Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Nevins, William S.

Sligh family

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James Wilson Sligh, from the family papers

The papers of the Sligh family of Grand Rapids, Mich., include Civil War letters and diaries of James Wilson Sligh, his son James May Sligh, and letters from a number of other soldiers written to James W. Sligh.

James Wilson Sligh. Fifty-five letters (1861-1863) written to his wife while he was serving as captain in Company F, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. He writes chiefly about the country and the people he saw while doing the work of building and repairing roads, railroads, bridges, and fortifications. He tells of the death of General Zollicoffer, of sickness in camp, skirmishes, the battles of Logan's Cross Roads and Pittsburg Landing. He expresses his attitude towards taking food from Rebel families; gives a history of the raising of companies of Engineers and Mechanics and of the controversy over pay; defends Colonel Innes; describes the estate of General Hardin who had been arrested and detained on Mackinac Island for eighteen months. Part of each letter is devoted to home affairs.

There are fifty-three letters written to him by the men in his regiment while he was at home recruiting and from the men of his recruiting team.(These letters are detailed below.) There are eight letters from his wife, and papers on court martial proceedings at Detroit in April and May, 1863.

Two diaries (1862-1863) contain brief entries which, for the most part, he expanded in his letters. The Oct. 23-Nov. 14, 1863 entries give an account of the train accident, caused by guerrillas, which broke his legs and brought about his death at Tullahoma, Tenn., Nov. 15, 1863.

James May Sligh, from Charles R.
Sligh, History of the Services of the
First Regiment Michigan Engineers
and Mechanics. Grand Rapids, 1921

James May Sligh One hundred ten letters (1861-1865) written chiefly to his mother. He tells her about his work in getting and distributing rations; the work of the engineers in building and repairing bridges, railroads, roads, and fortifications; of marches and the things he saw; of guerrilla raids, skirmishes, and battles such as Perryville, Murfreesboro, Columbia, and Franklin. He witnessed a hanging; describes a Washington's Birthday celebration, the rejoicing at the surrender of Lee's and Johnston's armies, the despondency at Lincoln's death, and the grand review of troops in Washington. He comments on Vallandigham, Copperheads, abolitionists, General Rosecrans, the soldiers in Sherman's army, Governor Harris of Tennessee, and Mrs. Kirby's aid to Union prisoners in the fort at Columbia while Rebel officers were stationed in her home. He expresses his feelings concerning the North's policy towards the defeated South. Sligh was quartermaster sergeant and captain in Company G, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.

Sidney Abbott, of Kent County, Mich. Two letters (1863) concerning recruiting. Abbott was a corporal and sergeant in Company C, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, 1861-1864.

Lucius F. Ashley, of Albion, Mich., who served as first lieutenant in Company A, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. One letter (Nov. 4, 1863) written from Big Harseth? River.

Charles H. Cudney, of Flint, Mich. Three letters (1863). They concern recruiting and deserters. Cudney was sergeant in Company B, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, and first lieutenant in Company E.

Perrin V. Fox, from Charles R. Sligh,
History of the Services of the First
Regiment Michigan Engineers and
Mechanics. Grand Rapids, 1921

Perrin V. Fox, of Grand Rapids, Mich. One letter (Dec. 24, 1862). Fox was captain of Company D, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, major in the First U.S. Veteran Volunteer Engineers, then lieutenant colonel and brevet colonel for faithful and efficient service.

Edson P. Gifford, of Grand Rapids, Mich. One letter (Dec. 31, 1862) concerning recruiting. Gifford enlisted in Company D, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, as sergeant, in 1861, and rose to captain in 1864.

Enos Hopkins, of Jackson, Mich. Fourteen letters (1862-1863) concerning the draft, bounties, recruiting, and deserters in Canada. He entered Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as major in Sept., 1861, and resigned in May, 1863.

William P. Innes, of Grand Rapids, Mich. Five letters (1861-1862) concerning James W. Sligh's appointment as captain; the arrest and return of an AWOL; the mutiny over pay and the law regarding pay for engineers. Innes entered the service in Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as colonel. He was made brevet brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers for gallant and efficient services during the war.

David A. Jewell, of Ionia, Mich. Two letters (1862) concerning his lack of success in enlisting recruits. Jewell enlisted in Company E, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, as corporal, in 1861, and was commissioned second lieutenant in Company M in 1864.

Dow L. Lighthall, of Tuscola County, Mich. One letter (Dec 20, 1862) after Lighthall's discharge. It concerns errors in his pay and clothing accounts. Lighthall was in Company F, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.

C. H. Ludwig, sergeant in an unidentified regiment. One letter (May 29, 1863)from Saginaw, Mich., regarding recruiting.

John W. McCrath, of Grand Rapids, Mich. Three letters (1862) concerning recruiting. McCrath was in Company B, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, 1861-1865, as lieutenant and captain.

James W. Miles, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who served in Company F, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. One letter (July 5, 1863) from Lebanon, Ky., regarding recruiting.

Clement F. Miller, of Kalamazoo, Mich. Four letters (1862-1863), one of which concerns a boy of sixteen who had been recruited and whose mother wanted him released. Miller entered the service in Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as first lieutenant and adjutant in Sept. 1861, and resigned in March 1864.

William S. Nevins, from Charles R.
Sligh, History of the Services
of the First Regiment Michigan Engineers
and Mechanics. Grand Rapids, 1921

William S. Nevins, of Grand Rapids, Mich. Four letters (Aug.-Nov., 1862) concerning the men of the company and their work, new recruits, a box from home, the mutiny over pay, and the plague of lice. One letter (Dec. 16, 1863) written to Mrs. Sligh, concerns the sale of James W. Sligh's horse and an unsettled mess account. Nevins enlisted in Company F, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, as second lieutenant, in 1861, and was commissioned captain in 1864.

Henry Van Ostrand, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who served as assistant surgeon of the Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. One letter (Nov. 15, 1863) from Bridgeport, Mich.

George D. Walker, of Grand Rapids, Mich. One letter (Oct. 18, 1862). He tells of repairing a bridge, skirmishing while in pursuit of Bragg's army, and gives the result of the battle of Perryville. Walker was in Company F, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, from Sept. 1862 to Feb. 28, 1863, when he died at Nashville.

Walter Warner, of Kent County, Mich. One letter (Jan. 3, 1863) concerning recruiting. Warner was in Company D, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, 1861-1864. He was made first sergeant in Dec. 1862.

George W. White, of Fentonville, Mich. Six letters (Oct. 1862-Apr. 1863). They concern the men of his company and their work, skirmishing, guarding contrabands, new recruits, the mutiny over pay, and the death of George D. Walker. White enlisted in Company F, Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, as sergeant, in 1861, and was commissioned first lieutenant in Jan. 1864.

Benjamin Woodward, a doctor in a hospital at Tullahoma, Tenn. Two letters (Nov. 1 and Nov. 18, 1863) regarding the death of James W. Sligh.

This collection (Civil War portion) is available on microfilm for interlibrary loan.

Finding aid available online