Monroe’s diverse history includes an active role in supporting the Union during the Civil War. Learn more about the people and places of our county from 1861-1865.
Civil War Soldiers - In 1915, during the dedication of the Monroe Custer Statue, the Record Commercial newspaper reported that Monroe “furnished the largest per cent of combatants, according to census of that time” for Michigan during the Civil War. Over 2000 Monroe men fought for the Union in units that included the 4th Michigan, 7th Michigan, 15th Michigan and the 18th Michigan.
Soldiers wrote home to their loved ones often. The letter below was published in the Monroe Commercial on July 18, 1861. It offers a glimpse into a soldier’s daily life.
From the Fourth Regiment, Camp Mansfield, Washington, July 10, 1861
The heat has been so oppressive that our men have hardly felt able to drill. Last evening we had a fine Southern shower. The sky suddenly darkened, a powerful gust of wind which lasted a few moments and then the rain came down in torrents, filling the ditches and flooding those tents which had not been surrounded by trenches. The tents at first did not shed rain, and the men slept in rather damp berths. This is an inconvenience comparatively small, to others we have been obliged to suffer, such as the use of impure water, too warm to be fit to drink; sleeping on pebbly ground without straw, irregular and short rations etc, etc. There’s considerable sickness in the Regiment. Private Siezor of Co. A was taken quite sick last night with cramps, headache and severe pain in his back and sides. The Hospital stores have been quite incomplete, and hunger adds misery to the lot of those unfortunate fellows in the hospital. Knaggs of Co. A is slowly regaining strength by aid of chicken broth and such other comforts as the kindness of his comrades can procure for him. There are probably a dozen others of our Co. who are on the sick list but have kept out of the hospital.
Private A.B. Parsons of Co. C was buried yesterday. Private Wm. Hucksford of Co. D who injured his spine when bathing at Harrisburg is dead. Private Rouse of Co. K who was left at Harrisburg Hospital, on account of injuries he received by falling from the cars the morning after we left Elmirs, cannot live, so the Surgeon informed us yesterday. Privates Gravit and Cisco are discharged on account of their health, and will be sent home to Monroe this week.
Col. Woodbury sent in a requisition for blank cartridges yesterday but was told there were none to be had. We shall be furnished with a few rounds of ball cartridges today for target practice.
There are a great many letters written in the Regiment. The Chaplain, our Post Master, says the number of letters sent out each week is about 3000. The Sutlers of our Regiment are doing a large business, the men improving the first opportunity to realize on their labor, by purchasing lemons, herring, raisins, sugar, cigars, etc, etc. Probably from $100 to $200 of such stuff is sold every day here. The Sutler issues 5c and 10c checks, which are used as currency by the soldiers.
We shall probably leave here as soon as we are fully equipped and furnished with ammunition. I think we shall leave in a week or ten days for some point in Virginia.
(A late letter from Captain Luce mentions that as the boys are learning to cook, they are now faring better than at first. We have no doubt that much of the poor fare of which the boys complain has been attributable to a lack of knowledge in this respect—Ed Cox)
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Civil War Veterans of Monroe County Michigan – Veteran and Monroe resident, Jason King, Jr. spent over ten years researching Civil War soldiers from Monroe County. Unfortunately he died before his work could be published. In 1979, family and friends were able to publish his work. His work has been very valuable to genealogists and historians although it had been found to be incomplete. Recently, the Monroe County Genealogical Society worked to update Jason King’s information and the Friends of the Monroe County Historical Museum were able to publish it under the title Civil War Veterans of Monroe County.
Paging through the Civil War Book Club – This is a book club that focuses on the American Civil War. We are currently reading Reveille in Washington by Margaret Leech. We will meet to discuss the book on Thursday, September 24 at 7 pm at the Ellis Library and Reference Center. For more information please contact Charmaine Wawrzyniec at 734-241-5277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Civil War – The Monroe County Civil War Round Table, sponsored by the Friends of Ellis Library, meets the second Thursday of every month from September through May at the Ellis Library and Reference Center. Each month a different speaker is invited to share his or her knowledge of specific Civil War topics. Our new lecture series will begin Thursday, September 10, when Mr. Ernest Greer will give the history of Company I of the 12th South Carolina Volunteers. All talks are free and open to the public. For more information please contact Charmaine Wawrzyniec at 734-241-5277 or email email@example.com.