16th Michigan Infantry

This site generously sponsored by:


History of the 16th Michigan Infantry

By John R. Legg

In the aftermath of the sectional crisis of 1860 and bombing of Fort Sumter in 1861, Union regiments formed and prepared themselves for the grim experience of battle. Among those from Michigan, the Sixteenth Infantry Regiment was one of the more prominent units. Mustering 767 men at Fort Wayne, Detroit, the regiment was known as “Stockton’s Independent Regiment.” They journeyed to Washington D.C. and joined the ranks of the Army of the Potomac in the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Fifth Corps on September 16, 1861. Initially composed of ten companies, the Regiment was sternly commanded by Colonel Thomas B.W. Stockton, a prominent engineer and veteran of the Mexican War.

Their training continued as they camped near Washington D.C. with the Army of the Potomac through the winter of 1861. In February 1862, an eleventh company, known as Dygert’s Sharpshooters, joined the ranks of the Sixteenth providing strength and marksmanship to the Regiment. The winter months provided these Michigan soldiers ample time to drill, train, and prepare for the coming campaign season.

In Spring 1862, the Sixteenth Michigan began to earn their prestige and reputation. Marching under the command of Fitz John Porter, the men of the Sixteenth participated in the Peninsula Campaign, an effort by George B. McClellan to force a Confederate defeat at the “gates” of Richmond. The men fought bravely at the siege of Yorktown in April 1862 and Hanover Court House a month later. At Gaines’ Mill, the Sixteenth pushed a tough contest against the Confederate forces, leading to forty-nine dead, 116 wounded, and fifty-five missing. It was one of the notable moments of the units’ history. During this battle, enemy fire wounded Colonel Stockton, leading to his capture and incarceration at Libby Prison in Richmond. To replace him, Lieutenant Colonel Welch led the Regiment into action at Malvern Hill and the debacle of Second Manassas, where the unit suffered seventy-nine casualties.

In August, Colonel Stockton returned to the regiment after a prisoner trade, and they marched with their army into Maryland. Placed in reserve at the Battle of Antietam, the Sixteenth Michigan assisted in the pursuit of retreating Confederate forces across the Potomac River. After spending time at Harper’s Ferry in November 1862, the unit joined Ambrose Burnside’s failed efforts along the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, Virginia.

In May 1863, the Sixteenth participated in the Union disaster at Chancellorsville, where the men defied odds and withheld Confederate charges for most of the engagement. As action commenced in June, the regiment encountered the enemy at Middleburg, Virginia, where the Sixteenth again halted the enemy attack. After these engagements, Colonel Stockton resigned.  Lieutenant Colonel Welch lead the regiment for the next two years. As July 1863 approached, the men of the Sixteenth Michigan chased the invading Confederate army into Pennsylvania. They met at Gettysburg.

16th Michigan monument at Gettysburg, PA. Image ©2016 Look Around You Ventures, LLC.On July 2, General Daniel Sickles made a grave tactical error.  The Sixteenth’s brigade, lead by Colonel Strong Vincent, reinforced the left flank of the Union line to help correct it.  On Little Round Top they played a vital role in the struggle that afternoon. As the men of the Sixteenth rushed to ascend the reverse slope, they collided with Hood’s Texans. Ferocious fighting followed; bayonets punctured, rifle butts swung, and hand-to-hand combat ensued. The struggle and sacrifice on Little Round Top prevented the Union line from being flanked and possibly destroyed.

Autumn 1863 gave the Sixteenth more challenges, especially at Kelly’s Ford, but eventually, the unit returned to Michigan. In December, 294 men reenlisted and returned to the Army of the Potomac as a veteran regiment, which offered proficiency and bravery to units that have not experienced combat.

May 1864 welcomed not only a new combat season but also an addition to the Regiment. On May 3, Jardine’s Sharpshooters joined the Sixteenth Michigan, being the second sharpshooter attachment with the regiment. The new men added strength to the unit before it entered the hellish combat at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and action near the North Anna River and Hanovertown. During the first week of June, the unit saw action at Bethesda Church.

The Sixteenth again distinguished themselves during the nine-month siege of Petersburg. Specifically, at the operation at Peebles Farm the Sixteenth charged gallantly into the defensive works of the Confederate army. Sadly, this action lead to the death of Colonel Welch as well as fifty-one other casualties. For the remainder of the Petersburg campaign and into 1865, the regiment maneuvered and fought at Dabney’s Mills, Hatcher’s Run, White Oak Swamp, Quaker Road, and Five Forks.

As Robert E. Lee retreated to Richmond, and then to Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the Sixteenth Michigan participated in all of the maneuvers with the Army of the Potomac until the end of the war. On May 23, the Sixteenth arrived in Washington D.C. to participate in the grand review of the army, where the nation publicly celebrated and commemorated the deeds of the Union men. After spending a few weeks in Louisville, Kentucky, the Sixteenth transferred to Jeffersonville, Indiana where they mustered out of service. The men of the Sixteenth arrived in Jackson, Michigan on July 12 and disbanded a few days later.

In the heat of battle, the Sixteenth Michigan exhibited courage and gallantry on numerous occasions. Of the 2,194 enrolled in the regiment throughout the conflict, 173 died during battle, fifty-four died of wounds, eight died in Confederate prisons, 104 died disease, and the Army discharged 211 men for disability. The state of Michigan remembered the 16th on June 12, 1889, with the unveiling and dedication of the regiments memorial on Little Round Top. In the years after, the unit hosted reunion celebrations in Flint and Lansing, giving veterans an opportunity to rejoice and reflect on their Civil War experiences.

 Author Biography

John R. Legg holds a B.A. in history and is currently transitioning to graduate work examining the transformative events of Native Americans during the Civil War era and period of Reconstruction. With his love of photography, John is co-authoring a book titled Through A Siberian Lens: A First-Hand Perspective of the Russian Civil War, which examines photographs of A.E.F. troops in Siberia between 1919 and 1921.

Organization of the Sixteenth Michigan

Organized at Fort Wayne, Detroit on September 8, 1861.
Joined the Army of the Potomac on September 16, 1861.
Served with the Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps.

Field Staff at organization: Colonel Thomas B. W. Stockton (Flint), Lieutenant Colonel John V. Reuhle (Detroit), Major Norval E. Welch (Ann Arbor), Surgeon Isaac Wixam (Fentonville), Assistant Surgeon William H. Butler (Buffalo, New York), Chaplain William H. Brockway (Albion), Adjutant Thomas E. Morris (East Saginaw), and Quartermaster Miner S. Newell (Flint).

Company Organization:

  1. Captain Thomas S. Berry (Detroit), First Lieutenant George H. Swan, and Second Lieutenant George Prentiss (Detroit).
  2. Captain Henry H. Sibley (Ionia), First Lieutenant Guy W. Fuller (Ionia), and Second Lieutenant Morris B. Wells (Ionia).
  3. Captain Thomas C. Carr (Flint), First Lieutenant Miner S. Newell (Flint), and Second Lieutenant Randolph W. Ransom (Flint).
  4. Captain Benjamin F. Fisher (East Saginaw), First Lieutenant Theodore S. Mahan (Adrian), and Second Lieutenant, Gilbert R. Chandler (East Saginaw).
  5. Captain Robert T. Elliott (Detroit), First Lieutenant Patrick McLaughlin (Detroit), and Second Lieutenant Charles H. Salter (Detroit).
  6. Captain James Defoe (Plymouth), First Lieutenant William B. Roe (Plymouth), and Second Lieutenant Solomon P. Brockway (Albion).
  7. Captain George Myers (Detroit, First Lieutenant Jacob Webber (Lansing), and Second Lieutenant Frank Eddy (Flint).
  8. Captain Stephen Martin (Detroit), First Lieutenant Thomas F. Hughes (Detroit), and Second Lieutenant John Long (Detroit).
  9. Captain Judd M. Mott (Alburg, Vermont), First Lieutenant Benjamin F. Partridge (Bay City), no record for Second Lieutenant.
  10. ------
  11. Captain Gustave Kast (Detroit), First Lieutenant Lewis Webster, and Second Lieutenant Edward Hill (Detroit).


Dygert’s Sharpshooters led by Captain K.S. Dygert.
Jardine’s Sharpshooters led by Captain George Jardine.

Roster of Men of the 16th - Coming Soon

Field and Staff Company A Company B Company C
Company D Company E Company F Company G
Company H Company I Company K Unassigned Men


Links Related to the 16th Michigan Infantry

16th Michigan Flag information There are four flags from the 16th Michigan Infantry in the State flag collection. Find out more about them over on our Flags page. After looking there, we recommend making the journey to Lansing and seeing them for yourself. 16th Michigan Flags
War Papers Read Before the Michigan Commandery of MOLLUS - Volume 1, 1893

The papers read are stories about specific regiments, usually in a particular battle. In this volume, there are stories from the following regiments:

  • Michigan Cavalry Brigade
  • 17th Michigan
  • 1st Michigan (90 Days)
  • 10th and 11th Michigan
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd Michigan
  • 2nd, 17th and 20th Michigan
  • 4th Michigan Cavalry
  • 21st Michigan
  • MI Cavalry Brigade
  • 9th Michigan
  • 1st Michigan Cavalry
  • 1st Michigan Cavalry
  • 4th and 16th Michigan
  • 19th Michigan
Google Book Link
War Papers Read Before the Michigan Commandery of MOLLUS - Volume 2, 1898

The papers read are stories about specific regiments, usually in a particular battle. In this volume, there are stories from the following regiments:

  • 22nd Michigan
  • 3rd Michigan Cavalry
  • 16th Michigan
  • 6th Michigan
  • 14th Michigan
  • 22nd Michigan
  • 5th and 10th Michigan Cavalry
  • 3rd Michigan Cavalry and 16th MI Infantry
  • 2nd Michigan Cavalry
  • 8th and 9th Michigan Cavalry
  • 2nd Michigan
  • 22nd Michigan
Google Book Link





Books about the 16th Michigan

Small Arms Used by Michigan Troops in the Civil War - Edited by Donald F. Kigar This book is part of the Centennial Commission Books. It is a great reference on what regiment was carrying what weapon throughout the war.
The 16th Michigan Infantry
This regimental history was written by Kim Crawford and follows the regiment through its entire time in service.