There is no event in American history as important as the Civil War. The four year long struggle between the states touched every part of the country, turning farms into battlefields, wives into widows, slaves into soldiers. Over 600,000 men died fighting on battlefields from Vermont to New Mexico, and millions more were injured. The entire character of the nation changed, North and South. The Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment freed every slave in the country, upending the plantation economy that had ruled the South since the 1600s. After 4 years of war primarily fought on Southern soil, the former Confederacy was ruined, and the violent and uncertain Reconstruction that followed would forever change Southern life. In the North, the demands of the War had transformed the already robust economy into an industrial powerhouse. The huge demand for war material made men into millionaires as cities across the North swelled with new factories. In the meantime, Congress passed the Homestead Act, paving the way for expansion into the Great Plains, and authorized the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Jefferson’s dream of a republic of farmers was forever finished. The age of industry had arrived.
There was not a person in the country that was not, in some way, touched by the war. This extends to the Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, of whom 6 served in the Union Army and 5 saw combat. This website is dedicated to the lives of these 6 men, both before, during, and after the war.