Sorrowful news greeted Michiganders as they awoke to this new day, finding that a Michigan State Trooper was gunned down last evening. Paul Butterfield was found lying wounded (a word with new and heavier meaning these past few weeks) by a passing motorist on Custer Road in Mason County, on the State's west side. The road is evidently named for the nearby town of Custer. Despite efforts to save him, he succumbed to his wounding. An Army veteran, Trooper Butterfield joined the MSP in 1999.
This blog has been, since April 2007, about Michigan and the Civil War, sometimes using that as a way to talk about either Michigan or the CW, rather than always about the connection itself. Yet here is a story from today's real life in which we see a combination of timeless terms: sacrifice, heroism, service in the uniform of his Nation, and of his State; along with names that resonate from 150 years ago: Custer, Butterfield, Mason.
“Tonight we lost a hero,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the MSP, in a statement. “The entire MSP family, as well as our greater law enforcement family, mourns alongside the Butterfields. Trooper Butterfield’s sacrifice will never be forgotten; may he rest in peace.” -- Detroit News
To which should be added: The entire Michigan family mourns, and pledges that such sacrifice shall never be forgotten.
The Civil War Trust has just launched a campaign to save over 100 acres at Reed's Bridge, the opening action in the Battle of Chickamauga. Michiganders were involved: as this excellent article on the Trust's website relates, the 4th Michigan and overall leadership of Robert Minty, the "Custer of the West", were key to this action: CWT Not only was Minty's role important here, it was key to the overall campaign's success since his delaying action helped thwart Confederate plans to smash the Union army.
Only $140,000 is needed with a 10 to 1 match involved. If you seek to preserve the Michigan story in the Civil War, this is a great opportunity to send in a few bucks to a great organization for a great cause.
THE MICHAEL CAMERON DEMPSEY FUND
Michael Cameron Dempsey was a man of many talents and interests. He traveled the world, first as a scholar, then as a planner with an eye to the renewal of the Middle East after the chaos and destruction of the various conflicts in the region. Michael enjoyed seeing new lands, meeting new people, and helping whenever he found a need.
Michael was passionate about the renewal possibilities of the City of Detroit, conservation, the Wounded Warrior Project, and history. In his too short lifetime, he gave of himself to all these causes – and many others.
Michael’s family wishes to honor his memory and continue his mission to serve these many exceptional causes. To that end, we establish with pride The Michael Cameron Dempsey Fund.
Donations in his memory can be made to:
The Michael Cameron Dempsey Fund
980 Ann Arbor Road
Plymouth MI 48170
This Fund will support causes that Michael believed in and to which he energetically devoted his God-given talents.
By Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, Aug. 5
LANSING — It started out as a conversation about some vintage War of 1812 cannon balls that were retrieved from the floor of Lake Erie.
But it ended up as a historic restoration project between two state senators from different parties — Mike Kowall, a Republican from White Lake Township, and Steve Bieda, a Democrat from Warren.
The two history buffs are hoping to raise $75,000 this year to replace the two Civil War-era cannons that sat on the lawn of the state Capitol from 1879 to 1946.
The two cannons were used by the highly regarded First Michigan Light Artillery Battery, better known as the “Loomis Battery” because of the military leader Cyrus O. Loomis.
They fought in many battles, including the Battles of Perryville in Kentucky, Stone Rivers in Tennessee and Chickamauga in Georgia. All three were key skirmishes that led to the Union victory over the Confederates. The Michigan unit’s participation was part of the reason that President Abraham Lincoln famously stated, “Thank God for Michigan.”
What was left were the two cannons used by the Loomis men: one pointed toward what now is the governor’s office in the Romney building at the corner of Michigan and Capitol; the other was pointed toward Lansing City Hall across the street.
But the cannons disappeared, Bieda said, most likely the victims of the need for scrap metal during World War II.
“My first instinct was to track down the original cannon or at least try to find some other Civil War cannons,” Bieda said.
When that didn’t work, they found a company, Steen Cannons in Kentucky, that makes weapons replicas that are used in ceremonies or Civil War re-enactments. Now all they need are donations to commission the replicas.
The two sent out a fund-raising letter last month with the hopes of raising the money this year and bringing the cannons to Michigan in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s end. They will be placed on the old stone footings that still are on the Capitol lawn.
“We looked at the old pictures of the Capitol building, and they’re out front,” Kowall said. “Michigan played a very important part in the Civil War. And this will help in putting back our history in the Capitol.”
The two politicians sit next to each other in the Senate chamber, which is undergoing its own renovation this summer. When Kowall got his hands on the two War of 1812 cannon balls, he gave one to Bieda for his birthday.
“Fortunately, there wasn’t any gunpowder in it,” Bieda said.
The cannons will be functional and could be used for historic ceremonies. But they will remain plugged and unarmed to avoid any attack on Lansing.
“If we’re going to hold to real true standards, they should be workable guns,” Kowall said. “But I don’t think you’ll see any cannons flying down Michigan Avenue.”
Having posted about Wisner Stadium in Pontiac, the question arose: are there similar facilities with such a legacy in Michigan ... ?
In Jackson, high school officials opened a new high school and athletic complex in the fall of 1927. Built at a cost of $100,000, Withington Stadium opened for gridiron use on Sept. 24 as Jackson faced Hastings. Named in honor of the Withington family, descendants of Jackson's Civil War hero, William Herbert Withington and donors of the property upon which the facility is built, the facility utilizes a classic horseshoe design. Featuring locker rooms for players, a ticket window, and an arched main entrance, the stadium was said to have a seating capacity of 10,000. Jackson High School is located in the heart of Jackson, on Wildwood Street just off South West Avenue.
These days "Withington Community Stadium and Dungy Field are home to the Jackson High School football and track and field teams, as well as the Lumen Christi High School football team. On October 24, 2008, Dungy Field was dedicated to the entire Dungy Family, most notably Tony Dungy, a Jackson Public Schools Alumnus who became the Indianapolis Colts football coach and the first African American Football coach to win a Super Bowl. Over the summer a brand new playing surface was installed, the playing surface is FieldTurf, which is the same as many teams in the NFL play on. The track at Withington Community Stadium and Dungy Field has a 9 lane 400 meter surface made of a combination of rubber and polyurethane, much like many division 1 college tracks. Withington Stadium holds 10,000 people, is known as one of the finest stadiums in the state, and hosts MHSAA football playoffs, along with the Midwest Meet of Champions, a track meet in which the fastest seniors from the Midwest compete." [see Wikipedia entry for "Jackson High School"]
What about our hero? William H. Withington was from Jackson and became Captain of the 1st Michigan Infantry on May 1, 1861, within a couple weeks of Ft. Sumter. A three-months man, he fought and was captured at First Bull Run, exchanged six months later in January 1862, mustered out on the last day of the month. In August, he was commissioned Colonel of the 17th Infantry. He resigned in March 1863 and was honorably discharged. On March 13, 1865, he was breveted as Brigadier General "for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of South Mountain, Md., Sept. 14, 1862."
Oh, we shouldn't forget one other accolade. How about Medal of Honor recipient?: MOH
Another fitting tribute to a Michigan Civil War icon.
After appearing at the Pine Grove event last Saturday, home to Governor Moses Wisner, one's thoughts turned to the difference between the Pontiac of the 1860s and today. The city has seen its ups and downs, and it's hard to get a handle on the nature of the town before GM, Wide Track Drive, M-57, and all of the modern amenities that (should) make up today's urban life. What incredible history is there, though! How many cities have, right in their downtown, the home of a Chief Executive of the State, who after leaving office entered military service on behalf of that State and Nation and gave his/her life for them?! This after helping be an early leader in the political effort to end American slavery. This after
A curiosity: the nearby athletic facility is named for this hometown hero. Wisner Stadium was built in 1941 -- the first year of another awful war, and it was where Pontiac's high school football teams played for over a half-century. In 2006, , and where the special turf from Super Bowl xxx was donated, I came across another interesting fact. According to one source, "the Pittsburgh Steelers used the vacant Pontiac Silverdome as a practice facility. FieldTurf was installed specifically for the practices, rather than using the artificial turf that was previously used. Following the game, the new playing surface was donated to Wisner Stadium by FieldTurf."
Today it is home to the Panthers, the Pontiac High School football team, along with other youth events. Wisner was but 47 when he died. Surely he would be gratified by the legacy he left, on the football field and elsewhere.
Yours truly will be appearing, along with several other local authors, at the Oakland County Pioneer & Historical Society’s annual Summer Social, a major fund raiser for the Society, located at the site of Pine Grove, the former estate of Governor Moses Wisner. Wisner was the last antebellum Governor of Michigan, who raised a regiment of infantry and led it off to war in 1862. Like so many of Michigan’s best, he died of disease in the service and was brought home to his final resting place (in nearby Oak Hill Cemetery).
The authors event is at 11:30 a.m. Autographed copies of Michigan and the Civil War will be available, with, as always, the author proceeds going to the Michigan CWS commemoration.
The whole event runs from 11 to 5, and is said to be major fun for visitors and volunteers. Tours of the 1845 home, exhibits, entertainment, reenactors, refreshments, and activities for the whole family abound as they step back in time to enjoy the ambiance of Pine Grove. Admission is $5 per person, $10 per family up to 5 people, or free for those who join on the day of the event. More info is at: http://www.ocphs.org/drupal-6.1/
That's the title of a program at the Plymouth Historical Museum (734-455-8940) in the home town of yours truly that runs on July 27 from 10 am to 3 pm. Tomorrow is the last day to obtain tics for $30; other arrangements are available thereafter. Entitles the bearer to experience a day in the life of a person during the Civil War, including "make and take activities" that will bring the period home.
It's great to live in a town where the Civil War isn't the exclusive province of old-timers like yours truly.
Perhaps you think the title refers to a certain Confederate general? Nay, nay! It refers to the Michigan Historical Marker for the 17th Michigan Infantry, which won its nickname as the Stonewall Regiment at the Battle of South Mountain, Sept. 14, 1862, and its now-permanent position in the field over which the Michiganders charged that difficult day. Commissioner Egen and yours truly were privileged to visit the site last weekend, and extremely gratified to find it erect and steadfast, a finer location (in one humble opinion) than buried along the foliage of the Appalachian Trail where it formerly stood. You decide: