James Lee Reed was born on July 10, 1837, in Dundee, Monroe County, Michigan, the son of Peter (1791-1851) and Crusa (Parker, 1802-1878).
In 1839 his family moved from Dundee to Bellevue, Eaton County where, at the age of 16, James worked at the trade of tailor for one winter and then drove a stagecoach for some two years. By 1850 James (known as “Lee”) was attending school with his younger brother Merrick (who would also join the Old Third) and living with their family in Bellevue where his father worked a farm. In 1855 James learned the trade of blacksmith at Bellevue, and after completing his education moved to Hastings, Barry County in 1856.
James married his first wife English-born Sarah Jane “Jennie” Simpson (1839-1913) in February of 1858 or 1859, and they had at least one child, Addie Clara (b. 1860); some years later they adopted a son from the “Protestant Home” in Toledo, Ohio, and named him Fred T. (b. 1867).
In 1860 James was working as a blacksmith and living with his wife and child in Bellevue, and he continued to work at his trade until the war broke out.
James stood 5’11” with dark eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was 23 years old and living in Barry County when he enlisted in the Band on June 10, 1861. (About the same time his younger brother Merrick joined Company E.) On July 20, James wrote home and described the recent action of July 18 at Blackburn’s Ford, near Bull Run, Virginia.
Today [July 20] finds us all well. A kind Providence has spared our lives through a terrible battle fought on Thursday [July 18]. Our regiment escaped unharmed except two wounded slightly. One of the wounded is James Beck, son-in-law of R. H. Stilson. The other I do not know. We ran into a regular hornet’s nest, and were driven back by the rebels. The Band marched into the field behind the Regiment. There were about 27,000 of our men, and we do not know how many rebels. Only about 4,000 of our men were engaged in the fight. Our loss is about forty, and it is supposed the rebels have lost a thousand men. -- The fighting was mostly done with cannon. When we were retreating they fired a canister shot at the Band and they struck all around us and passed all about our heads, but we escaped unhurt. The cannon balls passed all about us. We could hear them coming and drop on our faces upon the ground and let them pass over us. I expected every moment to be shot down. The Band has orders to remain, hereafter, with the physicians and help take care of the wounded, so that we shall not be so exposed again.
The N.Y. 12th regiment lost 18, and the Mass 1st, 30 men. . . .
Gen. Scott is here, and he says he is going to take the rebels without losing a man. We should not have lost many men before if Gen. Tyler had obeyed orders, which were not to march any further [sic] than Fairfax, and there await further orders. He want great renown, and lost all.
“Do not believe all you read and hear,” James added. “Our food is crackers, meat and coffee; I want nothing better.”
On August 4 James wrote the editor of the Hastings Banner to praise the boys from Barry County,
I take pleasure of addressing you with a few lines. I am proud to state that the soldiers of Barry Co. and vicinity have proved themselves true to their profession. They profess to be true patriots and their conduct has proven them so. Our noble men from the beautiful little village of Hastings who are honored with office in the Regiment, I am happy to say, during the battle at Bull Run were seen to stand up unshaken by the sound of the enemy’s cannon, and while the balls were whistling on all sides of them, all they seemed to want was to have the command to fire.
I am also happy to state that while other Regiments’ colors were not seen floating, ours, borne by our brave Flag bearer, Mr. W. K. F., [Washington K. Ferris] could have been seen at any moment during the battle waiving proudly over the column of the Mich. 3d. We believe our officers are of the best timber, and know the privates will back them.
Our boys were served up by the sound of well known “Dixie,” played by the Regimental Band, led by Prof. Steeg, late of Detroit, formerly of Cleveland, while entering the battle.
James was discharged “as a member of the band, not as musician” on March 24, 1862, at Hampton, Virginia.
After he was discharged James returned to Michigan where he reentered the service in Company C, Eleventh Michigan cavalry on October 22, 1863, at Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County for 3 years, and was mustered the following day, crediting Hastings, Barry County. The regiment was organized at Kalamazoo and Detroit between October 7 and December 10, 1863. It moved to Lexington, Kentucky December 10-22 and remained on duty there until April 28 when it commenced operations in eastern and then southern Kentucky through the summer in Tennessee by late fall of 1864 and southwestern Virginia by early 1865.
James served in the Regimental band from December of 1863 through April of 1864, in June he was at Catlettsburg, Kentucky guarding government stores, and was mustered out on March 3, 1865, to date December 28, 1864, at Louisville, Kentucky, to accept an appointment in the United States Colored Troops.
He reentered the service as Second Lieutenant in the One hundred twentieth United States Colored Troops, which was organized at Henderson, Kentucky, in October and November of 1864. The regiment was discontinued on June 21, 1865 after serving in various capacities in the Department of Kentucky. James served subsequently as First Lieutenant in Company F, Fifth United States Colored Cavalry, being mustered in as such on June 17, 1865, probably serving on the staff of General Burnbridge; the Regimental rolls to October 31, 1865, show him as absent on special duty with the Regimental band. The regiment had served in Kentucky and southwestern Virginia and was at Camp Nelson until August of 1865 when it was assigned to the Dept. of Arkansas, where it remained on duty until March of 1866.
After some three months on Burnbridge’s staff he was transferred to General Brisbin’s staff at Lexington, Kentucky, where he apparently served in the Regimental band from October through December. He was on a leave of absence in January and February of 1866, when he went home to visit his family, and he returned to duty still sick from a previous bout with malaria and jaundice. His unit had been ordered to Arkansas where they remained until February of 1866 when he resigned due to ill health. He was discharged subsequent to his resignation for malarial poisoning, at Helena, Arkansas to date January 18, 1866. (He would continue to suffer from bouts with malaria for the remainder of his life.)
After he left the army James returned to Barry County. He opened his first blacksmith shop in Hastings at the end of 1866, and continued in business until September of 1883 when he sold out and built another, larger shop. By 1870 he was working as a blacksmith (he owned $1200 worth of real estate) and living with his wife and child in Hastings. By 1880 James was working as a carriage builder and living with his wife and son on Apple Street in Hastings’ Third Ward; also living with them was one Dr. Arnold Bolt.
By 1886 he was engaged in manufacturing lawn seats and piano stools in Plainwell, Allegan County, although he continued to live in Hastings for the remainder of his life working as a blacksmith. That same year he declined to testify for the widow of Jacob Stegg, formerly of the Old Third’s Band, on the grounds that he had no information to provide her.
In 1889 James was living and working as a blacksmith in Hastings, in the Fourth Ward in 1890, in 1894 and by the 1890s was engaged in the manufacture and repair of wagons and carriages, and he was residing in Hastings in 1909, 1911, 1912 and 1914.
He was a widower when he married his Charlotte Barlow Russell (who had been widowed in 1901) on April 29, 1914, in Hastings. By 1920 James and Charlotte were living together in Hastings.
He was a firm Democrat, and served as Alderman for some five years, as supervisor of the Second and Third Wards of Hastings. James was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and of Grand Army of the Republic Fitzgerald Post No. 125 in Hastings. In 1887 he applied for and received pension no. 400,299.
James died on April 20, 1921, at his home on 228 N. Church Street in Hastings, and, according to cemetery records, was buried on April 22, in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: block A-east, lot no. 11, grave NE 1/4-1; his headstone is next to Sarah’s but no date of death for James is inscribed.
Merrick D. Reed was born on August 3, 1840, in Dundee or Monroe, Monroe County, Michigan, the son of Peter (1791-1851) and Crusa (Parker, 1802-1878).
In 1839 his family moved to Bellevue, Eaton County (although Crusa may have returned to Monroe County when she gave birth to Merrick in 1840). By 1850 Merrick was attending school with his older brother James (known as “Lee” and who would also join the Old Third) and living with their family in Bellevue where his father worked a farm. (Next door lived Levi Booth whose father had remarried a Sarah Reed and who would also join the Old Third.) By 1855 Merrick was living with his family in Bellevue.
Merrick stood 5’11” with gray eyes, auburn hair and a light complexion and was a 21-year-old shoemaker or mechanic probably living in Barry County when he enlisted in Company E on May 10, 1861. (About the same time his older brother James joined the Regimental Band.) Merrick was present for duty through June 30, 1862, and reported AWOL in July and August, although he had probably been hospitalized near Yorktown, Virginia.
Merrick was not carried on the rolls from March of 1863 through May, although according to Andrew Kilpatrick, another member of Company E, Merrick was a Private present for duty in late May of 1863. And subsequent rolls through August 31 show him as present for duty. In September and October he was on detached service, probably as a teamster driving an ammunition train, and he reenlisted on December 23, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Cascade, Kent County.
He was presumably 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, although he was reported was present for duty from January through April 30, 1864. He was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was reported as a Corporal when he was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.
After the war Merrick returned to Michigan, probably to Bellevue, Clinton County where he was living from about 1865 until about 1870.
He married Ohio native Elizabeth (1844-1928), and they had at least three children: George (b. 1866), Frank (b. 1867) and a daughter (b. 1870).
By 1870 he was working as a shoemaker and living with his wife and three children in Hastings, Barry County (James L. also lived in Hastings that year). By 1880 Merrick was working as a wagon maker and living on Railroad Street in Hastings’ Fourth Ward with his wife and children. He was still living in Hastings with his wife Elizabeth in 1920. In fact, he probably lived in Hastings for the rest of his life (as did his older brother James).
He was living in Hastings in 1883 when he was drawing $2.00 per month for partial loss of his right index finger (pension no. 176, 041, dated October of 1880), in December of 1888 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.
In 1889 Merrick was part of the reception committee welcoming his former comrades to the annual reunion of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association held that year in Hastings.
He was living in the First Ward in 1890 and at 418 High Street from 1909-11, and probably in 1912 he was drawing $15.00 per month, and $72.00 by 1921. He was living in Hastings in 1891, in the First Ward in 1894, in Hastings in 1906-1907, 1912 and 1915. In 1920 he was living with his wife Elizabeth in Hastings.
Merrick died on October 3, 1921, and was buried on October 5 in Riverside cemetery, Hastings: block A-west “free ground,” lot no. 38.
In late October his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 911122).