The Richmond Register

Local News

July 22, 2012

Michigan erects first Union-state marker on Richmond Battlefield

RICHMOND — On a hot day in August 1862,  thousands of battle-hardened Confederate troops marched toward a force of outnumbered, raw Union recruits south of Richmond.

The boys in blue, bolstered by light artillery from Michigan near the Mt. Zion Church, bravely tried to turn back the Rebel tide. Even with cannon fire, the Union line could not hold, and a number of the Michigan men died. Others were taken inside the church that had been hastily converted to a field hospital.

On Saturday, a Michigan marker was unveiled to ensure that the state’s sons who fought and died 150 years ago in Kentucky would not be forgotten.

“We’re thrilled to be here and to place the first Union state marker on the Richmond Battlefield,” said Kimberly Johnson, a member of the Michigan Historical Commission. “This is a story that needs to be told.”

As funds were raised for the marker, people in Michigan were surprised to learn that soldiers from their state took part in a Civil War Battle in Kentucky, she said.

Johnson said she was happy to see that Battlefield Park’s visitors’ center was oriented toward education, and the marker would contribute to that.

The Michigan woman said she had Kentucky roots and ancestors who fought on opposing sides in the Civil War. She is descended from David Tribble, a settler at Fort Harrod. Her great-great grandfather fought for the Union, but one of his brothers fought for the Confederacy, she said.

The new birth of freedom that sprang from the Civil War helped the United States become leader of the Free World, Johnson said.

Although much credit was given Saturday to Michigan’s efforts to place the marker, Liz Stringer, president of Michigan’s Abraham Lincoln Civil War Roundtable, also expressed gratitude to Kentuckians.

“Thank you for keeping our history alive,” she said of efforts here to preserve the battlefield.

Michigan provided all the artillery for the Union during the battle.

Phillip Seyfrit, Richmond Battlefield superintendent, read the names of the Michigan soldiers, emphasizing those who died.

After the ceremony, Johnson said Michigan’s providing two artillery units presaged the state’s role in America’s “arsenal of democracy” in World War II. In addition to the tanks and planes turned out by the state’s auto industry, the forges that had produced auto-engine blocks produced artillery pieces.

William Dixon of the Abraham Lincoln Civil War Roundtable did much of the fundraising for the marker, Stringer said, and he was presented a plaque during the ceremony.

Hank Meijer, co-chair of the Michigan-based Meijer Inc., presented a plaque to Seyfrit from the Michigan Historical Society in appreciation of Madison County’s effort to preserve the battlefield.  

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 624-6622.

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