George E. Southerland was born in 1842 in Ohio.
George left Ohio and came to Michigan where by 1860 he was living with and/or working for William Diets, a wealthy farmer in Essex, Clinton County. (In 1860 there was one John Sutherland living in Lansing, Ingham County.) Late that same year or perhaps in early 1861 he became a member of the Lansing company called the “Williams’ Rifles,” whose members would serve as the nucleus of Company G, and he was 19 years old and may have been living in Clinton County when he enlisted in Company G on May 10, 1861.
According to Frank Siverd of Company G, in early June of 1861 George was sick with the measles. He was, Siverd was quick to add, “well cared for. [Regimental Surgeon D. W.] Bliss leaves nothing undone that will contribute to the comfort of the sick. To prevent the disease spreading, as soon as the first symptoms appear,” Bliss had Southereland along with several others “removed to the house of a physician, some three miles from camp.”
George recovered sufficiently to leave Michigan with the regiment on June 13, 1861, and allegedly deserted on July 24, 1861, at Arlington, Virginia. On August 1 Frank Siverd of Company G wrote that he was “none the less sorry for the honor of the company to state that Sutherland and [John Higgins also of Company G] have been reported to the authorities as deserters. They have not reported themselves since the battle, and yet are known to have been in the city [Washington].” A week later Siverd wrote that Southerland still could not be found, yet he was known to have reached Washington; Siverd seemed to think that Southerland had “taken care” of himself.
There is no further record, and no pension seems to be available.
On December 19, 1863, 24-year-old George Sutherland enlisted in Company M, Eleventh Michigan cavalry and was mustered in on January 6, 1864. He deserted on January 30, 1864, at Lexington, Kentucky. There is no further record.