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Monroe and the Civil War

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Gone, but not forgotten! Fundraising culminated in the placement of a Civil War casualty monument complex in the old Soldiers and Sailors' Park (East Front Street, Monroe) in 2014. The site is where the Custer equestrian statue stood from 1922 to 1955, at the head of Navarre Street.

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Monument complex honoring Monroe county's fallen in the Civil War.

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One of the casualty panels.

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Night view of the monuments.

The back view of the monuments list donors, committee, and biographical info on George and Tom Custer.

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By the last years of the War, everyone had experienced some loss- in their family, neighbors,
classmates and friends. Mourning their memory became an important ritual to the Victorians.

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One way this loss and devotion was shown was by the art of hairwork. Hairwork used
samples of a loved-one's cut hair treated with chemicals, and then woven and arranged
to form beautiful designs in functional ways- watch fobs, earbobs (earrings), bracelets, 
pins, broaches, etc. Today we may think these articles are made of wire, but close
examination shows the fine hair. Memorial wreaths were made from hair of several
members of a family, female or male.

 Hair wreath of Lockwood family hair.202922wreath











 Detail of one part of the wreath, showing gray hair.202922







 Hair necklace- note some of the hair coming undone from the loop.17305














 Hair momentoes started before the Civil War. An Earring.100587






 And also continued after the Civil War.201921_2









 Treated hair designs not used in the wreath.8842160














The hanging branches of the willow are formed by hair in this broach.100588











Black fabric- often crepe- was saved for draping and armbands.8977142






Black silk ribbon was used to trim dresses, bonnets, hats, etc.8977135







Even fans were black in mourning, as were dresses, hats, gloves, etc.7453032







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Here are some period thoughts on the feminine topic from the local newspapers:

From the Monroe Monitor, Wed. Jan. 28, 1863:

"Woman.

Place her among flowers, foster her as a tender plant, and she is a thing of fancy,

waywardness and sometimes folly- annoyed by a dewdrop, fretted by the touch

of a butterfly’s wing, and ready to faint at the rustle of a beatle; the zephyrs are

too rough, the showers too heavy, and she is overpowered by the perfumed (sic)

of a rosebud. But let real calamity come rouse her affections, enkindle the fires

of her heart, and mark her then; how her heart strengthens itself- how strong is

her porpose (sic). Place her in the heat of battle- give her a child, a bird-

anything she loves or pities, to protect- and see her in a relative instance,

raising her white arms as a shield, as her own blood crimsons her upturned

forehead, praying for life to protect the helpless.

Transplant her in the dark places of earth awaken her energies to action, and

her breath becomes a healing, her presence a blessing. She disputes, inch by

inch, the stride of the pestilence, when man, the strong and brave, shrinks

away pale and a frighted, Misfortune haunts her not; she wears away a life

of silent endurance, and goes forward with less timidity than to her bridal.

In prosperity she is a bud full of odors, waiting but for the winds of adversity

 to scatter them abroad- pure gold, valuable, but untried in the furnace. In

short, woman is a miracle- a mystery the center from which radistes (sic)

the great charm of existence."

 

Also from the Monroe Monitor, Wed. Sept. 23, 1863 front page:

"Woman. While the newspapers of the day have been filled to overflowing

with paeans sung over the brave deeds of men, on the battle-field and elsewhere,

little has been said or sung of woman, her self sacrifices, her devotion to the

Union, and the losses she has been compelled to undergo.

            Man upon the battle-field dies like the flash of the gun, and is im-

mortalized. Woman remains at home to watch and wait and weep. It is a

sharp, short pang, and all is over with man. He goes to claim his reward.

It is a life-time for mournful remembrance with woman, a ceaseless lament

over the fate against which she is helpless.

No one ever blamed Venus for loving Mars, and we take it, it comes as

natural for a woman to love a soldier as to breathe. Consequently, we hear

of woman in vivandieres, or woman accompanying their husbands, of maids

arraying themselves in the rough, masculine garb of war that they may

follow their lovers, of women hovering, like ministering angels about the

cots of dying soldiers, of Sisters of Charity and Florence Nightengales."

 

A joke: "Difference of Entail?- “When I lost my wife,” says a French writer, “every

family in the town offered me another; but when I lost my horse, no one offered

 to make him good.”

 

From the Monroe Monitor, Sept. 30, 1863 front page:

"Effects of Tight Lacing.

By this practice the lungs and heart are forced up toward the throat; the stomach,

liver and other organs, jammed down far into the abdomen; labored respiration

and numerous abdominal abnormalities are the consequence. But, the votaries

of fashion declare, that notwithstanding these shocking deformities and suf-

ferings, that they regard the female form in the hourglass shape as really beautiful.

A few years ago this monstrous perversion of taste was well nigh universal. With

sincere gratitude, we observe it is now gradually disappearing. This contraction

of the middle of the body, by changing the position of the lungs, heart, liver,

stomach, and every other organ within the body, not only seriously interferes

with their functional integrity but almost invariably produces a distortion of

the spine. It is impossible to reduce the size of the waist by pressure to any

considerable extent, and not draw the shoulders forward and downward, producing,

 of course, a change in the spine. I believe that among the thousands of wasp-waists

 that have fallen under by observation, I have not seen ten who did not habitually

carry the spine and head in an unnatural attitude. Besides this, the influence upon

the organs in the lower part of the abdomen, furnishes the medical profession

nearly half its business."

 

And a few years after the conclusion of the war, some comments on Christmas:

From the Monroe Commercial, Dec. 31, 1868:

"Christmas and New Year- We hope and presume also that the usual number of

turkeys were eaten, a greater number than ever of little tokens or remembrance

presented to friends, and a still greater number of children made glad and happy.

The Christmas time, of all seasons of the year, is and ought to be looked forward

to by all as a time of peace, harmony, tranquility and general enjoyment. By the

children it is looked forward to with eager delight as a time when they are to be

made happy in possession of much coveted toys, and in a general feast of the

Christmas goodies. By persons of mature years it is regarded as an appropriate

time for the exchange of little tokens of friendship and  affection, as well as a

time to make the children happy. It is well that we have a National Festival, and

it should be a time, also to lay aside all enmity and ill will, to banish from the

heart all hatred and  animosity. What better time for this than the Christmas time,

which we celebrate as the time of the birth of our Savior, and just before entering

upon the untried scenes of a new year- a year which will bring you, you know

 not what. Possibly it may bring trials, suffering, or death to some of us, but let

us hope its days will be filled with peace, prosperity and happiness. What better

time to be at peace with all the World, as we review the waning year and make

our resolves for the new one about to be ushered in. Perhaps some of us accom-

plished much that is good in the year just closing, but if we have, let us resolve

 to accomplish still more in the year to come- more that is noble and praiseworthy-

for all that we can do seems far too little, and time flies with tireless wing, soon

carrying us beyond the possibility of doing either good or ill in this world. And,

whatever we have or have not accomplished in the past, let us all resolve that

the year 1869 shall not pass without our doing some genuine good to such of

our fellow beings as opportunity and circumstances may enable us to do, and

let us be up and doing without delay, for another Christmas and another New

Year will be upon us in little more than a twinkle."

Merry Christmas to All!

One of Gen. George Spalding's uniform coats.Civil_War_001











In this holiday season, we remember those near and dear to us, no matter where we are. War correspondent Thomas Nast joined the Harper's Weekly staff in 1862 and produced both realistic soldier scenes and patriotic cartoons.

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One half of an 1862 Christmas Eve sketch

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Other half of above sketch for Christmas Eve

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No one is too far away or too old to not enjoy a visit from Santa Claus!

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Some museum relics...

Cartridge

Many collections that museums have today were items taken off of battlefields or places where soldiers camped. Soldiers themselves took souvenirs and brought them back or sent them to their families back home. Today it is illegal to take relics from protected battlefields, such as those occupied by the National Park Service.














Typical items found on the ground are cartridges and bullets, both unfired, fired and damaged 
from contact with hard objects.

Cartridge_with_bullets

Closer view of lead bullets and unused paper cartridge, which held the bullet and the gunpowder. The ringed bullet (one kind was the Minie bullet) and its conical shape were innovations that moved firearm technology forward- more accurate and more deadly.

 

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Typical brass buttons were domed and constructed of two pieces. They had a shank, or metal loop on the back for sewing onto the coat. The Federal spread eagle was very common. Large buttons would be used on coats, the smaller used at the cuffs.





Goodyear_button2In the 1850s Goodyear patented and started to produce hard rubber buttons. This is one kind and was often on civilian garments during the Civil War era.









This is a state of Michigan brass 2 piece button. Michigan_button
Domed and rimmed, it depicts the state seal, with a shield flanked by an elk and moose (though 
they look like deer here), surmounted by the Federal eagle. In the shield is a pioneer looking over 
the peninsula. A flag flies here, and though it is not on the button, "Tuebor" means "to defend."




Buttons are one of the most common remnants or souvenirs left from the Civil War. Uniform coats 
would have either the Federal, or state buttons upon them. They could be marked with an additional 
"A" for Artillery, "I" for Infantry, or "C" for Cavalry, depending on which branch of the service the 
soldier was in.

When some veterans came back from the war and got rid of their coats (due to their poor condition 
or infestations), the buttons would be saved and placed in a box, or strung on sturdy string.

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Other relics include items used by the opposing army. Here is a Confederate bayonet taken from a Southern battlefield. Rust has got the better of this iron object over time. A bayonet was a knife-like attachment locked into place at the barrel end of the gun, used for charges and intimidation. Soldiers also used these for a variety 
of other purposes- the socket end could hold a candle while the spear end was stuck in the ground. 


Food could be roasted on the spear end over a fire. Bayonet thrusting was something a soldier 
learning in drill, though it was not used as often as sometimes portrayed in movies and stories.

Metal relics also include ammunition such as cannon balls, dropped personal items such as knives 
and jawharps, belt buckles, stirrups, insignias, guns, and more. Cloth and leather often deteriorated 
faster than metal, but items such as haversacks, blankets, coats, belts, straps, and boots could also 
be found.

The Last Christmas Before the War, December 25, 1860

...South Carolina had seceded on December 20th and the other Southern states were threatening 
to follow her out of the Union...The possibility of war was already hurting retail trade on this last 
peacetime Christmas. The New York "Herald" reported that "People have not got so much money 
to spend on Christmas presents as in former years, or if they have, they think it more prudent to 
husband it for expenditures of more real importance." Jewelry sales were down; so were the sales 
of furs, buffalo robes, and blankets. But toy sales, fortunately, were still good. So were the sales 
of confectionery.

And the "Herald" commented in an editorial on Christmas Day: "On this Christmas morning we 
find these states surrounded with perils as terrible as they are unprecedented. The good Ship of 
State is rushing madly toward the breakers of disunion; the pilot is no longer able to steer his 
course; already one plank has started; but thank God, the others still hold. Our best bower 
anchor, the Constitution, has been let go, and we may yet weather the storm. If not, it will one 
many a long day before the people of the United States see another merry Christmas."

But after a few comments the editorial continues: "So the young people shall have their Merry 
Christmas, and Santa Claus shall be as liberal as ever; the hymn of praise and thanksgiving 
shall ascend to the Giver of all good; the Christmas tree, the evergreen wreath, the Yule log, 
the mistletoe bough, all the time-honored symbols of jollity and good cheer, shall be duly 
honored throughout the length and breath of this fair land. A right Merry Christmas, then, to all!"

-page 11, The Civil War Christmas Album by Philip Van Doren Stern (1961)

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 "By the time the Civil War came, Santa was a rather well-established figure, who was as pop-
ular in the South as in the North. But the North had one great advantage over the South. It had 
many illustrated periodicals, while the South had very few. This lack of illustrated papers meant 
that few pictures were made of social activities in the Confederacy during the war. The Union 
side is much more fully presented. The few Confederate artists who recorded the war conce-
trated largely on its military aspects. Fortunately, there were many Southerners...who wrote 
excellent accounts of what went on in those eventful years.

"The North was...rich..in manpower and weapons..in food and all the good things  that do so 
much to make Christmas a time of feasting and celebration. Although there were many des-
perately poor people in the North  there was never a shortage of food. But as the war dragged 
on, food grew scarcer in the South, and Christmas became progressively leaner each year. 
People there had to improvise and make do; they thought up all kinds of ingenious substitutes 
for fancy goods, party decorations, and tree ornaments. But the spirit of Christmas was kept 
alive, even when parents had to skimp and do without in order that their children might have 
a happy holiday on the one day of the year that is particularly the children's own.

"The picture of Christmas that emerges from contemporary Civil War accounts is a sturdy 
Victorian one with simple domestic virtues strongly emphasized and traditional customs upheld.

"In the field, very little actual fighting was done on Christmas Day. This was not because of 
religious or sentimental reasons. Major Civil War campaigns usually began in the spring and 
went on until cold weather closed in, when bad roads and severe weather forced the armies 
to suspend activities for the winter.

"When cold weather set in, the men in both armies began to build huts and cabins to which 
they added chimneys so a fire could be kept going to warm the interior. The cheerful flames 
and the cozy glow of the firelight gave these rudely built temporary shelters the illusion of 
being homes. Undoubtedly they reminded the soldier of their own true homes and the families 
they had left behind.

"The young men in our Civil War armies were far less sophisticated than their descendants are 
today. Many of them came from the country; many from large families where domestic relation-
ships were close; nearly all were used to living in big houses where there was plenty  of room 
for parties, for happy celebrations- and for full-sized Christmas trees. To them Christmas meant 
a great deal, so they naturally looked back to it wistfully during the war...And on Christmas night, 
after the feasts and celebrations were over, the lonely men would express their longing  for home 
by singing the carols they had learned in their childhood. Then the voices of the men in blue and 
in gray would sound loud and clear in the cold night air, rising above hill and valley, and drifting 
out over shell-torn fields where the armies had already fought.

pages 7-8, The Civil War Christmas Album

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Images from our exhibit:

Rare collections of eagle flag finials.finials











Silk Victorian clothing.newton_gown

 









Battlefield relic collections. Tyler1   

 









Our Civil War muskrat welcomes you to the Museum.muskrat

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 FORT SUMTER, SOUTH CAROLINA

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Fort Sumter in South Carolina is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired by the Confederates upon the Union soldiers holding out there in April, 1861. Ferries take visitors from the mainland out to the island. This is a view of the ferry from above the main compound.






Ft_SumterThis is a copy of what the Fort looked like at the time of the firing, from Smithsonian magazine.

 















museum_046One of the two restored cannon that swivel in place and look out to the water.

 







museum_023Raisinville township, Monroe county resident Norman J. Hall is listed on the bronze plaque to honor those who were there at the first shots. He was commissioned to West Point from the county and was later in 
command of the 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, though in April, 1861 he was part of the US Artillery at Fort Sumter.

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Here’s a primer on finding the Civil War veterans laid within our county 
cemetery fences.

Most of our Civil War veterans are to be found in the oldest, and sometimes most neglected, 
of our county cemeteries. Be wary of landscape terrain, mole mounds and holes, snakes, 
bugs, and unsteady monuments. It's not a bad idea to go with a friend!

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          A view of Doty Cemetery, Raisinville township.

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            Old St. Patrick’s #1 in Exeter township.

Sometimes it is obvious who is a Civil War veteran- by the presence of a 
marble, government-issued tablet:

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Norman G. Pomeroy, Co. K, 3rd Michigan Cavalry in King Cemetery, 
Raisinville Twp. Note the engraved shield shape.

Some may have modern (possibly replacement) stones. Here, Isaac Manor of the 
24th Michigan Infantry has a plain marble, on- ground tablet with modern engraving,
at St. Mary, Rockwood Cemetery. Sometimes modern bronze veteran plaques 
are also acquired for Civil War veterans.

manor_isaac

Many of these government issued stones have sunk over time:

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 Abraham Frankhouse’s military marker has sunk, and all the inscription cannot be 
read. These markers traditionally give name and military unit. Note the shield. He was 
in Co. G, 15th Michigan Infantry. He is buried in St. Mary, Rockwood Cemetery. 
His wife is buried next to him.

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George Shafer, Co. I, 9th Michigan Infantry. He was born in Germany, and 

voted for Abraham Lincoln in his first presidential election. King Cemetery, 
Raisinville township. When sunk, these markers are easy to hit and damage by lawn mowing.

campbell_wm

 Here is a marker showing most of the original height of the stone tablet. These stones of 
solid marble weigh approx. 200 pounds. Note the soil line showing how deep the stone 
was once placed. William Campbell, Co. A, 29th Michigan Infantry, also in St. Mary 
Rockwood Cemetery.

townsend_c

 Many of these marble stones have eroded over time from wind, blown sand and dirt, 
acid rain, poor cemetery management, vandalism, and age. Chester Townsend of Co. 
K, 1st Michigan Cavalry, died in 1888, at 50 years old. He is buried in Raleighville 
Cemetery, London township. They can seem impossible to read when in this condition.

Some families chose to purchase family tombstones for their veterans:

Here Nathan Peabody, Jr. and Sr. are on the same tablet. The son died in 1860; his father 
followed in 1862. Under Sr.’s name is written: “Who enlisted in the 15 Mich. Vol. In. Feb. 
7. Died at St. Louis Apr. 2, 1862 Aged 53 yrs. & 6 m."

He died of disease (a common Civil War soldier's death) and is actually buried at St. Louis. 
Stone in King Cemetery, Raisinville township.

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Above: John Smutz of Raisinville township has a large granite family monument, a govern-
ment issued stone, and a headstone. Headstones traditionally mark the actual grave; the 
larger monument marks the burial plot with two or more grave sites. He was in Co. I, 
102nd Ohio Infantry. Many Monroe county men fought in units from other states, 
especially Ohio.

 

Have you seen stones marked with metal stars that hold flags? These are good Civil War 
service indicators, placed on the graves by the different Grand Army of the Republic 
(G.A.R.) Posts in the county and should not be removed.

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Here is Melzer B. Strong of the Provost Guard, Michigan Infantry, buried in County Line 
(Hack) Cemetery (London twp.) and Leonard McKenzie of Co. I, 8th Michigan Cavalry 
in Raleighville Cemetery (Raisinville twp.) Both have G.A.R. marked graves.

 

Dan’l (Daniel) "Cronachet" (Conway) of Co. D, 11th Michigan Infantry and Jno. (John) 
York of Co. H, 20th Michigan Infantry show the shield design markers and are marked 
by G.A.R. stars. They are found in St. Patrick’s Cemeteries in Exeter & Ash twps. 
Note the soil stain on York's tablet indictaing the depth at which it once was buried.

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cronavhelt_daniel_conway

 

John Lassey of Co. A, 4th Michigan Infantry has a metal tube for a flag holder at the
bottom front of his stone, and a “U.S.” bronze flag holder, which usually designates a 
World War veteran. These were put out by Veterans of Foreign Wars (W.F.W.) or 
American Legion. He was also in another unit, the 1st Michigan Infantry and is buried 
in King Cemetery (Raisinville township). Note the lichen growth and discoloration on 
the marble.

 

A close-up of one style of G.A.R. flag holder in 
bronze. Some indicate post.

Both of the following stones show the G.A.R. flag holder star removed and placed 
in concrete on a veteran’s grave:

“Father” is Peter Mickens, but currently his unit is unknown. Was this star placed 

on his grave erroneously? In one cemetery, these stars have been placed on 
graves without military service- was service assumed because they were of the 
right age?

On the right is a star marking the probable grave (no stone) of Arthur Hotchkiss 
of Co. K, 25th Ohio Infantry, next to his wife Laura in Whiteford Union Cemetery. 
Arthur’s brother Samuel was in the 1st District of Columbia Infantry during the war.

Many Civil War veterans lie unmarked in county cemeteries. Without a doubt, your 
communityhas these veterans. Wouldn't the150 year anniversary of the Civil War 
be an appropriate timeto find these graves and mark them, or document their service?

Watch the museum for more on the Civil War- events, programs, exhibits, displays 
and more in the coming years of the sesquicentennial.

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Some hastily buried soldiers on the battlefield were later reinterred with formal 
headstones in rows, with their identification recorded, and these places of burial 
often became our National Cemeteries.

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Here at Gettysburg someone has left a very small American flag along a rock wall.
Walking the national cemeteries or battlefields still inspire, humble, and remind us 
what others sacrificed.

Did you know? During the Civil War Centennial, the state of Michigan published a 
series of booklets from research done by committees of the Michigan Civil War 
Centennial Observance Commission. Titles include:

Civil War Facts

Mary Austin Wallace: Her Diary, 1862 by Miss Julia McCune, editor

Michigan Women in the Civil War by Mrs. Raymond H. Millbrook, editor

Materials on the Civil War Recommended for Use in Schools by Miss Irene C. 
Hayner, editor

Michigan Institutions of Higher Education in the Civil War by Willis F. Dunbar, 
editor

Michigan Labor and the Civil War by Albert Blum and Dan Georgakas

Michigan and the Civil War Years, 1860-1866 A Wartime Chronicle by George 
S. May

Michigan in the Civil War: A Guide to the Materials in Detroit Newspapers, 
1861-1866 by Miss Helen H. Ellis

Effects of the Civil War on Farming in Michigan by Joseph J. Marks, editor

The Dutch Churches in Michigan During the Civil War by Wynand Wichers

The Impact of the Civil War on the Presbyterian Church in Michigan by Maurice 
F. Cole

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Michigan During the Civil War by Mrs. 
Margaret B. Macmillan

Michigan Catholicism in the Era of the Civil War by Frederic H. Hayes

Michigan Civil War Monuments by George S. May

The Effect of the Civil War on Music in Michigan by Mrs. Mary D. Teal and 
Lawrence W. Brown

The Baptists of Michigan and the Civil War by Judson LeRoy Day II

The Episcopal Church in Michigan During the Civil War by Rev. Frank M. 
Hawthorne

Michigan Medal of Honor Winners in the Civil War by Mrs. Raymond H. 
Millbrook

The Impact of the Civil War Upon the Congregational Church by Miss 
Evelyn Sexton

The Tri-State Soldiers' and Sailors' Encampment by John Yzenbaard

The Effect of the Civil War Upon Manufacturing by Kenneth Metcalf

Twice Told Tales by Mrs. Raymond H. Millbrook

The Impact of the Civil War Upon Mining by Victor Lemmer

The Impact of the Civil War Upon the Negro by Norman Macrae

Small Arms Used by Michigan Regiments in the Civil War by Roger 
Wiegand

Report to the Governor and the People of Michigan

 These booklets make for interesting reading and are available at some of 
the library branches of the Monroe County Library System, reference dept. 
Check the online catalog for specific titles and availability (some may be 
available through inter-library loan since most seem to be only for in-house reading.)

Another Michigan booklet along this line is: Michigan Soldiers in the Civil War by 
Frederick D. Williams. This easy-read booklet was originally from an 1960 article 
in "Michigan History" magazine and developed into a fuller booklet. The 5th edition 
is from 2002.

Start Reading!