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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

Mid-Michigan's Contribution to De Golyer's Battery

by Gordon Thorsby

( De Golyer's Battery and Michigan Marker at Vicksburg (courtesy of NPS)


Samuel De Golyer was a lieutenant in the 4th Michigan Infantry when he organized the Battery H First Michigan Light Artillery at Monroe, Michigan. The volunteers joined from various places in the state. The regiment was officially mustered 3/6/62. It mustered out from Jackson on July 22, 1865. Battery H, aka 8th Michigan Light Artillery earned the name of De Golyer’s Battery for the punishment that it could deliver on any battlefield and at any time. They had a talent. De Golyer was considered to be the best artillerist in the army with his four 10 lb. Parrott guns and two12 lb. howitzers.


To the 1862 artillerists in Battery H, the battery’s great reputation for punishing enemy formations and gun emplacements was earned in the Vicksburg Campaign. At Port Gibson, Union Gen John Stevenson called for De Golyer’s assistance and reported that the battery “opened a destructive fire of shell and cannister upon the enemy compelling the enemy to retire under cover of brush and timber.” If the fighting at Port Gibson was undecided before, the battery wrapped up any uncertainty and the Confederates withdrew.


In the 1864 campaigns, Battery H moved to Atlanta where it served in the final actions around the fall of Atlanta. It was posted in Atlanta for a short period until it was needed again Tennessee. It moved to Nashville in November and then Chattanooga for the rest of the war.


The battery received as many as ten men from an area between the Flint and Shiawassee Rivers. The land’s alternatives for travel between towns were by 1) fastest by river on flatboat or canoe, 2) two north-south roads and two east-west roads traversing the 10 x 15 area, or 3) Indian paths. The train was thirty miles away and not an option. Settlers came mostly by water. These men were farmers, shopkeepers, lumberman, carpenters and others who were staunchly pro-abolitionist. Recruitment of soldiers from the small towns of St. Charles, Chesaning, Flushing, Taymouth and Brant almost every man that could carry a rifle. De Golyer’s Battery did not need riflemen. They needed gunners. They came in two waves of men that became part of a group of the “Shiawassee Boys”.


There was the 186-62 group:


Henry Dibble-Private joined the forming battery one month shy of forty-one. The army was not friends of 40+ year-old soldiers but Dibble could put notes to a bugle. It turned out that the 40+ age problem still existed and he was discharged for unspecified disabilities. He died in 1876 at 55 in the Veteran’s Home in Grand Rapids of a stroke at too young an age. He was transferred home and is buried at Wildwood Cemetery.

Thomas Lazar (or Lazier (sp)-Private, enlisted in November, 1861 at 19 at St. Clair for two years but he was a resident of Montrose. His wife and him were from Canada and he was a strong abolitionist. He re-enlisted in December, 1863, mustered out with the battery in Jackson in 1865 and returned home to Montrose. He resided in Taymouth at his death and was buried in St. Charles.


Mortimer Park- was 30 when he signed up in February, 1862 in Holly. He was a resident at the time of Flushing, MI. Unfortunately, Mort became ill as many soldiers did and died of disease at a New Madrid, MO hospital on 6/3/1862. His family paid to have his remains sent home where he lies in Flushing Cemetery.


(De Golyer LOC)

The 1864 group:


Willis Dibble (not directly related)- was born in New York. He had to wait until he was eighteen to enlist in August, 1864. His father had served with the 4th Mich Infantry (with De Golyer) until discharge after fighting at Gettysburg. Willis joined the battery in Atlanta and mustered out in Jackson in ‘65. He returned and raised a family in Brant, near St. Charles. He is buried in Brant.

Asa (full name Asahel) Griffith- Private was seventeen when he joined the same day with Willis Dibble so their journeys were similar. Asa returned to his residence in Brady and he is buried reportedly in a private cemetery in Brant.

Warren Lewis- Private enlisted 10/8/64 before he could be drafted. He was 36, and a wagonmaker in Chesaning but it was “get a bounty or be drafted.” He joined the battery in Nashville and mustered out to return home to make wagons.

James Gilbert Sanderson-private born in Chesaning when few non-Indian babies were born in the area. He enlisted at 21 on 8/29/64 to help fill the town quota and joined the battery in Atlanta on 10/25 in Atlanta. He was discharged on July 4, 1865 in Nashville after his discharge from an area hospital.

Theodore Sanderson- Private, James’ brother enlisted two days prior at 19, also being from the town. He joined the battery as well but he died of a slow and lingering disease on January 23, 1865. He had been transported north to treat his condition. He was buried at New Albany, National Cemetery, IN across the river from Louisville, KY.


Three men that were in the battery moved to the area after the war. The soldiers above probably boasted of the beautiful are and its opportunities so the migrated north.

Hiram Weeden- enlisted 8/20/1864 in Chesaning at 22, and he joined for other reasons. He was a substitute for an unknown man and enlisted in DeGolyer’s Battery and was living in Coldwater at the time. We do not know of his monetary stress for becoming a substitute. He is buried near Flushing.

Raphael Thomas- enlisted at 19 from Detroit in 1864. The difficulties of soldiering got the best of him and he was discharged for disabilities on Nov 21, 1863 in Detroit to receive medical attention. He moved to Taymouth, on the Flint River and adjacent to the Anishinaabe Indian Reserve where he lived the rest of his life.

George Frank Leland-Private, enlisted in late November, 1861 at 19 in Holly for two years. He re-enlisted 1/1/1864 at the Big Black River in Mississippi where the battery was encamped. With his abilities proven during service, he was promoted to Corporal at the same time. He is buried in Flushing.

Capt Samuel De Golyer’s dying wish was to go home and he received his wish to go to Hudson. The men who served in the war loved this part of Michigan. These were some of the men that produced one of the vibrant states in the country in the 20th Century.


(Wildwood Cemetery Chesaning)


Sources:


Triumph and Defeat, Vol. 2, by Winschel, Terrence J., Savas Beatie, Second Edition, 2019.


GAR Book, River Rapids, Library, Chesaning Twp., MI.


American Civil War Research Data, Inc., P.O. Box 25, Duxbury, MA 02331


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