Everyday Heroes People

Civil War Streets: Major General Israel Richardson

By Mark Pearson

Originally Published on November 21st, 2018.

As we continue north on 10th avenue, we come next to Richardson street. This street has a special attachment for me as it is the street I live on and have resided here since 1980. This street is named after Major General Israel Richardson who was born the day after Christmas in 1815. Fairfax, Vermont was his birthplace. He attended West Point, but graduated in the bottom third of his class. He also fought in the Mexican-American War. After that, it appears that the army held no special interest for him because he resigned and moved to Detroit where he became a successful businessman. When war broke out, he raised and equipped the 2nd Michigan regiment and joined them up with the army of the Potomac.

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According to Bruce Catton, General Richardson was just as much a slob as General Grant appears to be. He was so out of uniform that soldiers from other outfits would think that he was some flunky who was asked to hold the reigns for a dispatcher’s horse. After he went around asking where he could find General Richardson he was directed to his tent where he found that same soldier who he asked to watch his horse sitting at the general’s desk. There are several instances where he was not recognized, but one thing that he was noted for was that he was a fighter and an exceptional leader.

At the battle of Antietam Creek near Sharpsburg, Maryland, General Richardson was killed. He commanded the division that the Irish brigade belonged to. His division was involved in the fighting in the center of the Confederate lines at a place known as the sunken road. It soon became known as bloody lane because of all the men on both sides who were killed there. He was wounded as he was bringing a battery of artillery up to engage the enemy lines. He died five days later from an infection as a result of his wound.

This battle was the costliest one-day battle of the entire war. Even though it was considered a draw, President Lincoln used that event to announce the Emancipation Proclamation. I personally consider that this battle was just as pivotal as Gettysburg. If it was clearly won by the north and The Army of North Virginia had been destroyed, then most likely the South would be sued for peace and the freeing of the slaves never would have been enforced. As terrible as that battle was, by not decisively winning it, caused the war to continue until the whole south was subjugated and the slaves set free. It took an amendment to the constitution, actually three amendments, to free and grant full citizenship to the slaves and their descendants.

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Mark E. Pearson was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo.  In 1970 he moved to Michigan where he met and married the girl of his dreams, Mary Lou Davis, together they have two sons.  He attended Briercrest Bible Institute in Saskatchewan, Canada, and later received his associates degree in business from St. Clair Community College.  He was a bookkeeper and worked in retail sales for 30 years and has spent the last fifteen years as a Jeweler at Coughlin’s Jewelers in St Clair, MI.  He is a voracious reader of history and as a result of being an avid reader he began to write short stories and articles for editorial columns and magazines on current events and comparing and relating past events to current happenings.  

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