Michigan in the Civil War

Van Valin family

The papers of this Marshall, Mich., family include letters from Oliver W. Van Valin, an officer in the 41st U.S. Colored Troops, and earlier associated with an unidentified regiment. There are two letters to his Uncle from Carlisle Barracks, Pa. He seems to be in charge of new recruits. He says in the March 27, 1864 letter, "The recruits are coming very fast. It looks well for a speedy termination of the war..." On September 25, 1864 he wrote, "We have very good times here, but I would sooner be in a regiment than here." He had been home on leave, attended a political meeting, and he comments on Copperheads, the up-coming election, and the draft.

A letter to his brother, October 29, 1865, from the camp of the 41st Colored Troops, Brownsville, Texas, says they are making out muster rolls preparatory to starting home. "Nearly all the colored troops are going to be mustered out, that is all Regts. that were enlisted in the Northern states." For himself, he wrote, "I am glad to get out of the service and home again." They were listening to the "spirited skirmish" between the French and the Mexicans in the city of Matamoros. "My sympathies are all with the Mexicans."