Hiram Granger's Experience in the Civil War

Excerpts from:

"Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars"

      Hiram Granger enlisted in the Minnesota Volunteer Infantry at the age of 27. He served as a Private in the 4th Regiment, Company H, from January 5th to July 19th, 1865. Excerpts from "Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars" tell of the actions of the 4th Regiment during those six months, which include three major events; Sherman's march through the Carolinas, the battle of Bentonville and the Grand Review in Washington.

      During the latter part of December, the 4th Regiment marched as part of the larger army under General Sherman on its campaign through the Carolinas.* They attempted to cross the Savannah River, but due to excessive rain some of the wagon trains were lost in the water that flooded over the dike. Men worked all night trying to save them. Taking a steamship to Beaufort, then marching to McPhersonville, they joined the rest of the brigade on January 31st and started inland on the campaign. Hiram, along with other new recruits from MN, probably joined the regiment around this time. They expected serious opposition at Duck Creek because the enemy was on the other side. The soldiers charged through waist deep water, came to a plantation with sweet potatoes, poultry, etc. but no enemy soldiers. What followed were several days of marching, destroying enemy rail beds and ammunition stores, and being subject to incessant rain. Suffering lack of supplies and many hardships, they made it to Charleston early in March, where the enemy had evacuated and left behind ammunition and commissary supplies. After a few days of feasting, they continued through more rain, on horrible roads, struggling with mule teams and wagons in swampy country. On March 12th they reached Fayette, crossed the Cape Fear River and set up camp.

      While the Battle of Bentonville took place March 21-22-23, the regiment was not actively engaged, but rather built lines of breastworks and remained in reserve, with enemy shots passing freely overhead. When the Confederate General Johnston retreated, the Union army marched to Goldsboro. Many of the men were barefooted and all were ragged. Here Sherman reorganized his army. The regiment continued with the rest of them to Raleigh, where, on April 26th, Johnston surrendered to General Sherman. The group had received news of Lincoln's assassination a few days earlier. Orders were to march 10 miles a day to Washington. But many groups did 18-25 miles a day, racing to see who would reach Washington first. Some literally marched to their deaths. The 4thRegiment passed through Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Mt. Vernon where, with uncovered heads, they paid their respects at the grave of George Washington.

      On May 24th, the regiment reached the Capitol and marched at the head of the column of General Sherman's grand army of 65,000 veterans in the Grand Review at Washington. Passing through the city, the regiment camped 5 miles away. They soon were sent by rail, then steamboat to Louisville KY where they remained until July 19 and were mustered for discharge. Finally, they were again sent by rail via Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee, detrained at La Crosse and took the steamboat Northern Belle to St. Paul, arriving July 24th. Fire companies of the city escorted them to the State House, where the governor of the state and the mayor of the city addressed the men. Following that, all who wished proceeded home.

      Three years later, on May 6th of 1868, he married Martha Morrison. In 1870 their only child, Mary, was born on April 24th. Eight years later, on October 3rd, 1878, Hiram died when he fell from the barn roof on a windy day. He was the only member of the Granger family to enlist in the military.

      In 1890, Congress approved a pension program for veterans, and veterans' records disclose that Martha applied for a pension on May 9th, 1900. When she died in 1923 the pension was canceled.

 - Compiled by Sylvia Novak

* Some of the cities named in the document were not located by this writer, but tracing the regiment's general route, it can be said that the battles and marches took place in North Carolina.