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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011

Monroe Co. remembers its native at Fort Sumter

Colonel Hall a forgotten hero, historian says

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE -- Though no battles were fought on Michigan soil, the state and Monroe County have strong ties to the Civil War.

When Confederate cannons pounded Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, S.C., starting the war between the states 150 years ago last week, Col. Norman Hall was there.

A native of Raisinville Township, Colonel Hall, a West Point graduate, was the only Michigan native at the battle that began because South Carolina wanted the U.S. Army to abandon its facilities in the harbor.

The Union officer went on to fight in many other battles. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Colonel Hall's Third Brigade is credited with halting the Confederate charge, securing a Union victory.

David Ingall, a local historian, said that while much attention has been paid to Monroe's General George Armstrong Custer for his Civil War exploits, Colonel Hall is among the war's unsung heroes.

"He is absolutely a hero who has been forgotten over time," he said.

Colonel Hall died at age 30 after the war. He is buried at West Point, about 30 yards from General Custer's grave.

The sesquicentennial at Charleston touched off ceremonies throughout the country to commemorate the landmark war.

Monroe County too has lined up programs dedicated to the subject.

A lecture will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Monroe County Historical Museum, 126 South Monroe St. Museum Director John Gibney will talk about the factors leading up to the start of the Civil War and the attack on Fort Sumter -- slavery, politics, the Union, and patriotism.

The program, which is free, will include the History Channel documentary Destiny at Fort Sumter.

Museum officials said programs on the Civil War will be held and exhibits will be introduced over the next four years until the conclusion of the war's sesquicentennial in 1865.

"Interest continues to increase and thrive as more and more of the public learns about this history in [a] personal and topic-directed manner, such as the museum's programs and special events," Mr. Gibney said.

The museum, which has personnel documents of Colonel Hall, has material to work with to emphasize the area's local connection to the war.

More than 90,000 Michigan men, nearly a quarter of the state's male population in 1860, served in the war.

Mr. Ingall said 2,270 men from Monroe County fought in the war and 430 of them died from disease or wounds, or were killed in action.

Lenawee County sent some 4,000 men to the war, making it second among Michigan counties for the number of soldiers who served in the war.

There were at least 35 soldiers who died at the Andersonville prison camp in Georgia.

Many more died at other Confederate prison camps. George Custer, at age 23, was the youngest Union general at the time of his promotion.

A dinner to raise money for a proposed Civil War monument honoring Monroe County veterans will be at 6 p.m. April 30 at the Monroe Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall Hall, 400 Jones Ave.

A presentation on the Battle of Fort Sumter and Norman Hall will be given. Tickets cost $20. For information call 734-240-7780 or see mcmcws.wordpress.com.

The Monroe County Civil War Roundtable is also hosting monthly programs on the war from September through May.

The next lecture is at7 p.m. May 12 at the Ellis Library and Reference Center, 3700 South Custer Rd.



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