6th MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER CAVALRY
Organized: Summer/fall, 1862 Grand Rapids, MI
Mustered In: 10/11/1862 Grand Rapids, MI
Mustered Out: 11/24/1865 Ft. Leavenworth, KS
The 6th was a three year cavalry regiment. It spent its tour of duty in the eastern theater of the American Civil War. (ACW).
Interestingly, each company (troop) had horses of one color: "A" bays, "B" brown, "C" greys, "D" blacks, "L" sorrels, etc. Also, the entire unit was initially armed with Spenser repeating rifles. The Spensers were later exchanged for carbines, a lighter armament of the same caliber.
Leaving the state twelve companies strong* the regiment moved to Washington, D.C., arriving there on 12/10/1862. That winter it participated in two raids across the Long Bridge into Virginia. During these sorties no enemy - except a few irregular (guerilla) Confederate forces - were encountered.
In the spring of 1863 the 6th marched southward to Fairfax Ct. House, VA where it was assigned to picket duties. From there it turned back northward as Confederate troops under Gen. Robert E. Lee moved into Maryland and towards Pennsylvania.
At Gettysburg, PA (7/3) the 6th participated in the famous cavalry fight on the right of the Union line. After that, the regiment followed the Rebels as they retreated back into Virginia. The unit's ( 7/14) charge upon the Confederate rear guard at Falling Waters, MD, with one exception (Hawes' Shop, VA 1864) was the most sanguinary in which the 6th ever participated. The rest of 1863 was spent with Union Gen. George Armstrong Custer in cavalry engagements within Virginia.
From 5/4 to 5/7/1864 the 6th was hotly engaged during the battle of the Wilderness. It then participated (beginning 5/8) in Union Gen. Sheridan's great raid deep into Virginia. From then on the unit saw action in all the battles that lead up to Union forces laying siege to Petersburg/Richmond.
During the fall of 1864 the 6th marched into Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and helped eliminate Rebel forces from that region. It then wintered in Winchester, VA.
The early months of 1865 saw the 6th providing excellent service during the closing campaign of The War. It then marched to Washington City to participate in the Grand Review.
Ordered to Ft. Leavenworth, KS, men with less than two years service remaining in their enlistment terms were ordered back to Michigan and mustered out. Those remaining were consolidated into a new regiment and sent to Utah.
Officers Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 7; Officers Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.:0 ; Enlisted Men Killed Or Mortally Wounded: 128; Enlisted Men Died Of Disease, Accidents, Etc.: 251.
Residence: Sanilac, MI Age: 27.6 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 9/8/1862 Sanilac, MI Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 10/11/1862
Mustered Out: Inf. Not Avail.
Highest Rank: Cprl.
Rank At Discharge: Cprl.
NOTE: The birth - to - death biographical profile of Charles Smith was created in May, 2022 during the waning days of the Covid-19 medical pandemic. It contains less depth of detail than many other biographies within this website because military service, pension and other veteran-related files housed in Washington, D.C.'s National Archives were not available. At a later time those documents may be obtained and the data contained therein added to the narrative which follows.
Charles Ostrander Smith was born 3/3/1835 in Tipton Quebec, Canada. An only child, he came to the U.S. with his parents in 1842.
Parenting Charles were William B. Smith (b. 6/25/1810 NY - 7/115/1854 Jefferson County, NY) and Almira (nee Ostrander b. yr. unk. France or Canada - d. 1844 ** loc. unk.) By trade William was a carpenter/joiner.
By the early 1860s Charles was living in Michigan. It was there, in the community of Sanilac that, on 8/7/1862, he married.
The new Mrs. Charles O. Smith was Nancy Agnes McCall. She had been born 10/29/1839 in Scotland. When she had immigrated to America and how, where and when she and Charles had met are unknowns.
During their years together Charles and Nancy - in U.S. Census tallies she is identified as both Nancy and Agnes - produced eight children. Those named are.....Wait, before we go there Charles had a war to fight.
On 9/8/1862, less than one full month after marrying, Charles enlisted in the U.S. Army. His unit was the 6th Michigan Cavalry. Without accessing his military service records, all that can be said about Private Smith's period of enlistment is that on 1/1/1864 he was promoted from the rank of private to that of corporal. Corporal Smith survived the trials and tribulations of war and returned home to grow a family.
Exactly where "home" was to Charles when he exited the army is not known. However, when he and Nancy's first child was born, the birth occurred in Michigan. Likely, then, that is where he resettled after The War.
As of the 1870 U.S. Census, however, he and Nancy were residing in Vinton Benton County, IA. There, Charles, by then a father of two, was employed as a carpenter.
Charles' and Nancy's children were: [All birth information subject to error] Ella Estelle Smith (b. 10/1867 or '69 MI), Clara Smith (b. 9/1869 or '70 IA), Charles Milton Smith (b. 9/1872 IA), Margaret (Margaretta) Smith (b. 1874 NB), Zena M. Smith (b. 1875 NB), Jene Smith (b. 7/1877 NB), Yena Smith (b. 1878 NB) and Paul Ulysses Smith (b. 2/23/1883 NB). Seven of the eight were living at the time of Charles' death in 1919.
Looking at the birth states of the Smith children, one can track the travels of Charles and family. In 1867 they were in Michigan. By 1869 - or at least by 1870 they were in Iowa. As of 1874 they were in Nebraska. It was in the latter state that Charles and Nancy filled out their family roster.
While in Nebraska the Smith family resided in at least two locations: Alma Harlan County (1880) and Franklin, Franklin County (1885). In the former place Charles noted his occupation as "retail grocer."
At the dawn of the twentieth century the Smiths were residing in Whatcom County, WA. Their community was New Whatcom, a town that was later renamed Bellingham. What had drawn them to the northwest corner of the Pacific Northwest is not documented, but they reportedly arrived here circa 1890. Employment-wise, Charles was once again doing carpentry work.
On 9/20/1890, after arriving in Washington State, former Private Smith applied for and was granted a U.S. Government disability pension based on his time of Civil War soldiering. Without accessing his pension files the details of his monthly stipend remain unknown.
Nancy Agnes Smith died in Bellingham on 4/7/1914. The cause of her death is not known. Her earthly remains were cremated. Her final resting place is another unknown.
After his wife's passing Charles remained in Bellingham. The retired carpenter died there at home - 1532 Humboldt St. - on 7/5/1919. His cause of death was listed as "acute indigestion" with "cardiac insuffiencey" contributing. As with Nancy Agnes, his earthly remains were cremated and his final bivouac is not known.
* Early in The War cavalry regiments were comprised of twelve, 100 man companies. The numbers were later dropped to ten companies.
**After the death of Charles' mother, Almira, his father remarried. From this union came three children. Almira's 1844 death year remains questionable as the first of William's three children by his second wife was reportedly born on 9/2/1841.
Buried at CWV CREMATED BURIALS & UNKNOWN BURIALS
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