The 16th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War

On today’s episode, we’re joined by Kim Crawford to discuss his book The 16th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War.

On the hot summer evening of July 2, 1863, at the climax of the struggle for a Pennsylvania hill called Little Round Top, four Confederate regiments charge up the western slope, attacking the smallest and most exposed of their Union foe: the 16th Michigan Infantry. Terrible fighting has raged, but what happens next will ultimately—and unfairly—stain the reputation of one of the Army of the Potomac’s veteran combat outfits, made up of men from Detroit, Sagniaw, and other Michigan locales.

In the dramatic interpretation of the struggle for Little Round Top that followed the Battle of Gettysburg, the 16th Michigan Infantry would be remember as the one that broke during perhaps the most important turning point in the war. Their colonel, a young lawyer from Ann Arbor, would pay with his life, redeeming his own reputation, while a kind of code of silence about what happened at Little Round Top was adopted by the regiment’s survivors.

From soldiers’ letters, journals, and memoirs, Kim Crawford’s book, The 16th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War, relates their experiences in camp, on the march, and in battle, including their controversial role at Gettysburg, up to the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. The book has been very well reviewed, including by Military Images and the Michigan Historical Review, According to Civil War News, “This is historical writing at its finest ... a finely crafted regimental history ... [that is] entertaining, informative and well sourced.”

Kim Crawford. Crawford is a retired newspaper reporter and the author of The Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory, 1802-1825 and coauthor of The 4th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War. He has written about Michigan Civil War soldiers for Michigan History magazine, served as guest curator for the Flint Sloan Museum’s 2012 Civil War exhibit, “The Brave and the Faithful,” and he has given talks on both the 4th and 16th Michigan Infantry regiments to historical societies and Civil War roundtables.

The 16th Michigan Infantry in the Civil War, is available at msupress.org and other fine booksellers. You can connect with the press on Facebook and @msupress on twitter, where you can also find me @kurtmilb.

The MSU Press podcast is a joint production of MSU Press and the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. Thanks to Daniel Trego, Madiha Ghous, Donté Smith, Kylene Cave, and the team at MSU Press, especially Elise Jajuga and Julie Reaume, for helping to produce this podcast. Our theme music is “Coffee” by Cambo. 
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