Sometime prior to 1861, Marvin Wood had migrated to Lenawee County, Michigan where he took up farming. After the beginning of the Civil War, Marvin, at about the age of 23, decided to volunteer for military service, and signed up in the Michigan Volunteer Infantry. He was enlisted as a Private on December 6, 1861 in White Pigeon, St. Joseph County, Michigan and was assigned to Company “F” commanded by Capt. John Birdsill, in the 11th Regiment of Michigan Infantry Volunteers, commanded by Colonel William L. Stoughton.
The 11th Regiment, with its total enrollment of 1,323 men, left its White Pigeon rendezvous Dec. 9, 1861. They shipped out by rail from Sturgis, Michigan for Bardstown, Kentucky and remained there for basic training duty until March 1862.
During the spring of 1862 the Eleventh was occupied in guarding the Nashville & Louisville railroad while attached to the Department of Ohio1, then in July made a series of long marches in pursuit of the Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his 1,000-man cavalry, also known as Morgan’s Raiders. The Eleventh was part of the force that defeated Morgan at Gallatin, TN on the 13th of August.
Upon the regiment’s return to Nashville, it was assigned to provost duty. It was attached to the 29th Brigade, 8th Division, Army of the Ohio2 until November 1862, rendering valuable assistance in fortifying that city so it was impregnable to the attack of the opposing forces.
In November 1862, the Eleventh under the command of Colonel William L. Stoughton was assigned to the Second Brigade, Second Division, 14th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland commanded by General William S. Roscrans. Col. Negley commanded the 2nd Division, and Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas commanded the 14th Army Corps. During this time, Marvin was promoted to Corporal.
The Eleventh participated in the advance (Dec. 26-30, 1862) upon Murfreesboro, Tenn. and was in the fiercest fighting at Stone River from December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863. Col. Negley’s Second Division was in the center of the Union line, which was stoutly assailed by the Confederates in such overwhelming numbers as to force it back toward Murfreesboro Pike. The Eleventh fought gallantly with the many casualties of the Regiment attesting to the severity of the contest. The Eleventh was one of the first Regiments to cross Stone River, and was among the troops that captured a Confederate battery, which had been abandoned when the Confederates were driven from the field.
During January 1863, the Eleventh was detached from its Division and placed on provost duty at Murfreesboro, remaining there until June, when the advance was commenced upon Tullahoma, Tenn.
The advance from Murfreesboro to Tullahoma (Middle Tennessee) started on June 23, 1863 by the Union forces, with many skirmishes along the way until reaching near Tullahoma on June 29th. Col. Stoughton commanded the 2nd Brigade with the Michigan Eleventh Regiment. During the advance, the brigade was acting as guard for the ammunition and division train. They had passed through Hoover’s Gap and into Beech Grove, TN. During this advancement, they encountered utterly impassable roads, heavy rains and mud. At one point on the morning of the 29th, the transportation had to be sent back, escorted by a detachment of the 69th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and the artillery, supported by five companies of the Eleventh Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Heavy skirmishing was encountered with the enemy near Tullahoma and Elk River on July 1st. After the Confederate forces retreated from Tullahoma on the night of June 30th, the Union forces took over occupation on July 1st, 1863. The divisions of Brannan, Negley, and Sheridan pushed on and overtook the rear guard of the enemy late in the afternoon of July 1st, where they encountered sharp skirmishes with the rebels.
By July 3rd, General Rosecrans forces had successfully pursued the enemy across the mountains. According to General Rosecrans’ report on July 3rd, “Thus ended a nine days’ campaign, which drove the enemy from two fortified positions and gave us possession of Middle Tennessee, conducted in one of the most extraordinary rains ever known to Tennessee at that period of the year, over a soil that becomes almost a quicksand… These results were far more successful than was anticipated, and could only have been obtained by a surprise as to the direction and force of our movement.”
In the latter part of August (1863) the movements to secure Chattanooga, Tenn. began. General Crittenden’s 21st Corps left his camp at Manchester and Hillsboro, and crossing the Cumberland Mountains, occupied the Sequatchee Valley where he built extensive campfires and sought to convey the impression that General Rosecrans’ whole army was moving in that direction. He then crossed Walden’s Ridge and Wilder’s Brigade appeared in the valley above Chattanooga, where they began building boats as though to cross the river at that point. The Confederate Commander made arrangements to meet the expected attacks, and there is convincing evidence that the Commander of the Union forces had succeeded in deluding him into the belief that the Union Army would cross the river above Chattanooga. In the meantime General McCook’s 20th Corps and General Thomas’ 14th Corps, of which the Michigan Eleventh was part of, kept undercover as much as possible while they moved in the direction of Bridgeport and Caperton’s Ferry on the Tennessee River below Chattanooga. A pontoon and trestle bridge was thrown across the Tennessee River at Bridgeport where a part of General Thomas’ corps crossed. The boats for the pontoon bridge at Caperton’s Ferry were brought with the train and were kept concealed while a road was cut for their transportation through the woods. About the 29th of August these fifty boats, each capable of carrying fifty men were brought out of the woods, carried rapidly across an open field, quickly launched and, being filled with men, were towed to the opposite side of the river. The Confederates pickets were driven away, the bridge rapidly constructed and General McCook’s corps passed over it to the south side of the Tennessee River. As soon as these two corps had crossed the river, General Crittenden’s 21st Corps marched rapidly down the Sequatchee Valley to join them taking position on the left, and marching around the point of Lookout Mountain, he occupied Chattanooga.
By the 4th of September General Rosecrans’ entire army was south of the Tennessee River. On the 7th of September General Thomas began the ascent of Lookout Mountain, twenty-six miles south of Chattanooga, and on the same day General McCook started across Lookout Mountain about forty miles south of Chattanooga. By the 8th, General Thomas’ 14th Corps was descending from Steven’s and Fricks Gap and General McCook’s 20th Corps was going down the mountain toward Alpine, while General Crittenden had pushed part of his command along the mountain trails until they were in sight of Chattanooga and discovered that General Bragg’s Confederate Army had retreated from the town.
During this advance of General Rosecrans’ Army to Chattanooga, the Eleventh Michigan Regiment had left its camp at Dechard, Tenn., making the toilsome march over the mountains and reaching the battle of Chickamauga, Georgia in time to participate in two days of the fiercest fighting of the war. The Eleventh regiment was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Mudge during the battle, as Colonel Stoughton was then given command of the Second Brigade.
Colonel Stoughton, after the battle of Chickamauga, withdrew his Brigade to Rossville by command of General Thomas, holding that position until the Union army had passed to Chattanooga, then on the morning of the 22nd returned to Chattanooga, being one of the last of the Union Troops to leave the field.
The Battle of Chickamauga was considered the second of the top ten costliest battles of the Civil War, with the casualties numbering 16,170 for the Union forces and 18,454 for the Confederate forces. (Source: Various civil war documents and field commander reports)
During the battle of Chickamauga, Marvin Wood was wounded on Sunday the 20th of September 1863. He had suffered gunshot wounds of the jaw and left shoulder. There have been stories that Marvin lay critically wounded for three days and nights before being discovered. According to his military records, that may have been true, since he was listed on two Casualty Sheets dated September 26, 1863 as deceased. His Company Muster Roll sheet for the two months of September & October 1863 listed Marvin as absent and in a field hospital at Chattanooga, Tenn. He apparently remained in the hospital through December of 1863. In January of 1864, Marvin was transferred to Louisville, Kentucky where he was processed for discharge from the Army. On January 19, 1864, Marvin was given his Certificate of Disability for Discharge. His certificate described him as 23 years old, 5-ft, 9-1/2 inches tall, light complexion, blue eyes, and black hair. His discharge indicated he was incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of gun shot fracture of the inferior maxillary (lower jaw) bone and dislocation (permanent) of left humerus (upper left arm bone and shoulder). With these injuries, Marvin was classified as “not fit for the Invalid Corps3 with three quarters disability”.
After his discharge, Marvin apparently returned to Michigan, since his discharge certificate indicated, “This Soldier desires to be addressed at Medina, Lenawee County, Michigan.”
(Source: Civil War Military Records for Marvin S. Wood, from the National Archives)
- The Department of the Ohio having been merged in that of Mississippi, March, 1862, it was recreated on August 19th, 1862 to consist of the States of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kentucky, east of the Tennessee River, and Major-General H. G. Wright was placed at the head. The troops of the department were scattered through many districts. Some of the brigades constituted the Army of Kentucky, of which Major-General Gordon Granger was in command. Major-General A. E. Burnside replaced Wright March 25, 1863, and shortly afterward the troops in the department were reorganized into the Twenty-third Army Corps, and this force is the Army of the Ohio associated with the Knoxville, Atlanta, and Nashville campaigns. The Ninth Corps was attached to the department from March 1863 to March 1864. Burnside was succeeded in turn by Major-Generals J. G. Foster, J. M. Schofield, and George Stoneman. A cavalry division organized in April 1864 was headed by Major-General Stoneman, and afterward by Colonels Capron and Garrard. On January 17, 1865, the troops still in the department (the Twenty-third Corps having gone to North Carolina) were annexed to the Department of the Cumberland. (Source: “Photographic History of the Civil War”)
- The Department of Kentucky, which constituted the whole of that State within a hundred miles of the Ohio River, was merged in the Department of the Cumberland, comprising the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, August 15, 1861. On November 9th, it was renamed the Department of the Ohio, the States of Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana being added. The troops in this region (over whom McClellan, Rosecrans, O. M. Mitchel, Robert Anderson, and W. T. Sherman had, at different times and places, control) were now organized into the Army of the Ohio, with Major-General Don Carlos Buell in command. Although the department was merged into that of Mississippi in March 1862, the Army of the Ohio retained its name. This was the body that brought such timely assistance to Grant at Shiloh and drove Bragg out of Kentucky. The army was organized into three corps in September 1862, but the following month (October 24th) the Department of the Cumberland was recreated to consist of eastern Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, and the Army of the Ohio, which had operated chiefly in that region, now became officially the Fourteenth Army Corps, but better known as the Army of the Cumberland. On October 30th, 1862 Buell was replaced by Major-General W. S. Rosecrans, and the Fourteenth Corps was reorganized into the Right Wing, Center, and Left Wing, later the Fourteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first Army corps. The last two were afterward consolidated as the Fourth Corps. With this army, Rosecrans fought the battle of Stone’s River, drove Bragg across the Tennessee, and was defeated at Chickamauga. Major-General George H. Thomas succeeded to the command October 20, 1863. The army distinguished itself on Missionary Ridge and through the Atlanta campaign (as a part of the Military Division of the Mississippi), and in the campaign against Hood in Tennessee. The army had four divisions of cavalry. It had a reserve corps for a short time, and received two corps from the Army of the Potomac, which was finally consolidated into the reorganized Twentieth Corps. (Source: “Photographic History of the Civil War”)
- A great number of Civil War soldiers were disabled by weapons, disease, and accidents. Initially, the permanently disabled received medical discharges from the army, but later they remained in the service and performed non-combat duties, relieving other soldiers to fight. In 1862 the Union army allowed chief medical officers to employ “convalescent wounded and feeble men” as nurses, cooks, and hospital attendants and subsequently to organize them into detachments. Unfortunately, these methods were inefficient, and many convalescents did not return to their combat units when well. Therefore, in Apr. 1863 the U.S. War Department created an Invalid Corps of worthy disabled officers and men who were or had been in the army. Ridicule influenced the corps to exchange its sky blue uniform for one similar to those worn by the other soldiers. The corps formed 2 “battalions,” the first for those who could bear arms and perform garrison duty and the second for the severely handicapped fit only for hospital service. Late in the war the surgeon general took command of the second battalion. Like the combat units, the Invalid Corps organized officers and men into companies and regiments. Renamed the “Veteran Reserve Corps” 18 Mar.1864, it was abolished during summer 1866. Between 1863 and 1866 more than 60,000 individuals served in the organization and performed valuable services, including garrisoning fortifications and quelling an 1863 “Draft Riot” in New York City. The Confederacy established an Invalid Corps in 1864, in which officers and men disabled in the line of duty had to serve if they wished to receive pay. Also, if their physical condition improved sufficiently, they had to return to their combat unit. Unlike its Union counterpart, the Confederate Invalid Corps never organized companies and regiments, but a high percentage of its officers and men did perform worthwhile duties based on their disabilities and army requirements. (Source: Historical Times Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Civil War)