civil war

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Matt Jones is a singer/songwriter from Ypsilanti. He’s also a big Civil War nerd. The Civil War inspired many of the songs on his latest album, called "The Deep Enders."

Today on Stateside, Matt Jones on how the history of the Civil War influences his work.

Tune in at 3 p.m. to hear Jones on the show.

One big influence, he notes, is the relationship between Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. When General Jackson died in 1863, General Lee was forced to think about how he was going to fill that hole in his life. Jones’ song, "Bountymen," explores this theme of losing someone or something and not knowing how you’re going to replace it.

"The Darkest Things," another song from "The Deep Enders," was the first song Jones wrote for the album.

Jones says this song stems as much from his own personal struggles as well as the Civil War.

Wikimedia Commons

Michigan embraced the Union cause before the first shot at Fort Sumpter was ever fired. And Michigan soldiers and sailors were involved in virtually all of the campaigns and battles of the Civil War.

A new book looks at the ways Michiganders were a part of the Civil War through photographs of some of the 10,000 Civil War re-enactors in Michigan.

It's called "American Civil War Years: The Michigan Experience (The Reenactors' Telling)."

“We really wanted to pay tribute to these people who are out there in 100-degree weather in wool,” said iMichigan Productions’ Donna Ullrich, the editor of the book.

Embattled Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema is hitting back at critics of his anti-gay and anti-Muslim web postings, saying he stands on the same issues he always has, "God, family and country."

In a Facebook post, the ex-state-Representative says people are feeding half-truths to the news media within the GOP and stirring up divisiveness.

He says he's wrongly being blamed for posting other people's comments and says it's an unfortunate and uncivil tactic to tarnish his reputation.

Rick Pluta, Lansing bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network and co-host of It's Just Politics, joined us today.

Lawmakers in Lansing have begun holding hearings on which standardized tests Michigan students will begin taking next spring. Goodbye Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP), hello Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Opponents say it takes away local control, while those who favor it say it better predicts a student's comprehension. We found out more about this computer-based testing on today's show.

Then, we continued on the subject of schools and asked: Are zero-tolerance policies actually keeping kids out of trouble? A new study says not so much.

And, Michigan’s University Research Corridor is making huge contributions to the state economy. We spoke with Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University, to learn more.

Finally, a new documentary explores Michigan’s history with the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad.  

cell phone picutre via Associated Press

Opponents and supporters of U.S. military intervention in Syria have been holding rallies across Michigan.

 President Obama is asking for Congress's support to attack Syria over what he says is the government's use of chemical weapons. Several dozen opponents of a U.S. attack marched through downtown Detroit for a rally Sunday at the waterfront Hart Plaza. About 30 people opposed to American military intervention turned out for a rally Saturday in Grand Rapids. And on Friday, about 100 supporters of an American military response held a rally in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham. 

As the headlines unfold over the civil war in Syria and whether the United States should or should not take military action against Bashar Assad's regime, there are thousands of people in Michigan watching with the most intense interest.

Syrians first started coming to Michigan at the turn of the 20th Century. Today, the Syrian Community in Michigan numbers about 25,000.

We wanted to get a sense of what this civil war looks and feels like for these thousands of people in Michigan with close ties to Syria.

Dr. Yahya Basha came from Syria to Southeast Michigan in 1972 after graduating from medical school at the University of Damascus. He is a leader in the Syrian-American Community in Michigan. He has been active in the issues of civil rights, anti-discrimination, and civic participation including working with the ACLU, the Arab American Institute and the National American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

Dr. Basha joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

State Senator Bruce Caswell of Hillsdale is a military buff – he attended West Point for a couple years, before transferring to Michigan State – and he’s a former high school history teacher.

Now, he has a new project he would like people to donate money for. If you are about ninety, and spent a lot of time at the State Capitol when you were young, you may remember there used to be two old Civil War cannons out front.

Otherwise, I suspect you never heard of the so-called Loomis cannons. They weren’t especially famous cannons; they didn’t batter down the defenses of Richmond, and people in the 1940s thought so little of their importance that they were apparently melted down during a World War II scrap metal drive.

Artist Don Troiani

A large number of civil war re-enactors from Michigan are in central Pennsylvania this week to mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Michiganders heard the first shots fired at Gettysburg.   And they were there a few days later, as the Confederates launched the ill-fated Pickett’s Charge, which failed to break the Union lines.

Don Everette is among the Michigan civil war re-enactors in Gettysburg this week.

He says he’s been to previous re-enactments of Pickett’s Charge that were highly emotional.

This story includes historically racist language that some readers may find offensive.

We're in the midst of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

So your great uncle, the war re-enactor, is probably having the time of his life.

But for those who have trouble sitting through all nine episodes of the Ken Burns “Civil War” documentary, now there’s something for us, a new online archive is bringing Michigan’s Civil War letters into the Google Age.

Many of us have been so consumed with our modern economic struggles that we’ve barely paused to note that we faced a much greater crisis one hundred and fifty years ago his month.

South Carolina, the first state to secede from the union, fired on federal troops at Fort Sumter that April, and the Civil War was on.

When it ended four years later, more Americans had been killed than in any war before or since, and the country was a different place. We don’t often think of Michigan in connection with the Civil War. We were then a small, pretty new, and not very major state.

Our entire population was only three-quarters of a million people - far less than the population of Macomb County today. Yet Michigan answered the call enthusiastically.

We overfilled our quota of volunteers. Abraham Lincoln had some anxious moments those first weeks of the war.

Would the states really respond by sending the troops necessary to put down the rebellion? Michigan did. From Detroit, Adrian, Marshall, Ypsilanti and Grand Rapids they came.

Washington asked Michigan for a single regiment. Governor Austin Blair protested. No. We could furnish more. Much more.

The first Michigan troops arrived in the capitol in May, lifting the President’s spirits. “Thank God for Michigan!”Abraham Lincoln said when they arrived.

(Bill Messerroll 2009)

There are numerous observances planned across Michigan beginning this week marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  More than 90 thousand Michiganders served in Union army during the Civil War.  Nearly 15 thousand died.