Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 3, 1990, pg. 6
This is the first of a two part series on Albionís involvement in the Civil War 1861-1865. In the late 1850s, communities across southern Michigan formed local militia, as the political situation between the north and south deteriorated. These local units would correspond somewhat to our present-day National Guard. Albionís local military company was named the "Albion Rifle Rangers."
The Albion Rifle Rangers would regularly meet behind the David Peabody home on W. Erie St. (present site of Peabody Place), where they had a practice range and a small storage building. There were not other buildings south and west of the Peabody home at that time, and the group met and drilled weekly.
Captain of the company was Harrison Soule (1832-1922), who later in life served as Treasurer of the University of Michigan. Soule lived in Albion and was the son of Milo Soule, a Marengo pioneer who came to Michigan in1836. Harrison attended Albion College and was employed as an accountant on the Michigan Central Railroad beginning in 1859.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, 14 of the Albion Rifle Rangers enlisted in the Union Army with Soule as their captain. Their unit became known as Company I (eye) of the Sixth Michigan Infantry Volunteers. The men trained at Fort Wayne in Detroit from June 19 to August 5, when they briefly returned to Albion for two weeks. During that time, Soule recruited more men, and the company would drill on Albion streets, around public buildings, and in the parks. They reported at Camp Fremont on August 20, 1861, where they were housed at the county fairgrounds. The Albion Company was composed of one captain (Soule), two lieutenants, five sergeants, eight corporals, and 70 privates.
Officers of the company were: Captain Harrison Soule, 29, of Albion; First Lieut. Alfred J. Ralf, 21, of Jonesville; Second Lieut. Charles S. Fassett, 23, of Sandstone (east of Parma); Sgt. Henry Bascom, 29, of Albion; Sgt. Alonzo E. Pickett, 34, of rural Albion; Sgt. Byron Stoddard, 20, of rural Concord; and corporals: Charles Davis, 21 of rural Albion; George Murray, 23, of Albion; George C. Perry, 19, of rural Albion; Jabez B. Piper, 23, of Parma; J. Blake Stoddard, 23, of rural Concord; Willett W. Tompkins, 21, of rural Albion; an the company musician and bugler, John Conroy, 21, of rural Albion.
The Sixth Regiment spent the winter of 1861-62 at Baltimore, Maryland, and in 1862 headed for Mississippi. On August 6, 1862, the Sixth was involved in a heavy battle at Baton Rouge, LA, in which after a valiant charge they captured the enemy flag of the Ninth Louisiana battalion. The regiment suffered many casualties, including Corporal Murray and Corporal Piper who were killed in the battle.
Captain Soule was promoted to the rank of Major, and served his country well before being mustered out at the close of the war in 1865. For many years the Sixth regiment held annual reunions. A 25th reunion was held in Albion in 1898 at the Grand Army of the Republic Hall on E. Erie St. Other reunions were held in subsequent years, with the numbers dwindling each time as veterans died off. The last reunion was held in 1928 in Charlotte, when only 5 remaining members of the Sixth were present.
From the Archives this week we present a photograph of Captain Harrison Soule, Commander Company I of the Sixth Michigan Volunteers. The photograph is courtesy Michigan Historical Collections, Bentley Library, University of Michigan.
Captain Harrison Soule
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic