The Civil War started 150 years ago, on April 12, 1861, which is a likely reason for the increased coverage of the war in media outlets. Regardless, the additional coverage of Company K is welcome. From the Petoskey News (h/t K.B.):
BOYNE CITY — After a century of anonymity the unmarked graves of two American Indian sharpshooters from the Civil War received their full honors Saturday at Maple Lawn Cemetery.
The two Union soldiers, Pvt. John Jacko and William Isaacs, were members of a 140-member American Indian unit of the Michigan Sharpshooters known as Company K that fought in some of the fiercest battles of the Civil War, including the Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of Spotsylvania and the Siege of Petersburg.
But, following the Civil War many American Indian veterans took their severance pay and were largely forgotten.
In the full tradition of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Traverse City-based Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Robert Finch Camp 14 honored the two veterans with taps and three volleys by riflemen, as well white marble tombstones, recognizing the two men for the first time since their deaths in 1907.
The historical details of Company K had been almost completely undocumented until this past year, when historian Chris Czopek, of Lansing, began self-publishing more than 15 years of sifting through documents and federal records about the unit.
It was Czopek who identified the two graves while researching his book “Who was Who in Company K,” is the first historical text of compiled names, dates and details about the unit.
“One of the things I wanted to do was track down every single grave of these soldiers,” Czopek said.
The first grave he found was of Jacko, then later Isaacs.
Jacko, who belonged to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Leelanau County, enlisted in the Union Army in Grand Rapids in 1845 as a replacement sharpshooter after his father Jacko Penaiswanquot died in the infamous Andersonville prison in Georgia, Czopek said.
“He enlisted in Company K, as if he wanted to take his father’s place,” Czopek said. “But, despite enlisting at the end of the (Civil War) he fought in some of the biggest battles and was a true veteran in every sense of the word.”
Isaacs was also seasoned veteran.
Twice wounded, the Swan Creek Black River Bands of Ojibwe Indian was with Company K when it was first recruited in 1863 until it was released from duty at the end of the war. First wounded in the leg, Czopek said, Isaacs, who lived grew up near Saginaw, later sustained a second injury when a mortar round landed directly between his legs — failing to explode.