(from the Summer 2013 Edition of Macomb Now Magazine)
By Denis LeDuc
July 1, 1863: Union cavalry encounters lead elements of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s invading Confederate Army west of Gettysburg, Pa. Reinforcements include the 24th Michigan Infantry. They delay Lee long enough for the Union Army to occupy the high ground and dig in. July 2 is indecisive. July 3, hardened veterans of Michigan’s 7th Infantry cling close to their defenses on Cemetery Hill near the center of the line. Earth shakes as shells rain down. Acrid smoke burns their throats. The sun beats on their blue wool uniforms. Mid afternoon falls quiet. The 7th waits for the Confederate assault everyone knows is coming.
A mile away the Confederate infantry of Gen. George Pickett, 15,000 strong, advances toward Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge. Bayonets gleam, ranks of gray move steadily throughout the shimmering wheat dividing the great armies. Union artillery tears gaping holes in the Confederate columns. The advancing men step over their dead, close ranks and keep moving forward. The disciplined Michigan 7th holds its ground and pours murderous volleys into the on rushing enemy. Fighting becomes hand to hand—bayonets, pistols, sabers and rifle butts. To the south at Cemetery Ridge, a few Confederates break through the Federal line, but are overwhelmed by Union reinforcements. The stubborn Michigan 7th and the Union Army hold. At the rear, Confederate cavalry attack the beleaguered Federal line from behind, but are met with a furious charge of the Michigan Cavalry led by Gen. George A. Custer. Out ahead of his men Custer shouts “Come on, you Wolverines.” The Confederate cavalry is driven from the field. The Confederate infantry attack, forever known as Pickett’s charge, falls into retreat. Both sides suffer horrible casualties.
Men of Macomb County served in the 7th and 24 the Infantry and the Michigan Cavalry. In our photo above, Civil War veterans hold their last parade down the Main Street of Mount Clemens in 1930. Nearing 90, they march straight and proud. The right sleeve of the veteran on the left is pinned to his should. Spectators watch from the windows above. Children sit atop parent’s shoulders.
Macomb Now honors all our veterans, and on this 150th anniversary, those that fought and died at the great Battle of Gettysburg.
The photo is entitled: The Last Parade, Mount Clemens 1930. Courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University, July 1-3, 1863, Gettsburg, Pa.