October 4: Orlando Metcalfe Poe (1895)

Orlando Poe biographer Paul Taylor calls Poe “one of the most influential yet underrated and overlooked soldiers during the Civil War.” Orlando Metcalfe Poe was born on the family farm in Navarre, Ohio in 1832. He attended several public schools and two years in Canton Academy in Canton, Ohio before ultimately attaining his dream – attending the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Poe excelled particularly in mathematics and graduated sixth in the class of 1856. After graduation, Poe sought to put his engineering skills to work for the military. He moved to Detroit to join the Topographical Engineers. Wartime duties for topographical engineers included surveying positions of the armies, sketching routes of the enemy and preparing maps of battlefields. In peacetime, they surveyed and charted the nation’s rivers and lakes.

During the Civil War, Poe was known for his bravery, intelligence, and athleticism. Poe served under several of the war’s greatest generals, including George McClellan and William T. Sherman. Because of his successful command of a number of significant battles, he was selected by General Sherman to be his chief engineer. Poe oversaw the burning of Atlanta and continued as engineer for Sherman’s March to the Sea. Beginning in 1866, Poe begins to show up in Epiphany’s records. All four of the children of Orlando and Eleanor Poe were baptized at the church. The two oldest children were confirmed there while in their teens. After the war, Poe once again served as engineer to General Sherman. He distinguished himself with his lighthouse designs on Lake Huron and is responsible for many lighthouses, canals, and locks on the Great Lakes in Michigan. His work on the locks at Sault Ste. Marie opened up the shipping industry in the area and assisted in the creation of the U. S. steel industry.

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