When the Civil War started, several of the Bullens, Wheelers, and Wilders were quick to enlist. Listed below by family are descriptions of their service. Three of the ten died during the war and several others suffered from injuries or illness acquired during their service and died within a few years or lived the rest of their lives with some form of disability.
Cyrus Bullen enlisted in Company K of the Third Michigan Infantry on May 13, 1861, at the age of thirty-four. His regiment soon left to join the armies on the Potomac front and arrived in time to participate in the First Battle of Bull Run. His cousin Edward Wilder joined the same company on March 12, 1862. In August 1862, the Third Infantry participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run, near Groveton, Virginia. Cyrus died in this battle on August 29.
Francis Bullen enlisted as a wagoner in the 21st Michigan Infantry in August 1862, at the age of thirty-one, with his brother-in-law George Woodward. He served in the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanaooga. In 1864, Francis transferred to the U.S. Veteran Volunteer Engineers, where he served until the end of the war. Although he survived the war, he died from the effects of his injuries less than four years later.
Erastus Fox (husband of Betsey Bullen) and his wife's cousin William Wheeler both enlisted in Company F of the Second Michigan Cavalry in September 1861. Erastus was age forty-four. After completion of recruitment, the regiment traveled to St. Louis and from there on to Mississippi. At one point in 1862, this unit was commanded by Colonel Philip Sheridan, later a famous general. Erastus served until July 29, 1863, when he was discharged for disability at Nashville, Tennessee.
Theron Fox (son of Betsey Bullen) served in Company F of the Second Michigan Calvary from January 1864 to the end of the war. During part of this time he served with his mother's cousin William Wheeler. He died in 1873 from the effects of an injury he received during the war.
George Woodward (husband of Martha Bullen) enlisted in the Engineers and Mechanics regiment as a Sergeant on September 23, 1861, at the age of thirty-six, but was discharged on a surgeon's certificate of disability at Nashville, Tennessee, on June 18, 1862. After a short time at home, he and his brother-in-law Francis Bullen joined the Twenty-First Michigan Infantry George was commissioned as a Lieutenant and was promoted to Captain in 1863 and Brevet Major in 1865. He served in the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga and assisted in General Sherman's "March to the Sea.".
William Wheeler and his cousin's husband Erastus Fox both enlisted in Company F of the Second Michigan Cavalry in September 1861. William was age twenty-two. After completion of recruitment, the regiment traveled to St. Louis and from there on to Mississippi. At one point in 1862, this unit was commanded by Colonel Philip Sheridan, later a famous general. He served until the expiration of his term in October 1864. He participated in the famous battle at Chickamauga. For the last nine months, he served with Erastus Fox's son Theron.
Edward Wilder enlisted in Company K of the Third Michigan Infantry (where his cousin Cyrus Bullen was already serving) on March 12, 1862, age the age of twenty-two and then left for Virginia to join his regiment. He participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run and the battles at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. In August 1863, the regiment was sent to Alexandria, Virginia, and from there by ship to New York City to aid in the preservation of public peace during the pending draft. The Third Infantry remained at Troy, New York, for about two weeks and then was sent back to Virginia. Edward was too ill to accompany his unit back to Virginia, however, and died of disease on October 9, 1863, at Fort Schuyler, New York.
Joseph Wilder was age nineteen when he volunteered for service with the New York Lincoln Cavalry on August 12, 1861 (Company K was raised in Grand Rapids). He served only a few months, however, and was discharged on February 25, 1862, at Camp Kearney, Virginia, with a surgeon's certificate of permanent disability.
Willard Wilder enlisted in the Tenth Michigan Cavalry in August 1863, at the age of twenty-nine. He served in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, and was captured by the Confederate Army at Thornhill, Tennessee, in October 1864. The Confederates imprisoned him, but severe illness led to his hospitalization at Danville, Virginia, in February 1865. On February 22, his captors decided to parole him, aand one report said that he soon died at the hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. His wife, however, has written that Willard managed to return to Alpine Township and that she rode there on horseback from their farm in Newaygo County, Michigan, and saw him shortly before his death on April 8, 1865. While Willard was imprisoned by the Confederates, his cousin Edward Wheeler joined the regiment.
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