5th Michigan Infantry

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History of the 5th Michigan Infantry

The Fifth Michigan Infantry was organized at Fort Wayne, Detroit, and was mustered into service August 28, 1861, with an enrollment of 900 officers and men. The several companies composing the Regiment were locally designated as follows: the "Sherlock Guard", of Detroit; the "Mt. Clemens Rifle Guard", of Mt. Clemens; the "East Saginaw Volunteers", of East Saginaw; the "Ingersoll Rifles", of Owosso; the "Governor's Guard", of Detroit, the "Saginaw City Light Infantry", of Saginaw; the "Livingston Volunteers", of Livingston and Brighton, the "Washington Guard", of St. Clair, the "Pontiac Volunteers", of Pontiac and the "Huron Rangers" of Port Huron.

The Regiment left its rendezvous September 11, 1861, to join the Army of the Potomac. During the winter of 1861-62 it was at Alexandria, Va., then in March 1862 was assigned to Berry's Brigade, Kearney's Division, taking part in the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, under General McClellan. The Fifth was at the Siege of Yorktown, participating in the battle of Williamsburg, May 5th, where it displayed unusual gallantry, which was testified to by its losses and the bravery and fortitude of its officers and men. The Regiment charged the Confederate works carrying them with the bayonet; however, in doing so received the murderous fire of the Confederates and from a total of 500 men composing the Regiment lost 34 killed and 119 wounded. For gallantry in this action the Fifth received congratulatory orders from General Berry, commanding the Brigade, General Kearney, commanding the Division. General McClellan also commended the Regiment highly to the Secretary of War. Before the month of May closed the Regiment was destined to meet with severe loss in battle of Fair Oaks. It went into action on May 31st, 300 strong and lost 30 killed, 120 wounded and 5 missing. This made a total loss for the month of May of 308 men. It was engaged at the Chickahominy River, June 25th, at Peach Orchard on the 29th and at Malvern Hill on the 1st of July. In these successive battles the Regiment bore a prominent part and its losses were heavy. The field officers had suffered so severely in killed and wounded that the Regiment during July was in command of Captain Farras. A large number of line officers were also either killed or wounded. The Regiment returned from the Peninsular Campaign to serve in the campaign under General Pope, taking part in the engagements at Manassas, Groveton and Chantilly.

In December 1862, the Fifth took part in the disastrous battle of Fredricksburg. Its losses in killed and wounded were 100, Lieutenant Colonel Gilluly, Monument dedicated in 1888 by the State of Michigan to the 5th Michigan Infantry at Gettysburg, PA. Image ©2015 Look Around You Ventures, LLC.commanding the Regiment, being among the killed. During the months of Dec. 1862 and Jan. 1863, the Regiment crossed and re-crossed the Rappahannock River participating in many marches coupled with a great amount of fatigue duty. In May it took part in the battles of Cedars and Chancellorsville, where it fought with its accustomed gallantry resulting in more than 50 killed and wounded. At Chancellorsville, Lieutenant Colonel Sherlock, commanding the Regiment was killed. Major Pulford was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel on May 2nd, 1863, then under his command, the Regiment made a series of forced marches arriving at Gettysburg, Pa., on July 2nd at 4 p.m. where it went into action immediately about a mile beyond the Emmettsburg Pike, where in one hour they lost 105 men killed and wounded, about one-half of the men in the Regiment. The loss of officers was especially severe. The Fifth followed the retreating Confederates after the battle of Gettysburg to Williamsport, then after murderous marches were placed on transports at Alexandria to sail for New York City to help quell the draft riots. In September it again joined its Corp, then on November 7, 1863, crossed the Rappahannock River at Kelly's Ford. On the 27th it was engaged at Locust Grove, losing several killed and wounded, engaged again on the 29th at Mine Run. The Fifth went into winter quarters at Brandy Station,Va., where it remained until December when it re-enlisted and returned to Michigan on Veteran furlough. Assembling again at Detroit with a large number of recruits it returned to its former camp at Brandy Station, where it arrived Feb. 14, 1864. The following May it entered into the Wilderness Campaign under command of Colonel Pulford. The Fifth marched by way of Chancellosville and was soon engaged in the death grapple in the Wilderness, where it sustained severe casualties in killed and wounded, the Regiment passed to the command of Captain Wakenshaw and Captain Shook, who in turn were wounded and the Regiment was then in the command of a Lieutenant. In making a charge upon the Confederate works Sergeant Kemp of company F, captured the flag of a Virginia Regiment. The Regiment was constantly under fire with its numbers greatly depleted by losses. So to, the Third Michigan had been depleted in a like number. At this time the two Regiments were temporarily, then afterward permanently, consolidated.

On the 12th of May the Regiment made a charge at Spottsylvania where two stands of Confederate colors were captured. It was engaged at the North Anna River on the 29th, the next day crossed the river, where it drove the Confederates from a strong position, then recrossed the North Anna River and marched to the Pamunky River. The Regiment was constantly changing its positions, marching by night and fighting or constructing works during the day, making the campaign one of unusual hardships. The incessant marching and fighting told heavily on the command. Scarcely for an hour out of range of the Confederates, always alert for an attack or defense, the trying ordeal at times almost past the limit of human endurance. The Fifth reached Cold Harbor, June 5th followed by fatiguing marches and hard fighting, they crossed the James River and arrived before Petersburg the 15th. From this date until the fall of Petersburg, the following April, the Regiment was usually in the advanced line of works or participating in the sharp engagements at Boydton Plank Road and Hatcher's Run, making numerous charges upon the Confederate works and strong-holds. It was scarcely ever out of the range of the Confederate guns for the nine day's and months it was on duty before Petersburg, then, when that city fell, April 3rd, the Fifth was one of the first Regiments to plant its colors on the Confederate breastworks. After the capture of Petersburg, the Fifth followed the retreating Confederates, being heavily engaged at Saylors Creek, and was on the firing line at Appomattox Court House, the morning that General Lee surrendered the army of Northern Virginia to General Grant. On May 1st the Regiment started for Washington where it participated in the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac on the 23rd. June 10th the Regiment started for Louisville, Kentucky where it crossed the river to Jeffersonville, Indiana, where it was mustered out of U.S. service. It arrived at Detroit the 8th and was paid, then disbanded on June 17, 1865.

Organization on the 5th Michigan

Organized at Detroit, Mich., and mustered in August 28, 1861.
Left State for Washington, D.C., September 11.
Attached to Richardson's Brigade, Heintzelman's Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862.
Member of Berry's 3rd Brigade, Kearny's 3rd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to August, 1862.
Served in 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps, to March, 1864.
Served in 2nd Brigade. 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps, to July, 1865.

Roster of Men of the 5th - 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

Images of the men of the 5th Michigan Infantry

Graves of the 5th Michigan Infantry

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 5th Michigan

Michigan's "Fighting Fifth" Civil War Infantry

Lois Keel uses her blog to tell the stories of the 5th Michigan Infantry, raised at Fort Wayne and served in the Red Diamond Division. http://mich5thinfantry.net
5th Michigan Flag information There are several of the flags of the 5th Michigan in the State flag collection. This link takes you to our flag page and specifically to the part about the 5th's flags. 5th Michigan Flags
Historic Fort Wayne state historic marker This is the Michigan maker at Historic Fort Wayne, now located on the south side of Detroit. The 5th Michigan met and trained here before being mustered in and leaving for service with the Army of the Potomac. The Fort is open to the public and you can tour this impressive piece of Michigan history. Historic Fort Wayne marker
5th 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 5th Michigan Infantry. 5th Michigan Infantry Gettysburg Monument
5th Michigan, Company K Based in Bay City, this mid-Michigan re-enacting group re-creates men from one of two companies raised for the 5th out of the Saginaw area. Members live across the state from the Saginaw Valley to Detroit to Battle Creek regions. The 5th's members are part of the progressive community, offering additional opportunities for differents styles of re-enactments. www.unionreenactor.com
5th Michigan Band Have an interest in music? This re-enacting group performs Civil War music on period intsruments. They have members ranging from central to southeastern Michigan. www.mi5th.org
The Sherlock Guard and the 5th Michigan at Fort Wayne This is a short history of the forming of Company A, known at it's inception as The Sherlock Guard. The unit was named for it's commander, Captain Edwin Sherlock. The article is written by Jeremy Bevard http://unionreenactor.com/SherlockGuard.html
A Regimental History of the 5th Michigan Infantry Regiment from Its Formation Through the Seven Days Campaign. This excellent piece of research was the the master's thesis of Thomas Sebrell in May, 2004 http://unionreenactor.com/sebrell.html

Books about the 5th Michigan

Four Years Campaigning in the Army of the Potomac - by Daniel G. Crotty Dan Crotty was the color sergeant of the 3rd Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. This book is relevant to the 5th as Crotty was merged with the rest of the 3rd into the 5th when both regiments re-enlisted in 1864. After the war, he wrote his memories of his time in service. Republished by Belle Grove Publishing. Hardcover
Small Arms Used by Michigan Troops in the Civil War - Edited by Donald F. Kigar No matter the regiment of Michigan troops, this is an excellent first resource for finding out which particular weapons a regiment is armed with.