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George Washington Butterfield (1843-1919)
Native of Utica, Michigan, moved to Bay City after the Civil War.

1883 biography. - Added NOv., 2010.

History of Bay County, Michigan - 1883

G. W. Butterfield.

G. W. Butterfield is a native of Michigan. He was born at Utica, Macomb County, in 1843, where he remained until nineteen years of age. On the breaking out of the late civil war he enlisted in Company B, 22d Michigan Infantry, Col. Wisner's regiment, August 7, 1862. In November of the same year, was transferred to the signal corps, where he served in al the principal campaigns of the West under different Generals, among whom were Generals Rosencrans, Thomas, Grant and Sherman, including the campaign of Atlanta and the Carolinas; also Sherman's famous march to the sea. He was present at the surrender of Johnston in 1865, May, 23 took part in the Grand Review at Washington, and on July 10, 1865, at St. Louis received an hororable discharge. He then returned to Michigan and settled at Lapeer, where he remained until 1869; then wishing to try his luck elsewhere, went to Kansas, where he resided until 1874, when he returned to Michigan, and in the Spring of 1875 settled in Hampton, where he engaged in the dairy business, supplying milk for city use. Married in 1866 to Miss Amanda E. Hicks, of Lapeer, Mich. Has three children, J. H, Katie M. and Ira W.

1894 Civil War recognition. Contributied by Jim Petrimoulx, Mar, 2009.


Read Before

Of The

Of The

Volume 2.

From December 7, 1893, to May 5, 1894.

By Lyman G. Wilcox

Major 3rd Michigan Cavalry
(Read April 5, 1894)

The battlefields of our Civil War have a background of deeper interest to the student of history and to the patriot than the struggle of contending armies. The glow of the strife dims in the mists of passing years, but the causes and conditions which gave it birty and sustained it were living principles.

The military student will always find in the movement of armies a mine of great value. But to the statesman and citizen the moral, the mental and the physical conditions of the people behind the soldiers in the field, will be of dominating importance.

In considering questions arising from conditions of war, one is not confined to pictures of battlefields; although death struggles appeal more directly to emotions, and thus seem the most interesting. Behind the actual struggle and intermingled with it, lie the cause of action and the motives of the actors. Individuals, the home circle, society and organizations give the impetus to war and color its action down to the close of the conflict. More than the method of war, back of the living confederacy, glowing or latent in the hearts of the people in the Southern section of our country and permeating the entire conflict, were personal ambition and moral forces which acted subtly and powerfully in shaping its currents.

Before and during the war the people of the South were throttled by a military force, or rather a mental and physical force.

So far as the Confederate army was concerned, it was but an enlarged and strengthened normal condition of the South, officered and directed by an imperious oligarchy. In peace the South was a semi-military camp. Except as to a slave-holding caste, she had lost personal liberty, mentally and physically. Armed oppression had already awed and intimidated and enslaved the masses. Little wonder, then that the South was so easily and speedily launched on a sea of strife and struggled so fiercely to destroy the nation's life. The exclamation of Lee then told of the surrender of Twiggs to the Secession authorities of Texas, “that the liberty of great people is buried in the ruins of a great nation,” was the expression of a desire. It was the object of the strife and the goal which the leaders of the rebellion wished to reach.

Slavery and liberty could not live together, and the Southern leaders had determined that slavery should live on the grave of liberty. The glowing embers of war flashed into flame and armies marched over the Southern land, carrying desolation and death to her homes. But floating in a clear sky, above the heads of the national combatants, was the banner of freedom, an emblem of mutual peace, liberty and union.

That the struggle gave rise to acts of heroism on either side which have become the pride and honor of a common country, is a fact of pleasant memory for the past and a guaranty of security for the future. Among those acts of heroism, I will relate a little incident, which for intelligent action in the performance of duty, and for personal courage, is, in my opinion, unsurpassed in the annuals of war.

The actor is a resident of Bay City, a member of the Board of Education, and now and for the last five years engaged in the humble duties of letter carrier. I have known this modest hero several years. He is as honorable in the humble walks of civil life as he was brave in war, a typical soldier, patriot and citizen. Born in the town of Shelby, Macomb County, Michigan, the war found George W. Butterfield, a lad of nineteen years of age, teaching a common district school in the township of Avon, Oakland County. He enlisted in the Twenty-second Regiment, Michigan Infantry, left the State with his regiment, and soon after reaching the front was detailed from his regiment on special duty. He had been in the service but a few months, and had a short time before received his baptism of fire.

In was on June the 4th, 1863, about four o'clock in the afternoon. He was attached to the Signal Corps and stationed about eighteen miles south of Nashville, near Franklin, Tenn., on the Harpeth river. The point was occupied by a small force of observation distributed along the bank of the river and commanded by Colonel Baird. Pickets were posted at the end of the bridge on the opposite bank of the stream, not three hundred yards away. The signal station was an elevated platform near the bank, in full view of the river, and in communication with another signal station three miles distant towards Nashville, where there was a considerable Union force. The Rebels occupied Columbia, a short distance back from the river, with a strong force under Van Dorn.

About four o'clock in the afternoon the picket stationed at the end of the bridge across the river was attacked and retired, bringing with them a prisoner, who reported that the Confederate General Forrest was preparing to attack with 12,000 men. After changing a few shots with the enemy across the river, Col. Baird rode up to Lieut. Howgate, who was in charge of the signal station, and directed him to signal to the next station the presence of the enemy in force, and ask for reinforcements. Lieut. Howgate, after preparing the message, called for a volunteer to signal it. Private Johnson stepped forward and seized the flag and mounted the platform, but before he had attained a standing position the Rebels, not three hundred yards distant, fired a full volley and Johnson fell, pierced with six bullets. Another call was made for a volunteer to take his place, but the exposed position, the strength of the enemy and their evident purpose to prevent the signaling , made the attempt hopeless and certain death to the man who should venture it. A private then suggested to Col. Baird accepted the suggestion and dispatched a mounted man at once. After about fifteen minutes this messenger returned, hatless, his horse in a foam, and reported a strong force of th enemy between the stations.

Col. Baird then said the message must be delivered. Lieut. Howgate directed the five men of his station to draw cuts, and marked figures, one to five, on strips of paper, number one to flag the message. No. five was drawn first, then No. two, and then drew No. one. It was nearly the first time he had heard the whistle of bullets, being new in the field. The next day he would be twenty years of age, and what seemed to him the certainty of death, made the situation a trying one, and for a moment unnerved him, but after a moment he recovered himself and signified his determination to make the effort. Taking off his coat and seizing the flag, he mounted the platform and was greeted with a storm of lead. But he waved his flag, received a response, then signaled the message, though before its conclusion a battery had joined the musketry fire and was hurling shells at the station. As the last words were delivered by the waving flag, the messenger fell in a faint from the platform and was picked up by his comrades ad dead. An examination showed, however, that his body was unscathed. Four bullets had passed through his trousers, two through his sleeve, and the top of his cap was shot away. The flag used by him was struck by 142 bullets. It was more than a week before Comrade Butterfield recovered from the nervous shock he had sustained, but he was consoled by the fact that he had delivered the message, without a single mistake, and that timely help arrived and drove Forrest from the field. Even the enemy recognized the heroism of the deed, through the vigorous expression of a prisoner who was brought in during the evening, and who first words were, “I want to see the man who waved that flag. His is the bravest man this side of hill.”

1919 death notice. Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Mar, 2009.

Bay City Times Tribune - Tuesday October 7, 1919 (Page 1)

The City’s Oldest Mail Carrier Dead

George W. Butterfield Succumbs
This Morning After Lingering Illness

George W. Butterfield, aged 76 years died at his home 2600 Center avenue at 9:30 o’clock this morning , after an illness of about three months. Mr. Butterfield was the oldest mail carrier employed at the local post office having served for thirty years. He was a member of the board of education for twelve years.

Mr. Butterfield was born in Utica, Michigan in 1843. He later resided in Lapeer. He was a veteran of the civil war, going through some exciting experiences . After the war he came to Bay City. His work as a mail carrier began in 1889 and since that time has been in the employ of the local post office . “ He was always cheerful ,always happy and always on the job” said Mr. Miller the local postmaster, in speaking of Mr. Butterfield this morning. He was taken sick about three months ago and at that time he was under the impression that he had the influenza , but his condition slowly became worse until death came .

He is survived by two daughters Kate and Olive and three sons Ira H. Butterfield, George E. Butterfield and all of this city.

Additional Notes:

    1866 - Michigan Marriages: Lapeer, Mich.

  • Date: Mar. 21, 1866.
  • Butterfied, George W., b. 1844
  • Hicks, Amanda E., b. 1845

    1887 - Michigan Marriages: E. Saginaw, Saginaw Co., Mich.

  • Date: Sept. 13, 1887.
  • Butterfield, George, b. 1843, Utica, Mich.
  • Banks, Alice, b. 1865 Canada.
  • Official: Franklin Noble, minister.
  • Witnesses: Mrs. E.P. Noble & Mary Newick.

    1895 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City, Mich.

  • Date: May 8, 1895.
  • Grome: Butterrfield, J.H., b. 1869 Lapeer, Mich., son of Geo. W. Butterfield & Amanda E. Hicks.
  • Bride: Armstrong, Eva H., b. 1872 Missouri, daughter of Wm. Armstrong & Rebecca J. Laing.
  • Official: Peter E. Nichol, minister.
  • Witnesses: Will K. Armstrong & Gertrude Layton.

    1900 Census - Bay City, Mich.

  • 2610 Center Ave.
  • Butterfield, George, W. - head, b. June 1841, age 59, Mich.
  • Alice, wife, b. June 1861, age 34, Canada
  • Ira, son, Jan. 1889, age 18, Mich.
  • George Jr., son, b. Dec. 1880, age 16, Mich.
  • Howard, son, Jan. 1890, age 10, Mich.
  • Olive, daughter, Jan 1896, age 4, Mich.

  • 2612 Center Ave. (son of Geo.
  • Butterfield, J.H. son, Jan. 1869, age 31,
  • Iva Helen, wife, Oct. 1871, 20, Missouri
  • Gertrude Helen, daughter, April 1896, age 4, Mich.
  • Florence May, daughter, Dec. 1898, age 1, Mich.
  • McGloy, Fred, cousin, May 1879, age 21, Canada
  • Piggott, Francis, servant, Oct. 1879, age 20, Ireland
Related Pages/Notes

Geo. W. Butterfield

Burial: Elm Lawn Cem., Bay City, Bay, MI.
Related pages:
Local Civil War History
People Referenced
Armstrong, Eva H.
Armstrong, Wm.
Baird, Col.
Banks, Alice (2-wife)
Butterfield, Florence M (g-dau)
Butterfield, Geo. E. (son)
Butterfield, Geo. W. (subject)
Butterfield, Gertrude (g-dau)
Butterfield, Howard
Butterfield, Ira W. (son)
Butterfield, J.H. (son)
Butterfield, Katie M. (dau.)
Butterfield, Olive (dau.)
Forrest, Gen.
Grant, Gen.
Hicks, Amanda E. (1-wife)
Howgate, Lt.
Johnson, Private
Layton, Rebecca J.
Lee, Robert E. Gen.
McGloy, Fred
Miller, Mr.
Newick, Mary
Nichol, Peter E. Rev.
Noble, Franklin Rev.
Noble, E.P. Mrs.
Piggott, Francis
Rosencrans, Gen.
Sherman, Gen.
Thomas, Gen.
Van Dorn,
Wilcox, Lyman Maj.
Subjects Referenced
3d MI Infantry 22d MI Infantry
Avon, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Civil War
Columbia, TN
Confederate army
E. Sagianw, MI
Franklin, TN
Hampton Twp. Bay MI
Harpeth river, TN
Lapeer, MI
Macomb Co., MI
Nashville, TN
Oakland Co., MI
Saginaws Co., MI
Shelby, MI
St. Louis, MO
Utica, MI
Union army
Washington, DC
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.