Horses were essential to the army during the Civil War. Thousands died, some in agonizing pain on the battlefield. Many more succumbed to the hardship of the march, disease and lack of forage.
The Colonel, a large light gray horse with a gentle disposition and noble bearing, became a favorite of the soldiers. They shared their meager rations with him, probably saving his life, as he served with the 7th Michigan Infantry through thirty-seven battles, including Fort Sumpter, the second Battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Antietam and Gettysburg, the last two in which he was wounded.
The Colonel was owned by Col. N.J. Hall of the 7th Michigan Infantry. Near the end of the war Col. Hall asked his quartermaster, Capt. W.W. Wade, to take The Colonel home to Michigan. Wade returned to Jonesville in January 1864 and took care of him until the end of the war. In 1866 Wade wrote to Hall asking what he should do with him. “Hall instructed Wade to sell him, with the understanding that he (Hall) could buy him back at any tie for the purchase price. Col. Hall died in 1878 and, as nothing had been heard from his family or friends, the Hillsdale County Soldiers and Sailors Reunion Association bought Colonel in 1879.”
The Colonel, who had earned the affection of soldiers during the conflict, lived in comfort until his death. Although Oak Grove Cemetery forbade the burial of animals, local legend says that the Colonel's admirers secretly buried him in Soldiers' Circle to honor him for his service.
JoAnne P. Miller
The picture on this Page is from the Library of Congress. Below is a page about the Colonel that was also found in the Library of Congress