Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Personal background

Rev. Francis Cuming
The men of the 3rd Michigan Infantry were born between 1798 (Rev. Francis Cuming) and 1850 (Jacob Rebhun). 

Not including the six men for whom we do not have a birth year, more than three-quarters of the total 1,411 enrolled were born after 1830 and one in five born after 1842: 

11-16 years of age: 31
17-19 years: 275
20-29 years: 811
30-39 years: 204
over 40 years: 72
over 50 years: 10
over 60 years: 3 

If we combine the numbers of all those men under 30, that group comprised nearly 80% of the total enrolled in the Regiment (1,412). 

Of the 922 reported physical measurements, four men were
5 feet or less: Tommy Byers, John McPherson, Albert Pelton and Jacob Rebhun. At the tall end, we have George Korten at 6'10,  George Randall and Robert Swart at 6'6",  Sam Aldrich and Ben Waite were 6'4", and Alex French and Calvin Wilsey 6'3". Over half of the men were between 5’6’” and 5’11”. 

At least 679 men were reported as able to read and write and 38 were listed as illiterate; both numbers were probably higher. We also know that at least 40 men attained “higher education” degrees in architecture, law, medicine, education and the ministry. 

In religious matters the men were overwhelmingly Protestant, although this remains measured speculation. Of the 116 reported religious preferences we know that 84 were Protestant, 29 Catholic, 2 were Universalist, and 1 was Jewish. 

At least 788 (or more than 56%) of the 1,405 reported prewar occupations were directly related to the farm, and if one adds the 161 laborers, nearly 68% of the men who joined the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry were either farmers or laborers (and quite often both). The next highest represented occupation was carpentry with 67 men who had worked in that trade before the war, followed by 59 in the lumber industry, 35 clerks, 24 blacksmiths and 23 shoemakers. 

If we add the farmer/laborer group to the next five occupations, more than 82% of the regiment fell into seven occupational categories.  

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