By the spring of 1862, the Union army had encountered a number of crushing defeats in the eastern theatre; much of which can be attributed to poor leadership. By this time, the Union had lost the battle of Bull Run, Benjamin Butler was crushed at Big Bethel, the British were angered over the Trent affair, Stonewall Jackson was invincible in the Shenandoah Valley, and the North was facing problems with its attempts at a Peninsular Campaign (hindered by sluggish movement and a difficult geography).
In early July 1862, President Lincoln called on the northern states to furnish an additional 300,000 men to fill the depleted ranks. Governor Blair of Michigan responded quickly and with great effort. On July 15, 1862, Blair ordered that one regiment of soldiers be created from each of Michigan's six congressional districts. These six new regiments were to be assigned the numbers of eighteen through twenty-three, but because of an embarrassing anti-war rally in Detroit, the governor allowed for the Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry Regiment to be created.
The 24th Michigan was to be assigned to Wayne County, which was part of the first congressional district. This brought the number of outgoing regiments to a total of eight. By July 22, patriotic young men were rushing to fill the ranks, and on this day, a huge war meeting was held in Campus Martius in Detroit. Speeches of patriotism were given by some of the state's most prominent citizens, including the venerable Lewis Cass who was making one of his last public appearances.
Support was given to the new regiments, and especially to the 24th, which was being formed by Wayne County and Detroit men. Prominent citizens of Detroit soon stepped forward to pledge the payment of bounties to each man from his ward who enlisted in the 24th Michigan. This was the first time in Detroit, and perhaps in Michigan, that such inducements were given.
The beckoning cry for help quickly spread everywhere, and before the end of the month, plans were being made in Plymouth, Michigan, to take an active role. On August 5, a meeting was held in Plymouth to procure enlistments for a new company of volunteers that would become part of the 24th Regiment. During that afternoon, enlistees were gathered at the Village Green, or what is today known as Kellogg Park. The company was to have one hundred volunteers, and they quickly stepped forward. As it turned out, sixty-nine men out of the one hundred in the company were citizens of Plymouth. The others included seven from Canton, nine from Livonia, six from Nankin, eight from Salem, and one from Detroit. Another fifteen Plymouth-Canton residents joined other companies of the 24th. So it was on August 5, 1862, that Company C of the 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment was born.
Shortly after the Battle of Antietam (September 1862), Company C, along with the rest of the 24th Michigan, joined regiments from Indiana and Wisconsin, thus becoming part of the famed "Iron Brigade," which assumed that name when General McClellan noted how those men "were like iron" in the battle of South Mountain.