1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics
The First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics was organized and mustered into Federal service at Marshall, Michigan on October 29th, 1861. It left the state for Louisville Kentucky on December 17th 1861 with 1,032 men and officers and served faithfully in both the Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Cumberland of the West. Its service was performed in a great measure by detachments comprised of several companies. Each detachment though primarily engaged in the construction of bridges, railroads and pontoons, did on occasion participate as infantry, especially in defending themselves against marauding cavalry.
The First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics saw its early service in Kentucky where it was set to work constructing bridges and repairing railroads. Detachments eventually found themselves in Tennessee building fortifications and making repairs to the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Other companies were engaged in erecting pontoon bridges, blockhouses and refitting sawmills in both Alabama and Tennessee.
During Sherman's march through Georgia and to the sea, detachments of the First Michigan E&M were set to work destroying instead of building railroad track. In addition, they were assigned the task of making roads over marshy land and rough ground. Frequently they were left behind the advancing army to construct additional fortifications, bridges and boat landings. The regiment, being scattered widely during the latter stages of the war, was reunited following Johnson's surrender in North Carolina, and passed proudly in the Grand Review at Washington with Sherman's army on the 29th of May, 1865. From there the First Michigan E&M was ordered to Louisville Kentucky and then to Nashville where it was mustered out of Federal service on September 22nd 1865.
During its service the First was engaged in battles and skirmishes at Mill Springs, Farmington, Corinth, Perryville, Levergne, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Savannah, and Bentonville. The regiment lost 13 men killed and 247 men died of disease. A total of 377 men were discharged for disability and other causes.
On July 18, 1974, the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics were reactivated with eight charter members including the unit's first commander, Perry Betterley. This was a veteran team from the beginning having drawn its members from the rosters of other existing N-SSA teams. Since their first skirmish in 1975 the team has grown and their present roster shows 23 members. The team members are usually well recognized by the "castles" on their hats, the insignia of military engineers throughout history.
The "Engineers" as we are commonly called, have 2 two 3 carbine teams "on the line" on Saturday afternoon and when available, 2 revolver teams. It also fields a repeating rifle team on Saturday afternoon in most cases. In addition to this, the regiment often forms 2 musket teams for the Sunday morning matches. Their record to date has been good; they have been competitive in both team and individual events.
The Engineers have hosted many regional skirmishes and have co-hosted three Nationals. The age of membership in the Engineers ranges from new skirmishers in the mid-teens to old men in their mid-eighties. One of the former members of the Engineers in his younger days won the N-SSA's Young Skirmisher award, and many other younger members have won the NWT's award by the same name. The older members, particularly Ron Walters and his Brothers Carl and Don have added to the sport of skirmishing in nearly innumerable ways, especially in the Northwest Territory. There accomplishments are well appreciated.
The Engineers have often been called "The Walters Brigade" due to the fact that a good portion of its membership is related to the men listed above, including the current commander of the team, Jason Walters, now 24 years old. This relationship allows for one of the cherished commonalities of skirmishing, Father, Son, and Grandson all shooting together as one team. While this sobriquet is not entirely truthful because there are many members not related to the Walters, it is always a pleasure for such a thing to happen. In addition, this team has developed a sense of "extended family" which is rivaled by very few teams. Much of their character is summed up by their battle cry, DESTROY!