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1864-Michigan's "Fighting Fifth" Civil War Infantry

Microfilmed reports, unfortunately, are not always clearly reproduced, but this is a way to follow the 5th Regiment since there is currently no book on just this important regiment.  Over the five years when the blog was published various methods of coping with those microfilms changed.  As a result the quality of reproduction varies and, unfortunately, the original articles were deleted from the flash-drives that captured them off the Library of Michigan microfilm.  Sizes also may vary.  The largest size possible was used, but you may need to adjust the viewing size to see the best image.  As of this date, those original microfilms remain at the library for viewing. 

Unlike the original blog, I have delayed putting this page up until all material is posted.  This permits reading the articles in first to last sequence, unlike the usual blog format which goes from the most recent backwards.  Because there is so much material, I am going to break it down by year.  This page is from the war in 1864.   

It also reveals the learning curve as I worked upon the material.  Because the total blog had so many tags to index material, those labels will appear with each article and I can put them at the beginning of each article.  They do not appear on the sidebar because the sidebar's tags are for the main part of the blog.

Unfortunately some of my original decisions, like the use of this color font, are proving difficult to change.  Additionally, quirks of the Blogger process are not truly "WYSIWYG" (What You See Is What You Get), still its price (free, other than my own time) has made problems, for example spacing and fonts different than I chose on the original blog.  Yet I have changed it as far as I can, although how it appears may mislead the reader into not realizing there is more to come.  Just know that an entire year exists and keep going.

Detroit Free Press, January 1, 1864

Capt. Alberto, dead, furlough, Lt. Bradner, officers, wounded

Until the Fighting Fifth leaves Detroit, the Free Press makes up for hardly covering them on the battlefield.  They do at least note that they "have participated in all important engagements, with the exception of Antietam."

On a note about the copy, once again the original microfilm is slanted, but changing it might make it less legible.  I follow the practice of giving the largest view that doesn't run into the sidebar when doing my own preview.  This sometimes may cause you to scroll sideways, but it also makes it easier to decipher any microfilm lack of clarity.  At least that's my intent and I hope it works for you.




Detroit Free Press, January 5, 1864

The furlough of the Fifth has offered the Free Press an opportunity to show some support for the Fifth. The newspaper used it as an opportunity to do a good job of giving a retrospective summary of all they have experienced so far.  To my mind it smacks of "too little, too late", but it's up to you if instead it is "better late than never."  At least the writer made it clear that the members of the Fifth Infantry were respected -- even if the newspaper at other times offered criticism of the war itself and President Lincoln.

At the end of today's article you may choose to look for my personal Excuses and Frustrations Rant.

In mid-February coverage will return to the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune.  The Detroit Free Press will wait until warmer weather heats up the action to a point where they feel unable to ignore it.

Now the previously promised Excuses and Frustrations Rant -- definitely optional "behind the scenes" information:
Once again I had the choice of dealing with a slanted microfilming and decided to let it lean.  However that meant I couldn't make the text as large because the slant on the second segment moves into the sidebar.  I also made the choice to keep the text as close as possible to roughly same size even if some segments might not touch the sidebar.  Then I decided to change text size, however, on the second column as it reproduced lighter if kept to that size.  So much for being consistent.  There also is that curse of microfilming, a small fold in the newspaper, but worse still the bottom of the column was illegible.  That was the first of two spots where information was missing.  I have my own shortcomings in producing this material to remind me the human element needs to be considered.  Surely the person or persons microfilming the newspapers tried to do their best in the shortest amount of time.  I presume time was at a premium with pressure to finish as quickly as possible because of the cost of paying the microfilmer needed to be kept as low as possible.  Similarly I find a day at the Library of Michigan is an attempt to capture the most information in the best condition possible.  Those days can have equipment difficulties including sharing the only machine that lets me save articles on a flash drive.  I've been able to do this twice a year.  Today's microfilm leaves me most apologetic.  It looks as if somehow I omitted Lieutenant Colonel Pulford's speech.  It's impossible at this point to include it.  Considering the difficulties in getting everything quickly found and saved, it's probably surprising this didn't happen before.  It doesn't make me happy that it happened at all and I offer my apologies for it.  Maybe someday the original hard copies will be available for online digitizing.  As long there is public domain availability for such digitized material it would be most welcome.  Until then, this blog will present the best microfilm I can offer. 

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, February 18, 1864

The Michigan Relief Association and Mrs. Julia Wheelock were truly a godsend to injured members of the Army of the Potomac, including members of the Fifth Infantry.  While the Fifth is not specifically mentioned in the article, the circumstances mentioned were true for them, too.  This article opens with a bit of the original paper folded and a minor fold at the end.  As always we are at the mercy of the original microfilming.
Winter tended to make fighting difficult.  As a result little specifically about the Fighting Fifth appeared in the Detroit newspapers in February.  Next will be the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune war correspondent's report on the 25th of February.  












Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, February 25, 1864

Boredom in between action is always the soldier's situation.  Here is the situation for the Fifth Infantry.  Notice the contrast from two years ago when there started out 960 soldiers, but now are only 154.

Just as the soldiers watched for a change in their own circumstances, those who cared about the Fifth must wait for the next article on March 10.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, March 10, 1864

Because Will and Isaac Lerich were each prisoners at Libby Prison before being paroled for their injuries, I'm including this article about Libby Prison.  I'm sure they were not the only members of the Fighting Fifth to experience what they referred to as its "Southern hospitality."














Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, March 22, 1864

March 22 brings news from earlier in the month as spring and St. Patrick's Day draw near.  Mention is made of the "hundreds of ladies who have been in camp during the winter" being excluded.  The 5th begins outfitting itself for what it hopes will be the final push to accomplish a satisfactory conclusion to the war.
Consolidation is mentioned.  From my own point of view Michigan's 3d Infantry also became of interest, even though I made no attempt to post their separate news.  Isaac "Ike" Lerich was mustered out of the 5th from his battlefield wounds and ill health caused further by imprisonment at Libby Prison.  The 3d was decimated even more extensively than the 5th.  As a result this former soldier, who began as a bugle boy of the 5th, later was recommissioned as an officer since he was considered a good candidate and could ride a horse in the refurbished 3d Infantry as they campaigned away from the Army of the Potomac into the southwest. 

More news will have to wait for correspondent, G.W.W.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, March 29, 1864

The preparations for the Army of the Potomac review, first mentioned in the March 22 issue of the Advertiser and Tribune continues.














Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, April 1, 1864

Libby Prison held members of the Michigan 5th Infantry, including Will and Isaac "Ike" Lerich.  Because of this, articles about it have also been given here as they were reported.  Libby Prison is one of many labels used to help you find topics of interest.


Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, April 5, 1864

April in Virginia continued with the Army of the Potomac reorganizing and waiting for General Grant.

Because of Isaac "Ike" Lerich, earlier mentioned here, I personally notice the changes in the 3d Michigan.  April ended without further reports other than mail.  May reports really start to become frequent as the long awaited final push begins to end the war.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, May 8, 1864

The problems of research rear its head here.  Long sessions in a distant library gathering material can lead to missing something.  Today's article is incomplete.  The rest of it I hoped to add the next time I returned for more downloading of information.  Unfortunately May 8 was never able to be updated as I explain in my UPDATE below the article.  

To add to the problems I also had to borrow a computer using only the accessory program, Paint, to clean up what my flash drive saved.  I had been able to use a secondary program letting me try to remove the "noise" of scratches and other marks on the microfilm.  That program wasn't on the borrowed computer.  When I again had my own computer, the other program had disappeared.  Fortunately it doesn't make a difference on today's article.  If it is necessary, and possible, to use it later after this blog was moved, I will review my posts to see if it is possible after articles have been published since the original flash drive is no longer possible. 
There is a problem,  but it comes from the low-tech problem of a slight wrinkle.  I also believe most words are either easily figured out or clear in what is later seen here.

This is as much as I posted of what readers saw on May 8, 1864 about the Michigan 5th Infantry as the final year of the war heated up.
Our ancestors had to wait for trains and telegraph to bring word from the Civil War.  We get "better living through technology", but it still has its human element for problems (including a few new "wrinkles") and other delays due to the technology itself and the researcher.

How I wish newspapers only had one edition.  I'm fairly dependent on Helen Ellis's index of the newspapers of the Burton Historical Collection, Michigan in the Civil War.  As a fellow indexer I can appreciate the difficulty of her work done for the Centennial.  Unfortunately this article either was indexed as June 8 or it was May 28 and I transcribed it incorrectly when carrying my notes.  It certainly was not May 8.  On August 28 I returned to complete all copying and, as promised, tried to find any citation in her book to this article and also worked back and forth through microfilmed articles. Unfortunately I never found the rest of this.  I know her editions were published at a different time so sometimes the articles appear on the next day or even not at all.  I am told the Burton's newspapers may be photographed, but they don't have the flash drive copiers available at the Library of Michigan.  As a result I made the choice to go with flash drives.  Errors, as mentioned at the beginning of this posting, creep into large undertakings and I can only apologize for them.  In this case, the error will have to stand uncorrected.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, May 14, 1864

Capt. Gregory, Capt. Hurlbut, Capt. Rose, Capt. Shook, Capt. Wackinshaw, casualties, Chancellorsville, Lt. Col. Pulford, Lt. Hurtein, Maj. Mathews, wounded

The final battle season has now definitely begun.  Chancellorsville brought huge casualties, but the Army of the Potomac wasn't stopped.  It's also interesting to notice the promotions that have taken place in the course of the war by just searching an officer's name and seeing the various ranks they have held.  Lieutenant Colonel Pulford is certainly one of those.  I doubt, however, Captain Rose was the same as the previously mentioned Colonel Rose.  I also note Captain Wackinshaw was earlier listed as Captain Wackenshow in news coverage.

This only listed the officers wounded or killed, but the failure to list regular soldiers would definitely be upsetting to those following the 5th since the two day battle resulted in over 150 killed and wounded.  The only ray of hope was things must reach a climax to end the war.

Until later in the month, the Detroit newspapers have no further word about the Fighting Fifth Infantry of Michigan.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, May 23, 1864

Over the course of the war, the Fifth had one in three soldiers killed.  This report after ten days of non-stop fighting the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, the rate of injury (and often later death) is even worse.

By the way, the adjutant, George Waldron, reported the location as "Spottsylvania."  War correspondents have sometimes given the names of soldiers with more than one spelling over time.  My apologies for the confusion this may have caused.  I've generally taken whatever I've seen.  That echoes Will Rogers' claim in the 20th century that "All I know is what I read in the papers, and that's an alibi for my ignorance."

Because today's article is badly scratched, it's fortunate that the "Copperhead" Detroit Free Press the next day published a rare article giving the complete list of killed and wounded.

Detroit Free Press, May 24, 1864

Unlike the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, the Detroit Free Press, which opposed Lincoln and the war, had no correspondent in the Fifth Infantry.  As a result they are dependent on the report of Adjutant George W. Waldron's list of killed and wounded.  Since the previous day's report had scratches making some names illegible, it's good to have a second source even though it includes no other information.

The Fifth will continue fighting and moving closer to Richmond.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, June 3, 1864

This article was published on June 3, 1864.  There was confusion about another delayed article that seemed to originate on the same date, but further checking shows the other article was published on June 8 and appears below.  Whether 20th century indexing for the sesquicentennial of the Civil War or my own 21st century confusion, the dates when articles were originally written never is the date of publication.  To those concerned with the men of the Fighting Fifth, the news was wanted whenever it appeared even though the Battle of Spotsylvania was not pleasant news.  By the way, this is the third spelling for Captain Wockenshaw/Wackenshow/Wackinshaw and, later in this article, Wakenshaw and Spotsylvania, Virginia is regularly spelled Spottsylvania by the newspaper.  It's no comfort to me that errors have been made here, but as Seneca is quoted with the original comment of "To err is human", but he continued by saying "but to persist in error is diabolical."  It was Alexander Pope who continued the saying in the more familiar way, "To err is human; to forgive, divine."  In looking back at this mix-up and any other errors here, I certainly hope my readers follow Alexander Pope's quotation. 



















Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, June 8, 1864

War correspondence, especially during the Civil War, was sometimes delayed.  This report from the slow route to Richmond on May 26 was delayed and yet the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune recognized that it was better to print it late than not at all, showing the long difficulties getting there. 

It's noted that of the original 16 officers only 6 remain in the Fifth by this date.  Already in Detroit it was known that Grant was moving towards a great encounter.
The Army of the Potomac had a long march to Richmond, VA, the capital of the Confederacy, that could be said to have begun in 1862.  Back in the late spring of 1862 General McClellan tried to take it in the Peninsular Campaign, culminating in the "Seven Days Battles", but he retreated when the Confederates convinced him their defense was larger than it actually was.  In February of 1864 Richmond's infamous Libby Prison had a prison break of more than 100 prisoners, although only 59 succeeded in reaching the safety of the Union Army, with 48 recaptured and 2 drowned.  It was General Grant's Overland Campaign that had Michigan once again begin taking Virginia in June of 1864.  The siege of both Richmond and Petersburg will involve almost a year.

The long march to Richmond in May continued for the Fighting Fifth with still more delays in receiving the news back home.  Please be sure to look before June 3 to find an article that actually was published by the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune on June 8, 1864

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, June 24, 1864

3 MI Infantry, Capt. Albert, Capt. Stevens, Col. Pierce, Corp. Ackerman, Gen. Hancock, Jerico Bridge, John Delplac, Lt. Angell, Lt. Bissell, Lt. Col Pulford, Lt. Waddell, Maj. Mathews, Richmond VA, Soldiers Aid Society

Michigan's volunteers signed up for a three year enlistment.  That and the continuing losses made the 3d Michigan Infantry and the 5th Michigan Infantry due for consolidation.

As stated in the article, the siege of Richmond has begun.  It will take a long time before it is finished.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, June 28, 1864

The 3d Michigan Infantry's fighting side by side with the 5th means their casualties are also grouped together at Petersburg.

 The bottom of this column becomes faint.
I  believe the last two paragraphs say:
We gave cut and destroyed all the railroad running into Richmond, from the southwest, and by the way of Petersburg, except the Danville rad.
We arrived in front of this city on the evening of the (15th?).  The enemy was then strongly intrenched and fortified at a distance of three miles from the city.  The taking of Petersburg is a slow and tedious job, every foot of ground we gain is done by a charge, for upon every hill-top and elevation the enemy have built redoubts, almost forts, so formidable are they, and they are filled with infantry and cannon.

Unfortunately the final column was not flat when microfilmed.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, July 9, 1864

The 3d Michigan Infantry continued side by side with the 5th attempting to take Petersburg

 We've not yet heard the last of Lieutenant Colonel Pulford.

Detroit Free Press, July 13, 1864

This month the Detroit Free Press actually had more to tell from the field than the Advertiser and Tribune.
The merging of two companies of the decimated 3d Michigan Infantry is part of this report of the 5th's continued effort to take Petersburg.














Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, July 15, 1864

3 MI Infantry, Adj. TenEyck, Adj. Waldron, Capt. Colville, Capt. Root, Lt. Price, Petersburg

Consolidation with the 3d Michigan Infantry continued as did the return of Lieutenant Colonel John Pulford to command.  At the same time the desire to take Petersburg also continued.  Additional changes of officers included former Adjutant Lieutenant George W. Waldron's promotion to Captain and traveling to the western front.  Captain Waldron's continued bravery beyond the usual role of adjutant is detailed.

The new temporary command of Captain Root, the new acting adjutant, Lieutenant TenEyck (Tenhyck?), coupled with the taking of Captain Colville and Lieutenant Price show the Siege of Petersburg didn't mean the 5th simply sat around the city shelling it.

Detroit Free Press, July 18, 1864 

This is roughly the same information, supplemented slightly from the viewpoint of the Free Press, as recently was in the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, including the consolidation with the 3d Michigan Infantry.















Detroit Free Press, July 27, 1864

arms, Gen. Grant, weather 

Here's a very brief update.


Detroit Free Press, July 31, 1864

The Siege of Petersburg lasted over nine months.  This article is about the early stage and shows how this was anything but a quiet sitting in place. Trenches have begun, a military idea that will continue into future World Wars.  The coming presidential campaign is also discussed.  For a newspaper that supported the anti-war "Copperheads", the correspondent shows they are mainly anti-Lincoln, supporting General McClellan in ways they hadn't included in earlier articles.

I strongly recommend the "Siege of Petersburg" article from Wikipedia which explains it was not a classic siege, as the city wasn't completely cut off and it covered more than just Petersburg, especially including Richmond, plus various actions during the period.

Detroit Free Press, August 2, 1864

"negro" troops, Americus GA, Appomattix, desertion, food, Gen. Butler, Irish Brigade, Libby Prison, pay, Petersburg, prisoners, railroads, Richmond VA, robbery, Siege of Petersburg, weather

 Is it the view of ultimate victory that brings the Copperhead sympathizing Free Press to include wartime correspondence from the 5th?  Whatever it is, early this month they are more active in their coverage.

Detroit Free Press, August 6, 1864

In case you are foolish enough to think everyone thought well of Lincoln, this article is more about opposing him in the coming election than its brief coverage of the Fifth.  Morale of the military is the excuse for claiming it is about the Fifth.  "Copperheads" claimed they wanted peace, but it would be more accurate to say they opposed the war.

The Greeley mentioned is Horace Greeley, who was both an abolitionist and a newspaper editor.  Greeley was one of the founders of the Liberal Republican Party.  He had been an active supporter of the Republican Party which chose Lincoln, but later opposed Lincoln's attempts at bringing back secessionist states.  The peace convention was a meeting with Confederate leaders like Clay and others. If his name sounds familiar it's because of his 1865 editorial with the famous quote, "Go West, young man, go West."  The rest of that quote is less familiar, "and grow up with the country." Equally unfamiliar is his continued political activity opposing the next two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Ulysses Grant, even running as a presidential candidate against Grant.

Detroit Free Press and Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, August 8, 1864

Both the Free Press and the Advertiser and Tribune posted articles on August 8 claiming correspondence with the Fifth.  The Free Press article is essentially a continuation of its August 6 view of morale after Lincoln rejected Horace Greeley's attempts at peace with Confederate leaders Clement C. Clay of Alabama and Professor James B. Holcomb of Virginia.  It also looks ahead to the coming presidential election.  It's interesting that though the article claims to be about the Michigan Fifth Infantry, it mainly points to other states.

In contrast the Advertiser and Tribune continues to look at the fighting around Siege of Petersburg.  Once again Colonel Pulford is in the midst of the fighting.















Detroit Free Press - August, 10, 1864

Field Notes again appear from the Free Press.  In tagging this for topics "negro" troops was chosen in a previous posting.  Here the correspondent says "colored" troops.  Neither would be the terms used today, so for today's terminology I've added African American troops along with "colored" troops and the name of Michigan Brigade.  When looking for information it will help to search all three at the end of the articles.    

For anyone unfamiliar with the poem, "To a Mouse", by Robert Burns about the best laid plans, the original Scottish use of "aft gang agley" is often changed to variations on "often go astray."

It's interesting the difference in viewpoint of the correspondents for the two newspapers.  Still it's true the soldier's duty includes a lot of tedious times accompanied by rumors.

The Free Press resumes it usual silence about the Fifth.  For the next two months only the Advertiser and Tribune will report.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, August 29, 1864 

The Siege of Petersburg still has some minor injuries as the Fifth has minor changes in officers.















Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, September 12, 1864

The Siege continues, but Confederates seem to think the end is near.  It's not, but the conversations are interesting.

One of the unfortunate things about using indexing to find articles and save them in large batches is what is missed.  General Birney's letter wasn't evident at the time as relating to this article and so I didn't copy it.

Detroit Free Press, October 8, 1864

The front page of the Detroit Free Press is filled with political campaigning for McClellan and against Lincoln, but also this article about the 5th Infantry.  ("Col. P" is probably Lieutenant Colonel Pulford.)

The following is actually about the 3d Michigan Infantry, a related regiment in the Army of the Potomac.  By war's end one in three members of the 5th was dead, but the 3d was in even worse shape and this article from the day before on October 7, 1865 was about them.  Eventually members who had been mustered out for their injuries like Isaac Lerich were part of the "New Third Infantry", but its battles would turn west and leave their comrades in the Fifth.  Isaac started as a Bugle Boy in the Fifth, but ultimately mustered out of the Third as a Major in San Antonio.

All remaining articles for 1864 will be from the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune.  The Detroit Free Press ignored the regiment until the final year of the war when it was probably impossible.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, October 21, 1864

Yes, this article is overdue and pays tribute, among others, to the final service of Lieutenant Walter Knox, aide to Brigadier General Pierce, as part of the long siege of Petersburg, Virginia.

The Detroit Free Press has been noted here in the past for its opposition to Abraham Lincoln's reelection.  The tag "election"also is used on the Free Press articles for August 6 and 8, 1864 with a different view from the final paragraph here by the Advertiser and Tribune.

The long siege of Petersburg offers little to share in articles for the rest of 1864, with only the Advertiser and Tribune sharing any correspondence and even that was rare.  Next month has only one article, with December receiving more attention.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, November 9, 1864

The October 21article by the Advertiser and Tribune mentioned the railroads around Petersburg and this is yet further action about them.  This time the action became hand to hand with many deaths and injuries.  While a siege can involve long periods of inaction, the end of October saw more than enough action for both sides.  This article is from the interesting view of the company surgeon, Doctor Lyster.














Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, December 22, 1864

1864 ends with yet another update from Doctor Lyster at the siege of Petersburg.  Railroads still continue as a focus of effort.  It closes with information going back to his previous correspondence about the battle on October 27 (sent on October 29 and published on November 9).  The fact that it's about his assistant surgeon, Doctor Rose, shows how injuries and death could reach all.

This is the final post specifically about the Fifth for 1864, but I include one additional article about life and death inside Andersonville Prison since that, too, affected members of the Fifth Infantry.  Unlike earlier articles about Libby Prison, this looks beyond the officers at the situation for the ordinary prisoner.

Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, December 30, 1864

This is not just about the Fifth, but some soldiers from the regiment were imprisoned at Andersonville Prison.

Definitely not the way the men nor their families wanted to end the year, but better times are definitely due in 1865.

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