United States Regiments & Batteries > Michigan


The 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 7 officers and 128 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 154 enlisted men to disease in the Civil War. The regiment is honored by a marker at Fox’s Gap at South Mountain and a monument on the Spotsylvania battlefield.

1862
August 8 to 22 Organized at Detroit, Mich., under Colonel William Withington and Lieutenant Colonel Constance Luce. Colonel Withigton earned the Medal of Honor at Bull Run where he was wounded and captured while serving as a captain in the 1st Michigan Infantry.
August 27 Left State for Washington, D.C.; Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac
September 6-22 Maryland Campaign
September 14
Battle of South Mountain

From the marker on South Mountain:

The fighting began around 9:00 a.m. just south of this site. Around noon a Confederate battery opened fire on the regiment, which was supporting Cook’s Massachusetts Battery. The 17th held its position for several hours. At 4:00 p.m. the command ws given for an assault along the entire Union line. The Confederates came out of the woods to meet the charge at a fence line in the middle of the field, then moved back to the stone walls along the crest of the hill. The 17th advanced and captured the stone walls. Of the 500 men of the “Stonewall Regiment” engaged in battle here, 27 were killed and 114 wounded, many mortally.

The Regiment was afterwards known as the “Stonewall Regiment” for its actions. Colonel Withington was breveted brigadier general for “conspicuous gallantry.”

September 16-17
Battle of Antietam

From the War Department marker for Christ’s Brigade along Rodman Avenue on the Antietam battlefield:

On the morning of the 17th Christ’s Brigade was in reserve on the eastern slope of the ridge on the left bank of the Antietam, nearly opposite the Burnside Bridge.

About 2 P.M., after Sturgis’ Division had carried the bridge, the Brigade crossed and, following the stream and road to Sharpsburg, filed to the right where the course of the former diverged to the east and formed line on the narrow plateau at the foot of the bluff southeast of this point. After the formation of the Corps line, the Brigade advanced, under a heavy fire from Cemetery Hill and the high ground west of the road, to within a few yards of this point where it was checked. After a short delay the 79th New York advanced as skirmishers and compelled the Confederate Artillery to retire. The Brigade was about to move forward, when the attack of A.P. Hill on the left of the Corps obliged it to fall back to the Antietam, where it remained until the evening of the 18th, when it was relieved by Morell’s Division of the Fifth Corps.

September -October Duty in Maryland
October 30-
November 18
Movement to Falmouth, Va.
December 12-15
Battle of Fredericksburg
1863
January 20-24 “Mud March”
February 14 Moved to Newport News, Va.
March 21 Colonel Withington resigned. Lieutenant Colonel Luce was promoted to colonel.
March 19 To Louisville, Ky.
March 29 To Bardstown, Ky
April 3 To Lebanon; Army of the Ohio
April 29 To Columbia, then Jameston, Ky.
June 4 Army of the Tennessee
June 4-12 Moved to Vicksburg, Miss.
June 14-July 4 Siege of Vicksburg
July 4-10 Advance on Jackson, Miss.
July 10-17 Siege of Jackson
July 18-20 Destruction of Mississippi Central Railroad at Madison Station
July 21 – August 3 At Milldale
August 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Ohio
August 3-24 Moved to Covington and Crab Orchard, Ky.
September 10-26 March to Knoxville, Tenn
October 10 Action at Blue Springs
October 20 to
November 14
Duty at Lenoir
November 4-
December 24
Knoxville Campaign
November 14 Lenoir Station
November 16
Action at Campbell’s Station

Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Smith and Private Joseph Brandle were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism in the fight. Private Brandle was one of three color bearers killed or wounded, having his eye shot out. Lt. Colonel Smith, “Gallantly seized the colors and rallied the regiment after three color bearers had been shot and the regiment, having become demoralized, was in imminent danger of capture.” Smith then led a charge, still carrying the colors, that routed the attacking Confederates.

November 17-
December 5
Siege of Knoxville
November 29 Repulse of Longstreet’s assault on Fort Saunders
December Operations in East Tennessee
1864
January 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army Ohio, and Army Potomac
March 17-April 5 Moved to Nicholasville, Ky., thence to Annapolis, Md.
April Attached to 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army Potomac
May 4-June 15 Campaign from the Rapidan to the James River
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness
May 8-21
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

From the monument on the Spotsylvania battlefield:

At 2 p.m., May 12th, two Ninth Corps brigades were ordered to attack the Confederate works one-quarter mile southeast of this spot. The 17th Michigan was on the extreme left of the Federal line. As the regiment approached its objective, Brig. Gen. James Lane’s North Carolina Brigade emerged from the thick woods and struck it on the left flank. In the bloody hand-to-hand fighting that followed, the 17th Michigan lost its national  colors and 189 of the 225 men it carried into battle. Three soldiers* later received the Medal of Honor for their brave but unsuccessful efforts to save the colors.

* The 3 soldiers that received the Medal of Honor at Spotsylvania were Private Frederick Alber of Company A, Sergeant Daniel McFall of Company E, and Sergeant Charles A. Thompson of Company D.

May 10 Ny River
May Acting Engineers, 3rd Division, 9th Army Corps
May 12 Assault on the Salient
May 23-26 North Anna River
May 23-24 Ox Ford
May 26-28 On line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1-12
Battle of Cold Harbor
June 1-3 Bethesda Church
June 16-18 First Assault on Petersburg
June 16 Siege of Petersburg begins
July 30 Mine Explosion, Petersburg
August 18-21 Six Mile House, Weldon Railroad
September Acting Engineers, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps
September 29-
October 2
Poplar Springs Church
October 8 Reconnoissance on Vaughan and Squirrel Level Roads
October 27-28 Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run
December 1 Colonel Luce honorably mustered out. Frederick W. Swift was promoted to colonel.
1865
February 25 Colonel Luce was found guilty by court martial of presenting a false claim against the government. He would spend several months in Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C. before his sentence was remitted.
March 25 Fort Stedman, Petersburg
March 28-April 9 Appomattox Campaign
April 2 Assault on and fall of Petersburg
April Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps
April 3 Occupation of Petersburg
April 3-9 Pursuit of Lee
April 24-27 Moved to Alexandria, Va.
May 23 Grand Review
June 3 Mustered out