Re-enactors at Fort Wayne, Detroit, explain the contribution of a notable Union unit, the First Michigan Colored Infantry.
Michigan Civil War Video Draws Record Crowd to Stein Haus for Round Table
Michigan's Vital Role in the Union Victory in the Civil War is Real Draw
January 15, 2012
By: Dave Rogers
It's the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and traditional history buffs have been joined by many more folks interested in the conflict.
Normally only re-enactors and amateur historians are involved in Civil War meetings; all that appears to have changed because of the nationwide focus on the events of the war.
The Civil War (1861-1865) is now one of the nation's entertainment and civic observance obsessions and no doubt will be at least until the end of the five year observance three years from now.
This interest was shown at this week's 7th Michigan Cavalry Civil War Round Table meeting which drew a record crowd of 46, according to Paul Davis, president. Other officers and founders of the group include Jerry Pergande, Dee Dee Wacksman and Keith Markstrom.
Even though Rodney Brown, of Grand Blanc, producer of the video, was unable to attend because of car trouble, the show went on.
The Michigan Experience: The American Civil War Years aired on many PBS station in Michigan in November. It will air Monday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. on WCMU, Mt. Pleasant. A free screening of the video hosted by Mr. Brown will be Wednesday, January 18 at 6 p.m. at the Flint Public Library, 1026 E. Kearsley St., Flint. Sponsors are WCMU-PBS and the Flint Public Library.
Rodney Brown, producer/director, earned a master's degree in American Culture from the Rackham School of the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree in communication from Stanford University. He is an award winning filmmaker and former senior executive producer at WFUM-PBS.
Mr. Brown also is the writer and director of One Night's Run, a classic television film about getting to the first stop on the
Underground Railroad. He has also written, produced and directed for PBS, Small Business Magazine for Howard University (WHUT-PBS) and (WNET), Jazzland a one-hour special that aired on Michigan public television stations, and MotorTown Music Central for Detroit PBS - WTVS.
Kent Wieland, production manager of WKAR-TV, East Lansing, after viewing the premiere of the video, commented:
"As the Civil War constitutes a grave and pivotal point not only in our national history but that of Michigan as well, the story of Michigan's involvement is a story that needs and merits greater exploration and understanding.
"This documentary series examines Michigan's role in the Civil War and provide a better understanding of the significant role and impact that Michigan's involvement had. Michigan sent 90,000 men to fight in the Civil War including specialized regiments of sharpshooters and engineers, and more cavalry per capita than any other northern state.
"At least 68 Michigan soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry on the battlefield during the Civil War. Michigan mines produced tons of iron ore used to make cannon, iron clad ships and rails in support of the Union. Michigan supplied horses, ambulances, lumber, agriculture and was a major contributing factor in the Civil War victory."
Also, the Library of Congress has selected the Michigan in the Civil War website for inclusion in the historic collection of Internet materials related to the American Civil War Sesquicentennial.
Partners in planning the sesquicentennial include: Michigan Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Michigan Department of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, History Remembered, Inc., IMichigan Productions, Friends of Michigan History, Inc., Michigan Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, Michigan Historical Center.
One of the criticisms of the centennial observance of the Civil War in the mid-1960s was that it did not address slavery as the cause of the war nor the role of black soldiers in the Union Army. It also avoided discussion of the issue of the day, the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Michigan Experience remedies that failing with a focus on the First Michigan Colored Infantry, also known as the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops. According to Mr. Brown, 186,097 African Americans (7,122 officers, 178,975 enlisted) fought in the U.S. Civil War.
A commentator on the Michigan Civil War blog states: "Our animating Sesquicentennial document in Michigan, Executive Order 2007-52, requires the commemoration to be "inclusive" and "authentic." We've worked hard on that. Our very first conference, first in the Nation, focused on John Brown, Frederick Douglass, and the fateful meeting in Detroit in March 1859 with leading Black business leaders. We started off by recognizing the great diversity of our Civil War story and will continue to do that. It's purposely reflected in Michigan and the Civil War: A Great and Bloody Sacrifice."
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Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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