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1st Michigan Engineers
in the American Civil War

Regimental History
First Michigan Engineers. Cols., William P. Innes, John B. Yates; Lieut. -Cols. , Kinsman A. Hunton, Garrett Hannings; Majs., Enos Hopkins, Perrin V. Fox, Marcus Grant, Emery O. Crittenton, Joseph J. Rhodes. This regiment was organized at Marshall and was mustered in Oct. 29, 1861. It left the state Dec. 17 and reported to Gen. Buell at Louisville. Cos. B, E and I, under Col. Innes, were ordered to report to Gen. McCook, at Munfordville, then moved for Bowling Green, and on the 28th for Nashville. Cos. D, F and G, under Lieut. -Col. Hunton, were ordered to report to Gen. Thomas at Lebanon. They took part in the battle of Mill Springs, Ky., and joined the regiment at Columbia in April. Cos. C and H, commanded by Maj. Hopkins, were ordered to report to Gen. Nelson at New Haven, Ky., and joined the regiment at Nashville in February. Cos. A and K, under Capt. J. B. Yates, were ordered to report to Gen. Mitchell at Bacon creek, Ky., and accompanied the first Union troops into Bowling Green after its evacuation by the enemy. The regiment was ordered to Shiloh in April and built several bridges en route with such rapidity that Buell was enabled to reach the field in time to bring victory out of disastrous defeat. It received special mention by Buell. Cos. A and K, under Maj. Yates, left Nashville with Gen. Mitchell's division, going to Huntsville, Ala., and was employed during May in running trains over the Memphis & Charleston and Nashville & Decatur railroads. The other eight companies moved towards Corinth, building roads and placing siege guns, and in June proceeded towards Decatur, building bridges and trestles, and putting the railroad in running order. In July the entire regiment was at Huntsville, actively engaged in track replacing and bridge and trestle work. In August Co. E was detached for fortification work at Huntsville. Cos. A, B, D, G and H were sent to Nashville and occupied until the middle of September in bridge building. C, F, K and I were sent to Stevenson and joined the regiment at Gallatin. The entire regiment took up the march for Bowling Green, thence for Louisville, and Cos. A, C and K took part in the battle of Perryville, where they were joined by the others on Oct. 12. The regiment moved to Nashville and went into camp at Mill creek, where it built nine bridges. It was ordered to La Vergne Jan. 1, 1863, and engaged in a skirmish. Its wagon train, in position of a half circle, with hastily constructed breastworks of logs and brush, was attacked by Wheeler's cavalry, numbering over 3,000, with a section of artillery, and 315 officers and men fought this force for 5 hours, repulsing seven assaults, the horsemen charging up to the very breastworks and the enemy's artillery being constantly employed. The enemy drew off at night with a loss of 50 killed and more wounded. By this repulse the rear of the army and most of its baggage train was saved. A correspondent said of it: "The scene was at times thrilling beyond description. The rebel horde dashed their horses against the circular brush fence with infuriated shouts and curses. * * * They were met with staggering volleys. Horses and riders recoiled again and again until they despaired, and soon swept away through the dense forests. * * * Truly, this was one of the most gallant affairs of the campaign." A standard of organization having been established in 1862, the regiment was allowed 12 companies of 150 each. From Jan. 1 to June 29, 1863, it was employed in general construction and repair work in the vicinity of La Vergne, Murfreesboro, Smyrna and Nashville, and on Oct. 31 was stationed at Elk creek. Its excellent work in putting into position greatly needed pontoon bridges at Chattanooga was specially noticed in orders. During the winter, spring and summer, the regiment was constantly employed in building trestle work, bridges, store houses, blockhouses and hospitals, in saw-mill work at Chattanooga and Bridgeport, and along the railway lines as far south as Decatur and Stevenson, Ala. It was ordered to Atlanta Sept. 25, and in October 148 reenlisted as veterans, which with the recruits enabled the regiment to maintain its full organization. It was constantly employed on the Atlanta campaign and on the march to Savannah, keeping up with the army, tearing up railroad track, destroying bridges and building roads. On Jan. 26, 1865, it took transports for Beaufort, S. C, and joined the march to Goldsboro, N. C, during which it destroyed 30 miles of track, built 8 or 10 bridges and made miles of corduroy road. Cos. L and M, detached at Stevenson the previous summer, constructed defenses at that point assisted on the defenses of the Nashville & Chattanooga railroad, on Nov. 28 were moved to Elk River bridge, and were stationed in detachments along the line of the road to Murfreesboro, building blockhouses. Most of these detachments were at Fort Rosecrans during December. On Dec. 5 a detachment from Co. L was captured, after 6 hours hard fighting, while acting as train guard. Cos. L and M left Murfreesboro March 1, 1865, moved by rail to New York, by water to Beaufort, N. C, and joined the regiment at Goldsboro March 25. The regiment moved from Goldsboro to Raleigh and from there to Washington. It participated in the grand review and was then ordered to Nashville. It was mustered out, Sept. 22, 1865. Its original strength was 1,032: gain by recruits, 2,168; total 3,200. Loss by death, 342. Its entire service was arduous and of the highest importance. Although not engaged in many battles as a fighting regiment it was often under fire while engaged in constructing fortifications, roads and defenses for the army or in the destruction of railroads and public works used by the enemy.

Footnotes:
Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 3

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