1st MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER ENGINEERS AND MECHANICS
Organized: Fall, 1862 Marshall, MI
Mustered In: 10/29/1862
Mustered Out: 9/22/1865 Nashville, TN
The 1st Michigan Mechanics & Engineers was a three year regiment. It served in the western theater of the American Civil War (ACW).
Raised and armed as an infantry unit, its members were also provided with the tools and equipment necessary to build roads, bridges, etc. Members of the unit received the same pay and allowances as engineers in the regular army. (Note: During WWII the U.S. Navy Sea Bees served in a similar "construction battalion" role.)
Leaving the state on 12/17/1861, the 1st proceeded to Louisville, KY where it joined the Army Of The Ohio. Arriving in Louisville the regiment was divided into four detachments which were assigned to duty with the four divisions of the Army stationed throughout Kentucky.
During the winter of 1861/'62 the four detachments performed various duties as needed in their assigned regions. One, containing companies "C", "F" and "G", even saw action during the (1/19/1862) battle of Mill Springs, KY.
Soon after the capture of Ft. Donelson, TN (2/11 - 16/1862) by Union forces under Gen. U.S. Grant, the regiment was consolidated. The following month it was engaged in building railroad bridges throughout Tennessee.
In April, 1862 eight companies of the 1st, including "F", set out to re-enforce Gen. Grant's forces at Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing, TN. During this march several bridges were constructed which enabled the forces under Union General Buell to reach the Shiloh/Pittsburg Landing battlefield (4/6) to assist in turning the tide of battle from defeat (4/6) to victory (4/7).
June 1st, 1862. Companies of the 1st started marching into Alabama building bridges at various points along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The following month the entire regiment was brought together at Huntsville while, in August, five companies marched to Nashville, TN and commenced restoring bridges along the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.
September found the regiment concentrated at Louisville, KY taking part in the campaign against Confed. Gen. Braxton Bragg while October found elements of the 1st in the battle of Perryville (10/7/1862). Again united, the regiment once more moved to Nashville, TN.
November and December, 1862 saw the 1st build more bridges. The year was capped off and the new one begun with the battle of Stone's River, TN (12/31/1862 - 1/1 - 2/1863). During this great conflict the 1st, fighting behind a slight protection of wagons and brush, repulsed repeated enemy charges by more than ten times their number of Confed. Gen. Wheeler's cavalry.
For the 1st, 1863 dawned with the battle of Stone/Stone's River, TN (1/1 - 1/2). From that time until the end of June the 1st was stationed at various points within Tennessee. During that period it built both railroads and pontoon bridges, ammunition magazines, buildings for commissary and ordinance stores plus re-laid miles of railroad track.
During 1864 the 1st joined the forces of Union Gen. W.T. Sherman as they marched upon Atlanta, GA. Again, building roads and bridges - both rail and wagon - was their primary assignment focus. After the fall of that city (7/22) it joined the "march to the sea" arriving before Savannah on 12/31. Around Savannah it assisted in tearing up large sections of railroad trackage as well as constructing Union defenses. It then opened 1865 by joining Union columns as they moved northward through the Carolinas.
The shooting war ended, the 1st participated in the Grand Review (5/24) at Washington City. It then returned to Nashville, TN where it was mustered out of Federal service and into the history books.
Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 1; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 0; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 12; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 341.
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age: ca. 24/25 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 12/17/1863 MI Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 1/8/1864 MI
Mustered Out: 9/22/1865 Nashville, TN
Highest Rank: 1/10/1865 Cpl.
Rank At Discharge: Cpl.
Nelson Devendorf was born during year 1838. No specific birth month or date has been found in available documents. The place of his birth was within the state of New York. In 1850 the Devendorf family was residing in the community of New Haven located in that state's Oswego County, so that could have been where Nelson was birthed.
Parenting Nelson were Daniel Devendorf (b. 4/14/1812 Herkimer County, NY - 6/25/1879 Kent County, MI) and Betsey (nee Parlar/Parker b. 3/2/1815 or '18 NY - d. 3/19/1911 Kent County, MI) Devendorf. Daniel was a carpenter by trade.
Based on available U.S. Census data, Daniel and Betsey produced at least eight children. Of those, Nelson was second-born. Older than he was: Permelia/Pamela Devendorf (b. 1837 NY). Younger than he were: Alma Devendorf (b. ca. 1840 NY), Adelbert B. C. Devendorf (b. 1842 NY**), Mary Ann Devendorf (b. 1844/'45 MI), Charles Devendorf (b. 1850 NY ***), Daniel Devendorf (b. 1850 MI) and Julius (b. 1858 MI).
Looking the birth states of the Devendorf children, one can see that at some point in time between the birth of Adelbert/Albert (1842) and Mary Ann / Marion (b. 1844/'45) the family quitted New York and removed westward to Walker Kent County, MI.*** There, in 1860, Daniel noted his occupation as "farmer."****
It appears Nelson continued to reside on his parents' farm, at least through the U.S. Census of 1860 which found the family in Walker Kent County, MI. In late ’63 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army he did so in Grand Rapids which is also located in Kent County. However, whether or not he was residing there at the time, is not known.
Details about how Private/Corporal Devendorf fared within the military are unknowns. He did, however, survive The War and return to civilian life.
Where, post-war, nelson settled is another unknown. Interestingly, though, when in 1868 he married, the ceremony took place in Portage Count, OH.
Nelson's bride was Mary A. Clackner. She had been born ca. 1846 -'48 in Ravemma Portage County, OH. How, when and where the two had met are more unknowns.
Nelson and Mary's marriage date was 9/21/1868. While the location of the ceremony was Portage County, OH, it appears the couple settled, not in Ohio, but in Grand Rapids Kent County, MI. There, in 1870, Nelson listed his occupation as "carpenter" while a decade later; in 1880, he did not list an occupation, while Mary noted that she was a "sewing machine operator."
During their time together Nelson and Mary produced two children. They were Edwin M. Devendorf (b. 8/15/1870 Grand Rapids, Kent County, MI) and Lita/Leta Devendorf (b. 1873 loc. unk.). Both survived into adulthood. More on the kids, shortly.
How long Nelson and Mary remained together is unclear. Mary died on 4/27/1888 in Grand Rapids Kent County, MI. At the time of her passing her surname was Town, so it appears that, at some point in time, she and Nelson divorced and she remarried to one Lorin A. Town. She was/is buried in Grand Rapids.
When, on 6/16/1890, Nelson applied for a U.S. Government disability pension based on his days of Civil War soldiering, he did so in Michigan. Four years later, however, he was no longer in Michigan, but in Port Angeles Clallam County, WA. Exactly when he arrived here is not known, but the lure of the region was likely homestead land because - although available documents are less than crystal clear on the matter - on 7/7/1894 he was granted a land title/deed.
Nelson Devendorf died on 8/30/1899 in Port Angeles Clallam, WA. No details have been found pertaining to his death. At passing he was sixty or sixty one years of age. Burial was/is in the Ocean View Cemetery located in Port Angeles Clallam County, WA.
As a sidebar, here, after he and Mary had separated, Nelson never remarried. Further, it appears that he had never filed a last will and testament. As such, after their father's death, his children Edwin - then living in the Yukon region of Canada - and Lita/Leta then residing in Massachusetts filed court papers to settle their late father's estate. Working with the absentee kids to resolve legal matters as estate executor was Felix Filion, another Civil War vet residing in Clallam County.****** The outcome of the estate matter is not known.
* A term borrowed from the British military, during the ACW an artificer was defined as a "skilled mechanic."
** During the ACW Adelbert served with Nelson in Co. "F" of the 1st MI M&E. He survived the conflict.
*** How and why Charles was reportedly born in New York during 1850 is an unknown.
****A decade later, residing in Grand Rapids Kent County, MI Daniel once again listed his occupation as "carpenter."
***** Felix Filion 23rd MI Infantry Co. "F" died 10/27/1927 Port Angeles Clallam County, WA. He is buried Ocean View Cemetery Port Angeles, WA.
Buried at Ocean View Cemetery GAR Section Clallam Co.
Row: Sec 1 Lot 2
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