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21st Michigan Infantry

1st SC 2017.jpg


The 21st Michigan, like so many others, answered the call to arms by mustering into Federal Service on September 4, 1862. The unit left Ionia Michigan under the command of Colonel Ambrose S. Stevens, September 12 1862, 1,008 strong and bound for Cincinnati, Ohio. The ladies of Ionia donated a flag to the regiment that was delivered to the unit while in camp at Louisville Kentucky. The same flag saw every engagement of the regiment and was returned to the ladies July 4th, 1865.

The 21st saw its first engagement, at Perryville Kentucky, only one month after mustering. As was said of the regiment "the coolness and bravery of both officers and men of this regiment during the engagement was truly commendable."

The regiment saw action as part of Sill's Brigade of Sheridan's Division in the five day's battles of Stone's River. Again mention was made of the regiment and its commanding officer by General Sheridan for their bravery. The Unit repulsed and attack and when ordered, charged the enemy without hesitation.

The 21st was next employed in duties as an engineering troop, building bridges and storehouses at Chattanooga under General Smith, Chief Engineer forming part of an engineer brigade, which included the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics. The regiment remained at this duty until June 1864, when orders came to march to Lookout Mountain for the purpose of building hospitals, and running mills.

November of 1864 found the regiment attached to the 14th Army Corps, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division and part of General Sherman's March to the Sea. After securing Savannah, Georgia, and seeing the surrender of Johnston's Army, a foot race between the 20th and 14th Corps was started for Richmond. The 14th Corps was first to arrive, marching 280 miles in less than 8 days, the 21st was among them. The regiment mustered out of service in Washington D.C., June 8th 1865. The total strength of the regiment was 1,477 men and officers, and she lost 6 officers and 362 men through the war.


The reactivated 21st Michigan Infantry had its start as the Dearborn Sharpshooters of Greenfield Village in 1962. The Sharpshooters were formed by Rudy Ruzicska, Max DuBois II (the first commander), Tom Waldecker and Richard Hoeft, with a roster of 13 members. The name was changed to the 21st Michigan in 1963 when it joined the N-SSA. Rudy Ruzicska is the only active member of the original group, with a current roster which varies from year to year.

The 21st Michigan actively co-hosted the Greenfield Village Muzzleloaders Festival from 1969 through 1988 when the Festival was halted. The Shoot at Greenfield Village cannot be overstated in its importance to the Northwest Territory; it was one of the most widely viewed skirmishes in the history of either the NWT of N-SSA.

The 21st has always promoted the safe use of live firing of Civil War Blackpowder Firearms, and adheres to the mission and objectives of the North-South Skirmish Association. Various avenues are taken to promote the history of the Civil War such as giving speaking presentations, displays and demonstrations to social, educational and historical groups interested in the American Civil War. The 21st also participates in numerous parades and honor guard ceremonies, plus displays and promotional material presentations to mass groups such as at fairs and festivals in various communities.

Presently the "older" 21st Michigan is rebuilding its ranks due loss in members due to old age, and at least in part to the demise of the Greenfield Village Muzzleloaders Festival. Recently due to the diminished numbers of the Second Michigan Regiment of the N-SSA, that unit has sadly folded. Several members of that outfit have joined our ranks. We are welcoming any interested party to do the same. Hopefully, the "Acorn Boys" will be back challenging the top guns again...

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