”

Frank Siverd’s usual objective tone gave way this one time to a scathing indictment impugning McConnell’s character. “Colonel McConnell,” he wrote on November 7, “has resigned, a procedure necessitated from the precarious condition of his health. So say the papers. We learn he is about to receive a pension from Uncle Sam, on account of the permanent injury to his health brought about by severe exposure on the field, incident to his arduous duties as an officer. We opine, that liberal as our uncle is, he would not grant ninety dollars a month pension to a man who is notorious for never having done the government any service, especially if he could have observed the great accumulation of empty bottles in and around the Colonel's quarters. Major Champlin takes his place and will make an efficient officer. . . .”

Perhaps Lieutenant Stephen Lowing of Company I found the right chord to describe McConnell when he wrote that the Colonel was brave to a fault but he couldn’t learn tactics. “It is not every good fellow that can make a military man, and yet no fault of his, and that was the difficulty with Captain Weatherwax [commanding Company I]. As good a fellow as I ever wish to mess with, and as poor a Captain. He was as good a Captain as McConnell was Colonel. They fought each other, and killed each other's chances; and both left the Regiment together and for the same reason, leaving many friends behind them. Both are brave, to a fault, but neither could learn the tactics.”

Apparently Colonel McConnell continued to feel the sting of controversey surrounding his resignation and in 1885, at the annual reunion of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, he asked that the October 19, 1861, letter from Brig. Gen. Israel Richardson, acknowledging his resignation, be entered into the association records.

Still, some wounds never seemed to heal, though,. In fact, it is likely that McConnell continued to smart from rumor and innuendo over the years following the war. On June 10, 1891, the Democrat published a speech given by Colonel Edwin Pierce, formerly Captain of Company E, on June 9, the thirtieth anniversary of the Old Third being mustered into United States service. “It is just thirty years tomorrow,” said Colonel E. S. Pierce in the Morton house,

that the old Third Michigan Infantry was mustered into service. Remember all about it, don't you? Of course you don't! Not old enough, eh? well, I have good reason to remember it. It's quite a romance; might be the foundation of a good novel. You see, I was mustered into service June 10, 1861, married June 11, and started for the front June 13. Lord, it was tough! Now wasn't it? On that day we started for the Potomac with 1,040 men and officers on the rolls. Colonel Dan McConnell was in command; . . . I tell you that old Regiment was composed of the very flower of the youth of Grand Rapids. We were attached to Richardson's Brigade and our first experience under fire was in the action at Blackburn's ford, June 18. Hot work that! Sunday, June 21, we had a warm fight at Bull Run; McConnell was ill and Lieutenant Colonel Stevens was in command. We covered the retreat to Washington and were mentioned in dispatches.

On June 21, a response to Pierce’s remarks was printed in the Democrat.

Under the headline of “’History Corrected’,” the writer took issue with Pierce’s statement that “‘McConnell was ill and Lieutenant Colonel Stevens was in command.’” The writer pointed out that during the confusion and retreat of so many Union Regiments toward Washington, two Regiments in the same Brigade with the Old Third fled toward the rear, leaving the Michigan Second and Third Regiments “as the only effective force of the Brigade to cover the retreat. Lieutenant-Colonel Stevens had been dispatched by Colonel McConnell to General Richardson for orders. McConnell was in command. Among soldiers of the regular army it is considered disgraceful for an officer to leave his command during action, even for illness, unless totally disabled. How well Colonel McConnell performed his duty at that time is set forth in the following letter from General Richardson, which is on file in the government archives, and the statement is corroborated in General McDowell's corrected reports.”

In addition to confirming receipt of McConnell’s letter of resignation as well as a summary of the recent events at Bull Run, Richardson closed by saying that he had been mistaken in saying earlier that Stevens had been in command of the Regiment. “’I have,’” wrote Richardson, “’since learned that you sent that officer to me for directions, and that you had not relinquished the command. I was highly pleased with the manner in which you discharged your duty there, and in covering the retreat from Centreville. Allow me to say, I have ever been satisfied and highly pleased with the courage as well as ability as an officer ever manifested by you, from the time you entered my command down to our last military operations on the occasion of our reconnaissance to Pohick church, undertaken by you on the 18th of the present month.’” The article was signed “One of the Old Third,” but it was clearly the hand of Dan McConnell.

After he resigned from command of the Third Michigan infantry in October of 1861 Daniel returned to Grand Rapids where he resumed his work as a merchant, and in 1865-66 he was living at 65 Lafayette Street. Sometime in the late 1860s he entered into the dry goods business with W. D. Meeker (his brother-in-law) and continued in that relationship until about 1875.

In the 1870s Daniel was operating an amusement theater called the Arcade, where various popular plays were staged. In October of 1874 he put on Joe Jefferson’s exhibition of Rip Van Winkle, and on October 20, 1877 the Democrat reported that “Col. McConnell in the “Arcade” will begin the sale of seats for the Ah Sin entertainment, at 9 o’clock Monday morning. There will be a rush to see the play, as it is the combined efforts of Mark Twain and Bret Harte.” He owned and operated the amusement arcade as well as a theater operation in the city for many years.

Daniel lived in Grand Rapids nearly all of his postwar life. In 1880 he was working as a broker and living with his wife on Division Street in Grand Rapids’ Second Ward; Elizabeth’s mother Sarah Mundy was also living with them. He was residing in the Third Ward in 1884 and in 1890. He was living in Sparta in 1894, but by 1902 was back in Grand Rapids and in 1904 he gave his post office address as 20 Powers Opera House Block in Grand Rapids. He was residing in Grand Rapids in 1907 when the second session of United States Senate of the Fifty-ninth Congress voted a bill to provide McConnell with a pension rate increase to $30.00 per month (he received Mexican War service pension no. 14,068; Civil War pension no. 11,262).

Daniel was an uncle (by marriage) to Israel C. Smith of Company E, he was a member of the Mexican War Veterans’ association of the State of Michigan, a staunch Democrat, a member of St. Mark’s church as well as of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, the Loyal Legion and Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids, from which he was “honorably discharged” on February 25, 1887.

Daniel died of acute nephritis at the Union Benevolent Association hospital (present-day Blodgett hospital) in Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon, January 3, 1908, and was buried in Fulton cemetery: section 6 lot 21.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Orange McClure

Orange McClure was born in 1836 in New York, the son of Orange (b. 1789) and Anna M. (b. 1806).

Vermont native Orange (elder) married New York-born Anna possibly in New York sometime before 1837; in any case they resided in New York between at least 1832 and 1843. His family moved to Michigan sometime after 1843, and in 1850 Orange (younger) was living with his family and attending school in Paris, Kent County, where his father worked as a mason. By 1860 his parents were living with one of their sons, Jay, in Ada, Kent County.

Orange (younger) stood 5’9” with black eyes, black hair and a dark complexion and was a 25-year-old farmer, unable to read or write, and probably working in the vicinity of Hastings, Barry County when he enlisted in the Hastings Rifle Company in April of 1861. The company was disbanded shortly after it arrived in Grand Rapids and its members distributed to other companies of the Third Michigan infantry then forming at Cantonment Anderson just south of the city, and Orange eventually enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861.

He was working as a pioneer, probably for the Brigade, from July of 1862 through October, and reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Alpine, Kent County. He was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough, probably at his home in Michigan, in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February.

Orange was reported a Brigade pioneer from April of 1864 until he was shot in the left thigh on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, and subsequently hospitalized. He was still absent in the hospital when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, but by August he was again a pioneer detached to Brigade headquarters where he remained through September. For reasons unknown he was in the Division hospital in October, and in November was back with the Brigade where he was employed as a pioneer through May of 1865. He was a provost guard in June and was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Orange returned to Michigan and lived for a time in Grand Rapids, although he eventually settled in the northeastern part of Kent County, and for many years he worked as a farmer. He was residing in Spencer, Kent County in 1884, and in Greenville, Montcalm County in 1890.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and a Protestant. He was living in Greenville, Montcalm County in 1883 when he was drawing $4.00 in 1883 for a wounded left thigh (pension no. 214,627, dated June of 1882) and had been increased to $40.00 by 1918.

Orange was admitted as a widower to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 3489) on November 1, 1900, was discharged at his own request on March 7, 1902, but was readmitted on August 27, 1902.

Orange never again left the Home where he died of endocarditis at 7:40 p.m. on May 8, 1919. His remains were sent to Ottawa County and buried in Spring Lake cemetery.