Wednesday, August 29, 2012

150 Years Ago Today

150 years ago today, my Great Great Grandfather Abner Delos Austin, as a newly-enlisted 16-year-old private in the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, marched out of Detroit and into history. At 5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 29, 1862, to the cheers of thousands of onlookers, he and his regiment marched out of Camp Barns (located at the Old State Fair Grounds, bordered by Woodward, Cass, Alexandrine and Canfield, near the present day Wayne State University), down Woodward Avenue to Jefferson Avenue.  There, they boarded the steamships The Cleveland and The May Queen at Michigan Central wharf, heading south to the front lines of the American Civil War.

The coming months would find Abner in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg -- and unspeakable horrors. 

Many of his brave comrades would never return to Wayne County, Michigan.  Those that did, Abner included, would be forever altered.

Hats off today to Abner Austin and all the brave men of the 24th Michigan Volunteers!

My Great Great Grandfather's Civil War regiment marching out of Detroit. "Departure for the War - August 29, 1862"

 "A Farewell to the 24th Michigan"

From the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune, August 29, 1862, written for the occasion by a lady of Redford.

They have gone, the pride and glory of our homes, the loved and true,
They have left us bowed with anguish, filled with proud rejoicing, too;
For a nobler band of soldiers never passed Virginia’s shore,
Then have left us soon to struggle with brave ones gone be

They have left us, bearing with them hearts that never quall with fear;
Arms that only grow the stronger as the danger draweth near.
Left us? Aye! The lonely firesides many a plaintive story tell,
Waking in our hearts a struggle, which we vainly strive to quell.

Oh! Defend them, God of battles, swiftly to the rescue come;
Hear the earnest prayers ascending from each lonely, stricken home.
Yet the still, small voice replying, bids the warring tumult cease,
And return them to our firesides, crowned with liberty and peace.

Image and poem from “History of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade” by O.B. Curtis.