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Hillsdale College Students' Roles in Preserving the Union

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2022 3:00 am

Hillsdale College Students' Roles in Preserving the Union

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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July 12, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Hillsdale college professor, Peter Jennings, tells the history of Hillsdale College and its role during the civil war as an abolitionist college.

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This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star in the American people.

If you search for the Our American Stories podcast, go to the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts. Hillsdale College is a great friend of this show and has been for years. All of our history stories are sponsored by this remarkable place.

By the way, if you can't get to Hillsdale, go to Hillsdale by going to Hillsdale.edu and signing up for all their free and terrific online courses. Hillsdale College's motto is pursuing truth and defending liberty since 1844. The first great test of that motto came during the Civil War and her students met the challenge.

Here's Hillsdale College Professor Peter Jennings with the story. The Civil War was a defining moment in the life of our college. It defined who we are and what we stand for. Hillsdale College was founded in 1844, an abolitionist college. That's what we are known as. We were founded by Free Will Baptists, which is a Christian sect.

It was rather small. It was originally founded in Massachusetts, New England area in the 1700s, around this time of the Revolutionary War. Free Will Baptists were stout-hearted Christians that cherished liberty and they abhorred all kinds of slavery, including chattel slavery, southern slavery. So they were known as abolitionists. These Free Will Baptists, these people, were part of the migration from New England into New York and then eventually into what was known as the Old Northwest, specifically Michigan, and started communities, religious communities, Free Will Baptist communities, and they're people that were also strong believers in education. So as soon as they settled an area, they started schools and one of the things that they started was a college, Hillsdale College, our college, founded by these abolitionists, Free Will Baptists, and it attracted like-minded people from all across the Old Northwest. A lot of folks, maybe half the students, were from Michigan, but we also drew a lot of students back from Free Will Baptist communities in New York, as well as Pennsylvania, and throughout the Midwest, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, drew a fairly diverse population from those areas. Though we were non-sectarian, we were known as a Christian college and an abolitionist college, and to be an abolitionist back then in antebellum years, decades prior to the Civil War, was not a popular thing to do.

So for the college to take an overt stance on abolitionist principles, freedom, equality, justice, was a fairly strong position to take. So the students that it attracted back then tended to come from homes that had shared like-minded principles. Our kids, unlike kids that went to the elite eastern schools, Harvard, Yale, places like that, our kids were not privileged kids. They were not wealthy kids. Most of our kids grew up on humble homesteads. They were accustomed to working and grew up in that kind of a frontier homestead environment, but also deeply religious people, with a commitment to freedom and equality and justice, abolitionist principles. But they're also a patriotic kind of people. They grew up not as peasants or serfs or slaves, but as citizens.

They were working their own land, their own property, and enjoying the fruit of their own labor. And the point I'm getting at is these kids grew up not only deeply religious, but also patriotic, because it was in this country where people like them had an opportunity to enjoy the freedom of citizenship. So that was the kind of school that we were, and it attracted students with that kind of upbringing, with those kinds of values that came to college as an opportunity to broaden and deepen their education beyond what they got on their homesteads. The college prospered, and it became a sizable college for the time. In 1861, for example, there were 350 male students and 203 female students, and that was a sizable college.

The only other college in Michigan that was of that size or a little larger was the University of Michigan. So we were a very successful prosperous college, but still with the population of some 500 students and, you know, a couple dozen faculty, it's still a fairly small, tight-knit community. College life back then was different than it is today. Students basically did two things. They had class, rigorous studies. It was a fixed curriculum, not this elective system with majors and all that stuff that we're all familiar with today, but there was a fixed, what we understand as a classical liberal arts curriculum.

Everybody took the same curriculum. It was fixed, a four-year program, and they worked. Our students were largely middle and poor income level students, and so students worked, and the college itself didn't have a maintenance department or anything to maintain the college.

Everybody pitched in and worked. There was a day set aside during the week for work when all the students would work, and they would perform tasks of maintaining the college, cutting wood, and all that kind of stuff to maintain the college. So college life back then was basically two things. It was class, these intensive liberal arts studies, and work. Students worked to earn their way through college, and the other thing that's really important to understanding college life in the community back then were something called literary societies. Most people are familiar with the Greek system in most colleges today. Students back then didn't have fraternities or sororities, but they had literary societies. They were Greek organizations, two for men, two for women. They wrote essays and had speech competitions, oratory competitions, mainly focused on the issues of the day, and Mondays were set aside for meetings for the literary societies, and this is the one, we would call it extracurricular activity of college life then. Students went to class, students worked, students studied.

There were no sports or any extracurricular activities except for these literary societies. Men and women would attend each other's society meetings and hear each other's speeches, and that would be a chance for them to socialize. The point is that's where the students would develop deep friendship bonds as students addressed the issues of the day and interacted with each other, not just intellectually, but also socially. And we've been listening to Hillsdale College Professor Peter Jennings tell the story of Hillsdale College.

They loved freedom of citizenship, and that's why they oppose slavery. More of this remarkable story of Hillsdale College here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to innovation, culture, and faith are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.

Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot, and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

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Peter Jennings continues with the story. In the 1850s, especially the last part of the decade, 1855, 56, 57, as the slavery and secession issue heated up, you have the Dred Scott, you have the Kansas-Nebraska Act, you had this ratcheting up of the tension between north and south, slavery, anti-slavery. And that was the dominant political, not just political, but social cultural theme that was on everybody's minds back then in this sense that where the country is heading towards potentially civil war. And during this time, Lincoln is in politics, Republican party is formed.

And with his election in 1860, that was the final straw that caused the south to succeed. And the point I'm getting at is in these years, particularly the last five or six years leading up to Lincoln's election, our students were heavily engaged primarily through the instrument of these literary societies, thinking about, writing about, working out their ideas on these very important political issues and figuring out where we stand on these important debates. And our students were active politically in Republican party and getting Lincoln elected, for example, and other issues. So it was during this time that our students were taking their education, the things that they were learning in the classroom and applying and testing and working out those principles through these literary societies, as they apply to the issues of the day and figuring out where they stand both as individuals and as a community.

And that was sort of laid the groundwork for getting ahead in the story a little bit. When Fort Sumter was attacked and Lincoln called for volunteers, our students had spent the years leading up to that point, wrestling with the issues of the day, working out their principles and taking their stand in essays and in debates and things like that. So that when the call finally came, our students were ready to go. The very day, so Fort Sumter was attacked on April 12th, three days later on the 15th, Lincoln issued his call for 75,000 volunteers. That day, that very day that Hillsdale College students received word of Lincoln's call for volunteers, the students formed themselves into a battalion who got right out in front of Central Hall in the central quad of the campus, formed themselves into a battalion.

They elected a professor as a commander and they wired a message to the governor, Austin Blair, who's a former Hillsdale College faculty, wired a message to him that day saying the Hillsdale College rifles, volunteer rifles is formed and ready for service. They knew exactly where they stood and they knew exactly the response to the attack on Fort Sumter was twofold. One, it was an insult. It was an insult to the honor of the United States, the country that they love. Their response was patriotic in that sense. And the second response was the slavery question now has to be decided. The attack on Fort Sumter made it clear this slavery question has now to be decided by force of arms. The Southerners had forced it and our stance on a slavery issue was simple. Slavery must die. So these students were committed to one, preserving the union and two, abolishing slavery.

And the union was worthy of preserving not for itself but because the union was committed in the declaration to liberty for everybody. And these boys of ours put down their books and picked up their rifles and they served. We have quite an extraordinary service record. My count right now is we had 503 students, Hillsdale College students, serve in the army during the Civil War. And that includes active students but also former students or alumni.

And some interesting facts about these students. All of them were volunteers. We actually had more students trying to volunteer than there were spaces available.

Some of our students were turned away because the units were already filled up. So we had about 500 students serve, all of them volunteers, all of them for the union. About half of that 500 became officers. What's notable about our students is overwhelmingly they all enlisted, joined the ranks as enlisted soldiers first. And then many of them became officers after they had proved themselves as worthy soldiers and as leaders. About a dozen of them became senior officers, regimental commanders or above. Four of them became general officers. Many of those students acquitted themselves with exceptional courage or valor.

Four of our students were recipients of the Medal of Honor. Of that 500, 100 of them made the ultimate sacrifice, were killed in service. And of that 500, 130 suffered grievous and debilitating wounds such that they were discharged for disability. So that's 100 that were killed, 130 that were disabled.

That's 230 out of 500. That's a 45 percent casualty rate. That's an extraordinary record of service and sacrifice.

In fact, there's a quote from one of the leading newspapers, a Detroit newspaper called the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune in June of 1864. It wrote that quote, quote, probably no college in the country is better represented in the Union Army than Hillsdale. It has sent its young men to the war by the hundreds and they have watered with their blood every battlefield and republic.

And that's not hyperbole. We had kids of the 500, about half served in the east in the Army of the Potomac. We had kids, for example, we had 37 of our kids were volunteers in the 4th Michigan Infantry and the 4th Michigan was part of the Army of the Potomac from the first Bull Run to Appomattox. And our kids fought in every major battle in the east from Bull Run to the Peninsula Campaign to the second Bull Run and Antietam and Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. We had 53 students that fought at Gettysburg and then the Overland Campaign Wilderness in Petersburg all the way through. And the other half of our students, actually slightly more than half, served in the Western Theater. Under Grant and Sherman, we had students fight at Shiloh in Vicksburg, Chattanooga Campaign, Sherman's march to Atlanta, then his march to the sea. So our students fought in both east and west theaters and we had students involved in all the major battles and campaigns of the war. So when the newspaper says that we've sent its young men to the war by the hundreds and we've watered with our blood every battlefield in the Republic, that's not hyperbole.

That's actually fact. And it's fascinating. Just one little aside anecdote here. Last summer, my wife and I were driving down to Huntsville, Alabama to pick our daughter up who was at the NASA Space Camp. And on our way down, we stopped at some Civil War battlefields in Perryville and then Chattanooga Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga. And it's incredible to see as a Hillsdale College faculty, you can see some of the plaques, some of the monuments and plaques at those battlefields where the commander's name is listed. And it's a Hillsdale College student. And you can see, you know, where Hillsdale College students fought and where many of them died.

And so it's an extraordinary service record. And we've been listening to Professor Peter Jennings of Hillsdale College tell one heck of a story. All of that classical learning they were doing, they were applying to real life matters and concerns.

And one day, it wasn't just essays they were writing. They had to show up and fight. And indeed they did. They did by messaging the governor that they were strapped up and ready for service.

The slavery question they knew had to be responded to by force. These boys of ours, the professor said, put down their books and served. Five hundred and three served in the army. All were volunteers. Four were recipients of the Medal of Honor. One hundred lost their lives. One hundred and thirty were disabled. Forty five percent casualty rate.

When we come back, more of this remarkable story of selflessness and courage and service here on Our American Story. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

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Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we return to our American stories and to Hillsdale College professor Peter Jennings, who had just told us about the reaction of Hillsdale students to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter and how they enlisted in the Union Army by the hundreds. Peter Jennings continues with the story. As college men back then, less than 2% of the total population were college graduates, smaller number, much smaller number than today. So to be a college student back then, to be a college graduate was somewhat exceptional. And what's interesting about our kids is that they enlisted, accepted the place and pay of regular soldiers in the ranks rather than pursue plush positions that they could very easily have sought after as college kids. They would have had access to privileged positions, political positions.

They could have pulled wires. That would have been something they could have very easily done as it was commonplace back then. Our kids didn't. They enlisted and they enlisted because that's the kind of kids they were because they weren't elite privileged kids. These were, as I mentioned earlier before, most of our kids were poor kids that grew up on the frontier and they're used to working and they had a deep sense of proper sense of humility and they weren't going to shirk and try and get out on easy duty.

When it came to a fight, they were going to shoulder rifles and do the fighting. What's interesting though is they were college kids and they were Christians and so they were a little different than the average soldier in the rank, particularly in the western units comprised of western men out here on the frontier, a rougher breed of man. Our kids didn't drink.

They didn't swear. They didn't play poker and they didn't engage in the camp brawls. So camp life in the army back then, especially in these western units, was involved a lot of alcohol and a lot of poker and a lot of swearing and a lot of fighting and things like that and our kids didn't partake in any of that. And so you can imagine when these Christian kids who don't drink and don't swear and don't play poker around men who do those things, those rough men can think that our kids are stuck up and maybe don't have the stomach or the grit for fighting.

So that was some of the initial impression that our kids had to deal with. And there's a fascinating and interesting story from one of our student soldiers back then, a young man named Henry McGee who served in the 4th Michigan Infantry. He describes how our boys earned their spurs, earned the respect of their fellow soldiers. He talks about one of the first major engagements that the 4th Michigan was involved in. It was in July of 1862, a year before Gettysburg, McClellan's peninsula campaign, Battle of Malvern Hill. The Union Army had been driven back by Robert E. Lee's confederate forces until they got to a place called Malvern Hill and their backs were up against the James River.

A stand had to finally be made and the 4th Michigan Infantry was called upon to hold a position in the key position on Malvern Hill. And our kids were in the front rank. And Henry McGee describes how our kids fought. And I'll quote here from Henry McGee, he says, on that terrible day, each college boy there held a position in the front rank of the company and in the fiercest of that fierce battle storm where every man to the right of me in the front rank of the company had been shot and where four men nearest me had dropped, one after the other, two dead and two wounded.

But then no college boy flinched. Each held his place full to the front on that awful death line, fighting until the battle was won. Then was demonstrated, McGee says, in that most trying hour the regiment ever knew that the college conscience, the student discipline, and the patriotic purpose was good for any emergency.

Every college boy did his whole duty. That's what McGee writes. And he also goes on to explain how after the battle, when in the evening, when the unit is still camped there on that battlefield, McGee describes how he overheard some of the other town boys he calls him talking about the battle that day.

And he hears one of the town boys say how like hell them college boys did fight. We have four recipients of the medal of honor and each of those are stories in themselves. One of them, this is again the 4th Michigan, it involves two of our students from 4th Michigan, Asher LaFleur, I think I mentioned him earlier, and another student named Moses Luce. This is, I told you a story about the 4th Michigan fighting in Malvern Hill during the peninsula campaign in 1862. Another story comes in 1864. Grant is now in command of the Army of Potomac and he starts his overland campaign down in Virginia to try and crush Lee. And it begins with the battle in the wilderness with which the 4th Michigan took part in. And then that led right into the battle of Spotsylvania. And the 4th Michigan is fighting in that. And there was an attack on Laurel Hill during the battle of Spotsylvania that the 4th Michigan charged across this open field up a hill to some Confederate positions.

Confederate positions were well dug in, well entrenched, and it was a strong position. The 4th attacked early in the morning and were driven back. And Moses Luce is a sergeant at this time and he's leading his squad in the attack, but the regiment's driven back so they fall back to their original line. Moses Luce takes his squad back to the original line, but when he gets back to the original line he hears somebody calling out his name.

Says Luce, help me, I'm down. And he recognizes the voice. It's the voice of his college friend Asher Lafleur. So Moses Luce at this, after just retreating from the field of battle, hears that voice and he turns around and he jumps over this little fence line and he runs back out into the battlefield, out to find his friend Asher Lafleur who's somewhere out there. And the rebels are shooting at him.

Luce describes how he hears the rounds whizzing by his head as he's running out there. He finally finds his friend Asher Lafleur who sprawled out on the ground. He had taken a grape shot in the leg and his leg was severed below the knee. Asher Lafleur was bleeding out. He says, help me, I'm bleeding out. Moses Luce gets down on the ground, applies a tourniquet and then puts Asher, his friend, up on his back.

Fireman's kind of carry and tries to get up to carry him back to his lines. So he gets Asher Lafleur up and he's heading back towards his line and he can hear the shooting again. The rebels are shooting at him and he's trying to get Asher back to his little fight. He saves Asher's life, gets him back to his lines and takes him behind the lines to the regimental surgeon and ends up saving Asher's life, saving his college friend's life. And it was for that action that Moses Luce was sometime later awarded the Medal of Honor. You know, it was interesting, Moses wrote about that incident after the war. When he's running out to get Asher, he describes seeing the rebels shooting at him and hearing the rounds whizzing by his head and he gets down on the ground helping Asher and he can still hear the rebels shooting at him and he picks Asher up and he can still hear the rebels shooting at him and he can hear the rounds flying by.

But then as he starts running back towards his line, he noted that the rebels stopped shooting. As brutal and as vicious as that Civil War combat was, those soldiers north and south still maintained some aspect of civility, some code of honor that they recognized what Moses Luce was doing for his friend and saving his life and so they stopped firing at some point. And you've been listening to Professor Peter Jennings of Hillsdale College tell one heck of a story about the Hillsdale students who served in the Civil War. They enlisted rather than pursue plush positions and my goodness, so they were college kids and Christians, though they didn't drink, cuss, fight, or play poker. They could fight in battle. No college boy flinched and each held his place on that awful death line. Henry McGee reported about the 4th Michigan Infantry and the Hillsdale soldiers. Every college boy did his duty.

How like hell, those college boys did fight. When we come back, more of this remarkable story here on Our American Stories. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

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Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we return to our American stories. We just heard Hillsdale College professor Peter Jennings tell some stories of Hillsdale College students fighting in the Civil War. One story of valor stands out above the others.

Peter Jennings continues with the story of a student, a flag, and a Pennsylvania wheat field. The battle for the wheat field happened on the second day. So, Gettysburg was a three-day battle, July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. So, on July 2nd, second day of battle, Lee, the rebels under Longstreet's corps, was attacking that southern, it was the southern or the left flank of the Union line. And Lee's goal was to flank the Union army and roll up and crush the army of the Potomac.

The hope, the idea was this would be a decisive victory if you destroy the Union army there at Gettysburg, then there's nothing left between the rebel army and Washington. Everybody remembers Pickett's Charge, which is on the third day, but it's really on the second day that the decisive fighting occurred. And on that second day, on that left flank, there were brutal, bitter, furious fighting. Some of the most furious, fiercest, bloodiest fighting of the war occurred.

Names that we still recognize today, Devil's Den, Little Round Top, everybody knows the story of Chamberlain on Little Round Top. And then the fighting moved to a little 20-acre piece of ground there on that flank called the Wheatfield. And this is where some of the most intense, vicious fighting occurred that day. The Union third corps was assigned to hold that portion of the line and they had been driven back. Longstreet's corps was threatening to break through in the vicinity of the Wheatfield and flank the Union line. So General Meade, who's in overall command of the Union, had been shoving reinforcements, reserves, reinforcements into that area of the battlefield to try and stop the rebel tide. One of the units that was sent into the Wheatfield is the 4th Michigan. The 4th Michigan had made a 24-hour force march all night long to get to Gettysburg to get to the battlefield that morning. And it was a long, hot march.

Temperatures were north of 90 degrees. They had little food, little water, little rest. When they got to Gettysburg though, they were issued extra ammunition. And the veterans then of that unit knew that they were going to be in for a fight.

They were given little time to rest. They were called up and thrown into the Wheatfield to push back the rebel advance. The 4th Michigan was on battle line and attacking across this Wheatfield to engage the rebels on the far side. And just as our guys got to the far side and began to engage the rebels to their front, they got hit by fire coming from their right and rear. There was a tree line to their right and rear. And there was supposed to have been Union troops up in that tree line, but it turns out those Union troops had all been driven back. And now there were rebels in that tree line. So the 4th Michigan found that they had rebels to their front and then three regiments of rebels in a tree line to the right rear who were charging. So the 4th, the commander of the 4th, his name was Harrison Jeffords, attempted to turn the 4th about to face the rebels that were coming from the right and rear. Again, they were swept with a hail of lead and then the rebels charged, screaming the rebel yell with bayonets fixed, charging right into the Union line.

There wasn't time enough for Jeffords to get the 4th to wheel about. So they were quickly engulfed, surrounded, and a melee of hand-to-hand fighting ensued. And in that fight, the 4th Michigan's battle flag was captured. Now, here's the thing with flags, particularly something to take note of, since in our contemporary culture, we tend to not understand the full meaning and significance of the flag the way they used to then. Back then, the flag was the country.

It had great significance. And when regiments like the 4th Michigan were formed up, these are local regiments, so 4th Michigan, the state-based regiments, they're formed up, most of them were formed up in little towns like Hillsdown, Jonesville, 4th Michigan, Hillsdale, Jonesville, and Adrian, they were formed up. And then when they were going to leave their home state and head, in this case, to the east of Washington, D.C., there would be a final ceremony, a send-off ceremony.

In our case, for the 4th Michigan, their designated hometown was Adrian. So in Adrian, they had a formal ceremony where the whole town showed up and the whole local government showed up and all the soldiers there in uniform in formation. And it was customary then that the women of the town sewed battle colors and would present in a ceremony these battle colors to the commander of the Union.

And that had happened in Adrian with the 4th Michigan. The women had prepared battle colors and they had sewn on the American flag these battle colors that were defended. And Harrison Jeffers, the commander, received the battle colors and he made a speech which was customary and he swore that these colors would never fall into enemy hands, that they would defend those colors with their lives. Well, here they are in the wheat field in this melee and the rebels had captured the flag. Jeffers saw that the flag had been captured and he rallied himself and a few of his other officers that were close to him.

They rallied them to go charge and take back the flag, so they did. They charged and Jeffers charged and killed the rebel who had the flag and he grabbed the flag, took possession of it, but he was immediately killed. He was shot, cut down by two rebels and as soon as Jeffers was cut down and the flag was taken back by the rebels, one of Jeffers' lieutenants, a young man by the name of Richard Sieg, killed the rebel who killed Jeffers and he took the flag back. So now Sieg has possession of the flag, but he's immediately cut down.

He's shot twice in the chest and bayoneted by a third rebel and Sieg falls and the melee goes on like that. And within minutes, 39 Michigan men are dead or dying on the battlefield and the fight went on like that for the flag. Eventually, the 4th Michigan was outnumbered and overrun and driven off the field, but they regrouped with other Union forces and after three hours of fighting, the Union line held and they drove the rebels back out of the wheat field. The flag was lost.

We don't know to this day. We don't know what happened to the flag. We think it may have just been torn up, just lost in the melee, but the battle to save the flag there in the wheat field was a rallying point that helped save the wheat field, hold the line, perhaps the battle in the day for the Union.

So the fight that day, there's dozens of instances of fighting, desperate fighting like this. And this battle for the flag in the wheat field is one of those instances where young men for the Union rallied to fight and save the day. And the thing that's significant about the fight to save the flag, significant to our college, is in the 4th Michigan were 37 young men from our college. That day, there was some 23 still standing that were fighting engaged in the wheat field. Many of them were wounded.

Two of them were killed. And in that battle for the flag, that young man, that young Lieutenant, Richard Sieg, was a Hillsdale College student. And he grabbed that flag and raised it aloft to try and rally his soldiers, fellow soldiers, before he was cut down. But that moment when Sieg grabs that battle flag and raises it aloft, that was the inspiration for, we have a statue in front of our center of our campus of a Union soldier holding a battle flag aloft. And that act of raising the flag aloft, the battle flag aloft, amidst that combat, that melee sort of symbolizes the whole Civil War experience for our college and for what our boys did. But that famous battle for the flag in the wheat field was a significant event in the Hillsdale College service during the Civil War. The Civil War statue, which was dedicated June 20th, 1895, it was placed front and center of our campus.

This soldier boy, this enlisted soldier, holding this battle flag aloft. It's not just a memorial. They put that statue up as an object lesson.

The day of the dedication, there was a whole program with a whole series of speeches. And one of the professors, a professor named Ambler, William Ambler, he gave a speech and described with that statue what it stands for, what it means. He says, enthusiastic patriotism, not a soldier at parade rest, not a sentinel on guard, but rather a fighter, one who dares, who challenges the world in defense of right.

A student soldier boy who in the midst of battle, seen the colors fall, sees the broken staff, and fearlessly holds aloft the starry banner. So that's the description that Ambler gives of the statue. Patriotism, honor, courage, duty, that's the lesson of the statue. And that statue symbolizes who we are and what we stand for.

And a terrific job on the production by Carter, who is himself a Hillsdale student, and a special thanks to Peter Jennings, a professor at Hillsdale College. That story about that flag, the flag was lost in the melee, but the battle to save that flag, well, it changed the battle of Gettysburg, it changed the Civil War. In the end, it may have changed American history. And that statue in front of the college isn't a mere memorial. It's an object lesson. Enthusiastic patriotism is what it stands for, honor, courage, and duty. And the reason these men fought in this war, the word liberty, and it applied to all men and women, and that was black or white. The story of Hillsdale College and the Civil War here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 23:14:23 / 2023-02-16 23:29:51 / 15

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