22nd Michigan Infantry
The 22nd Michigan Infantry represents the local Civil War regiment for Southfield Township, MI. It was raised in the counties of Oakland, Livingston, Macomb, St. Clair, Lapeer, and Sanilac, MI, which in 1862 comprised the Fifth Michigan Congressional District. The Honorable Moses Wisner, former Governor of the State, was commissioned as Colonel and given the task of organizing the Regiment. The Staff Officers included Colonel Moses Wisner, Pontiac; Lt. Col. Heber Le Favour, Detroit; and Major William Sanborn, Port Huron.
Recruitment began on July 15, 1862 and was completed on August 29, 1862 when the regiment was equipped, trained and mustered into service at the Fair Grounds in Pontiac, MI. Ten Southfield residents joined this regiment: David F. Ketchum, John C. Hollingshead, George H. Kinne, and John Sherman in Company A; Eugene Carr in Company B; George Sherman in Company C; George W. Briggs, Henry Lewless and Charles H. Miles in Company D; and John S. Shanklin in Company E.
On September 4, 1862, just before the 22nd MI left Pontiac, the young ladies of the city presented the regiment with an embroidered silk flag. Miss Emma Adams and Miss Julia Comstock delivered it to Colonel Wisner, who accepted it on behalf of the regiment. Following the ceremonies the regiment of 1000 men and officers boarded the train for Detroit where they proceeded by boat and railroad car to Cincinnati.
The 22nd spent the fall and winter of 1862 skirmishing with the Confederate forces. The unit was headquartered in Camp Ella Bishop at Lexington, KY. The winter of 1862 proved especially difficult and full of suffering as typhoid fever ravaged the encampment, taking several soldiers including Colonel Wisner who died on January 4, 1863 and Privates John C. Hollingshead and George H. Kinne from Southfield Twp.
In September of 1863 the 22nd MI was attached to General Gordon Granger’s Reserve Corps in the Army of the Cumberland (Federal), Major General William S. Rosecrans, commanding. On September 5, 1863 they left for Chattanooga, TN where events leading to the battle of Chicamauga were beginning to unfold.
The battle began on Saturday, September 19, 1863. On the afternoon of Sunday, September 20, 1863 orders came for the 22nd MI to move to the front. The regiment formed a line of battle and about 2:30 pm charged up and over Horse Shoe Ridge at the right end of the Federal line. Led by Lt. Colonel William Sanborn the regiment charged right into the thickest of the fight.
During the charge Lt. Colonel Sanborn was seriously wounded and 3 of the color bearers lost their lives defending the regimental flag. Meeting stiff resistance, the 22nd MI was forced to retreat to the ridgeline where they regrouped and held their position through an afternoon of continuous combat. At 5:00 pm. they, like most of the surrounding units, were down to their last few rounds of ammunition.
By 6:00 pm. the entire Federal line was beginning to unravel as the regiments – out of ammunition, lacking communication, and unable to hold their positions as their flanks were exposed – began pulling back from the ridge. But as they were in the process of retreating the 22nd MI, 21st Ohio, and 89th Ohio were ordered back up the hill to “hold the ground at all hazards” and to ”stand firm and use the cold steel”.
Ammunition and reinforcements were promised, but had not materialized by 7:00 pm. when Confederates made a last desperate charge, surrounding the remaining Federal defenders in the dusk of the evening. With the last of the ammunition gone the 22nd MI, 21st Ohio, and 89th Ohio were forced to surrender.
Of the 584 soldiers of the 22nd MI who answered roll call on the morning of Sept. 20, 1863, 178 men and 14 officers, including Colonel Le Favour, were now prisoners to be sent to prisons such as Libby, Dansville, and Andersonville from which few returned.
Attached to the 22nd MI Infantry was John Clem, age 12, the youngest soldier in the Union Army, who survived the Battle of Chickamauga and escaped imprisonment by playing ‘possum in the confused darkness of the battlefield.
Of the 1000 men who had left Pontiac a year earlier only 187 officers and men were present for duty on the morning of September 27, 1863. For the remainder of the war the regiment was primarily engaged in engineering and provost duties, although it did participate in the fighting during the Atlanta campaign in October 1864. On June 26, 1865 the regiment was mustered out of service in Nashville, TN and returned to Detroit on June 30 where the troops were paid off and disbanded.
For 30 years following the war the survivors of the 22nd MI searched for the colors lost at Chickamauga. While in Washington, James Greeson of Company I, 22nd MI discovered a book in the War Department containing an inventory of the property captured by the Union Army at the surrender of Richmond which listed “two flags of the 22nd Michigan Infantry”. It took an act of Congress, but finally on September 4, 1895, 32 years after their presentation, these flags were restored to the survivors of the 22nd MI at a reunion held in the city of Pontiac. Several of the ladies who originally presented the flags were present to celebrate the occasion.