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Huron Rangers Riflemen, 5th Michigan Volunteer Infantry
The Fifth Michigan Volunteer Infantry was organized at Fort Wayne, Detroit, and was mustered into service August 28th, 1861, with an enrollment of 900 officers and men. The several companies making up the regiment were drawn from the cities of Mt. Clemens, Saginaw, Brighton, St. Clair, Pontiac, and Port Huron. The regiment left the state for its rendezvous on the 11th of September, 1861 to join the then organizing Army of the Potomac, in Washington D.C.
In the spring of 1862 the Fifth Michigan took part in the Peninsular Campaign under General McClellan and distinguished itself at the siege of Yorktown and the battle of Williamsburg. It also served admirably in engagements at Second Bull Run, Groveton, Chantilly, and Fredericksburg. Following strenuous action at Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, the regiment was sent to New York to help quell the riots in that city caused by instituting the draft.
In September 1863 the Fifth was back in the line and, while in the process of reorganizing itself following the termination of enlistments, saw heavy action at Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. After the capture of Petersburg, the Fifth Michigan followed the retreating Confederate Army and was on the firing line at Appomattox Court House the morning General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant.
On May 1st, 1865 the regiment started for Washington where it participated in the Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac on the 23rd of that month. June 10th, 1865 the regiment embarked for Louisville Kentucky where it crossed the river to Jeffersonville, Indiana. It was here that the Fifth Michigan Volunteer Infantry was mustered out of Federal service and began its journey back to Michigan.
Of the total enlistment of 1586 officers and men, the Fifth suffered 206 killed in action or mortally wounded, 94 who died of disease and 19 who died in prison.
The Fifth Michigan, commonly known was the Huron Rangers Rifleman, is the senior member unit in the Northwest Territory. In fact it is one of the oldest units in the entire association with the assigned seniority number of 004, of some 200 teams currently in the N-SSA. The Huron Rangers are responsible in large part for the expansion of the sport of Skirmishing away from its roots in Virginia into the other expanses of the Nation.
The importance of the Huron Rangers in the formation of the Northwest Territory cannot be overstated. The Huron Rangers participated in the 3rd Skirmish held by what was to become the N-SSA in July of 1951. This experience led the Huron Rangers to host their own Skirmish in the North. They are responsible for hosting the first "skirmish" held in Michigan, on a farm in Goddells Michigan, near Port Huron, in 1953. This skirmish was instrumental in the formation of the Northwest Territory in that it lit a spark of interest in the hearts of other like-minded individuals resulting in the formation of other early NWT units such as the 24th Michigan Volunteers.
The Huron Rangers were so important in the early days of the Northwest Territory that, in fact, one of the original members of the team, Tom Waddell, is responsible for the formation and naming of the Northwest Territory, the results of his lobbying of the Executive Committee of the early N-SSA. He too, not surprisingly, was named the first Commander of the new Region. Tom Waddell remained a member of the Huron Rangers until his death in 1985. His contributions are honored in part in the form of a trophy awarded at every skirmish to the top placing Musket Company.
Today, the Huron Rangers are alive and active, and participate in Musket, Carbine and Revolver competition. We currently have 15 members and welcome anyone who may wish to join us!