1861 : Adrian Cadets March Off to War

June 21, 2018 all-day


Photo of Adrian Cadets, fresh from training at Camp Williams, marching down East Maumee Street to the train station on their way to the front.

On June 21, 1861, 30,000 people — according to the historical marker — assembled in Adrian to see local boys off to the Civil War.

The rest of the story:

After the Civil War began, the Trustees of Adrian College voted to allow the College to be used as a training ground for Civil War volunteers.  The City of Adrian funded the construction of a mess and dining hall.

The Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment was organized by Colonel Dwight A. Woodbury. After Adrian College had become the training center for the Fourth Infantry, Woodbury had decided to name the camp after Brig. General Alpheus Williams from Detroit.  Before the volunteers departed, the ladies of Adrian presented Colonel Dwight Woodbury with the regimental flag. Sewn into the flag was “The Ladies of Adrian to the Fourth regiment Defend It.”

Photo of Colonel Dwight A. Woodbury who would die at Malvern Hill:


Among the soldiers who fought in the Fourth Michigan Infantry was Captain Samuel DeGolyer, who was captured by Rebel forces but later escaped. DeGolyer took part in several skirmishes before he was fatally shot by a Confederate sharpshooter. DeGolyer’s dying wish was to be able to go and see his hometown just one more time before falling to his wounds on Aug. 7, 1863.

DeGolyer photo:

More than 1,000 soldiers from Adrian, Ann Arbor, Dexter, Jonesville, Hudson, Sturgis, Monroe, Hillsdale, Tecumseh, and Trenton came to Adrian to train.  The 4th was eventually assigned to the Army of the Potomac and would go on to fight in 41 battles, including Gaines Mills, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Petersburg.

Of the one thousand four hundred men that served in the unit, three hundred and seven died. The Fourth was one of the few regiments to lose more men in battle than from disease. Three colonels who led the unit died during the war. Colonel George Lumbard died at The Wilderness in Virginia; Colonel Harrison Jeffords died at Gettysburg; and Dwight Woodbury died at Malvern Hill. After two years of action, the Fourth Infantry was reorganized and returned to Camp Williams for further training.

Following the end of the Civil War, Adrian College ceased to be officially Camp Williams and returned to its original purpose of higher education. With the exception of this marker, there are no physical indications of the college’s role as a training camp for the Fourth Infantry.


Seewald, Joel. Camp Williams / Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry. The Historical Marker Database.

Cherry, Dan. 150 years ago this week, Lenawee County’s first regiment of soldiers left for the Civil War.  LenConnect.com, June 20, 2011.

Camp Williams / Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry Marker documentation

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