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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

Of Six Men in the Seventh Michigan Cavalry

by Gordon Thorsby

There is probably more written about the 7thMichigan Cavalry than any other cavalry regiment from Michigan but the story of six men from Maple Grove has evaded all previous stories. It ends with how Grandpa Philander Tozer entertained the kids, but a fuller story is needed.

Herman Philander Tozer was born March 7, 1835, and John, born 5/21/36 decided that they would seek a cavalry regiment to join up with, in the request by Lincoln for 300,000 more. Also from Maple Grove, came Martin Barnhardt, 26, originally of Ontario, Canada, Simeon Trumbul, 29, born and raised in Maple Grove, and Timothy B. Gallagher, 39, an Irish immigrant, and together they stepped off on their hike east six miles to Montrose It was there they met up with another man, Mason Ide, 46, an old man for cavalry…really old. All six caught a packet boat for a cruise up the Flint River to Flint and enlisted in Co. C of the newly forming 7th Michigan Cavalry on 9/4/1862. Six days later, Philander was married. (no further information.)

Company C remained at Grand Rapids until Cos. L& M were finished forming. The other companies traveled to Washington and received mounts. At Washington, Ide at 46 was determined as too old by authorities and they assigned him as a wagoner. Mason would in 1864 be promoted to farrier, Philander was made Saddler immediately as was Gallagher who was also made a wagoner. March weather was some of the poorest for many in the Company and worse for Trumbul because he caught fever and died on March 18th (Trumbul is buried at the Washington Military asylum.) Great relief was felt by all when they got orders to go into the field. Fighting couldn’t be worse than the mud and disease.

When they entered the field, the Seventh consisted of 47 officers and 740 men, with Army Colt revolvers and Burnside Carbines and the first action was at Hanover, PA on June 30th,

east of Gettysburg. Skirmishing raged until Cos. C, E, and H were ordered to take and occupy the town. The deed was accomplished, and the regiment was proud of the first fight and proud that they became along with the1st 5th, 6th Michigan Cavalry regiments the Wolverine Brigade under Gen. George A. Custer.

At 3PM on July 3rd, the 7th was supporting Battery M, 2nd US Artillery when Confederate Cavalry was observed approaching Union skirmishers in force. According to the regiment's historian Asa Isham, the 7th received orders to “charge upon the approaching line of the enemy, which it did in splendid order in column of companies. At this point one of the most notable cavalry engagements of the Civil war took place, and of the part taken by the Seventh and the First Michigan Cavalry,

which came to its support.” Of 401 troopers in action that day, 13 were killed, 52 wounded and 39 missing. John Tozer was one of the 39 as he had been captured. The Seventh suffered the most casualties of all cavalry regiments at Gettysburg.

Beginning on July 5, the Wolverine Brigade harried and pursued the rear columns of Lee's retreating army into Maryland capturing prisoners and over 400 wagons but the constant action wasn't without casualties. Reported in the regimental history, “At Hagerstown Major Newcomb with his battalion advanced under heavy fire and drove the enemy before it.” Co. C was part of the battalion and they advanced dismounted under sharp fire until the troopers were recalled. Philander Tozer was caught in an isolated position wound up captured. The Tozer brothers were reunited in prison and together were released when on Sept. 4th. and rejoined the regiment.

Farrier's Shop in the Field

In any histories of Michigan cavalrymen, there was little love lost for Judson Kilpatrick. That conclusion was reinforced in the outcome of the Kilpatrick (Dahlgren) Raid on Feb. 29 when of one hundred troopers of the Seventh involved, 31 were captured. Martin Barnhardt was among them and he was also seriously wounded. It is unknown if Barnhart's wound or disease that enabled him to get a quick exchange on3/1/1864 and he was sent to Baltimore’s West Building Hospital. It was there he died of smallpox on April 19th. Today he is buried in the Loudon National Cemetery in Baltimore.

Eight days after the raid on Richmond and not aware of its occurrence, John Tozer, who had recovered from the fighting at Gettysburg and a short stint in Confederate prison also died of smallpox at Kalorma General Hospital, March 9,1864 in Washington City. John is would have been one of the early burials in Arlington National Cemetery.

We really don’t know exactly where Philander was wounded but it was possibly at Five Forks or while fighting Gerry’s South Carolina Cavalry in the last few days before Appomattox that Philander took a minie ball in the neck. He was picked up on the field and sent to Washington to recover (only known records of his wounding are in Montrose data.) Philander did not participate in the Grand Review in Washington. He was sent back to Detroit and admitted to Harper Hospital on June 2nd for longer term treatment. A severe wound but he survived.

In the 70’s, the 80’s and even the 90’s, Philander used to be a center of entertainment for children. You see, his wound though healed had left the hole in his throat and it required daily cleaning. One child would push a corner of the kerchief through his neck until it appeared on the other side. A second child would pull the kerchief the rest of the way and then the awful procedure was repeated in the opposite direction. Boys and girls alike would giggle and be grossed out simultaneously. Then, they would insist to do it again. Philander would add drama to increase the effect of the chore. The children were probably not aware that Philander Tozer had fought in America’s greatest conflict and survived with a very unpleasant side effect.

Three men return ed of the Six who left. Tozer, Gallagher, and Ide came home but not together. Philander Tozer was discharged August 10 from Harper Hospital and lived until 1893. Mason Ide began collecting veteran’s almost immediately in 1867 and died at 55 in 1871. Timothy Gallagher went west in June with the regiment to deal with Indian uprisings and returned home in December when the regiment mustered out. His end is unknown.


One Continuous Fight, The Retreat from Gettysburg, by Wittenberg, Eric J., Petruzzi, J. David and Nugent Michael F., Savas Beatie, 2013.

Isham, Asa B. (Asa Brainerd), 1844-1912. An historical sketch of the Seventh regiment Michigan volunteer cavalry from its organizations, in 1862, to its muster out, in 1865.Town topics publishing company [1893].

Historical Data Sources, Inc., P.O. Box 25, Duxbury, MA 03332.

Montrose Telephone Museum, Montrose MI.

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion.

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