The Upper Peninsula’s Contributions to the War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the remote region of the Upper Peninsula was regularly overlooked. While many people had moved to the Upper Peninsula after the initial discovery of copper and iron around the 1840s, the Upper Peninsula wasn’t largely on the radar yet. Although the Upper Peninsula was a smaller region and a relatively small population, that didn’t stop the region from giving the war effort all it had to offer. After the Abraham Lincoln’s call for soldiers, men from the Upper Peninsula were more than willing to answer. Of the 90,000 Michigan men that fought in the Civil War, 1,209 called the Upper Peninsula their home (7). Many of these men came from areas that were known for iron and copper mining. Houghton County sent 460 men and Marquette County sent 265 men to the Union forces (8). Many of the men from Marquette County joined Michigan’s First Infantry and would go on to fight in 51 battles and sieges throughout the war (9).

Aside from man power to aid the Union, the Upper Peninsula had some thing even greater to offer: iron ore. In 1861, there were only 3 iron mines producing an output of 120,000 (10). After it was clear that the war would not be over as quickly as many had expected, the demand for Lake Superior iron began to quickly increase. By 1864, more mines were beginning to open up in the Marquette Iron Range to supply enough iron to meet the demands. Between 1864 and 1868 the output of Lake Superior iron ore increase by an estimated 380,000 tons (11). By 1870, there were 10 iron mines open in the Upper Peninsula, all located in the Marquette Iron Range (12). Much of the iron that was shipped out of this region was used to make Bessemer steel that would soon turn into an extremely profitable industry in the United States.