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  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

Who was the Fourth Michigan Trooper Who Lost His Canteen

by Gordon Thorsby

Paint may have old and the brush that it was applied was stiff

The troopers of the 4th Michigan Cavalry had stories of how they survived, how they died in battle, or how they died slowly or quickly of some painful disease. As years traveled, the stories faded. Few remain to be told. This fragment of a story is about an object that belonged to one man, but who is the question.

The Fourth Michigan Cavalry was in tough fighting that included Shelbyville at Tullahoma, Chickamauga, several fights in the Atlanta Campaign and Wilson’s all-cavalry raid in April ,1865. In all this, a man with the initials of “C.C.,” who owned one beaten up canteen was with them. Who was C.C. and how did his canteen travel to the present day?

The canteen is made of a light, thin metal and it has corrosion. The spout has been gone since its acquisition 45 years ago even though it appears reinforced at the opening. The strap is made of a light cloth material and is much weakened from age. Interestingly, there appears to be two metal patches made to the container on the lower right from the word “cavalry.” On the opposite side of the canteen near that possible patch is a larger patch that is round except a slight square off in one spot. Some damage occurred to the container, what exactly is unknown.

the larger hole

Was there a C.C. in the Fourth? Yes, of 2067 men who were enrolled in the regiment, there were eight. One died in 1862 and this is not likely C.C. so he is discounted. Here are the other seven as to who C.C might have been:

Was it Charles M. Carter, 19, Corporal from the small town of Matteson. He died of an unknown disease on 2/10/63 and is buried in the National Cemetery at Stone’s River. He did not return home so not probable.

Possibly Cornelius Carroll, 33? Placed in Co. E and from Lapeer when he enlisted 2/22/64, he met up with the regiment at Ooltewah, TN as the the regiment refit for the Atlanta Campaign. He was discharged on 8/15/65.

Columbus Cole, 20? In Co. D when he enlisted on 8/2/62 at Plymouth at twenty. He mustered out in 1865 at the end and is buried in Sturgis 1902. There was nothing more.

How about Charles T. Cowden, 21 who was in Co. H from Blackmon in August 1862. He also discharged in July 1865.

Maybe, Charles Craig, 19? He was from Marshall when he enlisted in Co. I. The Bentley Library at the University of Michigan has letters to his brother, Albert in Co. A of the 8th Michigan Cavalry. Both were discharged in the summer of 1865.

There was Charles Cobb, 26 was enlisted in Aug, 1862 in Co. K and from Elba. He discharged with Cole and Cowden in 1865 and died in 1916.

None of the data of these men provided anything to solidly point to a connection. Then, there is one more;

Charles Carter, 27, (born in Oswego, NY) when he enlisted from Allegan on 7/30/1862. He was in Co. L and at some point in 1863, he was promoted Corporal. He was a mounted color bearer when on June 20, 1864, Charles was seriously wounded at Latimer’s Mill. This action occurred near Gilgal Church during the series of fights at Kennesaw Mountain. After transfer to a Detroit hospital, Charles was officially discharged on 9/26/64 as sergeant. Pension Records document assistance to the family and he lived out his days in Allegan where he died in 1893 at 56.

Isaac Seely Co. C 4th Michigan Cavalry

Could Charles, have been shipped home with his clothes and some equipment to Detroit and from there home? Was C.C. Charles? Maybe but not confirmed. Or is this active imagination at work?

What happened to CC and what happened to those around him? We may never know.

C.C was at some time on this world and at some point he died. We may not have ever known he existed but for a few documents in the millions of other papers, and a dilapidated old remnant of a canteen. It sits on a bookshelf, filled with books about the Civil War that he fought for two years of his life. The canteen is not lost. We wonder who C.C was, how he may have lived and how he came to have lost something that was an important necessity for any soldier.


Historical Data Systems, Inc. P.O. Box 25, Duxbury, MA 02331.

Fold 3 Data, Ancestry. com., of the seven men in the article.

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