Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan

Adopting the National Banner of the 12th Michigan Volunteer Infantry

12th Michigan Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Shiloh​ Painted by Darren Smith (Buchanan, MI)

Legislative Tribute to the Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan

First National Banner of the 12th Michigan Infantry

Matt VanAcker presenting us with a Legislative Tribute for adopting the flag

The Text of the Legislative Tribute

LET IT BE KNOWN,  That it is a honor and a privilege to pay tribute to The Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan for their adoption of a flag carried by the Twelfth Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.  Their donation of $1,000 will help ensure that historic flags carried by Michigan  Civil War volunteers are appropriately preserved, researched, and displayed for future generations to learn from and to cherish.

The flag being adopted is part of the Michigan Capitol Battle Flag Collection, numbering 240 banners, including flags from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I.  As part of Save The Flags, a project to preserve the state’s collection of historic battle flags, groups, individuals or families may adopt a flag by contributing to its preservation.  The members of The Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan are contributing not only to the preservation of this flag but to the preservation of the entire collection.  They are ensuring that the history of this flag and the brave Michigan soldiers who fought under its folds will be preserved.

The Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan was founded in September of 2013 and is an educational and historical group focused on the American Civil War.  The members are committed to sharing their expertise with others by sponsoring presentations, tours and discussions focusing on the war.   They have gone even further with this adoption in pledging their resources to preserve a vital part of Civil War and Michigan history.

The Twelfth Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment was organized at Niles and mustered into service in March of 1862, 342 men came from the area surrounding St. Joseph, Michigan.  On a snowy day in late February, 1862 the regiment formed a hollow square on a frozen parade ground and a double sleigh appeared drawn by two black horses. It halted in the middle of the square and Miss Mary Penrose stood up in the sleigh to present the regiment with a “valuable silk banner” on behalf of the ladies of Niles.  One of the ladies, Julia Bretschneider--whose husband Robert fought with the Second and the Twelfth--had sewn the flag by hand and embroidered the motto “Michigan Expects every man to do his Duty.”

This flag was carried by the regiment for two years and bears the names of the Twelfth’s major battles during that time.  Almost immediately after leaving Michigan, the regiment fought in the desperate battle of Shiloh in Tennessee.  For green troops not in the field even two weeks and with one-half the regiment too sick to fight, the regiment acquitted itself well. At Middleburg, Tennessee a detachment of the Twelfth armed only with 115 Austrian muskets successfully held off five to six thousand rebel cavalry for over two hours.  The rebels finally gave up.  General Grant issued an official order commending the “valor and discipline of the gallant Twelfth” and directing the regiment to inscribe “Middleburg” on its banner.  Perhaps Grant had seen the motto on the Twelfth’s flag--his order also noted the regiment’s real reward would be the public’s gratitude for those who had done their duty.  The Twelfth certainly did its duty, fighting in swamps and stifling heat in the south.  Disease claimed 380 men--many times more than were lost in battle.

IN SPECIAL TRIBUTE, Therefore, This document is signed and dedicated to honor  The Civil War Round Table of Southwest Michigan for their adoption of a flag carried by the Twelfth Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. In contributing these funds, the members of this Round Table are to be commended for their unflagging enthusiasm and support of a project that will help preserve flags and the history of the men who fought and died to preserve the Union.     

  

Matt VanAcker showing us the National Banner of the 12th MI

On February 10, 2015, we had an outstanding presentation on Michigan’s Regimental Battle Flag Collection by Matt VanAcker, Director of the Michigan Capitol Tour & Information Service and Co-Chair of Save the Flags.  Two major decisions were made based on our meeting.  The first was the decision to accept Matt’s invitation to come to Lansing for a private tour of the battle flags and the second decision was to adopt one of the battle flags.  On Saturday, March 14, our group made the trip to Lansing to take a private tour of the flag vault and to present Matt VanAcker with $1000 that we raised to adopt the National Colors of the 12th Michigan Volunteer Infantry.  The 12th Michigan Infantry is most closely associated with Berrien County.  The 12th Michigan was organized in Niles, MI in September 1861 with 324 members volunteering from the St. Joseph area.  There are four battle flags for the 12th Michigan. There are two blue regimental flags with the national eagle on them and two versions of the stars and stripes.  One set was carried in the first part of the war and the other set was carried in the latter half of the war.  The flag we adopted was carried by the regiment at the Battle of Shiloh.