Michigan Soldiers program

Jody Egen, director of Museum and Cultural Affairs in Wyandotte, will be the guest speaker when the Sawyer Homestead meets at 7 p.m. Monday March 11 at the homestead, 320 E. Front St. Her program is the Michigan Soldiers’ Aid Society, in keeping with the Civil War Sesquicentennial.

Ms. Egen is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University. The public is invited.

Program on Union Soldiers coming in March

On Wednesday, March 20th local historian Kenneth Baumann will present a program on the adventures, challenges, and troubles of the Union soldiers who were in the deep south when the Civil War ended.

They were on their own to find their way back to their homes in the north.

Mr. Baumann  is currently writing a book about their journeys titled  It Sure is a Trial Getting Up Home.

The program will be at the Milan Senior Center at 7:00 p.m.   Free and open to the public

Civil War quilts

The Monroe County Quilt Guild meets Thursday Feb. 14 at the Monroe Post 1138, Veterans of Foreign Wars, hall, 400 Jones Ave. The doors open at 6 p.m., the meeting starts at 7.

This months’ guest speaker is Krista Prout with a program, “Women of the Civil War, their Quilting and How They Survived.” A trunk show will be held after the lecture.

There will also be a business meeting, show and tell, block of the month drawings, and a 50/50 raffle. Members also are reminded to bring any charity quilts that are finished.

Visitors are welcome.

For information, call co-president Marlene Koogan at (734) 848-4073.


Blinding snow affects war

In the early months of 1863, the Union decided to dispatch ironclad vessels, heavily armored vessels, to reinforce the blockade of Southeast Atlantic seaports operated by the Confederacy. The USS Montauk attempted on Feb. 1, 1863, to destroy the Confederate defense works at Fort McAllister, Ga., a point of land near the coast close to the Georgia city of Savannah. Confederate defenders dispatched the CSS Rattlesnake to counter the Montauk and allied vessel pounding the fort. In the end the battle would last only a matter of hours and finish inconclusively.

The Associated Press reported on Feb. 3, 1863, that a heavy snow storm has hit the Virginia coast near Union-held Fort Monroe. “The amount of snow is greater than has fallen at this point in any one time for some years. Four schooners went ashore on the beach near here during a storm.” Such storms signal a slower pace to the hostilities during the cold winter months when roads often become impassable and fighting difficult because of such adverse weather.

Michigan’s role in the Civil War

Dan Makarewich will give a historical program at 7 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 20 at the Milan Senior Community Activity Center, 45 Neckel Ct., Milan.

This event is hosted by the Milan Area Historical Society.

Mr. Makarewich is a retired Milan history teacher. When he was reading about Michigan’s role in the Civil War, he realized three brothers from the Milan area fought together in the war. This program will tell the story of those three brothers from the McFall family and how their lives are intertwined in Milan history.

This research will be referenced in an upcoming book of historical fiction entitled I Hear the Bugles Call. 

The program is free and open to the public.

Keller returns to Monroe to speak on Andersonville

John Keller will present a film and talk about the Andersonville Prison during a program at 2 p.m. Saturday Jan. 5 at the Monroe County Historical Museum, 126 S. Monroe St.

Mr. Keller lives in South Carolina and previously spoke at the local museum about Flags of the Confederacy.

More than 30 Monroe County men were incarcerated at Andersonville, and most of them died. One of the survivors was Fred Knapp who wrote a poem about his experience as a Sixth Calvary Soldier.

The program is free and open to the public.

Wreaths Across America

The Monroe Squadron MI-063, Civil Air Patrol, will host its Wreaths Across America event Saturday Dec. 15.

Starting at 9 a.m., CAP members will place holiday wreaths at military monument locations in the Monroe area such as the memorials of the War of 1812, the Spanish America War, Civil War and Vietnam Memorial; concluding with a finale at noon at Veteran’s Park, 1671 N. Custer Rd., where several war memorials are located.

The ceremony at Veteran’s Park will also include participation from the Monroe Post 1138, Veterans of Foreign Wars, honor guard.

This tradition started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery and has since been expanded to every state and national military cemetery across the country. Because there is no cemetery specifically for veterans in the Monroe area, the local squadron has adapted the custom to the local memorials.

For information about the history of this tradition, go to http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/

James A. Seddon

On Nov. 20, 1862, James A. Seddon was appointed war secretary for the Confederacy.

It’s a position he would hold until January, 1865 shortly before the rebellion began to crumble.

Seddon held the post the longest. He was a successful lawyer who was praised for his diplomatic tact and for reining in disparate factions within the secessionist states.

Though a strong advocate of succession, he was a member of the 1861 peace convention held in Washington, D.C.

According to the Associated Press, wartime shortages in the south of food that sparked a deadly 1863 bread riot in Richmond prompted Seddon to call on the Virginia press not to publish accounts of the rioting. Word got out anyway and other riots in the South erupted weakening the home front morale.

He would face an immediate challenge, however. Just days before his appointment, the new commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, sent troops to take positions east of Fredericksburg, Va.

The move prompted alarm in the city and led to the evacuation of women and children.

The AP reported the Confederate immediately began to strengthen and defend the city.

In the coming weeks, tens of thousands of Union soldiers would move toward the city as Burnside opened a bloody but ultimately failed offensive in mid-December 1862.

Confederate Robert E. Lee vowed, informed of the Union troops near Fredericksburg, vowed in press reports to thwart any enemy incursion deeper into Virginia by fighting to the “last extremity.”

Holly Springs and saloon murders

Union cavalry skirmished with Confederate fighters near Holly Springs, Miss. trying to control the town.

Though not a significant fight itself, Nov. 11 marks the 150 anniversary of the fight, which was  a day long battle amid the larger Union request by Ulysses S. Grant to crush Confederate forces and gain control of southern rail supply lines and lower the Mississippi River, according to the Associated Press.

Grant wanted to gain full control over the lower portion of the river and split the south in two while taking away the river as a commercial corridor for the Confederacy.

The bigger fight over the river would come in Vicksburg in July 1863.

In a news report from Nov. 16, 1862, five murders occurred in Nashville. “Two of the homicides were saloon keepers, who refused to sell liquor to soldiers,” the report said. Two soldiers were among those killed.