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6th Michigan Cavalry
in the American Civil War
|Sixth Michigan Cavalry. — Cols., George Gray, J. H.
Kidd; Lieut. -Cols., Russell A. Alger, H. E. Thompson, Harvey H. Vinton;
Majs., Thaddeus Foote, Elijah D. Waters, Simeon B. Brown, George A.
Drew, Charles E. Storrs. This regiment was organized in the summer of
1862, under authority of the secretary of war granted directly to Hon.
Francis W. Kellogg, member of Congress from the (then) 4th Congressional
district. It comprised twelve troops of a maximum strength of 100 men
each, including the proper complement of non-commissioned officers. The
rendezvous was Grand Rapids and the regiment was mustered into the U. S.
service Oct. 11, 1862, with 1,229 officers and men. On Dec. 10 it
proceeded to Washington, D. C, and went into camp on Meridian hill,
where it was brigaded with the 5th and 7th and attached to Casey's
division of Heintzelman's corps, Department of Washington. The regiment
was first under fire at the battle of Hanover, Pa., and to quote Gen.
Kilpatrick's report it "particularly distinguished" itself at
Hunterstown after dark on July 2, where it encountered Wade Hampton's
cavalry. On July 3 it was in the famous cavalry fight on the right at
Gettysburg, where it supported Pennington's battery. It marched all day
July 4 in a pouring rain and was in the engagement in the mountain pass
at Monterey at midnight. It then fought at Smithfield, Boonsboro,
Hagerstown, Williamsport and Falling Waters, where it attacked the
rear-guard of Lee's army, making a charge which Kilpatrick in his
official report referred to as "the most gallant ever made," and which a
Confederate writer in a Southern paper afterwards described as "a charge
of dare-devils." The regiment was with Custer in all the cavalry
engagements which followed in Virginia ; performed conspicuous service
at Brandy Station and Buckland mills; was at Mine run, Morton's, Raccoon
and Summerville fords, and other minor engagements, after which it went
into winter quarters at Stevensburg. On May 6, 1864, the regiment was
hotly engaged on the left of Hancock's corps in the Wilderness. It led
the advance on the first day of Sheridan's great raid, when 10,000
cavalrymen marched by fours, in a single column; was at Beaver Dam
Station, Yellow tavern, Hanovertown, Haw's shop, Cold Harbor, Trevilian
Station, Meadow bridge, and many other engagements during the months of
May and June. It accompanied Sheridan to the Shenandoah Valley and was
in the battles of Winchester, Tom's brook, Luray, Shepherdstown and
Cedar creek. In the spring of 1865 it left Winchester with Sheridan and
did excellent service in the closing campaign of the war, from
Winchester to Appomattox. It marched to Washington, participated in the
grand review, and was then ordered to Leavenworth, Kan., whence it
marched 1,100 miles via Fort Kearny, Julesburg and Fort Laramie to
Powder river, Wyo. Ter., a portion of it going still farther to the
Rosebud country. The men who had less than 2 years to serve were ordered
back to the state and were mustered out at Jackson, Mich., in Nov.,
1865. The others were consolidated into a new regiment and sent to Utah,
where they were afterward mustered out. The regiment carried on its
rolls from first to last 1,624 officers and men. It lost during its term
of service 8 officers, 8 sergeants, 8 corporals and 97 men killed in
action or died of wounds, a total of 121. At Andersonville, Ga., 65 died
in prison and 42 died in other places as prisoners of war; wounded in
action, 214 ; died of disease, 132 ; discharged for disability, 150.
Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing
Company, 1908 - Volume 3
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