Who We Are:
In 1862, Company E, one of ten companies in the regiment, was raised with volunteers from Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, as well as from Jackson and Washtenaw Counties. Since many of the volunteers were students, alumni, or faculty of the Michigan Normal School (now known as Eastern Michigan University), Company E became known as the Normal School Company.
In 1972 the Seventeenth Michigan was reactivated as the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment Company E, Inc., a non-profit educational organization dedicated to preserving the heritage of the turbulent days of the War of the Rebellion (the official name of the conflict as recorded in the National Archives). We are a family of men, women, and children who share a love of history and a desire to “experience” the tumultuous 1860’s through local and national reenactments. We aim to share that experience and educate the public about the experiences of the men in the war and the families at home supporting the war effort. Lastly, we are dedicated to honoring the brave men and women that served our country during the four years of conflict.
A five member Board of Trustees (elected for two-year terms) oversees the corporate business of the 17th Michigan. Military officers and NCOs are elected yearly. Current Board members include:
President: Gerald Turlo
Vice-president: Nicholas Miner
Treasurer: Gary Pritchard
Secretary: Jeanenne Reichenbach
Event Coordinator: Stephanie Miner
Conduct: G. Turlo, S. Miner, N. Miner Captain: Nicholas Miner
Military: G.Turlo, N. Miner, B. Ziemba, M. Music 1st Sgt: Charles Turlo
Historical: G. Pritchard and W. Ziemba
Civilian: D. Lum, M. Breeding, J. Reichenbach, J. Schubert, E. Smith
What We Do:
As a military unit our goal is to portray the infantry soldier who served in the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. This involves acquisition of the necessary equipment, drill in the School of the Soldier, School of the Company, and School of the Battalion, and training in the safe handling, loading, and firing of a 58 caliber musket. We emphasize a “first person” impression to experience the life of a civil war soldier in and out of camp. We attend local and national reenactments to further enhance our experiences.
The goal of our civilian members is to portray the life of the men, women, and children who sent their husbands, sons, and other family members to war. A first person impression is also emphasized. Members have the option of portraying any “special impression” appropriate to the time period, such as a politician sutler, etc. Civilians also attend local and national reenactments.
In many Civil War Re-enactment organizations the civilian aspects of the war years are often overshadowed by the military events; but not in the 17th Michigan. Today’s 17th Michigan realizes that soldiers were citizens who left their homes and families to support their government in the struggle to re-unite the country. The soldier’s link to home was very important. The men looked forward to letters and packages from home. Mothers, wives, and sweethearts sent food, extra articles of clothing, along with the all-important news of family and friends. Concerned citizens formed soldier’s relief societies to supplement the efforts of the US Sanitary Commission (forerunner of today's American Red Cross), and the US Christian Commission, to protect the soldiers physical and spiritual health. Because of this link, and the fact that the 17th Michigan is a family oriented organization, participation by men, women, and children in the portrayal of civilian life is encouraged almost as much as participation by men to portray a Michigan infantryman is encouraged.
We also desire to share our heritage and knowledge through a variety of educational programs through first-person interpretation and impressions of the common Michigan infantryman, civilian, surgeon, and other historic figures. Currently, we have members providing first-person interpretation and impressions of the Commander In Chief, an Assistant Regimental Surgeon, Veteran/Invalid Corp, a Company Ordnance Sergeant, and a civilian inventor. Since its reactivation, the 17th Michigan has visited schools, colleges, museums, and other public and private institutions to educate the public about the War of the Rebellion (a.k.a. The Civil War, the War between the States or as the Southern States called it, The War of Northern Aggression, or America’s Second Revolutionary War). The 17th Michigan also attends and sponsors Civil War events to further educate the public on the life of a soldier, civilian, and surgeon.
Being a non-profit educational organization (501-3c), which allows contributions to be Tax deductible on Federal income tax returns, the 17th Michigan has been able to raise funds for the preservation of our Civil War heritage by placing historical markers at sites of the original regimental engagements, providing the moneys needed to preserve Michigan's Civil War battle flags, providing moneys needed to preserve the battlefields where the 17th Michigan fought and died, and rededicating tombstones and markers of the brave men who served.
Where We Meet:
Business meetings are generally on Sunday afternoons (second Sunday) once a month January through May and September through November). Meetings are held at Historic Geenmead Village, Livonia, Michigan.
Since 1997, the 17th Michigan and Livonia's Greenmead Historic Village have been working in a collaborative relationship to further the effort to educate the public on the life of a soldier and civilian.