Michigan in the Civil War

Shafter, William Rufus, 1835-1906.

Shafter, of Galesburg, Mich., entered Company I, 7th Michigan Infantry at organization as first lieutenant, June 28, 1861, at Fort Wayne; wounded in action at Fair Oaks, Va., May 31, 1862; promoted to major in the 19th Michigan Infantry at its organization, August 8, 1862; taken prisoner March 5, 1863 and exchanged May 5; commissioned lieutenant colonel April 4, 1863 and colonel of the 17th U.S. Colored Infantry in April 1864. He was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious service during the war. He was mustered out November 2, 1866 but continued on in U.S. reserve, retiring with rank of major general July 1, 1901. He also was brevetted colonel in March 1867 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Fair Oaks, and awarded the medal of honor June 12, 1895 for most distinguished gallantry in the same battle. In the Spanish-American War (1898) Shafter commanded the United States expeditionary force that invaded Cuba at Daiquiri and subsequently captured the key city of Santiago.

Remarks of General Shafter before the Thomas Post G.A.R. March 18, 1902 are really a rather humorous account of his induction at Fort Wayne; his return home after news of Bull Run to recruit and drill men to fill out his company; the return to Fort Wayne to be mustered in; then on to Washington and a camp at Poolsville. He tells of their fright at the first long roll, which proved to be a false alarm; and dismay at a second one when no more than half their guns were working, a trick of the general's to see how quickly they could act. Then there was the incident of four captains and himself sitting around a pitcher of whiskey and discussing who should kill General Landers for insulting the 7th Michigan as he was reported to have said, "It was no wonder they were all dying, they were so damned dirty." (They had lost eleven men in ten days with measles). After this incident he vowed he never would be found under the influence of liquor as long as he remained an officer of the army. He also never allowed an alarm to be sounded without informing his men as it was too much "like crying wolf, wolf."

The collection also includes typescripts of various recommendations (1865-1866) from other officers.