Garrett A. Graveraet
Born in approximately 1840 on the upper part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula to Franco-Ottawa merchant-fur trader Henry Graveraet and his Ojibwe wife Sophie Bailey, Garrett A. Graveraet grew up straddling two worlds. While he helped his father fish, hunt and farm, he also partook in woodland adventures with Ojibwe friends and sought out lessons in Ojibwe culture from his mother. As a gifted student, Graveraet especially excelled at languages. He spoke English, French, and Ojibwe, even teaching briefly at a native school. Many described the well-known Graveraet to be a natural leader and an expert in cultural mediation.
Aside from skillfully bridging the middle ground between cultures, Graveraet also avidly embraced the arts. With a passion for literature, art and music, he was a violinist, as well as a portrait and landscape painter.
The man of many talents enlisted and became an officer in 1863, and led an impressive recruitment drive to strengthen the ranks of Company K of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters. He even signed up his own father, the 55-year-old Henry Graveraet, who shaved off 10 years from his true age during enlistment.
Consisting of 139 Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi warriors, Second Lieutenant Graveraet and Company K notably fought with Grant’s army at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. The company’s bravery was also present at the Siege of Petersburg, where Graveraet’s life was cut short. Within the same day of seeing his father shot dead during entrenched operations around Petersburg in June 1864, he received his own fatal gunshot wound in his upper left arm. After days of intense pain, the 24-year-old Graveraet passed on June 30, 1864, representing part of the roughly 68 percent of Company K that perished during the war.