The Battle of Gettysburg & Michigan Cavalryman Henry Canfield – my great-grandfather

"Battle of Gettysburg", L. Prang & Co. print of the painting "Hancock at Gettysbug" by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett's Charge. Restoration by Adam Cuerden.
It’s now been exactly 150 years since Lee’s army marched into Pennsylvania and met defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. According to the Wikipedia site for the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee commanded 71,699 men, while the Union’s Meade and Reynolds commanded 93,921. The casualties were the highest of any battle in the entire Civil War. Total Union casualties were 23,055, 3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded and 5,369 captured or missing. Total Confedate caulaties were 23,231, with 4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded and 5,830 captured or missing.

My great-grandfather, Henry Canfield, was a Michigan cavalryman fighting under Brigidier General George Custer during this epic battle. How I wish that his first-hand accounts had survived. However, we have little, as he died in the service shortly after the war ended (March 11, 1866). The following is from Wikipedia:

One of Custer’s finest hours in the Civil War occurred just east of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. In conjunction with Pickett’s Charge to the west, Robert E. Lee had dispatched Stuart’s cavalry on a mission into the rear of the Union Army. Custer encountered the Union cavalry division of Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg directly in the path of Stuart’s horsemen. He convinced Gregg to allow him to stay and fight, while his own division was stationed to the south out of the action. At East Cavalry Field, hours of charges and hand-to-hand combat ensued. Custer led a mounted charge of the 1st Michigan Cavalry, breaking the back of the Confederate assault. Custer’s brigade lost 257 men at Gettysburg, the highest loss of any Union cavalry brigade.[12] “I challenge the annals of warfare to produce a more brilliant or successful charge of cavalry”, Custer wrote in his report.[13]

To read and view video specials about the Battle of Gettysburg online, see:

Wikipedia website of the Battle of Gettysburg:

National Park Service Website for Gettysburg: Gettysburg Specials: full episodes and schedule:

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (, writes daily at, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

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