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On this day in 1861, the state legislature gave Governor Blair broad powers to furnish men “by draft, voluntary enlistment, or otherwise” to serve in a federal army in the event of a rebellion from Southern states. On April 12, the Battle of Fort Sumter began the American Civil War. Soon after, Blair met with state officials and prominent citizens to finance and equip an infantry regiment to respond to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers. Pledges for $81,020, which would be equivalent to about $80 million today, were received. The state’s initial ninety-day volunteers, known officially as the 1st Michigan Infantry, were mustered into the United States Army on May 1.

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