Caleb Walter Balcom
11th Michigan Cavalry
by Jeff Decker (great-great grandson)
Caleb Walter Balcom was born to Charles and Caroline Balcom in New York state in 1844. His family along, with other families, later relocated to Sciota Township, Ovid, Michigan. Walter more then likely helped out on the farm before the Civil War.
Caleb Walter Balcom enlisted in the 11th Michigan Cavalry on October 7, 1863 on Oct 7. The unit was mustered into service in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a little over 60 miles from Caleb's hometown of Ovid, Michigan. He served the 11th Michigan as a corporal. The 11th Michigan Cavalry was headquartered out of Lexington, Kentucky until April 1864, when it was moved to Louisa, Kentucky. The 11th was primarily used to hunt down guerrillas and pockets of resistance. The unit was also responsible for tracking down Confederate raider General John H. Morgan. The 11th was involved with Morgan's men from May of 1864 until June of the same year, forcing Morgan and his men into the Mountains outside of Cynthiana, KY. Shortly after this, the 11th was ordered to depart as part of Gen Stephen Burbridge's forces. This of course led to the objective of heading to Saltville to destroy the salt mines.
Caleb Walter Balcom was involved in the first expedition against Saltville, but in late 1864, while the 11th was under General Stoneman's command, he was captured. However, there is conflicting information concerning his capture. The unit's "Brown Book", which I obtained from a reenactor, indicated that he was captured at Bristol, Tennessee. Yet, his service record indicates that he was captured at Abingdon, Virginia. The Virginia capture is consistent with The Civil War Almanac, which reports that the 11th engaged CSA troops on December 16, 1864 at Abingdon. According to his "Prisoner of War Memorandum", Caleb Walter Balcom was paroled February 1865, and then released in July of the same year. He sat out the rest of his service due to complications from his confinement in the prison.
After the war he returned to Ovid to convalesce. He was a farmer by trade and married Martha Balcom sometime after the war.
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