Source: Sherman Publications

Goodrich-Atlas: Civil War Sesquicentennial

by David Fleet

April 20, 2011

In the autumn of 1861, they gathered on the banks of the Flint River near the eastern limits of the city.

Camp Thomson was formed, comprised of the 10th Infantry— 997 men from Genesee and Oakland counties who were training for Civil War battles to the south. Among the volunteers were men from Goodrich and Atlas Township. Since no railroads were in the Flint area, the troops were moved to the Holly Station by “patriotic citizens” during a major snowstorm on April 22, 1862. The local troop encampment and deployment were in reaction to the Confederate bombardment of Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor and the start of the Civil War.

April 12 marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the 4-year war between the states. When the war ended in 1865, more than 600,000 Americans had been killed.

Dawn Bastian, Atlas/Goodrich Historical Society vice-president, and great-great-granddaughter of Pvt. George Pettit, who served from 1863-1865 in the Michigan 23th Regiment during the Civil War, said that most of those from the community were farmers.

“Early in the war I would think it was the romance of just going to war that prompted them to join,” she said. “It was time to defend the country. President Lincoln motivated you, it was about the Constitution, keeping the United States united. Then, later in the war, if you did not have the money to get out of the draft—you went anyway.”

“The first photos of the war came later. When photographer Alexander Gardner published some of the gruesome pictures after the battles, the perception of the war changed. In addition, many of their grandparents were part of the revolution, it was still pretty fresh in their minds—so patriotism was instilled in the family. It’s doubtful slavery was a big issue with these men—if anything they knew little about it.”

Bastian said there are markers for some Civil War soldiers in the cemetery who may not even be buried there.

“Consider if someone dies at a battle in the south and if the family has the money to ship the body back home—the embalming process was not the greatest. Chances are they were buried at the battlefield or on the way back home. Many have only headstones in the cemetery.”

Soldiers from the 10th Infantry joined Gen. Sherman and the march on Atlanta among other battles thoughout the south.

Others from Atlas Township and Goodrich joined the 23th Regiment Infantry formed in Saginaw and left for Louisville, Ky., Sept. 18, 1862. (Editor’s note:This is the second in a series of stories about area Civil War soldiers who served.)