3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry

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Jul 12, 2015

Regiment Michigan
Volunteer Infantry


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"Regimental Roster"

The Third was organized at Grand Rapids and was mustered into service June 10, 1861, with an enrollment of 1040 officers and men. The Regiment left Grand Rapids June 13, 1861, for Washington D.C. to join the Army of the Potomac, and one month afterward took part in the action at Blackburn's Ford, Va.

Colonel McConnell resigned Oct. 22, 1861, and Major Champlin was commissioned Oct. 28, 1861, then under his command the Third went into winter quarters at Alexandria, Va. until the following March, when it was assigned to General Berry's Brigade, Third Division, Third Corp, then entered upon the Peninsular Campaign of 1862 conducted by General McClellan.

The Regiment was engaged in the battle of Williamsburg, Va., May 5th, fought gallantly at Fair Oaks receiving a special commendation from General Berry commanding the Brigade, also from General Phil Kearney commanding the division for duty "Nobly Performed". The severe loss of 30 killed, 124 wounded and 15 missing attested to the conspicuous part that the Third took in the battle.

It engaged the Confederates at Charles City Cross Roads, June 30th then at Malvern Hill July 1st. During the entire campaign, the Third was marching or constructing fortifications, when not fighting the Confederates in the historic battles on the Peninsular Campaign. The campaign ended at the battle of Malvern Hill, when the Third with its Corp returned to take part in the disastrous campaign conducted by General Pope. At Groveton, near the old battlefield of Manassas (Bull Run), a severe engagement was fought with the Confederate Corp of General Jackson. General Longstreet arriving upon the field in time to relieve Jackson's troops and convert the campaign of General Pope into a retreat of the Union forces to behind the defenses of Washington.

During the months following, the Regiment moved with its Brigade to different points in Virginia, then in October with the Third Corp crossed the Potomac at Chain Bridge, then after marching through Maryland they crossed the river again reaching Falmouth Va., the 23rd. At this point it crossed the Rappahanock River and participated in the three days battle of Fredricksburg, recrossing it on December 15th, forming camp at Falmouth, Va. The Third crossed the Rappahanock River again at United States Ford on May 1, 1863 on the march to Chancellorsville, where it was in danger of capture or annihilation on account of the demoralization of the Eleventh Corp when overwhelmed by Jackson's Confederate troops, but by stubborn fighting the Third held its position with a loss of 63 killed, wounded and missing, when in good order re-crossed the river with the army when the order was given by General Hooker. The Third was with General Sickles Division during this engagement with the contest hand to hand, the slaughter great.

On the 11th of June the Third Corp started on a long and tiresome march in search of General Lee's army, coming in contact with it at Gettysburg, Pa. the 2nd and 3rd day of July. Sickles' Corp, in which the Third served, had an advanced line the second day of the battle, was assaulted by the Confederates, when a desperate conflict ensured. The Corp fell back to its original position, until it was strengthened by the Fifth Corp, whereby the Confederates were repulsed.

In this battle the Third lost 40 killed, wounded and missing.

After the battle of Gettysburg, the Third followed the retreating Confederate army to Williamsport, crossed the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry and marched to Manassas Gap.

On the 17th of August the Third moved to Alexandria Va., when it was then sent to New York City to quiet the disturbances caused by the draft riots.

From New York it was sent to Troy, N.Y., then returned to its Brigade at Culpepper, Va., where it arrived September 17th. In October the Regiment was at Auburn Heights, Manassas, Centerville, airfax Station and at Catlett's Station.

The Regiment was in camp at Warrenton Junction November 7th, at which time it commenced a series of marches, meeting the Confederates at Kelly's Ford. At Mine Run it charged the Confederates in their works, then moved to Brandy Station on December the 2nd. During the operations for the month, the Regiment lost 31 killed, wounded and missing.

On the 23rd of December, 207 members of the Regiment re-enlisted and returned to Michigan on Veteran furlough. After the Regiment returned from veteran furlough, it joined the Second Brigade, Third Division, Second Corp, crossing the Rapidan River on May 4, 1864, entering upon the Wilderness Campaign. It was then temporarily consolidated with the Fifth Michigan Infantry.

The Second Corp was commanded by General Hancock, always being where the heaviest fighting was, the Third sharing in all the movements and battles of the Corp.

It was engaged in the desperate struggle of the Wilderness. Charging the Confederate works at Spottsylvania, where it captured a large number of prisoners with two Regimental colors. The Third was again engaged at the North Anna River on the 23rd and 24th of May, then at Cold Harbor, June 7th. On the 9th of June the men who did not re-enlist and some of the recruits who joined the Regiment after it was in the field, with some of the officers, proceeded to Michigan where they were mustered out. This action depleted the Regiment to such an extent that those who had re-enlisted were formed into a Battalion, then were attached to the Fifth Michigan Infantry. The order consolidating the Third and Fifth Infantry was issued by the Secretary of War on June 13, 1864.

On the 20th day of June 1864, the Third was mustered out of service and disbanded when paid, in Detroit.

During their term of Federal service they were engaged at:
Blackburn's Ford,Va.
Bull Run,Va.
Fair Oaks,Va.
Savage Station,Va.
Peach Orchard,Va.
White Oak Swamp,Va.
Malvern Hill,Va.
2nd Bull Run,Va.
Wapping Heights,Va.
Auburn Heights,Va.
Kelly's Ford,Va.
Locust Grove,Va.
Mine Run,Va.
Todd's Tavern,Va.
Po River,Va.
North Anna River,Va.
Cold Harbor,Va.

Organized at Grand Rapids, Mich., and mustered into State service May 21, 1861.
Mustered into United States service June 10, 1861.
Left State for Washington, D.C., June 13.
Attached to Richardson's Brigade, Tyler's Division, McDowell's Army of Northeastern Virginia, to August, 1861.
Richardson's Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861.
Richardson's Brigade, Heintzelman's Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to August, 1862.
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps, to March, 1864.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps., to June, 1864.

Total Enrollment 1432
Killed in Action 110
Died of Wounds 65
Died in Confederate Prisons 15
Died of Disease 81
Discharged from Wounds 404
Total Casualty Rate 47.1%
Regiment Michigan
Volunteer Infantry Re-Organized

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"Wartime Deaths"

The history of the Third is separated into two sections as upon reorganization, other than name, it was in effect a completely different unit, seeing duty in the western theater of operations.
The Third was re-organized in October 1864, at Grand Rapids, under Colonel M. B. Houghton, and was mustered into service the 15th of the month with an enrollment of 879 officers and men.

The Regiment left Grand Rapids October 20, for Nashville, Tenn. During the month of November the Third was stationed at Decatur, Alabama. It then moved to Murfreesboro, Tenn., where it was engaged in picket and scouting duty, remaining in the Murfreesboro area until January 16, 1865, when it moved to Huntsville, Alabama.

In February the Regiment was at Huntsville, when on the 16th of March proceeded to New Market, Tenn. afterward camping at Bull's Gap and Jonesboro. It was very efficient in driving out the numerous bands of guerrillas that infested that portion of the country, thus affording protection to the loyal people of Tennessee.

After the surrender of the Confederate army in the east, the Third proceeded to New Orleans, where it embarked and crossed the Gulf of Mexico to San Antonio, Texas, where it remained during the winter, doing provost duty, when in May 1866, it moved to Victoria, where it was mustered out of service.

The Regiment returned to Michigan being paid and disbanded at Detroit, June 10, 1866.

During their term of Federal service they were engaged at:
Decatur,Ala. Murfreesboro,Tenn.

Organized at Grand Rapids, Adrian and Pontiac, Mich., August 24 to October 12, 1864.
Mustered in October 15, 1864.
Left State for Decatur, Ala., October 20.
Attached to District of Northern Alabama, Dept. of the Cumberland, to November, 1864.
1st Brigade, Defences of Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, Dept. of the Cumberland, to January, 1865.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 4th Army Corps, to June, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 4th Army Corps, to August, 1865.
Dept. of Texas to May, 1866.

Total Enrollment 1191
Died of Wounds 2
Died of Disease 78
Discharged from Wounds 32
Total Casualty Rate 9.4%


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Legion Para

Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

Of the 1,411 men enrolled in the 3rd Michigan Infantry, we have burial locations for 1,265. The men of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry died literally all over the United States and Canada. They are buried as far west as California and British Columbia, as far south as Key West, Florida and as far north as Montana and Maine:

Alabama 2
Arizona 1
Arkansas 2
California 24
Canada 5
Colorado 6/7
Connecticut 3
District of Columbia 32
Florida 4
Georgia 13 (11 at Andersonville)
Iowa 3
Illinois 20
Indiana 5
Kansas 18
Kentucky 1
Louisiana 1
Maine 2
Maryland 8
Massachusetts 1
Michigan 684
Minnesota 7
Mississippi 1
Missouri 8
Montana 3
Nebraska 12
New Hampshire 1
New Jersey 2
New York 37
North Carolina 6 (5 in mass grave at Salisbury)
North Dakota 1
Ohio 26
Oklahoma 8
Oregon 10
Pennsylvania 41
Rhode Island 1
South Carolina 8
South Dakota 2
Tennessee 4
Texas 6
Utah 1
Virginia 200
Washington state 15
Wisconsin 24
Wyoming 1

The great majority are buried in Michigan and Virginia, followed by Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. In fact, at least 884 men who served in the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry, or nearly 62% of the total enrolled, died and were buried in Virginia or Michigan.

Of the 684 men reportedly buried in Michigan, by far the largest number (208) are found in Kent County, and of that number 43 are buried in the “Michigan Soldiers’ Home” Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

After Kent, the Michigan counties with the next highest number of burials are Ottawa (53), Ionia (50), Barry (37), Muskegon (27) and Newaygo (23).

Many of the 195 men buried in Virginia are probably interred in unknown graves scattered throughout the state, like so many thousands of soldiers.

For example, it is likely that of the estimated 35 men who died at Fair Oaks, Virginia, on May 31, 1862, all are interred in Seven Pines National Cemetery, although we know exact locations for only a fraction of that number. And the men who died at Groveton on August 29, 1862, their remains were reportedly brought to Arlington National Cemetery and interred in a mass grave very close to the Custis-Lee mansion.

The fact that so many men who died in prison camps remain listed as "unknown" is well-established. However, it is also quite likely that several of the Old 3rd soldiers who returned to Michigan during the war and died at home today rest in unmarked graves. This is particularly true for Samuel Camp in Lamont, Ottawa County, Francis Barlow, Henry Kampe and William Gibson in Grand Rapids, as well as Chauncey Strickland probably in Clinton County.

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Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

Of the 1,283 reported birthplaces of the men of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry we find 213 born in Europe, 72 in Canada and 998 in the United States. More than 22% of Old 3rd Michigan men were born outside of the United States.

From Europe the highest number came from present-day Germany (107), followed by England, Scotland and Ireland (84).

In the United States, the overwhelming number of men were born were born in New York State (497), accounting for nearly39% of the total reported. Next was Michigan with 225 or about 18% of reported birthplaces; of that number 31 men were born in Kent County (the point of origin for the regiment). Third highest was Ohio (131).

Together just three states, New York, Ohio and Michigan accounted for more than two-thirds (66.4%) of all reported birthplaces.

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Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

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 disease
  • 4 in accidents
  • 1 suicide
  • 1 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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Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

For reasons which are today unclear, 50 men were not listed in the official state-sponsored regimental history of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry. (The so-called "Brown Book" series underwritten by the Michigan State Adjutant General's Office under the direction of then Adjutant General George Brown.).

The soldier's name is followed by the company letter. "Unassigned" refers to a soldier who was never assigned to a company in the 3rd Michigan, often as the result of being assigned or transferred to another unit but that was not always the case. Unfortunately the record remains unclear on this.

  • BELLOWS, George W. - E
  • BENSON, John - D
  • BIGGS, Solomon D. - D
  • BRADFORD, James H. - C
  • BURBANK, Isaac - F
  • BURGESS, Maynard E. - Unassigned
  • CAMPAU, Adolph T. - A
  • CHAILLE, Preston - Unassigned
  • CLAY, George S. - E
  • DIBBLE, Austin P. - K
  • DRAPER, Charles S. - I
  • EBERLY, Antony - C
  • FISHER, Rendel - Unassigned
  • FOOTE, Allen Ripley - B
  • GARLOCK, Alfred A. - E
  • HAMILL, Charles O. - Unassigned
  • HARKER, John - Unassigned
  • HARRIS, John - Unassigned
  • KILBY, Patrick - G
  • LITTLEFIELD, Daniel W. - A
  • LOVELL, Don G. - A
  • LUCAS, John - Unassigned
  • MONROE, William - Unassigned
  • MOUCHAM, Edwin - Unassigned
  • NEAL, Carlton - K
  • OWEN, William M. or Marvin - D
  • PARM, James - I
  • PAUSTLE, Austin - H
  • PERRY, Silas S. - G
  • PIERCE, Edwin S. - E
  • SAYLES, William G. or R. - B
  • SEELAND, Edward - C
  • SHELDON, George W. - E
  • STRONG, John J. - G
  • TAYLOR, Lyman A. - H
Another 7 were only listed in the 5th Michigan Infantry regimental history:

  • BARKER, Fred - K
  • BISSOT, Henry - Unassigned
  • CHAMBERLAIN, Charles -Unassigned
  • KENNICUTT, Daniel - K
  • KORTEN, George - Unassigned
  • MONTAGUE, Charles - Unassigned
  • STEELE, Peter - G

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Jul 12, 2015

At least 30 men are listed as "no further record" in regimental documents and with the exception of Henry Smith, Thomas Henfry and Virgil Hamilton all were listed in an "Unassigned" company.

  • Clarkson Abbott
  • Charles Brown, substitute
  • Joseph Cantor, substitute
  • Edward Grayson, substitute
  • Edward Hall
  • Charles Hamill
  • Virgil Hamilton
  • John Hamilton, substitute
  • Gilbert Hansen
  • John Harper
  • John Harris
  • Thomas Henfry
  • Henry Jones
  • Nathaniel Lenning
  • John Marsh
  • Christy Martin
  • John Miller (2), substitute
  • William Monroe (2)
  • Edwin Moucham
  • Edward New, substitute
  • John Otto, substitute
  • Charles Palmer
  • Samuel Sikes
  • Henry Smith, substitute
  • Robert Smith
  • Alfred Spencer
  • Calvin Strain
  • Franz Sumner, substitute
  • Henry Ward, substitute
  • Charles White, substitute
Only Henry and Hamill seem to have wound up in several different units: Henfry served in the 17th US infantry and Hamill served in the 12th Michigan infantry, the 1st US cavalry and in fact stayed in the army after the war serving out west for some years.

Eleven of the 30 were substitutes for men drafted. Five of the 30 are known to have survived the war.

Another seven men never joined the 3rd Michigan in Virginia: Rendel Fisher, William Sayles, Martin Bates, John Lucas, George Runyan, Edmund Bement and Preston Chaille.

Aside from Fisher the other six joined a different Michigan unit: Sayles in the 6th cavalry, Bates in the 3rd cavalry, Lucas in the 10th cavalry, Runyan in the 5th infantry, Bement in the 12th infantry and Chaille in the Light Artillery. All but Fisher are known to have survived the war (what became of Fisher remains unknown).

Legion Para

Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

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 even 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' 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 probably overwhelmingly Protestant, although this remains 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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Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015


About the monument to the 3rd Michigan Infantry
The granite monument stands almost twelve feet tall. A carved relief on the front shows a pair of soldiers skirmishing, which was the regiment’s assignment on July 2 at Gettysburg, On the front of the top of the monument is a brass tablet with the Seal of the State of Micihigan, and on the front of the base is a carved relief of the diamond symbol of the Third Corps. The monument was dedicated by the State of Michigan on June 12, 1889.

The 3rd Michigan Infantry in the Battle of Gettysburg
The regiment was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel Byron Root Pierce. He was wounded on July 2nd and his brother, Lieutenant Colonel Edwin S. Pierce, then took command.


See Lt. Colonel Pierce’s Official Report of the 3rd Michigan in the Battle of Gettysburg
Attached to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps, Army of the Potomac

From the front of the monument:

3rd Michigan Inftry. 3rd Brig. 1st Div. 3rd Corps
Mustered in at Grand Rapids Mich. June 10th 1861

Army Potomac
First Bull Run to Appomattox

From the rear:

July 2nd 1863.
This regiment, deployed as skirmishers 150 yards in advance of this position, held the line extending from the Peach Orchard east to the woods, was the right of de Trobriand’s Brigade, and connected with the left of Graham’s.

Went into action with 19 officers, 267 men. – Total 286 Casualties.
7 men killed, 3 officers and 28 men wounded, 7 men missing – Total 45.


The left flank marker for the 3rd Michigan is half buried

See more on the history of the 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the Civil War

Location of the monument
The monument to the Third Michigan is south of Gettysburg in the southeast corner of the Peach Orchard, 128 yards south of Wheatfield Road and 128 yards east of Emmitsburg Road. (39°48’00.7″N 77°14’57.4″W)

Legion Para

Retired Moderator
Jul 12, 2015

(Pictured here is the staff of the Third Michigan, l-r: Rev. Francis Cuming, Major Stephen Champlin, Col. Dan McConnell, Lt.Col. Ambrose Stevens, Drs. D. W. and his brother Zenas Bliss, regimental surgeons.)

major bill

Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
This is a bit about Company A of the 3rd Michigan.

The Valley City Light Guards. a. k. a. Valley City Guards a. k. a. Grand Rapids Light Guards, a.k.a. Grand Rapids Guards, a.k.a. The Rifle Corps (Grand Rapids, Kent County) were originally formed in 1855 as the Grand Rapids Light Guards. They appear to have formed from the fireman of Alert Fire Company No. 1. Soon after forming they were renamed the Valley City Guards and later the Valley City Light Guards. In 1855-1856 they were part of 51st Regiment of Michigan Uniformed Militia. Their first commander was Captain Wright L Coffinberry, later of the 1st Michigan Engineer Regiment. On January 7 1858 they became the Valley City Light Guards. They maintained an armory in the Taylor and Barns’ block. In 1860 they ranked 8th in Class I of Michigan Uniformed Militia order of merit. By 1860 John H. Earle was the company commander

Their first uniforms were blue swallow tail coatees and blue trousers with 1 ½ inch wide white stripes. It is possible that they also wore gray fatigue uniforms, but this is unclear. One order printed in one of the local papers tells them to report to the armory in blue pants, so it would appear that they had pants of two different colors. The Adjutant General’s Report of 1860 has them wearing blue uniforms. In 1858, the Valley City Guard carried rifled muskets. In the Grand Rapids Daily Enquirer and Herald on January 10 1861 the commander complained that the company lacked overcoats, shakos and knapsacks. [ii]From this it would appear that cloth caps may have been worn.


In 1861, they received 40 1st class muskets from the state. In 1858, they were issued black cartridge boxes and cap-pouches. At the same time bayonet-sheaths and belt plates were issued. New noncommissioned officer swords were probably issued as well.[iii] They had 40 rifle muskets destroyed by a fire in 1860 or 1861; these were replaced by 40 state owned musket rifles and eight noncommissioned officer swords.

The Valley City Light Guard became Company A, 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment and they were issued gray ten-button jacket and gray trousers and gray caps by the state.

Valley City Guard, Grand Rapids Daily Enquirer and Herald, September 28 1860, p. 3, col. 1.

[ii] “Our Militia”, Grand Rapids Enquired and Herald, January 10 1861, p. 3, col. 2, signed A.C. S.. “Our Militia”, Grand Rapids Weekly Enquirer January 16 1861, p. 3, col. 1, signed A.C.S..

[iii] “More Arms”, Grand Rapids Daily Enquirer and Herald, October 27 1858, p. 3, col. 1.
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major bill

Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
This is Company D

The Boston Light Guard a.k.a. Boston Guard (Boston also known as Saranac, Ionia County) was formed in 1858 or earlier. Ambrose A Stephens was the captain in 1858. In 1858 they were in 2nd Battalion, 51st Regiment. In 1860, they were inspected at the Michigan Uniformed Militia encampment near Grand Rapids with the rest of the 51st Regiment.

In 1858, they were issued black cartridge boxes and cap-pouches. At the same time bayonet-sheaths and belt plates were issued. New noncommissioned officer’s swords were likely issued as well. In 1859, they had 40 rifled muskets and 1 six-pound brass cannon and were ranked in Class II of the Michigan Uniformed Militia. In 1861, they had 40 musket rifles, 5 musketoons, 5 revolvers, 11 sabers, 5 noncommissioned officer swords and 1 six-pound brass cannon with carriage and limber complete, 1 caisson complete and 2 artillery harness with lead and wheel sets.

They wore blue full dress uniforms, but no details have been found to further describe their dress, and it is possible that they had undressed or fatigue uniforms. The only information about their dress can be found in two sources. The first reference to their uniforms comes from 1858 and indicates that they wore full dress uniforms, but their full dress uniforms are not further described. In the1860 Michigan Adjutant General’s Report their uniforms are described as being blue but does this report does not specify what type of blue uniform they wore.

They joined the 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infinity Regiment as Company D under the command of Captain Houghton and received state issued gray uniforms.

“Grand Rapids Military”, Grand Rapids Enquirer and Herald, August 4 1858, p. 3, col. 3. “Military Convention”, Grand Rapids Enquirer and Herald, August 4 1858, p. 3, col. 3.

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Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Company B.

The Williams’ Rifles, a.k.a. Company B, Williams’ Battalion (Lansing, Ingham County) formed in 1859. During the Civil War, the Williams’ Rifles were Company G, 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Although Lansing, the ‘new’ state capitol, was a small town in 1859 enough men could be found to form two militia companies, both of which were named for Colonel Adolphus Wesley Williams who was also call a major in some sources. In 1859, the recently formed William Rifles earned a spot in Class I of the Michigan Uniformed Militia. In 1859, they reportedly carried rifled muskets also referred to as Minnie rifles. In 1860, Captain J.R. Price took 22 men to the Michigan Uniformed Militia encampment being held at Jackson. They had a small three-piece band in addition to the riflemen.

In 1861, they had 60 State owned rifle muskets, 4 revolvers and 8 noncommissioned officer swords. Their rifles were said to be Minnie rifles with spring bayonets that could be detached and used as sidearms. The Lansing State Republican printed letters from newly assigned members of the Williams Rifles about how the 3rd Regiment confiscated their rifles and give them to another unit. Because of this they sarcastically referred to themselves as the Williams’ Muskets. The men were livid about this injustice. The company members had purchased these rifles in 1859. The rifles were described as Minnie rifles with the new “patent spring saber bayonet where the bayonet can be detached and worn as a sidearm. Unhappy with their replacement muskets, and still considering themselves as a rifle company, the men made an effort to replace their confiscated rifles with Minnie rifles, which they scoured Virginia battlefields to find.

The Michigan Adjutant General’s Report of 1860 lists them as wearing gray uniforms. A September 1 1860 Detroit Free Press article gives their uniform as grey coats and pants trimmed with green. The report also indicates that the Williams’ Rifles wore regulation caps. The color of their caps is not given.

Their first offer of service was to escort the newly elected President through Baltimore on his way to Washington, but this offer was not accepted. When sworn in to federal service with the 3rd Michigan Infantry the state issued them gray uniforms with ten-button jackets.

major bill

Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
The Hastings Rifles a.k.a. Hastings Rifle Company a.k.a. True Blues a.k.a. Hastings (Hastings, Barry County) formed in June 1861. They wore cadet-gray uniforms and caps. G. W, Mills had manufactured these caps. The commander was Captain George A. Smith. They traveled to Grand Rapids to join the 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. They were never able to obtain enough men to become a company in the 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the company was dissolved. Many of the men joined other companies in the 3rd Regiment. The remainders of the men returned home and were sarcastically referred to as them as the ‘True Blows’.

A new company again called the Hastings Rifles was formed in Hastings after the original company was disbanded. The new commander was G. W. Mills (this is same man who had made the original company’s caps). No information exists on what type of uniforms the new company wore. The reformed company did not remain active for long.

Barry County Pioneer, June 6 1861. ??

major bill

Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
The Independent Zouaves a.k.a. Elder Independent Zouaves a.k.a. Elder Zouaves (Lansing, Ingham County) drilled in Lansing for a short time in early 1861. During this time they may or may have obtained some type of uniforms. The local newspaper called them a ‘crack company of young men’. The Independent Zouaves selected Captain Mathew Elder as commander and changed their name to the Elder Zouaves. It is unclear if the Elder Zouaves wore Zouave uniforms or any uniforms what so ever. They were active in Lansing for several weeks. By this time, it was widely known that Michigan would issue the men uniforms once they were on active duty and many companies were reluctant to expend the effort and money for their own uniforms. Captain Elder obtained some a uniform at this time. Captain Elder would have known that once on active duty he would need the standard state officer’s frock coat and trousers so may have purchased such.

The Elder Zouaves went into the 3rd Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment and were issued gray jackets, pants and caps by the state.


First Sergeant
Mar 18, 2011
Clinton, Mississippi
My G-G Uncle, Miles S. Adams, was a Lieutenant in Company A, 3rd Michigan Infantry. He was badly wounded in the arm at the Battle of Fair Oaks, and eventually had to resign because of his injury. After spending a short time at home in Grand Rapids, he joined the 20th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps, and spent the remainder of the war in Washington, D.C. There is a postwar photo of Miles wearing a reunion ribbon on the Findagrave.com website: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/45162794/miles-seymour-adams

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