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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 6:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 315
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Hudson, Michigan was the home to about 20 men who served in Company 'C' 1st United States Sharpshooters. During the War the 'Hudson Squad' of Frank Cobb, Sim Van Aiken, Will Colwill, Stiles Wirts, Ed Southworth, O.M. Ball, Cal Colwill, Oscar Palmer, Almeron Armstorng, Rupert Cooley regularly sent letters to "Friend" and editor, W.T.B Schermerhorn; and many were published in the Hudson Gazette newspaper. After the War the 'Squad' regularly met for reunions on the anniversaries of battles they had survived. The following story shows a side of the 'boys' that rarely makes the history books.

Hudson Gazette
December 21, 1883

War reminiscence

Meeting our old war comrade, Will Colwell, a few days ago, reminded the writer of an army reminiscence which occurred in our squad of Company C Berdan’s sharp-shooters while we lay opposite Fredircksburgh, Va., at the time of Burnside’s famous stick-in-the-mud campaign. Just before the movement, Company G., of Wisconsin, and Company C., of Michigan (our regiment was made up from as many different states as there were companies) were ordered to report to General Sumner for special sharpshooting duties and there found us on Jan. 20, 1863, the day the grand movement commenced. A cold rain with sleet and snow had already commenced, and we were ordered to stick our tents in the rear of headquarters, which had been used as the garden spot for the former occupants of the mansion. We staid there but a day or so in this mud hole, and were ordered to a more desirable location on a sand hill near by. As the campaign was a failure the army were ordered back to their quarters which they had but recently left. Supposing this was to be the balance of the winter quarters. After a weeks hard work we had a very respectable shebang 8x18. So far we had got along without lumber of boards of any kind, which was very much needed for tables, sideboards and cupboards, and must be had if possible. Our squad was made up of Will Colwill, Stiles Wirts, Ed Southworth, O.M. Ball, Cal Colwill, Frank Cobb, Sim VanAkin and a boy named Gilchrist from Hillsdale. Stiles and Will said they would see what could be done for boards or boxes if the rest of us would finish the fireplace, and about dark they went on a still hunt. After an hour or so Will came back for help; said they had a box too large for two to carry, and Ball went along, and soon they returned, raised the door blanket, and shoved the box in end first. Gilchrist was a very nervous fellow, and as he raised up from his bunk to see what was coming, exclaimed, as he jumped up, “I’ll be d---d if here don’t come a coffin,” and out of the half finished fireplace he went, and could not be induced to return until morning. Sure enough, the boys had confiscated a coffin. In their look after boxes they passed a large tent used for embalming the dead soldier boy, whom friends had come down to the front to get and take home. “Just what we want.” Stiles said, as he saw the unoccupied coffin, or rough box more appropriately called now-a-days. After lifting it they found sure enough the former occupant was inside the tent being embalmed. They lugged it but a few rods, found it too heavy for them, so Will was dispatched for reinforcements. Yes that’s just what we want, the boys said, as they made two tables and two cupboards for our quarters. Although there were a good many blood stains on the cover, by turning the stained side down, was none the worse for our use. Whether the embalmers made any remarks when they found the coffin gone when they went after it, the boys never asked. It had been an undecided question before this which of the companies of the regiment could take the cake for fine working in this line; but when Co. C could unblushingly steal a coffin, it was decided they could walk off with the whole bakery.

One of the Squad

The Hudson Museum has a large repository of newspaper articles, letters and relics of the Hudson Squad and other citizens who served in America's wars ever since. Most of the 'Squad' is buried a short distance away in the Maple Grove Cemetery.

Bill Skillman

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