Lewis Emery Park is now rec­og­nized as a his­toric site, ded­i­cated to the 1,062 Union sol­diers of the 18th Michigan Infantry Reg­iment, which included seven Hillsdale College stu­dents.

Civil War reen­actors stand beside the new his­torical marker in Lewis Emery Park.
Anna Timmins | Col­legian

Reen­actors of the 18th Reg­iment attended a ded­i­cation cer­emony on Sat­urday, along with res­i­dents and members of the Michigan His­torical Com­mission.

The sound of a bullet volley ric­o­cheted across the water at the ceremony’s close, reminding onlookers of a time when deadly con­flict darkened our nation, reaching even Hillsdale.

In 1861, men from Hillsdale and sur­rounding towns gathered to form the 18th Michigan Reg­iment, training at Camp Woodbury — now Lewis Emery Park — on top of a hill on State Street near Lewis Emery’s house. A sub­di­vision now sits where the men once trained.

Training in park’s ponds allowed the men to nav­igate through the swampy land­scape of Alabama.

Bill Smith, pres­ident of the 18th Michigan’s reen­actors group, headed the charge to make the park a his­torical site after a rig­orous research process and long wait for the Commission’s approval. Linda Moore, Hillsdale College’s public service librarian, and Mitchell Resource Center vol­un­teers helped him dis­cover and confirm the his­torical sig­nif­i­cance of the unas­suming spot.

“We got a notice back in June, I think it was, that it was approved, and what we had to go through was a lot of red tape,” Smith said. “We sent two packets in and it was about a pound a piece. You have to have doc­u­ments of every­thing that goes on, what was there, doc­u­ments that Emery owned the land, and then doc­u­ments that showed that he let the army use the land to train on, and we did a lot of research, a lot of research.”

Thomas Truscott of Lansing is on the Michigan His­torical Com­mission, and attended Hillsdale College. He has been involved in approving the placement of his­torical sites around Michigan.

“I’ve had the honor of doing probably close to a hundred markers,” he said.

As a student at Hillsdale, he was a history major, and recalls studying Hillsdale sol­diers’ Civil War sac­ri­fices. He attended Saturday’s ded­i­cation cer­emony of the little-known heroes of Hillsdale, saying that coming back to Hillsdale feels like coming home.