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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Private Henry McIntosh, 102nd U.S. Colored Troops

Battle flag of the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops (1st Michigan), presented to the regiment by the Colored Ladies Aid Society on January 5, 1864. Henry McIntosh served in Company G. Image source:

Henry McIntosh (1843-1915) of Lake Forest, Illinois, served with the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops (1st Michigan) from February 1864 to October 1865. 

McIntosh was born enslaved on a plantation in Kentucky. When war erupted on April 12, 1861, he was made a horse wrangler for the Confederate army, but wanted no part in the South’s fight to save the institution of slavery. After several months, McIntosh saw a chance for freedom and crossed the Ohio River into a bordering free state.
Gateway to Freedom: International Memorial to the Underground Railroad by Ed Dwight, Sculptor. Dedicated in Detroit, Michigan on October 20, 2001.

According to his family, McIntosh made his way via the secret network of abolitionists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Many freedom seekers who headed north continued onto Canada, but McIntosh stopped in Detroit, Michigan where there was an established African American community.

On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect, freeing all enslaved people in the Confederacy. The intention was to cripple the Confederacy’s use of this labor source to support their armies and home front; something that Henry McIntosh had experienced firsthand.

In July 1863, U.S. Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, authorized the State of Michigan to “raise one Regiment of colored Infantry.” The order stated that these men would not receive a bounty for enlisting, but would be paid “ten dollars per month.” They would also be “commanded by white officers.”

Between August 1863 and February 1864, a total of 895 men from across Michigan signed the rolls for the new regiment. The unit received its commission into the service of the United States as the First Michigan Colored Infantry on February 17, 1864. Its' designation changed to the 102nd U.S. Colored Troops/Infantry (USCI) on May 23. Henry McIntosh served as a private in Company G.

McIntosh was particularly proud that the 102nd USCI were part of the forces supporting Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea (November 15 - December 21, 1864), a campaign that led to the eventual surrender of the Confederacy. The 102nd served on picket duty, built fortifications, destroyed rail lines, and engaged the enemy.

After the war's end in Spring 1865, the process of Reconstruction began to redress the inequities of slavery and help the South become part of the Union again. Federal troops, including Henry McIntosh with the 102nd USCI, were sent to Charleston, South Carolina to keep order. 

The presence of African American soldiers caused provisional governors of Southern states to complain that “the black troops are a great nuisance & do much mischief among the Freed men.” The uniformed and armed African American troops made for a powerful image, undoubtedly generating pride in Freedmen and fear in Secessionists. 

Pressure from the governors prompted the War Department to muster-out the Black troops and send them home, essentially removing their presence from Southern states. The 102nd mustered-out September 30, 1865. They arrived in Detroit, Michigan on October 17 and received their final pay and discharge.

Shortly thereafter, Henry McIntosh made his way to Lake County, Illinois, seeking new opportunities, and settling in Lake Forest. One attraction to the area was the number of African Americans living there. This is likely where he met Sarah Martin, whom he married in 1869. According to the 1870 Census, there were eight African American households, totaling 30 people, in Shields Township/Lake Forest. 

View of 1870 U.S. Census data for Henry McIntosh, misspelled "Mackintosh" and his wife Sarah.

Henry McIntosh was an active community member, and became one of the organizers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Organized in 1866, the church was constructed in 1870 at the present corner of Maplewood and Washington Road. McIntosh had a lifelong association with the church. 

Notice from the The Lake Forester August 1, 1903, showing Henry McIntosh as superintendent at the Bethel A.M.E. Church. McIntosh is credited as one of the organizers of this church. 

McIntosh worked as a laborer, and later as a coachman and gardener on a private estate. Sarah and Henry had no children. Sadly, on May 30, 1884, Sarah died.

Over one year later, on July 14, 1885, Henry married Fannie Davis Freleigh (1867-1960). 

Fannie was born in Missouri in 1867 to Sarah and Charles Davis. Her father was a plasterer by trade, and in the late 1870s he moved the family to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As the oldest of eight children, Fannie helped the family by working outside the home as a house servant for the Earle Moses family. Moses was a buyer and seller of wood in Oshkosh’s lumber industry.

Between 1880-1885, Fannie came to Lake Forest and was employed in the household of Rev. Daniel S. Gregory (1832-1915), the president of Lake Forest University. 

Henry and Fannie lived on Washington Road and had nine children: William W., Etta (Mrs. Andrew Smith), Clarence, Peter, Euphemia (Mrs. Henry Walker), Arnett, Lillian, Lutie E. (Mrs. William Slaughter), and Wayman H. 
Photo detail of Henry McIntosh in 1899. Bess Bower Dunn Museum, 64.39.2. 

The above photograph from the Dunn Museum's collections was taken on August 29, 1899, at the dedication of the Lake County Civil War monument in Waukegan. This cropped image shows an African American Civil War veteran. 

Is this man Henry McIntosh? Post update 8/19/21 - When I researched this post months ago, I strongly suspected, but could not be 100% certain that the veteran's identity was Henry McIntosh. Today, I received an email from his great-great granddaughter, Bonnie McIntosh, to let me know that her great aunt, Maxine McIntosh (Henry's granddaughter), confirmed that he is Henry. I am so grateful for this information and to make a connection with his descendants. Thank you! 

Another view of the photograph of veterans at the dedication of the Civil War monument in Waukegan. Henry McIntosh is right of the drummer and marked by a red star. Dunn Museum 64.39.2.

There is no list of names for the men in this photograph, making it difficult to ascertain their identities. Of the African American men who lived in Lake County and are known to have served in the Civil War, McIntosh was the only one active in veterans' associations. George W. Bell (1816-1910) was an African American Civil War veteran with Company B, 40th U.S. Colored Infantry. After the war, he lived in Waukegan, but was noted for refusing to have any photographs taken and his name does not appear in veterans' records. Newport Township Historical Society has identified another African American veteran, Samuel Killerbrue (c1833 - c1897), who served in Co. K, 1st Tennessee Colored Troops. Killerbrue lived near Wadsworth from about 1866 to mid-1880s with his wife and children. 

McIntosh was a member of the Lake County Soldiers and Sailors Association. He was noted in the Association's records (below) as attending the August 1913 reunion in Waukegan. From this record, we know that he participated in veterans' reunions

Ledger entry noting Civil War veterans, including Henry McIntosh (bottom), who attended the Lake County Soldiers and Sailors Association reunion in August 1913. McIntosh was 70-years old. Dunn Museum 74.19.16.

Henry McIntosh's service during the Civil War inevitably inspired his children and grandchildren to serve their country: 

Son, Clarence Nathaniel McIntosh (1889-1963) served as Sergeant Major with the 351st Field Artillery during World War I; son, Wayman Hillis McIntosh (1900-1982), an athletic trainer at Lake Forest College, volunteered as air raid warden during World War II; grandson, Henry Nathaniel McIntosh (1923-1980) served as lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War; and grandson Clarence Pearson McIntosh (1925-1999) served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. 

Henry McIntosh's grave marker at Lake Forest Cemetery.

Henry McIntosh died on August 3, 1915, leaving a legacy of service to his community and the nation. 

- Diana Dretske

Special thanks to Laurie Stein, Curator, History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff, for research assistance. 

Sources: (1870, 1880, 1900-1940 U.S. Census; World War I/II registration cards, Lake Forest city directories).
Bess Bower Dunn Museum. Lake County Soldiers and Sailors Association Collection, and G.A.R. Photo Collection. 
History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff 
Detroit Historical Society 
Michigan in the War
"Lake Forester Deserts Confederacy, Marches With Sherman's Army to Sea." Uncited, July 27, 1961. 
"African American History in Lake Forest: A Walking Tour," Lake Forest College, 1997. 
"DAVIS." The Oshkosh Northwestern, Oshkosh, Wisconsin. July 2, 1931. Roy Davis obituary, brother of Fannie McIntosh. 
"Revival of Democracy." Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, June 14, 1942. Lists air raid wardens in Chicago's Division 8, including Wayman McIntosh of Lake Forest, Illinois. 
Robertson, Jno. Michigan in the War. Lansing: W.S. George and Company, State Printers and Binders, 1882. Michigan's Adjutant General's Department reports. Accessed February 12, 2021.
Dobak, William A. Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History United States Army, 2011.
Arpee, Edward. Lake Forest Illinois: History and Reminiscences 1861-1961. Lake Forest, Illinois: Rotary Club of Lake Forest, 1963.
Halsey, John J. A History of Lake County, Illinois. Illinois: Roy S. Bates, 1912. 
Lake County (IL) Genealogical Society. “Lake County, Illinois Marriages 1881 to 1901,” Volume III. Libertyville, Illinois.

1 comment:

Shawn Ford said...

I think Samuel Killerbrue of Newport Township was a black civil war veteran. His family moved to Kenosha was buried in the city cemetery around 1900 or so. I wonder if his name appeared on any of the registers for the GAR