George E. Marshall


Pvt. George E. Marshall of Co. D

George E. Marshall (1829-1863) was a Private in Co. D of the Fourth Mich.

A descendant provides the following biographical sketch for George:

George E. Marshall, born 14 October 1829, emigrated from Methlick, Scotland in 1858 on board the Barque Immigrant.

George mustered into the 4th Michigan on 21 September 1861. During the service, he heard the shelling during the “Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack” off Hampton Roads, Virginia. He was sick and wounded and in a general hospital and convalescent camp at Alexandria, Virginia, from November 1862 to May 1863.

George was captured during the fighting in the wheat field at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863 . As a prisoner, he was taken to the Belle Isle Prison in the James River at Richmond. Suffering from malnutrition and exposure, he was taken into a Richmond Hospital on 21 October 1863 where he died. He lies buried in an unmarked grave.


[awaiting authorization to publish diary and letters]

Sample of George’s diary:


…through the woods with doleful sounds as I walk my lonely beat or take shelter beneath a few old rails that is piled up round a big tree and is called a picket fort.

This afternoon, Mr. Finch — the spy — and Morrell’s aid bring in a prisoner and a corporal’s guard takes him to Gen. Porter. He looked to [be] an old sailor. He had a big bundle carrying rolled up in a piece of old carpet and below his arm a piece of white blanket. They say he is a dumb man and get get nothing out of him.

… [hollow] square and Washington’s Farewell Address read by the chaplain. Then speeches made [by] Col. Childs, Capt. DePew, [and] Lt. Jeffords. That done, Griffin’s Battery of regular artillery fired a salute of 21 guns. Then the 4th Rhode Island Battery fired the same and in every direction we could hear the booming of cannon of the 6 to the thunder of the 64 pounders.

Tents and overturned ambulances and wagons rooted up Tuesday and blew one man of his horse. It likewise did considerable damage in the city, blowing over some buildings  and unroofing houses, blowing down chimneys so that it [was] dangerous to walk in the streets. A good many accidents happened by the falling of brick but none very serious. Our sutler’s tent was blown over and all his things blown away but no one is very sorry.


… Brigade to General Morrell this afternoon. They marched up to the Generals with two bands playing and then came 5 wagon loads of ladies & gentlemen from Washington. After the General received his flag and some speeches made by several of the officers, the whiskey began to flow pretty freely — so much so that most of our officers came home drunk and sang and drank whiskey all night.

Our regiment was honored by being the first embarked, and the Generals on board the same boat. When we came opposite the rebel batteries, there was 3 gunboats cruising along and one of them kept between our boat and the rebel batteries all the way down the river while the other 2 kept cruising before us to see if the rebels would honor us with a shot. But they did not make the attempt.


The country all along the banks of the river was very pretty and appeared to be first rate land but badly cultivated. The river varies from 1 to 5 miles [wide] all the way down from Alexandria to Fortress Monroe.

We marched through the village of Hampton which the rebels burned a year ago. We saw the smoke of Big Bethel, another village that the rebels burned last night.

+ some 40 rods from us and very soon there was another, so we halted under cover of a small knoll till the artillery came up and then the work commenced in earnest. Shot and shell flew both ways thick and fast for over 1 hour, then halted on both sides.

We had none wounded on our side — only one of the battery boys in the leg. He had it amputated immediately. Our men lay down when the shells were flying and ate their hard crackers as if nothing had been going on. Sometimes a shell would come and cut off the tops of the trees above our heads after they got the range. Thank God, however, no one was hurt in our regiment.


In the afternoon the cavalry made a charge on our skirmishers but our artillery soon drove them back with a few shots. We lay here most of the day under cover of the woods and sent out skirmishers to watch their motions. About 2 P.M.. another brigade came on to another fortification on our left and heavy cannonading kept up for about an hour. Then it died away to an occasional shot every few minutes. About dark, there was one man wounded in the neck belonging to Company C but not severely.

…Withdrawn and the place supplied with a regiment, so accordingly about 1 o’clock, they came and our men kept still till they were within a few yards ad then gave them a very warm reception. The rebels thought discretion the better part of valor and retired till about 3 when they came with the intention of picking up their dead and wounded. They received another reception of the same kind. They then thought it prudent to stay at home.


… in repulsing a whole brigade with a loss of only 1 killed and 7 wounded. General McClellan met the regiment on their way home and complimented both officers and men for their bravery and told them it was the most splendid affair of the whole campaign.

… and had a pretty hot contest for about 5 hours. However, we succeeded in driving them from their position and got possession of a train of ammunition and burnt a bridge. The 44 and 25 New York suffered most. Our regiment was not in the fight. I have not heard the number of killed on either side yet but I saw 33 of them in two files this morning and 12 of the 25 N. Y. and I saw 339 prisoners go along this morning. There were in all 507 prisoners besides what were killed and wounded.

… and held it for about 7 hours against a force 5 times our number. Then they broke in on our left flank and right flank so the whole column gave way for about a ¼ of a mile and then rallied. At the same time, we received reinforcements and drove them back to our old position and held it for that night. We lost all knapsacks and blankets and had to lay down on the ground and sleep.