Friday, June 10, 2011

150 Years Since Third Michigan Left Cantonment Anderson

"Organizing a regiment of infantry for war was no easy task. It was expected that Grand Rapids would provide five of the ten companies required." - Courage without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard
 On June 13, 1861, The Third Michigan, a regiment of Infantry comprised mainly of Grand Rapids area men and led by Colonel Daniel McConnell, broke camp at Cantonment Anderson and marched several miles north to the newly constructed train station, headed for the seat of war. This moment ended two months of struggle organizing and training over 1,000 men in response to President Abraham Lincoln's call for troops. Over the next three years, the Third would find itself engaged in no less than twelve major campaigns and twenty-seven engagements. By the end a little more than half would be alive or remain fit for duty.

The Third’s engagements include Blackburn’s Ford, Bull Run, Yorktown, Williamsburg, FairOaks, Savage Station, Peach Orchard, Glendale, White Oak Swamp, Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wapping Heights, Auburn Heights, Kelly’s Ford, Locust Grove, Mine Run, Wilderness, Todd’s Tavern, PoRiver, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, and Cold Harbor.

Fifty years after the Third departed Grand Rapids, an aging group of veterans led by the regiment's own Major General Byron R. Pierece gathered on the site of what would soon become South High School and dedicated a monument marking the "hallowed ground" where it all began.

On Saturday, June 11, 2011, another group will gather at that same site to re-dedicate the original monument along with a new historical marker to help educate current and future generations on the role played by Cantonment Anderson in the war of the rebellion.  I'm honored to have been asked to play a small role in the re-dedication and will be speaking specifically on the Third Michigan's trials and heroic experience.

You can read my compilation of the Third's organization at Cantonment Anderson and its Civil War experience in a free e-book version of Courage without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard.  It's contained in Chapter 2 beginning on page 24.

"(The Third) reached its destination on the sixteenth of June and, trudging down Pennsylvania Avenue through horrid heat, passed the White House, where it was said that on the east portico both President Lincoln and General Winfield Scott could be seen sitting in plain view." - Courage without Fear

Update: Remembering the 1,040-man West Michigan regiment who fought in Civil War 150 years ago | by Garret Ellison

Want to learn more about the Third Michigan? Steve Soper's blogspot contains wealth of personal/organizational details. 

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