Documenting the American Civil War
PresidentAbraham Lincoln in the early days of the American Civil War met with a group ofofficers from the Michigan cavalry units and remarked that while other stateshad to train soldiers those from Michigan seemed to be "born readymade." There was some truth to this. The rigors of the Michigan frontier were excellent trainingfor the trenches. Well over half of the recruits in Allegan Countywere farm boys who had been riding horses all of their lives. They had grown upin the forests and fields hunting deer, rabbits and other small animals -superb training for the infantry. These farm boys were hankering for adventure,for some action that did not involve plowing or harvesting. They got plenty ofit.
Theirhistory, which will be the basis of the 2005 exhibit at the museum is told intons of paper, now in the National Archives. Here is a sample of the documentsthat tell their story.
(Left)Andrew Plummer, son of Elvira and Benjamin Plummer who came to Allegan Countyin 1834, was the first white child born in Saugatuck Township.He left for Texasin 1 860 and was, by his own description "pressed into Confederateservice." This document shows that he was one of the soldiers whosurrendered to Union troops on May 26, at New Orleans and was subsequently paroled. He returned to Allegan Countyand farmed a 100-acre plus parcel near PIummerville, Ganges Township.
Above,the volunteer enlistment papers of Levi Tuttle of HeathTownship, Allegan County.They show that he had blue eyes, brown hair and was 5 feet 11 inches tall. Hisenlistment is notarized by the man who would be his commanding officer,Benjamin D. Pritchard, an Allegan attorney. Tuttle was later one of the menpicked to search for Jefferson Davis in the closing days of the war. The unitcaptured Davis and Tuttle was detailed as one ofthe guards who brought the former Confederate president to Fortress Monroe. After the warTuttle moved to Ganges Township and thenSaugatuck.
WalterBillings of Peach Belt, Ganges Township was 44 when he enlisted with the 8th Michigan Cavalry. He wascaptured and imprisoned for more than four months. After his return he sufferedcontinued ill health. On this Certificate of Disability for Discharge thecommanding officer and surgeon note that he is unfit to serve because of"age and the effects of hardships, cruel treatment and privations sufferedduring his confinement in Rebel prisons." Billingsreturned to his Ganges Township farm where hedied in 1899.
GeorgeN. Dutcher, at the time of this Medical Certificate was 1 St Lieutenantin the 5th MichiganCavalry. The day before the Battle of Gettysburg at Hanover, Pennsylvania, he received a gunshot wound and was sent toa hospital in Chicagoto recuperate. In this paper issued August 1 the Chicago doctor notes that he is still "unableto travel." Dutcher was the son of Douglasfounders, William F. and Lucinda Dutcher. After the war he traveled around theworld, worked for a time in Chicago, and finallyreturned to Douglas where he died in 1909.