Byron Root Pierce

Byron Root Pierce, a native of New York State, was born September 20, 1829, in East Bloomfield, Ontario County. His grandfather Root was a veteran of the Revolution. Pierce was educated in Rochester and following his father's trade, began his business life in a woolen mill. He finally became a dentist, however, and in 1856 moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he practiced until the outbreak of the Civil War. Prior to 1861 Pierce had been captain of the "Valley City Light Guards" and was mustered into Federal service June 10, 1861, as captain of Company K, 3rd Michigan. He was promoted to major in October, lieutenant colonel in July, 1862, colonel the following January, and brigadier general of volunteers on June 7, 1864. The 3rd Michigan was engaged at First Manassas (Bull Run); on the Peninsula at Seven Pines and the Seven Days' battles; at Groveton and Chantilly during the campaign of Second Bull Run; at Fredericksburg, where Pierce commanded the regiment; at Chancellorsville, where General H. G. Berry, his brigade commander, pointed him out as "distinguished for gallantry"; and at Gettysburg, where Pierce sustained a wound—the third of five he received during the war— that would ultimately cost him his left leg. During the Overland campaign of 1864 which took the Army of the Potomac from the Rappahannock to Petersburg, Pierce commanded a brigade, and sometimes the 3rd Division, in Hancock's II Army Corps. He was present at Appomattox, and for his services a few days earlier at Sayler's Creek, he was brevetted major general. Honorably mustered out on August 24, 1865, General Pierce returned to Grand Rapids and "for some time he was connected with the U. S. post office department." He was active in both the Grand Army of the Republic and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. From 1887 until 1891 he was commandant of the Michigan Soldiers' Home, which was located in Grand Rapids because of his efforts, and in the late 1890's he successfully operated a Grand Rapids hotel. He retired in 1899 but lived for another quarter-century. At the time of his death on July 10, 1924, at the age of ninety-five, he was Michigan's last surviving Civil War general officer. General Pierce is buried in Fulton Street Cemetery, Grand Rapids. His passing was barely noted in the newspapers, reflecting the complete disinterest of the American press with Civil War figures in the decade immediately following World War I.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.