24th Michigan Infantry

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History of the 24th Michigan Infantry

Text by Andrew Roscoe

A war rally was held in the City of Detroit on July 15th, 1862 to raise enthusiasm and volunteers for these new regiments. However, southern sympathizers spread word that the propose of the rally was to purpose a draft, conscripting men into service against their will. Consequently, a mob formed and broke up the rally, forcing the Wayne County Sherriff, Mark Flannigan, to protect the dignitaries. The City of Detroit was now under a cloud of shame and disgrace, so the city fathers decided to solve this by imploring the governor to allow the raising of an extra regiment above and beyond the state's quota to avenge the honor of the city. After much deliberation, Governor Austin Blair relented and called for another regiment of infantry to be raised - the 24th Regiment of Michigan Volunteer Infantry.

The ranks of the regiment filled quickly, the full 1,030 officers and men being recruited by July 26th. Henry A Morrow, Judge of the Recorder's Court in Detroit, was appointed Colonel. He had been born in Virginia and had later served as a page in the US Senate, where he was lured to Detroit by Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan following Morrow's service in the Mexican War. Colonel Morrow was to be the only Colonel of the regiment. His Lieutenant Colonel was Mark Flannigan, an Irish-born butcher and the Wayne County Sherriff. The Major was Henry Nall, an Englishman who had served up to then as a Captain in the 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. The unit received their first colors on August 26th in Detroit, a beautiful flag donated by F. Buhl & Co. and made by Tiffany & Co. of New York City. The regiment departed for Washington City, The District of Columbia on August 29th, 1862. Of the over 1,000 in the regiment that day, less than 200 would still be in the ranks in June of 1865 to muster out.

The regiment proceeded by sea to Cleveland, Ohio then by rail to Pittsburg, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and finally Washington, arriving on September1st, 1862. It was ordered into reserve to be trained, and consequently missed out on the battles of South Mountain (September 14th) and Antietam (September 17th) while it was in the Washington area. On September 29th, the 24th Michigan received orders to march to Antietam to reinforce The Army of the Potomac's First Corps. Upon their arrival, they were assigned to the Brigadier General John Gibbon's Fourth Brigade, First Division, recently bestowed with the name "Iron Brigade." They were a unique brigade in that they were the only all-western brigade in the eastern army, being then comprised of the 2nd, 6th, and 7th Wisconsin, and the 19th Indiana. To make them stand out, General Gibbon dressed them in the uniform of the regular US Army, with long frock coats, leggings, and the black dress hats called "Hardee" hats. They were incredibly well trained and had earned a reputation for dogged fighting in their first battles. Fighting alone and outnumbered three-to-one after being surprised in their first battle at Brawner's Farm, they fought "Stonewall" Jackson to a standstill before withdrawing in the dark. They forced their way alone through Turner's Gap on South Mountain, and led the First Corp's assault on the Dunker Church at Antietam, destroying a good part of Jackson's corps before being stopped by a wild counter attack by General John Bell Hood's division. They only withdrew from the fight after both sides had fought themselves to the end of their strength. In three weeks of campaigning, they had been reduced from 2,800 men to less than 800, and were badly in need of reinforcements. Yet, they were resentful of the 24th as a new, unproven unit, who did not fit in with the brigade in their standard-issue fatigue blouses and forage caps in place of the brigade's frock coats and Hardee hats. The 24th would have to earn their respect.

They would first get their chance at Fredericksburg, Virginia on December 13th. While much of the rest of the army was making gallant, but fruitless assaults against the stone wall at the base of Marye's Heights, the Iron Brigade was several miles south, protecting the left flank of the army. An enemy battery began to shell their position, so the 24th was ordered forward to clear away the battery. A solid shot took off the head of private and tore the arm off another, the regiment's first battle casualties, causing the unit to stop and waver. Colonel Morrow, seeing this, ordered the regiment to halt, and put them through the manual of arms, the basic rifle drill that was the first thing the men had been taught in the army, all the while taking fire from all sides while in the middle of an open field for the entire battlefield to see. The routine of the drill settled the men, and they cleared away the rebel battery, loosing, among others, along the way, John Litogot of Dearborn, who was to have a nephew born the next year, who was to change the industrial world - Henry Ford. The 24th gained the respect of the Iron Brigade at Fredericksburg for their bravery and coolness under fire, and earned their full inclusion in the brigade. This was a reputation that was added to throughout the following winter, with the 24th earning the praise of the new commander of the army, Joseph Hooker, as the finest regiment in the army, with him saying the regiment was "as smooth as silk."

At the opening of the Chancellorsville Campaign, as part of a feint against General Lee in front of Fredericksburg, the 24th, along with the 6th Wisconsin, lead an amphibious assault at Fitzhugh's crossing on 28 April, 1863. The affair was poorly planned and handled by the engineers who were to oversee the bridge to be built there. Consequently, Brigadier General James Wadsworth, the Division Commander, personally lead the men across, standing in the first pontoon. The two western regiments, in a quick rush, pushed the rebels back and secured a bridgehead. Though they did soon march to join the rest of the army on the main battlefield, the Iron Brigade was not engaged, missing the shockingly deadly fighting on May 3rd. Rather, the men were the rear guard for the army, covering the crossing in the wake of the bloody battle.

Battle of Gettysburg

The next battle of the 24th Michigan was to be its most famous. In June, they marched north, along with the rest of the Army of the Potomac - and finally with their long ago earned black hats - into Pennsylvania. On the morning of 1 July, 1863, the men awoke as normal, but soon heard the distant thunder of the guns as Brigadier General John Buford's cavalry division skirmished with A.P. Hill's rebel west of Gettysburg. While Chaplain William Way read a service for the men, ammunition was distributed to the men. They set out the final miles to the battlefield, turning at the Codori family farm to march cross-lots at the double quick into the battle. The initial battle was all in the Iron Brigade's favor, and the 24th took many prisoners from Archer's Tennessee brigade.

Following this sharp fight, there was a lull in the battle for several hours, during which time, the brigade was realigned on the top of McPherson's Ridge in the open woodlot south of the farm. Here is where the 24th would make its mark. As the afternoon wore on, it was increasingly clear that the Federals were terribly outnumbered but the rebels, and that the best that could be hoped for was to buy time enough for reinforcements to reach the field. The men were ordered to hold the woods at all hazards. Soon, the rebels of Pettigrew's North Carolina brigade were moving forward, and the 24th, all 496 men, engaged into a very personal battle with the 26th North Carolina, numbering somewhere around 900 men. The rebels tried time and again to cross Willoughby's Run at the base of the ridge, but were thrown back with heavy casualties, until the left end of the Federal line crumbled, and the Iron Brigade was ordered back.

Colonel Morrow, by now the last surviving senior officer, lead the 150-200 remaining men in a withdrawal that made ten separate stands on its retreat back to the next ridge. It was in this period, that the colonel was wounded while carrying the colors. The entire color guard being killed or wounded, the colonel picked up the national banner, but was quickly relieved by a private who declared, "That the colonel of the 24th shall not carry this flag as long as I live." The private was promptly struck in the head by enemy fire, killing him instantly, leaving the colors again in the colonel's hands. He too was struck in the head, receiving a bad scalp wound. The men retired to a prepared barricade in the grove west of the Lutheran Theological Seminary on Seminary Ridge, where, with the rest of the brigade, they fought off several successive attacks from fresh troops of Scale's and Perrin's Brigades of Pender's division. The Iron Brigade was the last Federal infantry unit to retire off Seminary Ridge in the wake of the collapse of the 11th Corps to the right, falling back to first Cemetery and then later Culp's Hill. Captain Edwards, one of the junior captains and now in command of the regiment, found the colors in the arms of an unknown private, his name lost to history, lying against the barricade, dead, with them hugged in his arms. Only 26 men were at that time left with the colors, which were found in the barricade in the arms of another unknown private's arms. By nightfall, the regiment's loss was clear, 97 men remained, for a loss of 399 men in the day's fighting: 80% casualties, the greatest loss of any infantry regiment in a single day's battle in the history of the United States Army.

After Gettysburg

The regiment did not fight again until the Overland Campaign in 1864, though they did participate in the Mine Run campaign during the fall of 1863. They crossed the Rapidan River on 4 May, 1864, approximately 350 men strong, their numbers made up from recovered sick and wounded, as well as some new recruits. After the Battle of the Wilderness, where Colonel Morrow was again struck down, the men fought at Spotsylvania, Jericho Mill, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, settling down into the siege that defined the last year of the war in Virginia. Finally, in February 1865, shortly after the sharp and costly fighting at Hatcher's Run, they were relieved of duty, and sent to Camp Butler, Springfield, Illinois, to recruit up to strength and guard and supervise a camp for draftees. The 24th was at full strength by April of 1865, but did not participate in any of the final fighting that spring. Their last duty of the war was to provide the funeral detail and honor guard at the funeral of the slain President, Abraham Lincoln. Following that, they took train for Detroit, arriving there in June. At 5pm, 28 June, 1865, the regiment's last dress parade was held and the regiment was mustered out of Federal service.  


Organization on the 24th Michigan

Organized at Detroit, Mich., and mustered in August 15, 1862.
Moved to Washington, D.C. August 29, 1862.
Attached to Defences of Washington, D.C. to October, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to November, 1862.
4th Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to June, 1863.
1st Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to March, 1864.
1st Brigade, 4th Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to August, 1864.
3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to September, 1864.
1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac to February, 1865.
Springfield, Ill., Northern Department, to June, 1865.

Roster of Men of the 24th - Links to Photos of Men where known


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 24th Michigan

Histroical Marker dedicated to the 24th and Iron Brigade Service

This marker is located at the New Buffalo Welcome Center on I-94 just in Michigan from Indiana. http://allmichigancivilwar.com/monuments.html#newbuffalo
24th Michigan Company C The Plymouth Historical Musuem has worked up a really nice page on the men from Company C. http://www.plymouthhistory.org/c-company,-24th-michigan-original-roster.html
24th Michigan flags This link takes you to our page on Michigan's battle flags and directs your immediately to the 24th Michigan flags. http://allmichigancivilwar.com/flags.html#24thinfantry
24th Michigan Gettyburg Monument Follow this link to our page about the Michigan monuments at Gettysburg. This link will take you directly to the section on the 24th Michigan Infantry. 24th Michigan Infantry Gettysburg Monument
Abel G. Peck Story Abel Peck is well known as the first color bearer to fall carrying the flag of the 24th Michigan into the Battle of Gettysburg. Few people know much more about him. Here is a website featuring a research paper on his story. http://montcalmhistory.com/civilwar/civilwarbiopeckabel.html
The McPherson Woods Fight This is an excellent, brief account of the 1st day of Gettysburg fight the 24th was part of. It was published by the Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/gettysburg-2011/the-battle-for-herbst-woods.html

Books about the 24th Michigan - and some Iron Brigade Books

History of the 24th Michigan of the Iron Brigade - by O. B. Curtis The Regiment's history. It is full of great information! First published in 1891, it was re-printed in 1984 by Butternut Press.
The Twenty-fourth Michigan - by Donald L. Smith This regimental history was published in 1962 by Stackpole books.
The Iron Brigade: A Military History - by Alan T. Nolan Nolan is one of the best known authors on the Iron Brigade and this is one of the classis works on the brigade.
Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign - by Lance Herdegen Want to know more about the Gettysburg Campaign in specific. This book will take you directly to the time we are portraying the Iron Brigade.
Giants in Their Tall Black Hats: Essays on the Iron Briagde - by Nolan and Vipond  
A Brotherhood of Valor: The Common Soldiers of the Stonewall Brigade, C.S.A. and the Iron Brigade, U.S.A. - by Jeffry D. Wert A compare and contrast study of the men of these two famous brigades.
Dear Sarah: Letters Home From a Solider of the Iron Brigade - by J. H. Pardington - edited by Coralou Peel Lassen One set of letters sent back from the brigade.
Hoosier's Honor: The Iron Brigade's 19th Indiana Regiment - by Thomas Venner One of our sister regiments in the brigade will portray the 19th IN. There were on the flank of the 24th druing much of the 1st Day's fight. Here is their story. &
Service with the Sixth Wisconsin - by Rufus Dawes The history of the 6th WI as told by one of their commanders. Another member of our brigade will portray the 6th during this event.
An Irishman in the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Memoirs of James P. Sullivan, Sergt., Company K, 6th Wisconsin Volunteers - by William J. K. Beaudot and Lance J. Herdegen A set of memoirs from a member of the 6th WI. Herdegen uses this story as a regular reference in many of his books - see what the fellow actually said in full context!
Four Years with the Iron Brigade: The Civil War Journals of William R. Ray, Co. F., Seventh Wisconsin Infantry - edited by Lance herdegen and Sherry Murphy A great jounal of the war through the eyes of an enlisted man in the Iron Brigade.
Chancellorsville and Gettysburg - by Abner Doubleday Since Doubleday took control of the First Corp fully when Reynolds was killed AND he rode to the fight with the Iron Brigade, his account is quite relevant.
The Iron Brigade in Civil War and Memory: The Black Hats from Bull Run to Appomattox and Thereafter - by Lance J. Herdegen A complete look at the Iron Briagde, this new publication continues after Gettysburg where Alan Nolan's excellent work leaves off.
On Many a Bloody Field: Four Years in the Iron Brigade - by Alan D Gaff This book follows Company B, 19th Indiana from muster in to muster out.
Arming Michigan's Regiments: 1862-1864 - Compiled by James G. Genco Privately published in 1982, this is a compilation of Quarterly Ordnance reports and gives us a good view of what the 24th MI is carrying, company by company