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GOCC to host “The Road to Andersonville”

Glen Oaks Community College will host the award-winning film “The Road to Andersonville” -- the first film to document the story of Michigan's Native Americans in the Civil War who served in Company K of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters. The presentation will be held on Thur., December 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Nora Hagen Theatre on the campus of Glen Oaks Community College. The event is free and open to the public.

Michigan historian and author Chris Czopek will be there in person to introduce the film and answer questions. He has spent over 15 years researching Michigan Native Americans in the Civil War. It was Czopek’s book, “Who was Who in Company K” that the producer turned to in the production of the film. The book was the first book ever written about Company K and serves as a resource for those wanting to know more about its members and their service…even to the knowledge of their last resting places.

Czopek will talk about his latest discovery – the seven Native American POWs who died at the infamous Andersonville Prison. Only recently have their graves been located. When news of the discovery reached the Michigan tribes, a group of their veterans gathered together, traveled to Georgia, and honored those seven graves with a traditional Native American ceremony.

Accompanying them was an acclaimed documentary film-maker, David B. Schock, a former newspaper reporter, radio producer and reporter, television reporter, and academic. He has taught at Central Michigan University and at Hope College, in Holland, Mich. Schock holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from Albion College.

For people who have never before heard the story of Company K, this program will reveal a fresh, new chapter in Michigan’s Native American history.

Background on Company K
During the Civil War, a regiment of sharpshooters was being recruited to fight for the Union, but there was a problem – few men could pass the marksmanship test. Since Michigan's Native Americans were famous as skilled hunters, it was decided to recruit one company—Company K—from among the tribes in Michigan.

Nearly 140 men volunteered for Company K in the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters regiment. Each passed the test, hitting a five-inch circle from a distance of 220 yards. For basic training, they were sent to Dearborn, Mich. The soldiers of Company K wore the same uniform and received the same pay as the rest of the regiment.

Company K was sent to Virginia in 1864, and fought in some of the fiercest battles of the Civil War: The Wilderness, Spotsylvania and the Siege of Petersburg. During an attack against the enemy lines on June 17, 1864, a group of 15 men were captured and sent to the infamous and horrific Andersonville prison. Of the 15 from Company K, seven died and were buried there. At the time of the beginning production of this film, they had lain at Andersonville for nearly 150 years without receiving their burial ceremony.

The men of Company K are known to have served in most of the major battles remaining in the war. In all, one fourth of the men of Company K were either killed or wounded in battle.