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Dept Michigan
Past Department Commander's Badge

Department of Michigan

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War


Carl A. Wagner

Department Commander 1902-1903


Carl WagnerCarl A. Wagner belonged to Archie Campbell Camp No. 216 of Port Huron, Michigan. He served as Captain of the "Sons of Veterans Company", Co. L, 33rd Michigan Infantry, during the Spanish-American War. He was a Justice of the Peace in Port Huron, and was elected Michigan Division Commander in 1902. Brother Wagner died 17 March 1925 and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery, Port Huron, MI.

CARL A. WAGNER. Prominent among the leading citizens and lawyers of Port Huron, Carl A. Wagner has long been a conspicuous figure in military circles, having, while inspector of small-arms practice and inspector general for the state, very materially contributed to making Michigan a leader among the other states of the Union in regard to rifle practice, an important branch of military instruction, in which he is an expert. A native of Huron County, Michigan, he was born November 18, 1858, in Bingham township, being the second white child born in that locality, the birth of the first white child of that township having occurred the previous day, on November 17, 1858.

His father, Andrew Wagner, was born in Bavaria, Germany, June 14, 1823, and as a young man served for three years in the German army. Immigrating to America, he lived for a short time in New York City, and subsequently followed his trade as a stone cutter in Cleveland, Ohio, for a short time. In 1855, he bought one hundred and sixty acres of land of the government in Huron County, and began clearing the land and established a home there. About 1860 he removed with his family to Detroit, where, after the breaking out of the Civil war, he enlisted in the Twenty- fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry (Iron Brigade), and was with his command in several engagements of importance, including the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and at Gettysburg. In the battle of Gettysburg, on July I, 1863, while carrying the colors, he was shot through the breast and left for dead on the battlefield. Recovering, however, he returned to his farm in Huron County, Michigan, and there resided until his death, in April, 1867. He married first in Germany and by that union had one child, Margaret Gertrude, who is now the wife of Frank Goetz, of Cleveland, Ohio. Andrew Wagner married, for his second wife, in 1851, in New York City, Mrs. Lucy Dorothy (Muff) Seitz, who was born in Würtemberg, Germany, December 10, 1821, and died in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania, September 22, 1905. She was twice married, by her first union having one daughter. Mrs. Louise M. Neff, of Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Wagner became the parents of four children, as follows: Mrs. Dora Danenburg, a widow, living in New York; Carl A., the special subject of this brief personal record; Minnie, born in 1862, married Wesley Smith, and died at Port Huron, Michigan, April 9, 1901; and Albert A., of Port Huron, who was born June 16, 1864, and died at Port Huron, June 7, 1914.

After the death of his father, Carl A. Wagner remained with his mother and the family on the home farm in Huron County, and lived there until the fall of 1871, when all of the farming property was destroyed by the forest fires. The widowed mother then removed with her children to Erie, Pennsylvania, and there lived with her daughter hy her first marriage. Continuing his studies in the public schools of Erie, Carl A. Wagner was graduated from the Central high school and subsequently traveled a short time as salesman for a firm dealing in household specialties. In the spring of 1880, harkening to the "call of the soil," Mr. Wagner's mother, brother and sister came back to the old farm in Huron county, Michigan, and had just made a good start in improving the place, when, in 1881, fire again destroyed everything on the place, with the exception of the house.

Mr. Wagner had charge of a branch store of the Lovell Manufacturing Company in Worcester, Massachusetts, from 1880 to September, 1885, at which time he returned to his native state and entered the law department of the University of Michigan, from which he was graduated with the class of 1887. During the ensuing two years he was engaged in the practice of law at Bad Axe, the county-seat of Huron County. In 1889 Mr. Wagner located at Port Huron, and has since been a valued and highly esteemed resident of this city, and member of the bar of St. Clair County. He has taken an active part in local affairs, in 1894 having been elected police justice for a term of four years, and re elected to the same office in 1898. He has built up a successful law practice and enjoys an enviable reputation as a lawyer.

In 1898 Mr. Wagner was second lieutenant of the Port Huron military company, and when war was declared against Spain he went into camp with his company at Island Lake, on April 26, 1898. Soon after the Michigan Division of the Sons of Veterans organized two companies from its membership, and offered them to the State of Michigan for service. Mr. Wagner was selected as captain of the first company, which was assigned to the Thirty-third Michigan Volunteer Infantry, becoming Company L of that regiment, commanded by Colonel Boynton of Port Huron. The regiment went to Cuba during the Spanish-American war, and on July 1, 1898, at Aguadores, two of the soldiers in Captain Wagner's company were killed and three wounded. In December, 1898, at the close of the war, Captain Wagner was mustered out of the service with his company.

In November, 1900, when Colonel Boynton was appointed brigadier general of the Michigan National Guard, Captain Wagner was commissioned major and made assistant inspector general on the general's staff. In June, 1903, General William T. McGurrin appointed Captain Wagner major and inspector of small-arms on his staff. Two years later, in June, 1905, Governor Warner of Michigan, appointed him inspector general of Michigan, with the rank of Brigadier General, a position he held continuously until the office was abolished by law in 1911, when he was retired from active service. He was a very efficient officer and while inspector of small-arms practice built the first modernly equipped rifle range ever constructed in the State. When General Wagner was first appointed inspector of small-arms practice, very little interest in rifle practice was taken by anyone in Michigan, but through his persistent energy and effort the subject was brought before the military department of the state and an active interest was created, and he had the pleasure of seeing this branch of military instruction grow, under his fostering care, to splendid proportions, Michigan becoming one of the foremost states in the Union in regard to rifle practice.

Gen. Wagner is a life member of the National Rifle Association of America, and was for eight years a member of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, a board that meets in the office of the assistant secretary of war, in January of each year, and formulates rules for the National matches. He was deputy inspector of customs from July, 1889, until July, 1893, and for a number of years was chairman of the Republican city committee. Fraternally he belongs to the Free and Accepted Masons; to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows: to the Knights of Pythias; to the Modern Woodmen of America; and to both branches of the Knights of the Maccabees.

Since a boy of fifteen years he has been a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Wagner was married in Worcester, Massachusetts, June 13, 1883, to Minnie E. Rice, and they with their four children have a pleasant home at No. 1009 Lincoln Avenue. The children are: Chester S., Louise M., Edith D. and Roy Smith Wagner.

Moore, Charles.  History of Michigan, Vol IV. (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago: 1915)

Anything good pertaining to a member of the Light Infantry, past or present, is in place in this narrative, and in this connection it is fitting to mention Capt. Carl A. Wagner of the 33d Michigan, who had served his novitiate in the old Worcester Company. He had .enlisted in the Infantry March 21, 1882, then, as now, in the 2d Regiment; was promoted Corporal Jan. 21, 1884, and was discharged March 21, 1885, by reason of expiration of term of service. As a Light Infantryman he made a diligent study of rifle practice, won the second prize in 1883, and was on the company team which went to Framing- ham in '83 and '84. On going to Michigan he again entered the militia, where his devotion to rifle practice soon made him instructor and inspector in that branch nearly all of the intervening years. When the call for volunteers came in April, 1898, he was Second Lieutenant of his company in the city of Port Huron, and, with his company, went to the rendezvous camp April 26. The Michigan Division, Sons of Veterans, U. S. A., tendered their services to the extent of a regiment to the Governor of the State, but only two companies could be accepted. He was commissioned May 19 Captain of the first of these companies to be mustered into service. It was known as Company L, 33d Mich. Vol. Infantry. The regiment left the State May 28, and arrived at Camp Alger. Va., two days later. The 33d and 34th Michigan regiments were brigaded with the 9th Mass., under the command of Brigadier- general Duffield of Michigan. This brigade left for Cuba June 23. On the first day of July, while the Second Mass. Regiment was at El Caney, the 33d Michigan was ordered to Aguadores to make a demonstration against the enemy at that point and to engage him, thus preventing his going to the assistance of Santiago.

Roe, Alfred S. Worcester in the Spanish War: Being the Stories of Companies A, C and H, 2d regiment and Company G, 9th Regiment M.V.M. (publ. By the Author, Worcester, Mass.: 1905)

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