Tuesday, March 23, 2021


unburied dead at the Rose Farm, Gettysburg, July 1863, by Timothy O'Sullivan

Of 1,411 men enrolled in the 3rd Michigan Infantry, we have death dates for 1,241.

From the middle of June of 1861 until the regiment was mustered out of federal service on June 10, 1864, 260 men of the Old 3rd Michigan died: 

103 men killed in action
49 from wounds
97 of disease4 in accidents
1 suicide1 murdered
5 unknown cause 

This represents a nearly 18% casualty rate (based on a total enrollment of 1,411).

When we take into account men consolidated into the 5th Michigan Infantry, transferred to other regiments or discharged from the 3rd Michigan and who subsequently reentered the military, another 90 men died by the time the war ended on May 6, 1865. Another 11 men did not live to see 1866. From the spring of 1861 until the end of 1865 at least 361 men of the 3rd Michigan infantry perished. As a group, the 3rd Michigan suffered a 25% casualty rate, or one of every four men who enrolled in the 3rd would not survive the end of 1865.

First to die
The first man to die was probably Joseph Proper or Propier, on May 8, 1861, at Cantonment Anderson in Grand Rapids. He was buried about one mile away from the camp in what is now Oak Hill (north) cemetery, at the corner of Eastern and Hall streets in Grand Rapids. (Note: Joseph is not included in the calculations here since he was never mustered into state, let alone federal service.)

Of those men mustered into service with the regiment Chauncey Strickland was the first to die. He perished of lung fever at camp in Grand Rapids on June 18, 1861.

His remains were returned to his family home in Clinton County. The first man to die after the regiment arrived in Virginia was probably William Choate of Company C; he died of disease at Camp Blair, Virginia, near the Chain Bridge and presumably buried near the camp. Homer Morgan of Company B was the first to die by violence, on July 20, 1861, allegedly a suicide.

Last to die
Originally in Company E Moses Monroe transferred to the 5th Michigan Infantry in June of 1864 when the regiments were consolidated. He was wounded on April 6, 1865 at Sayler’s Creek, Virginia, near Appomattox and died of his wounds on April 23.

Eleven other former members of the 3rd Michigan died in April of 1865, and another three in May. For example, Casper Thenner, sick from disease, had just returned to his home in Grand Rapids when he died on May 27, and was interred in what is now an unmarked grave in Oak Hill (south) cemetery. The last to die in 1865 was probably Asa Daniels, who had recently returned to Clinton County, Michigan when he died of unknown causes on December 13. Perhaps the last man to die as a direct consequence of the war was Samuel Thurston of Company C. According to the Grand Rapids Herald of February 9, 1897, “After carrying a rebel bullet in his right lung for over thirty years” Thurston, who was an inmate of the Michigan Soldiers' Home “has given up the fight. The bullet had for over thirty years been ploughing its way downward through the tissues of the lungs, and yesterday afternoon dropped out, death being almost instantaneous. The ball was covered with a linen patch, just as it had left the rifle of some rebel soldier, the patch and bullet being firmly connected. At 2 o'clock yesterday morning Thurston was taken to the hospital, having been in usual good health up to a short time before that. In the afternoon he complained to his nurse that his heart pained him, and while she was gone to secure a hot water application Thurston died.”

Last man standing. . .
The last known survivor of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry, was probably Edward McArdle of Company E. He died on October 15, 1937, at the Pacific Branch, National Military Home, Los Angeles, California, and was buried in the National Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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