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. When the Civil War ended, Col. Hall asked his quartermaster, Capt. W.W. Wade, to take The Colonel home to Michigan. Wade returned to Jonesville on July 3, 1865 and the next day rode The Colonel in a grand celebration marking the return of peace.
The Colonel, who had earned the affection of soldiers during the conflict, continued to inspire admiration from the citizens of Hillsdale County in his retirement. He became a ward of the Soldiers and Sailors Association and 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 150 Years in the Hills and Dales.