Oliver E. Durrant
Oliver E. Durrant, a marine engineer residing in Port Huron, Mich., is a veteran of the Civil War, having served at the front during the entire period of his enlistment, three years, in the cavalry brigade commanded by General Custer. He was born in Battle Creek, Mich., on May 22, 1845, son of Samuel and Harriet (Wonsey) Durrant, who were natives of the State of New York and pioneer settlers of Battle Creek, Michigan.
Mr. Durrant acquired his education in the public schools of Marine City, leaving to enter the army. On September 11, 1862, he enlisted in the Sixth Michigan Calvary, and participated with honor in all the numerous battles in which his regiment was engaged, the following list of encounters, carried upon its banners, fully testifying to their activity. The engagements in which they took part in 1863, given in chronological sequence, were at Hanover, Va.; Hunterstown; the brilliant cavalry charges at Gettysburg, which turned the tide of that decisive battle favorably to the Union cause; the affairs in the border State of Maryland, at Cavetown, Smithtown, Boonesborough, Hagerstown, Williamsport, and Falling Water; those occurring on the sacred soil of Virginia, at Snickers' Gap, Kelleys' Ford, Culpeper Courthouse, Racoon Ford, Whites Ford, Jacks Shop, James City, Brandy Station, Bucklands' Mills, Stevensburg and Norton's Ford. In 1864 they were at Richmond during the cavalry raid, the Wilderness (two days), Dam Station, Yellow Tavern, Meadow Bridge, Mulford, Hawkes Shop, Travillian Station, Cold Harbor, Winchester, Front Royal, Leetown, Shepardstown, Smithfield, Berryville, Summit, Oppequan, Winchester, Luray, Port Republic, Mt. Crawford, Woodstock, Cedar Creek, Madison Courthouse; in 1865 at Louisa Courthouse, Five Forks (three days), Southside Railroad, Duck Pond Mills, Sailors' Creek and Appomatox Courthouse. At the close of the war the regiment was illegally sent out West, across the plains to Willow Springs, Dak., where they met the Indians in battle on August 12, 1865. It was on account of this uprising among several Indian tribes that the command was kept in service three months and twenty days over their term of enlistment by the arbitrary action of officials of the War Department, and Mr. Durrant did not receive his honorable discharge, at Jackson, Mich., until November 22, 1865, although he was mustered out of service at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after the engage- ment with the Indians.
After his return home, Mr. Durrant went to work in the sawmill until the spring of 1867, when he shipped on the steamer East Saginaw as fireman, remaining one season. The next five years he engaged as fireman on the steamers Estabrook, Sanilac, and Belle of Oshkosh, a passenger boat. In 1874 he entered the employ of Mr. Barlow as engineer in a sawmill at Alpena, Mich., retaining that position two years. From 1876 to 1886 he was engaged in running stationary engines in Bay City and Marine City, and working in the shipyards. In the spring of 1886 he took out engineer's papers and shipped as second on the steamer Birckhead, holding that berth two seasons, and following with a season on the Sanilac. The next year he shipped in different steamers, and in 1890 went as second of the new steamer Newago. In 1891 he was chief engineer of the Port Huron & Sarnia ferry steamers O. D. Conger, James Beard and Grace Dormer, respectively. The next spring he was appointed engineer of the tug Dan Reynolds. In the spring of 1893 he joined the tug W. L. Jenks, which he engineered five seasons, laying her up at the close of navigation in 1897. He is a member of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association and the Grand Army of the Republic.
Mr. Durant was married on December 6, 1866, to Miss Harriet, daughter of Hiram Lamphere, of Baltimore Station, and three children were born to this union: Grace J. (now the wife of George Montgomery), Henry C. and Oliver E. The family homestead is at No. 1503 Howard street, Port Huron, Michigan.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.