Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Fitch, Morris E.

Fitch, Morris E., d. 1863.

About 25 letters written to the home folks, while he was serving in Company D, 2nd Michigan Cavalry (1861-1863). He describes the arsenal at Benton Barracks, Mo.; the Missouri shore line from the boat as they start south; and a march through a swamp in rain and mud. They camp near New Madrid, Mo., and he tells of the Negro contrabands that came into camp. On the boat trip from New Madrid to Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., he describes the river and places along the way, and the flood at Mound City. They go through hilly country where the soil is poor but the water good. He tells of scouting, skirmishing, foraging for food and the seizing of cattle, horses and mules. ("Peck has a hen tied by the leg to his bunk that supplies him with a fresh egg everyday.") They bury dead horses in a battlefield. They ride through beautiful mountain country, and destroy railroad bridges and cars and cut telegraph lines to disrupt communication. They capture a rebel force and its supplies that was guarding a railroad bridge. On the march through Booneville they go through many little deserted villages. There is a description of Corinth, Miss. and of a visit to a theater in Louisville to see the play "The Working Girl's Dream." The 2nd Michigan Cavalry and the Iowa 2nd Cavalry are "boon companions" in skirmishes and sharp fighting.

He comments on criticisms of General McClellan and General Burnside; on the Emancipation Proclamation; on Negroes as soldiers and workmen; on the Soldiers' Aid Society and what happens to boxes of food sent to the soldiers in hospitals.

Fitch, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was wounded in action at Corinth, Tenn., Sept 17, 1862. He was made corporal on March 1, 1863, but died of wounds received in action at Brentwood, Tenn., March 25, 1863.

The collection also includes letters from several other soldiers, all from Kent County, Mich.:

Jesse Coon. Three letters, two of which were written to Morris Fitch. He describes the camp and their shanties at Camp Michigan. He mentioned an "ineffective reconnaissance;" a grand review at Bailey's Cross Road; seeing General Richardson; and a visit to Mount Vernon. Coon enlisted in Company K, 3rd Michigan Infantry, May 13, 1861. Reported missing in action at Fair Oaks, Va., May 31, 1862, he returned to the regiment December 28. On May 3, 1863 he was killed in action at Chancellorsville, Va.

Albert Graves. A letter to Morris Fitch tells of seeing men from home who are in other regiments. He entered Company B, 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as sergeant September 17, 1861, and was discharged for disability at Murfreesboro, Tenn. May 11, 1863.

W. P. Hurd. One letter (Aug. 31, 1862) from W. P. Hurd, a member of the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Battalion Artillery Reserve.

John Lynch. Four letters written while he was serving in Company F, 2nd Michigan Cavalry (1862-1864). The letters tell of the death of Morris Fitch. He also comments on John Morgan. There is a very good description of the journey from Grand Rapids to St. Louis, Mo., and the reception by the town folks all along the way. Lynch was killed by bushwhackers while scouting near Cleveland, Tenn., April 2, 1864.

Daniel R. Sheiler. Three letters (June 10 and July 28, 1863, and Mar. 20, 1865) from Sheiler, who served in the 14th Army Corps Inspector General's Office.

The collection includes transcripts of many of the letters, as well as a partial subject index.