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Courage Without Fear

The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard
  • Also available as: Dust Jacket Hardcover
  • Published: November 2004
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 447
  • Size: 5.5x8.5
  • ISBN: 9781413454291

Courage without Fear: The Story of the Grand Rapids Guard recounts the long history and traditions of one of Michigan’s most decorated military regiments. It begins with the Guard’s inception following its early days as local firefighting companies, through the pre-war militia days, to the battlefields of the Civil War, extending through two world wars, and eventually helping to win the cold war.

Originally organized as four independent militia companies in Grand Rapids, beginning with the Grand Rapids Light Guard on July 12, 1855, the organization grew into the Fifty-first Regiment that formed the nucleus of the Third Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. The Third left Grand Rapids in June of 1861 and fought in twelve major campaigns over the course of the next three years, beginning with the first Bull Run and ending at Cold Harbor.

Several years after the close of the war, the militia reappeared as the Grand Rapids Guard Company that eventually mustered in as Company B of the Second Regiment of Michigan State Troops. The Second was renamed the Thirty-second when it mustered for federal service in the Spanish-American War of 1898 and again for service on the Mexican Border in 1916. One year later, in a sweeping restructuring of the American army, the Guard became known as the 126th Infantry Regiment, and served as part of the famed 32nd “Red Arrow” Division during both world wars.

This book is not a detailed history of the Grand Rapids Guard’s experiences in combat, but rather a story that tells how the Guard evolved from the early volunteer fire companies to an infantry regiment that served in five wars, and eventually becoming an integral part of the total Army force that saw the cold war end with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Scattered along this journey are stories of the struggles the individual companies experienced trying to survive with little or no support from the state or federal governments, as well as the gaiety of militia life expressed through numerous military balls and the other social benefits of membership in the Guard. Courage without Fear concludes with a picture of the Grand Rapids Guard’s changing role in the post-cold war era of international terrorism. Throughout are the brief accounts of real American heroes—commanders, Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, as well as key civic and business leaders who sacrificed their time and sometimes their lives for the cause of freedom.

Courage without Fear is not an original story, but one compiled from hundreds of sources. Using extensive materials from the State Archives, Grand Rapids Public Library, oral accounts, and the archives of local Guard units, LTC David Britten has weaved together an account of the Grand Rapids Guard that goes beyond its well-known war experiences. He has pulled together from many sources a moving picture of the Grand Rapids community over time from the point of view of local militia companies and their various armories. An extensive bibliography, source footnotes, and appendices listing events and the men who played key roles in the history of the Grand Rapids Guard, will no doubt be a value to genealogists as well as local historians.

Lieutenant Colonel Britten has produced a clear and definitive historical portrait of his city’s militia and its evolution. The casual and curious reader is invited to experience these exploits by turning these pages. Found within are acts of bravery, feats of great and inspiring leadership, chronologies of arduous and costly military campaigns and throughout it all the selfless loyalty of Michiganians to the cause of Freedom and prosperity. The serious military historian will know that within these pages is found a thoroughly professional and loving study, one fit to stand the test of time. -- Colonel William R. Ewald, Commander, 46th "Wolverine" Brigade

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Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
Price: $24.99
Dust Jacket Hardcover(B/W)
Price: $34.99

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