Seventh Michigan Cavalry
of Custer's Wolverine Brigade
By Asa B. Isham
"Come on, you Wolverines!" Gen. George A. Custer shouted to the mounted Michigan men as they finished forming for the charge on the third day of battle at Gettysburg. Their adversary, Confederate cavalry skirmishers of Gen. Jeb Stuart's command, was advancing on foot over an open field. With drawn sabers, fluttering colors and Custer in front leading them, the Seventh Michigan Cavalry -- in its first significant fight -- thundered forward, every trooper yelling at the top of his voice. The impetuous assault, according to a participant, "was only stopped by [a] stone wall and fence," across which the Rebels and Michiganders fired at each other for 10 minutes. Unable to pass the fence line and facing approaching enemy reserves, the Seventh was forced to retire with heavy casualties -- 100 out of 461 officers and men -- the highest loss of any Federal cavalry regiment engaged in the battle.
The horsemen of the Seventh were organized at Grand Rapids, Mich., in the fall of 1862 from enlistees statewide. Representative towns included Kalamazoo, Detroit, Hastings, Battle Creek, Tecumseh, Owosso, Port Huron, Saginaw and many more. By April 1863 they belonged to the hard-campaigning Michigan Cavalry Brigade, soon made famous in large measure by the flamboyant leadership of the Wolverines' longtime commander, Gen. Custer.
Armed with sabers, Colt's revolvers and Burnside carbines (eventually replaced by Spencer repeating carbines), the Seventh participated in scores of engagements following Gettysburg. Among them were Yellow Tavern (where Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded, possibly by a Seventh pistol shot), Haw's Shop, Trevilian Station, Opequan and Tom's Brook. At Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864, the regiment captured more prisoners than it had troopers in its ranks. It also distinguished itself at Five Forks, Sayler's Creek and Appomattox. After the Grand Review in May 1865, the Seventh was transferred west to campaign nine months against hostile Indians.
This Blue Acorn Press edition of Lieutenant Asa B. Isham's extremely rare 1893 history of the Seventh Michigan Cavalry features the addition of four appendices (including a photo gallery of 29 wartime portraits), and a new index.
Hardcover with dust jacket, 203 pages, illustrated with 62 photographs and engravings. Officers' register and roll of honor. ISBN 1-885033-24-9.