Names, faces help localize Civil War

Photo courtesy of the Dearborn Histrorical Museum


This picture of John and Shepherd Howard was taken about 1906. Shepherd (right) was a member of the famous 24th Michigan Infantry, and was wounded in the Battle of Cold Harbor. John (left) was a cousin of Shepherd.

(This story is the second in a two-part series about the history of Dearborn in the time of the Civil War, which began 150 years ago last week.)

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

When the Civil War began on April 12, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln sent out a call across the country for volunteers to do their part for the Union cause.

Dearborn, while not involved in any of the major battles, had many notable residents who took part in the war. Some were involved in famous engagements and even went on to have families who still reside in the area.

According to a reprint of the history of the Detroit Arsenal published by the Dearborn Historical Society, a former member of the Detroit Light Guard, John B. Patten, was captain of the Dearborn unit. A letter written in September 1862 by Deaborn Township Supervisor Titus Dort requested that Belgian-made muskets from the armory be used in a military drill of a batallion of civilians in Dearborn.

Two of Henry Ford’s uncles, John and Barney Litigot, fought in the well-known 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, which saw action during the Battle of Gettysburg. John Litigot joined the Union army in August 1862 and Barney Litigot followed in September.

The regiment also served as the honor guard for the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln as the coffin made its way to Springfield, Ill.

John Litigot was killed during the Battle of Fredricksburg, Va. Barney Litigot survived until the end of the war. According to reports published by The Henry Ford in 2005, he served in some of the most famous battles in the war, including Gettysburg. After the war, he married and lived on Grosse Ile and in Wyandotte until his death in 1873 at age 35 from tuberculosis.

Two well-known incidents occurred at the arsenal after the Civil War ended. In April 1865, during a cannon tribute to Lincoln after his assassination, Pfc. Bernard Magoonaugh was standing in front of a cannon when it prematurely went off. He lost one hand in the blast, and had the other arm amputated due to injuries he suffered.

In July, Pfc. John Meer, the brother-in-law of Magoonaugh, was kicked in the stomach by a horse; he later died due to the severity of his internal injuries.

Some families who still reside in Dearborn, including the Howards, have ancestors who served in the war.

Rick Danes of the Dearborn Historical Comission said Joshua Howard, born in 1793, served in the U.S. Paymasters Department during the Civil War its end in 1865. He later was elected township supervisor and later appointed sheriff of Wayne County and then a marshal in Michigan.

He later moved to Detroit, where he died in 1868. He is buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Shepherd L. Howard, nephew of Joshua, enlisted in Dearborn on Aug. 12, 1862, into Company D, 24th Michigan Infantry. He was promoted through the ranks to first lieutenant, and served in Companies K and I. He is buried at Northview Cemetery.

John Cosbey was a U.S. arsenal sergeant, enlisting at the arsenal at Dearbornville in 1850. He served there for 25 years and oversaw the transportation of arms to other destinations. After resigning from the Army, he was hired as a civilian clerk in charge of the arsenal and its contents until it closed in 1875.

He remained custodian of the buildings until they were sold and then was elected township supervisor, treasurer, and justice of the peace. He died in 1901 and is buried in Northview Cemetery. Members of the Cosbey family still live in Dearborn Heights and Florida.

Stephen DeLorme was born in New York in 1839. He enlisted in Company E, 24th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 8, 1862, and lost an arm in the Battle of Gettysburg. After the war, he returned home and lived with his family in the 1000 block of South Mason.

DeLorme was a charter member of the Dearborn Grand Army of the Republic Post 427 from its start in 1893 until its last meeting in 1898. He is buried in Mount Kelly Cemetery. Members of his family now live in Livonia.

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