History of the 30th Michigan Infantry
Text by Jeremy Bevard
The 30th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment’s story has not been told and the regiment has nearly been forgotten about. Perhaps this is because it is believed they do not have a story to tell. There are a few likely reasons why these volunteers have faded away in history. The Regiment never left their home state on a campaign to meet the enemy on a field of battle and their existence was short lived at the near end of a long war.
The 30th Michigan can trace their birth to letters sent between Michigan’s Governor Blair, Major General Hooker and Secretary of War Staunton all discussing the creation of a regiment to protect Michigan’s border with Canada.
On November 3rd, 1864, Major General Hooker commanding the Northern Department, wrote a letter to the Secretary of War Edwin Staunton. Hooker was seeking permission for Governor Blair of Michigan to raise a 12-month volunteer regiment. This regiment would be detailed to protect the Michigan frontier along the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers.
Hooker stated that the regiment "should be organized before the Detroit River is frozen over." He writes the need for this quickly raised home guard regiment is that there is "no lesser force can render the frontier of Michigan secure from the incursions of the disaffected in Canada.”
There had been many fears, rumors and some truths to the incursions from the disaffected in Canada. One such attempt happened in September 1864 but was discussed as early as 1863. The plot was to capture the USS Michigan and attack Johnson's Island to free the Confederate prisoners. However, except for a few small steamers being burned, the plan was a failure. This attempt was certainly a trigger for seeking a home guard regiment in Michigan only two months after.
On November 4th, 1864, the Governor of Michigan received a response from Washington. It authorized the governor "to raise a regiment of volunteer infantry for twelve (12) months service unless sooner discharged.” It also stated "The recruitment, organization and muster must conform with existing regulations.” This new regiment once organized would "report to Major General Hooker or the Department Commander for duty under him until further notice.”
Recruiting for the regiment started on November 7th 1864 in Jackson. Colonel G.S. Warner was the mustering officer. During the recruiting process, a letter was sent to Hooker seeking clarification and assurance that the new regiment would not be sent to the front. He felt that potential recruits would be more likely to enlist with this clarification of duties and it would speed up the recruiting process. Hooker's reply has not yet been found.
The regiment was made up from men all across the state such as Hillsdale, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Flint, and Armada just to name a few. Like so many companies before the 30th Michigan's companies were primarily made up from men living in the same community. The average age was in the low twenties. However, their ages varied greatly within each company from 16 to 44.
Records show that the regiment received their shipment of arms sometime during the end of 1864. They received .58 caliber Springfield Rifle Muskets in models 1855, 1861 and 1863.
Despite the concerns from the recruiting officer about slow enlistment, the regiment was organized and mustered into Federal service on January 9th, 1865 in Detroit.
The staff of the regiment was as follows: Colonel Gorver Wormer, Lt Colonel John Sumner, Major Samuel Graves, Surgeon John Willet, Asst Surgeon Theron Hubbard, 2nd Asst Surgeon Owen Ellison Jr, Adjutant Jermoe Turner, Quartermaster William Wade and Chaplain Lyman Dean.
Once the regiment was organized and mustered into Federal service, the companies were mostly scattered along the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers. Fort Gratiot was the home for A and B companies. D company went to St. Clair and Wyandotte received E while K companies went back to Jackson. H was sent to Fenton. C, F and I all went to the Detroit Barracks while G was at Fort Wayne with the Headquarters. At some point the Headquarters may have been moved up to Fort Gratiot but the time or length of this is not known as of now.
Once the end of the war came in the spring of 1865, the fears from the disaffected in Canada began to subside. The 30th Michigan was mustered out of Federal service on June 30th, 1865. Discharge papers show some men being discharged as early as June 24th. During the regiment’s six-month existence, 1,001 officers and enlisted men served. Of these 18 died of disease.
While some were too young to enlist with enthusiasm when the boys of 61 did, they most likely did have that patriotic sense of duty when they volunteered in late 1864. For those men in their later years, it will never truly be known why they did not enlist earlier. As documentation suggests, it may have been a fear or other aversion to going into combat. After the stories reached home about the savage fighting encountered by other Regiments from the state, we should not judge them. We should remember that when their State asked for more men to protect it, they voluntarily signed their name on the enlistment forms and left their homes behind.
The details and individual stories of the men while they served are still a mystery but hopefully more will be learned as research is done. While their service was not as glorious as their brethren in the veteran regiments, their service is still a piece of Michigan’s and our Nation’s history. The 1,001 men in the ranks of the 30th Michigan have a unique story to tell and it should be remembered.
Organized at Detroit, Mich., for 12 months' service in the State and mustered in January 9, 1865.
Engaged in frontier duty in Michigan along the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers till June, 1865.
The Regimental Headquarters were for some time at Jackson, then at Detroit until moved to Fort Gratiot at Port Huron on June the 30th. 1865, when they were mustered out of service, paid off and disbanded.
Roster of Men of the 30th - Links to Photos of Men where known - 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 30th Michigan
Historic Fort Wayne
|One company (company G) of the 30th was quartered at Historic Fort Wayne, as was the regimental headquarters for a time. You can visit the Fort today and stand where these men served.||http://www.historicfortwaynecoalition.com/|
|30th Michigan Flags||On our flags page, we provide access to images of both flags carried by the men of the 30th Michigan.||http://allmichigancivilwar.com/flags.html#30thinfantry|
Books about the 30th 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.|