Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rolandus Freet

Rolandus Freet was born 1843 in McCutcheonville, Wyandotte County, Ohio, the son of Henry (b. 1793) and Ruth (b. 1820).

By 1841 Virginia-born Henry and New York native Ruth had settled their family in Ohio and in 1850 Henry was working as a merchant and Rolandus was attending school with his siblings in Tymochtee, Wyandotte County, Ohio. By 1860 Rolandus was attending school with his siblings and living with his mother (she owned $7000 worth of real estate) in Tymochtee , Ohio. Rolandus eventually left Ohio, probably in early 1861, and moved to western Michigan.

Rolandus stood 5’3” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was an 18-year-old cook who had just arrived in Grand Rapids from Wyandotte when he enlisted as a Musician in Company C on May 13, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

He was absent sick in a general hospital in October of 1862 and again in December. He was reported to be suffering from “primary syphilis” February 2-6, 1863 but was returned to duty. He was reported as absent without leave in late August of 1863, and listed as treated for gonorrhea September 22 to October 1, 1863, and again returned to duty. He eventually rejoined the Regiment and on December 21, 1863, he reenlisted at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Ada, Kent County, and was absent on 30 days’ veteran’s furlough in January of 1864.

He presumably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February and was hospitalized on April 4, 1864. He remained absent sick, possibly in a hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, through May and was still absent sick when he was transferred as a Musician to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was discharged from Satterlee hospital in Philadelphia and returned to duty on February 10, 1865.

On February 11, the day following his discharge from the hospital, Rolandus was arrested and charged with desertion by the Provost Marshal of the Fourth district in Philadelphia. It was alleged that Freet, who was listed as a Drummer in Company C, Third Michigan infantry, “did without proper authority absent himself from a detachment of men at Philadelphia, while on his way to Washington” from February 10 until February 11, “when he was apprehended and delivered to” the Provost Marshal. He was subsequently sent to the Prince Street military prison in Alexandria, where, on February 15 and again on March 2, Rolandus gave his statement in defense against the charges. He claimed that he served with his Regiment, the Third Michigan, until April 20, 1864, when he was taken sick at Brandy Station, Virginia. He was then

transferred to Satterlee hospital at Phila., where I remained until the 10th of February 1865, when I was discharged from the hospital to go to my Regiment. We was [sic] sent to the Baltimore depot. When we arrived there I asked the Sergt. in charge of the squad if I could go to a saloon and get something to eat. He sent a guard with me; the guard met a friend there and detained me some time. I could not leave until he came with me. When we got back to the depot the train had gone. I asked the guard what I should do. He told me that he had nothing to do with me. I then got in the Market Street cars, and on the way a man got in the cars, who wore a blouse. When I got out of the cars on 41st Street, he got out also. I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I looked around, and this man asked me if I had not been sent to my Regt with a guard. I told him I was and that I had missed the train [and that] I was on my way to report to the hospital, to go with a squad the next day. He then arrested me . . . and took me before the Provost Marshal who committed me as a deserter and sent me to Prince Street Military Prison, Alexandria, Va. I had no intention of deserting if the guard could have let me come back to get on the train.

Rolandus was transferred to Company C, Fifth Michigan infantry on February 28 or March 1 near Petersburg, Virginia, and mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Rolandus eventually returned to Michigan and was admitted to Harper hospital (the predecessor to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home hospital) in Detroit on July 1, 1870, with a diagnosis of “ulceration of the cornea and granulated eyelids.” By the end of the following year he had recovered and was discharged on December 10.

He was listed as single and a Protestant when he was admitted to the National Military Home at Milwaukee on June 23 or 28, 1871. Rolandus was expelled from the home on January 14, 1872, for reason(s) unknown. (Interestingly, his next-of-kin was listed as his mother, Mrs. Ruth Freet of Wyandotte. By 1880 she was reported as divorced and living in Burwick, Seneca County, Ohio.) By 1890 Rolandus was living in Delphos, Ohio. He was admitted to the southern branch, National Military Home in Hampton, Virginia, on January 14, 1893. He was reportedly suffering from or had suffered from syphilis in 1897.

In 1870 he applied for and received a pension (no. 622163), drawing $12 per month by 1891.

Rolandus was apparently admitted to the Marion, Indiana, Branch, National Military Home where he died on November 27, 1900, and was buried in the Marion National Cemetery: section 1, row 5 (or 6), no. 10.

Monday, September 29, 2008

John Freeman

John Freeman, also known as "John H.," was born 1836 in Geneseo, Livingston County, New York.

Sometime before the war broke out John left New York and moved west, eventually settling in western Michigan. He may have been the same John Freeman working as a mill hand for the Hubbard mill in Muskegon, Muskegon County in 1860.

He stood 5’11” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was a 25-year-old sawyer probably living in Crockery, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. He was absent sick from April 28, 1863, through May and in June was a nurse in a general hospital in Washington, DC through November. He remained absent sick until he was discharged for “tuberculosis contracted since enlistment” on May 2, 1864, at Augur hospital in Washington, DC.

Although John was declared “Unfit for the Veteran Reserve Corps,” he was nonetheless transferred to the VRC on May 12, 1864, at Washington, DC. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.) He may have been mustered out in June of 1864 at the expiration of his term of service.

In any case, he listed Grand Haven, Ottawa County as his mailing address on his discharge paper, and may in fact have returned to Ottawa County after the war.

There is no further record and no pension seems to be available.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daniel D. Free

Daniel D. Free was born on April 12, 1835, in Monroe County, New York, the son of George (b. 1789) and Mary (b. 1804).

Daniel’s parents were both Pennsylvania natives and were probably married there. In any case, by 1828 they were probably living in New York (where their first son John was born) and resided there for some years. Between 1845 and 1850 George moved his family west and had settled in Alpine, Kent County where he and his sons (including Daniel) worked as laborers.

Daniel was married to New York native Elizabeth J. Arsenoe (1842-1922) on February 22, 1860, in Alpine, Kent County, and they had at least eight children: Calista E. (1862-1872), Ellen (b. 1863), John H. (b. 1866), Charles H. (b. 1868), Adelbert (b. 1870), Effie Jane (b. 1871), Pearl (b. 1878) and Clark (b. 1888).

Daniel stood 5’5” with black eyes, sandy hair and a light complexion, and was a 28-year-old farmer living in Muskegon, Muskegon County when he enlisted in Company K on January 30, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Muskegon, and was mustered February 1.

He joined the Regiment on February 17 at Camp Bullock, Virginia, and was slightly wounded on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia. Daniel was subsequently absent sick in the hospital and at one point he was serving as a guard in a Beverly, New Jersey hospital. He was still listed as "absent wounded" when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he returned to his Regiment on January 8, 1865.

Daniel failed to recover from his wounds and was transferred to the Veterans’ Reserve Corps on April 2, 1865. He was discharged from the Two hundred forty-third company, First battalion, VRC cavalry on April 15, 1865, at Washington, DC. (The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.)

After the war Daniel eventually returned to western Michigan. By 1870 he was working as a farm laborer and living with his wife and children in Byron, Kent county; he was still living in Byron by 1872 and 1873 and working as a laborer in 1880. He may have been a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association living in Grand Rapids in 1874, and by 1888 he was living in Corinth, Kent County.

In 1876 he applied for and received a pension (no. 244508).

Daniel died of typhoid fever on May 26, 1890, in Byron and was buried in Gilbert cemetery, Kent County.

Elizabeth eventually remarried William Alguire. In 1914 she was living in Ross Station, Kent County, when she applied for and received a pension (no. 2344962). Daniel's children also applied for and received pensions.

James T. Freelove

James T. Freelove, also known as “Timothy” or “Timothy James Freelove,” was born 1833 in Genesee County, New York.

James left New York State and moved to western Michigan sometime before the war broke out.

He stood 5’8” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was a 28-year-old farmer possibly living in Kent County when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. He was discharged for chronic sciatica on July 30, 1861, at Arlington Heights, Virginia.

After his discharge from the army James returned home to Michigan where he reentered the service as Private in Company B First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics on September 16, 1861, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, and was mustered on October 29 at Marshall, Calhoun County. It is unclear if James ever left Michigan with the E & M in December of 1861 when it was ordered to Louisville, Kentucky. If so he soon returned to Michigan. He was sick from May 1, 1862, through June at Hamburg, Livingston County, and was discharged as an artificer on May 8, 1862.

No pension seems to be available.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Isaac Francis

Isaac Francis was born 1840 in Michigan.

In 1840 there was one Isaac F. Francis living in York, Washtenaw County, Michigan. In 1860 there was one Irene or Irame Francis (b. 1803 in Vermont) and one Lucinda (b. 1820 in Ohio) living together in York, Washtenaw County. By 1860 Isaac was a farm laborer working for and/or living with Daniel Tower in Courtland, Kent County. (Curiously, next door to Irene in York was the family of Henry Tower.)

Isaac was 21 years old and probably living in Lowell, Kent County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. He was wounded in one of his arms on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and subsequently suffered the amputation of the limb.

Isaac died of vulnus sclopeticum (wounds) on September 8 or 11, 1862, at Armory Square hospital in Washington, DC. He was buried in the Military Asylum cemetery (Soldier's Home National cemetery) in Washington.

No pension seems to be available.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sidney Fox

Sidney Fox was born August 18, 1838, near Sandusky, Ohio, the son of Samuel (1797-1880) and Esther (b. 1814).

Connecticut-born Samuel married New York native Esther sometime before 1831 when they were living in Ohio. Sidney’s family moved to on to Michigan sometime before 1841, and by 1850 Samuel had settled the family on a farm in Branch County, where Sidney attended school with his siblings. By 1860 they had settled in Barton, Newaygo County where Samuel worked as a farmer. Due to Samuel’s advanced years, Sidney was the main provider for the family, and at one point when he worked for Sidney Secord in Newaygo County before the war and reportedly took his pay in “flour wheat & the use of his team for support of the family.” Curiously, Sidney is not listed with either his family or Secord (who lived right next door in 1860).

Sidney was 22 years old and probably living in Newaygo County with his family when he enlisted in Company K on May 13, 1861. He was probably present for duty through the winter of 1862 but by March of that year was listed absent sick. In fact, on March 17, 1862, he was reported as left sick at Alexandria, Virginia, when the regiment left with on the spring campaign the “Peninsula” campaign), and although eventually listed as having recovered he did not join the regiment but was reported as having deserted on April 29. He was returned to the regiment from desertion on June 6, but was again listed as absent sick through July and August.

Although alleged to have deserted on September 21, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, in fact Sidney had been sent on August 12 to Chesapeake military general hospital near Fortress Monroe, Virginia, diagnosed with pneumonia, where he died on October 20, 1862. He was presumably buried at Fortress Monroe; in any case, he was reinterred at Hampton National Cemetery: section D, row 18, grave no. 35.

His parents were living in Big Rapids, Green Township, Mecosta County in 1870. They eventually moved to Paris, Mecosta County where his father died in 1880. Shortly afterwards his mother applied for a dependent mother’s pension (no. 244508)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

James Fox

James Fox was born 1830 in Ireland.

James married Irish-born Catharine (b. 1831), sometime before 1851, possibly in Ireland and they had at least four children: Eliza (b. 1851), Lindley (b. 1853), Ferdinand (b. 1858) and Henry W. (b. 1860).

He and his wife left Ireland and immigrated to the United States (alone or together is unclear), eventually settling in Michigan before 1851. By 1860 James was a harness-maker living in Grand Rapids’ Third Ward with his wife and children.

James was 31 years old and living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company H on April 28, 1861. He was reported absent sick from August of 1862 through October and in November he was driving and ambulance. From December of 1862 through June of 1863 he worked as a saddler in the ambulance corps. He was taken prisoner on May 5, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia, and eventually sent to Andersonville prison.

Although he was reported discharged on June 20, 1864, at Detroit, in fact he died of disease at Andersonville on August 21, 1864, and was buried there: grave no. 6363.

In 1865 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 55555). She either died or remarried and in 1867 an application was filed on behalf of a minor child, and approved (no. 108770).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

John Foulks

John Foulks, also known as “Folks,” was born November 6, 1841, in Brant, Ontario, Canada, son of William F. (1816-1889) and Jane (Renwick, b. 1819).

John’s father emigrated from England to America around 1832, settling in Ontario, Canada. He met New York native Jane Renwick and they were married on March 17, 1841, in Ontario, and they eventually settled in Brant, Ontario. Around 1856 William moved his family to Ionia County, Michigan, settling in Keene Township. In 1860 John was attending school with five of his siblings and living on the family farm in Keene. (John’s mother was probably related to the several Renwick families who also lived in Keene before the war; two of whom served in the Third Michigan.)

William was a member of the Democratic party, “and in local affairs was in favor of all progressive movements. In every relation in life he made his mark as an upright and successful man. He was a man of integrity and principle, and he believed in treating others as he desired himself to be treated.” When he died he “left a fine estate of one hundred and twenty acres, the result of a life of labor and industry. He was a man of extensive general information, well known for his liberality to all good and charitable enterprises and an obliging neighbor. He had a keen sense of honor and his integrity was never questioned.”

John stood 6’1” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was a 21-year-old farmer possibly living in Keene, Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on February 12, 1862, at Saranac, Ionia County for 3 years, crediting Ionia County, and was mustered the same day; he was probably related to the Renwick brothers who also enlisted in Company D. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.)

John apparently spent little time with the Regiment, however. He was absent sick from August through December of 1862, and absent sick in Alexandria, Virginia from October of 1863 through December. He was sick in Washington, DC, from January of 1864 through May, and was still absent sick when he was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864. He was discharged at the expiration of his term of service at Detroit on either February 9 or 14, 1865.

After his discharge from the army John returned to Keene where he worked for many years as a farmer. His parents were living on a farm next door to the Renwicks in Keene in 1870; they were still living in Keene in 1880. By 1880 John was working as a barber, listed himself as single and living at the Young Hotel in Lowell, Kent County. John was living in Keene in 1890.

Apparently John was married at one time since he noted himself as a widower upon admission to the Michigan Soldier's Home. He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and he received pension no. 934,709.

He was admitted as a widower to the Michigan Soldiers’ Home (no. 2292) on November 26, 1894, and worked as a barber, presumably at the Home.

John died of paralysis of the lower extremities on March 10, 1905, at the Home, and was buried in the Home cemetery: block 4 row 17 grave 29.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marshall W. Foster

Marshall W. Foster was born in 1842, the son of Cynthia A. (b. 1816 in New York)

Marshal was 19 years old and probably living in Carlton, Barry County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Company E on May 13, 1861. On November 23, 1861, from “Camp Eagle” in Virginia, Marshall wrote home to his “Dear mother,”

Your kind letter . . . arrived here . . . and was received with great pleasure by me, but I have delayed answering it because it was so near payday, and soon I will write a few lines tho I have not much time and am not in the best of spirits. We are still at Fort Lyon playing up Paddy on the camel. We have not had a sight of our rebel friends as yet but they threaten every day to come down here and make us swim the Potomac (thus says a deserter of their army). But if we wait for them we will die of old age before we meet them.

He was wounded on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, subsequently hospitalized, and was a Corporal when he died of his wounds on June 16, 1862, at Portsmouth, Virginia. Although Marshal was reportedly buried at Portsmouth, he was apparently reinterred in Hampton National Cemetery, section B, row 19, grave no. 18.

In 1877 his mother applied for and received a pension (no. 183332). His mother remarried William Morgan and by 1870 and in 1880 she was living with her second husband in Hastings, Barry County

Monday, September 22, 2008

John N. Foster

John N. Foster was born in January of 1843 in Wayne County, Michigan, the son of Moses (1817-1888) and Joanna (Starrow or Slarrow, 1819-1857).

Moses immigrated to America from England and in 1838 and married New York native Joanna in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. They resided in Wayne County for some years and by 1845 were living in Plymouth but by 1850 had settled in Phelpstown, Ingham County where Moses worked as a shoemaker. Sometime between 1850 and 1857 when Joanna died Moses took his family and settled in Corunna, Shiawassee County where Moses continued to work as a shoemaker. Shortly after Joanna died in June of 1857, Moses married his housekeeper Sarah Miller (b. 1839); they had five children. (According to one family source, while she was on her deathbed Joanna had asked Sarah to marry her husband after she died.)

John was 18 years old and living in Ingham or Shiawassee County when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was wounded in the arm on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and subsequently hospitalized.

One source reported that he died of typhoid fever in the hospital at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but according to his “Record of Death and Interment,” in his military service record, John died in Knight military hospital in New Haven, Connecticut on June 15, and was buried the same day in grave no. 4, “old cemetery” (Evergreen Cemetery) in New Haven, listed under “Company B Fifth Michigan infantry.” His headstone notes he was 19 years old when he died and that he was in Company B, Third Michigan infantry. His marker is part of a large collection of headstones surrounding a monument to those soldiers who died in Knight Hospital in New Haven during the war.

In 1870 his father was working as a shoemaker and living in Corunna. In 1887 his father applied for a pension (no. 349748) but the certificate was never granted.

Interestingly, in 1895, Richard Herrington, formerly of Company B and then living in Otisville, Genesee County, printed an inquiry in the Grand Army of the Republic Journal of the 1895 Encampment, seeking the address of one John Foster, Company B, Third infantry, apparently unaware that John had perished during the war.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Charles T. Foster

Charles T. Foster was born 1839 in Michigan, the son of Theodore (1812-1865) and Frances Delia (Seymour, b. 1804).

Charles’ parents were married in July of 1832, possibly in New York. The family eventually moved west and settled in Michigan sometime before 1839. By 1860 Charles was employed as a clerk at A. Turner’s store in North Lansing, and living with his family in Lansing’s First Ward; his father Theodore was superintendent of the reform school in Lansing.

Charles stood 5’10’ with blue eyes and a light complexion and was 22 years old, a Presbyterian and still residing in Lansing, probably with his family, when he enlisted as First Corporal in Company G on May 10, 1861. (Company G, formerly the “Williams’ Rifles,” was made up predominantly of men from the Lansing area.) Many years after the war ended Seymour Foster described how his brother Charles came to join the Third Michigan in the spring of 1861.

At this time my brother, Charles T. Foster, was a clerk in the dry goods store of A. Turner and company of North Lansing, a young man about 5 feet, 10 inches in height, light complexion, big blue eyes, high forehead, and wore a very becoming young mustache, He was a fine singer, a member of the Presbyterian church and choir, and with genial disposition and agreeable manner, he was a general favorite with all who knew him. Lansing at this time, with no railroad or telegraph nearer than Jackson, was a town of less than 3,000 population, but was nearly 100% loyal to the Union cause. The firing on Sumter by the secessionists was looked upon by our citizens as an act of open rebellion against our government and served to solidify public sentiment for the Union.

Without waiting for the first call for volunteers by President Lincoln on April 15, a mass meeting of the citizens to discuss the situation was called for the evening of April 13 (the next day after the firing on Sumter) to meet at representative hall in the old state capitol building, which stood in the center of the block now occupied by the Knapp store, Masonic temple and other buildings. At this mass meeting practically the whole town turned out, excitement and patriotic spirit ran high. So dense was the crowd that hundred could not get within hearing distance of the speakers and we younger boys climbed up from outside and sat in the windows.” After the rousing speeches were over, there was “a short lull in the proceedings, evidently from pure exhaustion, Judge Tenney announced that a roll had been prepared, and that an opportunity would be given anyone who desired to tender his services in defense of the Union to come forward and sign the roll. Upon that announcement, a profound silence pervaded that great gathering, not a soul moved; in fact, I doubt if they even breathed, and I verily believe you could have heard a pin if dropped on the floor, so deathly still was it -- until, after a few moments there was a slight shuffling of feet, and movement of those on the other side of the hall, and I could see that some one was trying to work his way through the crowd and toward the front, but from my perch in the window, I could not distinguish who it was. By this time he had reached Judge Tenney's desk, and was signing that roll. In the meantime that deathly silence still prevailed -- until Judge Tenney announced -- “Charles T. Foster, tenders his services and his life if need be to his country and his flag.” Then a great cheer broke forth, and before this had died away, Allen S. Shattuck and John H. Strong had come forward and signed, and in quick succession followed John Broad, E. F. Siverd, Jerry Ten Eyck, Homer Thayer, James B. Ten Eyck, and a score of others (to the total of 31 as I now remember it) had signed the roll pledging their all in defense of our country.

Seymour also recalled how Charles came to be a color bearer for the Old Third during one of its first engagements of the war.

At the battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, May 5, 1862, as the Regiment had formed into line preparatory to moving forward into action, the Major rode to the front and center of the line, and announced that the color sergeant of the Regiment had given out, and asked, ‘Who of the sergeants will volunteer to carry the colors through this fight.’ After a few moments, and no one seeming anxious to take the hazardous position, Sergeant Charles T. Foster stepped to the front, saluted the Major, and told him he would carry the flag through the fight and until a regular color sergeant could be detailed. He took the old Third flag and bore it through that terrific fight, in a most gallant manner, and to the satisfaction of all who witnessed his conduct. In the course of a few days, he was relieved by a regularly detailed color sergeant.
“On writing to his mother the next day after the battle he explained to her how he came to take the colors. He said: “When the Major called for volunteers and none of the sergeants seeming to want to take the responsible and dangerous position, I felt it was my duty to do so, for some one must do it, if none would volunteer, a detail would have to be made, and the lot might fall on one who had a wife and children at home, or a dependent father or mother, and could not be spared, whereas, I was single and free, and would not be missed if I should be killed.” He never knew what tears his mother shed in thinking that her oldest son, ever for his country, should write that he would not missed.

Charles was a Sergeant of Company G when he was killed in action on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia. “As the Regiment had formed for a forward movement against the enemy,” said Seymour Foster, “the Major [Stephen Champlin] came to him saying: ‘The color sergeant is not able to take the colors into the fight; will you do it?’ Evidently believing his duty again called him there, he assented and once again he bore the flag into a terrible battle, and through charge after charge and always with the flag well to the front, and until he was stricken by a minie ball through the neck. He went down -- but not the flag -- for here again we see a manifestation of his keen sense of duty to keep the flag aloft -- for as he fell he drove the flag staff into the ground; still rasping the staff with both hands he called to his comrades, ‘Don't let the colors go down.’ And they did not go down, when the color guard sprang forward to take the flag from his hands they could only release the staff from his death, by pulling each finger loose from the staff -- and Charles T. Foster had fulfilled the pledge he had made to the citizens of Lansing a little more than a year before, when he had signed that roll in the old capitol, pledging his service, and his life if need be in defense of the Union and our flag.”

On June 3, 1862, Homer Thayer of Company G wrote that Foster, who was the Regimental Color Sergeant at Fair Oaks, “was the first to fall. He was bravely holding the colors, and by his coolness and courage, doing much to encourage the boys to press on. Orderly E. F. Siverd was soon after wounded, but still did his duty and urged his comrades on. Soon after this Corporals Case B. Wickham, John Blanchard and Nathaniel T. Atkinson, and privates Samuel Dowell and Charles T. Gaskill received fatal shots. Atkinson and Dowell were brought from the field before they died. All have been buried, and their resting places marked with aboard giving the name, company and Regiment.” Charles was, Thayer wrote to his wife, “a good boy, and beloved by all.”

Although initially buried on the battlefield Charles’s remains were reinterred in Seven Pines National Cemetery: section A, grave 152. There is a memorial to Charles in the Foster family plot at Mt. Hope cemetery in Lansing.

It appears that for many years after the war it was not known exactly where Charles had originally been buried. The Lansing Republican wrote on July 3, 1897 that “After many years” his grave had “been located. Ever since the close of the war” his brother Seymour “has been trying to locate the grave of his brother” and “[t]his morning he received a letter from Joel M. Ferguson, superintendent of the Seven Pines cemetery in Virginia stating that his brother’s remains were located in grave no. 152 in that cemetery” (actually section A, grave 152).

No pension seems to be available.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Christian Fosler

Christian Fosler, also known as “Fosloe” and “Vosseler,” was born March 18, 1832, in Tuningen, W├╝rttemberg, Germany, the son of Phillip and Marie (Vosseler).

Phillip and Marie were married in October of 1832. In any case, Christian probably immigrated to Switzerland sometime in the early 1850s (perhaps to avoid military service when he turned 18 in 1850); and in fact Tuningen is just 15 miles north of the Swiss border and 50 miles from St. Gallen, Switzerland.

However, “To legally emigrate,” writes Fosler family historian Carl Fosler, “Germans had to pay their debts and apply for permission (and pay a fee for that). Many people left without permission, but this could be a problem if you left family behind (the family could be fined and taxed if found out).” Indeed, it was noted in the 1858 family register in Tuningen that Christian was in America but was not listed in the emigration records. Moreover, by 1860 Christian was giving his name as “Fosleer” or “Foslier,” quite possibly trying to hide the fact that he left W├╝rttemberg without permission and hoping to protect his parents from being fined by the government.

In any event, Christian eventually settled in St. Gallen, Switzerland and in 1852 he immigrated to the United States. He traveled from St. Gallen to Le Havre, France where he boarded the Caspian en route to New York City where he arrived on May 15, 1852.

He married Sarah Kuhn (1832-1902), on December 15, 1856, and they had at least five children: Carl (or Charles) Hermann (b. 1857), Josephine (b. 1859), Gustave Albert (b. 1860), Edward Anton (b. 1863) and Isabelle (b. 1866). By 1857 Christian was residing in Port Huron, St. Clair County, and in Detroit by 1859.

In 1860 Christian was living in Wayne County when he declared his intention to become an American citizen. Indeed he was working as a cook in Detroit, Fourth Ward where he was living with his wife Sarah and two children; the same year he was also recorded as working as a “confectioner” in Shiawassee County. Either he moved his family to Shiawassee County just before the war broke out or his wife moved to Owosso, Shiawassee County soon after Christian joined the Third Michigan.

Christian stood 5’7” with brown eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion, and was 29 years old when he enlisted in Company C on June 10, 1861. (Company C was made up largely of German and Dutch immigrants, many of whom lived on the west side of the Grand River in Grand Rapids. This company was the descendant of the old Grand Rapids Rifles, also known as the “German Rifles,” a prewar local militia company composed solely of German troopers.)

On June 24, 1861, shortly after the Regiment left Michigan for Washington, a village official from Owosso, Shiawassee County, wrote a letter to General John Robertson, Adjutant General for the state of Michigan, seeking aid for Fosler’s family. “Will you have the kindness,” wrote J. F. Laubengayer, “to inform me if you have the name of a private in Comp C in [the] Third Regiment of Mich. Militia by the name of Christian Fossler lately from Owosso where his family resides. The reason is, to get a certificate to show our County Officer to get relief for the family. Please inform me by return of mail as the family needs help.” Laubengayer added in a postscript that “He went with the intention to serve as cook whether he got the opportunity or not I have not learned.” The same day, Supervisor B. Williams of the first judicial district of Owosso also wrote to Robertson, asking “Will you please inform me, if Christian Fosler, late of this place, was mustered into the service of the State Volunteers at Grand Rapids. He is said to be in Company C 3 Regiment Mich Infantry. His family reside here and need the assistance contemplated by the late law in case he is in the service as represented.” It is not known what action was taken to provide assistance to Christian's family.

Christian was injured in late 1861. He testified in 1863 that on December 25, 1861, “about seven miles southwest of Alexandria . . . while crossing a creek upon a log in connection with other soldiers, he was accidentally pushed off, which caused a rupture in the lower part of the abdomen, . . .” He apparently recovered and was returned to duty. He was again disabled during the Seven Days’ battles near Richmond, Virginia, in the summer of 1862, “having something like fits” from which he never recovered.

Nevertheless, Christian was reported as a company cook (which had been his occupation in Detroit) in July of 1862, but by August and September was absent sick in the hospital. He was admitted to Chesapeake Hospital in Washington, DC, on August 12, 1862, suffering from lumbago. Christian was reported as having deserted as of October 23, 1862, at Edward’s Ferry, Maryland, but in fact was discharged for epilepsy on October 14, 1862, at Chesapeake hospital, Fortress Monroe, Virginia.

Although he listed Owosso as his mailing address on his discharge paper, by May of 1863 Christian was residing in Grand Rapids (where his fourth child was born in July of 1863), and he had resumed his prewar occupation of confectioner. That same year he applied for pension (no. 25176), but the claim was soon afterwards abandoned.

It appears that Christian reentered the Third Michigan in early 1864. (He was the only man to have done this, as far as is known.)

According to the military service record of one “Christian Foster,” he was in fact the same man as Christian Fosler (or Fosloe) of the Third Michigan. “Christian Foster” enlisted in Company C on January 4, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 3 years, crediting Wyoming, Kent County, was mustered on January 12, and he joined the Regiment on February 18 at Camp Bullock, Virginia. In March he was at Brigade headquarters where he remained through May. He was transferred to Company I, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and was on detached service in July. From September through November he was a nurse at City Point hospital, Virginia, and was in the Quartermaster department from December of 1864 through January of 1865. He was a Brigade pioneer from February through May, in June he was a provost guard at Division headquarters and he was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Christian Fosler (or Foster) probably returned to Grand Rapids after the war but he and his wife separated sometime before his daughter Isabelle was born in that city in June of 1866. According to one source, the marriage began to dissolve when Sarah discovered that Christian had been having affairs with other women. Although Christian apparently filed for a pension in the mid-1860s, the claim was stamped as both abandoned and rejected sometime in the late 1860s and it appears that he may have died around 1868. In any case, by 1870 Sarah was working as a dressmaker and living with her children in Grand Rapids’ First Ward. (Although curiously, Sarah herself never applied for a widow's pension.)

By 1880 Sarah and her children (except Charles) were living at 81 Almy Street in Grand Rapids. Sarah and her daughter Josephine became dressmakers in Grand Rapids and by 1880 was also taking in boarders. By 1884 Sarah had moved to Chicago and in 1900 she and her oldest daughter were living with Isabelle and her husband, Charles B. Jones, in Chicago. Sarah died in 1902 in Chicago, and was buried in St. Maria cemetery, Chicago.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Richard Oscar Forster

Richard Oscar Forster, also known as “Oscar Foster,” was born October 19, 1837, in Harbor Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania, the son of John Bartholomew “Forster” (b. 1803) and Sarah (Bone, b. 1811).

Canadian-born John B. married Pennsylvania native Sarah sometime before 1829, probably in Pennsylvania (according to a family historian she was the daughter of the Erie Land lighthouse keeper). They were living in Mill Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania in 1830 and in Harbor Creek, Erie County in 1840. They eventually moved west and by 1846 had settled in Michigan (quite probably Ottawa County). By 1850 John B. had settled his family in Tallmadge, Ottawa County where Richard, known generally as “Oscar,” attended school.

Oscar’s mother died in the early 1850s and John married Ellen Berritt (b. 1828) in September of 1854 in Ottawa County. By the fall of 1860 Oscar was living with his older brother John in Allendale, Ottawa County. (Oscar’s brother John was married to the sister of Samuel and Aaron Camp, both of whom also resided in Ottawa County and would enlist in Company I in 1861.)

Oscar stood 6’1” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 23 years old and living in Ottawa County, possibly Blendon, when he enlisted as Seventh Corporal in Company I on May 13, 1861. (Company I was made up largely of men from Ottawa County, particularly from the eastern side of the County.) He was possibly wounded slightly on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, but soon rejoined the Regiment.

Anyway, he was wounded on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, this time severely. He was subsequently sent to Carver hospital in Washington, DC, and discharged on March 13, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia for “gunshot wound in the lumbar region” which he received at Fair Oaks. “The ball entering just anterior to the angle of the eleventh rib passing obliquely downwards and backwards lodging just below and to the right of the sacrum slivering the spineris [?] procus of the third lumbar vertebra.” It was also reported that hjis discharge resulted from disability caused by a second gunshot wound, “the ball entering at the left of the anus cutting the rectum in its course and lodging posterior to the joint.”

After his discharge from the army Oscar returned home to western Michigan. “Corporal Oscar Foster [sic],” wrote the Grand Rapids Eagle on April 15, the “Corporal of the Color Guard of the Third, has just returned home discharged for disability. Corporal Foster was wounded at Fair Oaks, and wounded twice at the last [Second] Bull Run battle, and his wounds have compelled him to leave the service where he has so honorably borne himself.”

Oscar reentered the service as Sergeant in Company C, Tenth Michigan cavalry on October 31 (?), 1863, at Blendon, Ottawa County, crediting Blendon, and was mustered on October 23 (?), at Grand Rapids. (Oscar was enlisted by Benjamin Weatherwax, brother of George Weatherwax who had been the first Captain of Company I, Third Michigan infantry and under whom Oscar had served in 1861.)

The Tenth Michigan Cavalry was organized at Grand Rapids between September 18 and November 18, 1863, when it was mustered into service. It left Michigan for Lexington, Kentucky on December 1, 1863, and participated in numerous operations, mostly in Kentucky and Tennessee throughout the winter of 1863-64. Most of its primary area of operations would eventually be in the vicinity of Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. Oscar was mustered out as Commissary Sergeant on November 11, 1865, at Memphis, Tennessee.

After the war Oscar returned to his home in western Michigan.

He married Michigan native Ellen Lucretia Brooks (b. 1847) on October 11, 1868 in Grandville, Kent County, and they had at least four and perhaps five children: Oscar, Edgar W. (b. 1871) Guy W. (b. 1874) and Fern, and possibly Roy.

By 1870 Oscar was working as a day laborer and living with his wife in Prairieville, Wyoming Township, Kent County. By 1880 Oscar was working as a laborer and living with his wife and children in Cato, Montcalm County.

In 1883 he was living in Stanton, Montcalm County drawing $4.00 per month for a gunshot wound to the back and left hip and right leg (pension no. 1,700).

By 1897 he had moved to Grand Rapids and at some point resided at 320 Butterworth Avenue; he was living at 216 Indiana Street when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and his son Roy was an honorary member of the association. At one time he was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Custer Post No. 5 in Grand Rapids.

Oscar may have moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, but by 1911 he was back in Grand Rapids living at 216 Diamond in 1911, 461 Fuller in 1916, 1815 Turner in 1917, and 2209 Palace in 1919 and in June of 1922.

Oscar died on November 30, 1922, in either Grand Rapids or in Stanton, Montcalm County and was reportedly buried in Blendon, Ottawa County or perhaps in Forest Hill cemetery in Stanton.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

David Forrest

David Forrest, also known as “Forest,” was born in 1841.

David was 21 years old and possibly living in Grand Haven, Ottawa County, Michigan, when he enlisted in Unassigned on October 6, 1862, at Grand Haven for 3 years. He reportedly deserted soon afterwards.

There is no further record, and there is no military service record found in the Third Michigan records at the National Archives.

It is possible that he was the same “David Forest” who was 21 years old, stood 5’6” with gray eyes from Grand Rapids, and enlisted on September 24, 1862, for 3 years in Company D, Seventh Michigan cavalry in Grand Rapids. He was mustered on November 13, 1862, and discharged for disability at Detroit on June 11, 1863.

No pension seems to be available.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Francis M. and Horace S. Forman

Francis M. Forman, also known as “Foreman,” was born 1843 in Hillsdale County, Michigan, the son of William Gardner (1804-1862) and Abigail (Crow, b. 1808).

William emigrated from England and met and married New York native Abigail sometime before 1833, probably in New York. In any case, they resided in New York for some years but between 1835 and 1839 settled in Michigan. By 1843 the family had moved to Hillsdale County and by 1847 were living on a farm in Cambria Township. Indeed, by 1850 Francis and his older brother Horace and their siblings were attending school in Cambria and living on the family farm. William eventually moved to Smyrna, Ionia County where he died in 1862.

Francis stood 5’10” with gray eyes, light hair and a dark complexion, and was an 18-year-old farmer living in Otisco, Ionia County. when he enlisted in Company E with his older brother Horace, on February 22, 1862, at Saranac, Ionia County for 3 years, crediting Otisco, and was mustered on March 13. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.) He was taken prisoner on May 31 near the Chickahominy River and confined at Richmond, Virginia, then sent to the prison in Salisbury, North Carolina on June 3 and paroled at Aiken’s Landing, Virginia on September 13, 1862.

Francis returned to the Regiment on September 28, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia, and was wounded slightly in the abdomen on May 3, 1863, at the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia. That same month he was employed in the Brigade bakery. And according to Andrew Kilpatrick, also of Company E, Francis was a Private on duty with the regiment in late May of 1863. Francis was shot in the left leg on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and was absent wounded through July, probably in Philadelphia. By September he was under arrest, reason(s) unknown, but was soon afterwards reported missing in action. He returned to the Regiment at Warrenton, Virginia, on November 12.

Francis reenlisted on February 26, 1864, near Culpeper, Virginia, was mustered on February 29, and absent on 30 days’ veterans’ furlough, probably having returned to his home in Michigan. He presumably returned to the Regiment around the first of April when he was reported absent sick, and he was still absent sick when he was transferred to Company E, Fifth Michigan infantry in June of 1864. He was mustered out on July 5, 1865, at Jeffersonville, Indiana.

After the war Francis eventually returned to Michigan where he attended medical schoo

He married Canadian native Isabell (b. 1850) and they had at least three daughters: Frances (b. 1875), Pearl (1876) and Lois (b. 1879).

By 1876 Francis and his family were living in Fife Lake, Grand Traverse County when their daughter Pearl (18 days old) died. Francis was also listed as a practicing physician in Walton, Mecosta County. By 1880 he was working as a physician and living with his wife Isabell and their two children in Fife Lake, Grand Traverse County.

Whilel it is unclear what became of Isabell, sometime after 1880 Francis married his second wife Honor K. (1851-1926).

He eventually returned to Ionia County, and was living in Belding, Ionia County in 1909 and 1911.

In 1880 he applied for and received a pension (no. 460633).

In 1884 he submitted the following poem about the battle of Spotsylvania in mid-May of 1864, to The Veteran, a G.A.R. publication:

None but the soldier knew
Just how the bullets flew:
None knew as well
How was good fighting done, --
How fields of blood were won
None else can tell.

Death on the right of us,
Death on the left of us,
Death all around;
Charge, came the order stern,
Charge, as though death you spurn,
Carry their ground.

Over the abatis,
Up to their batteries;
Charge with a yell,
Never a look to the rear,
But with a hearty cheer,
Mindless who fell.

Then came surrender quick,
Or by our points be pricked,
Else quickly run;
Shot in their flight were they,
Killed as they stood at bay,
Shot by our guns.

Next came the miseries
Death brought to families,
Always to part;
War is a senseless thing,
Death a relentless sting
Down in the heart.

He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.

Francis died on May 26, 1913, in Belding, and was buried in Smyrna cemetery.

In 1913 his widow Honor applied for and received a pension (no. 835648).

Horace S. Forman, also known as “Foreman,” was born 1841 in Fairfield, Lenawee County, Michigan, the son of William Gardner (1804-1862) and Abigail (Crow, b. 1808).

William emigrated from England and met and married New York native Abigail sometime before 1833, probably in New York. In any case, they resided in New York for some years but between 1835 and 1839 settled in Michigan. By 1843 the family had moved to Hillsdale County and by 1847 were living on a farm in Cambria Township. Indeed, by 1850 Francis and his older brother Horace and their siblings were attending school in Cambria and living on the family farm. William eventually moved to Smyrna, Ionia County where he died in 1862.

Horace stood 5’8’’ with hazel eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was a 21-year-old carpenter living in Smyrna, Ionia County when he enlisted in Company E with his younger brother Francis, on February 28, 1862, at Saranac for 3 years, and was mustered on March 12. (Company E was composed in large part by men from Clinton and Ingham counties, as well as parts of Ionia County.) He was struck with fever sometime in April and hospitalized on April 22, 1862, at Yorktown, Virginia. By July 17 he was in Stewart’s Mansion hospital in Baltimore, convalescing from fever, and indeed he remained at Stewart’s Mansion until he was discharged for consumption on August 26, 1862.

Horace returned to Ionia County after his discharge from the army.

He married New York native Eliza Currie (1848-1914), on September 15, 1862, at Ionia, Ionia County, and they had at least three children: Mary (1864-1909), Willie (1867-1903) and Grace (b. 1881).

Horace was probably still living in Ionia County when he reentered the service in Company F, First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics on August 29, 1864, at Grand Rapids for 1 year and was mustered the same day, crediting Otisco, Ionia County. He joined the Regiment on September 4 at Tilton, Georgia.

The Regiment was ordered to Atlanta, Georgia on September 25 (and old members were mustered out October 31, 1864),and remained on duty at Atlanta from September 28 to November 15; and participated in the March to the sea destroying railroad track, bridges and repairing and making roads November 15-December 10; in the siege of Savannah December 10-21, in the Carolina Campaign January to April, 1865; in the advance on Raleigh April 10-14, and occupation of Raleigh April 14; in the surrender of Johnston and his army. The regiment then marched to Washington, D. C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20, and was in the Grand Review on May 24. The regiment was then ordered to Louisville, Kentucky on June 6. Horace was discharged on June 6, 1865, at Washington, DC.

Horace again returned to Michigan and by 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Easton, Orleans Township, Ionia County. He was working as a farmer and living in Otisco with his wife and two children in 1880, living in Belding, Otisco Township, Ionia County in 1890 and in 1894, and in Smyrna when he attended both the 1910 and 1920 E & M Association reunions.

He was living in Belding when he married his second wife, three-time widow Alta Hanks, on February 24, 1915. (She had been married to Herbert Hoadley, William Standin and Francis Worther.)

He may have been a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. (In 1912 one D. M. Forman was reported as a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.)

In 1889 he applied for and received a pension (no. 822592).

Horace died on October 8, 1917, in Belding and was buried in Smyrna cemetery, Otisco Township: lot 186.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dewitt C. Foreman

Dewitt C. Foreman was born January 3, 1832, in New York, the son of Nathaniel (b. 1796) and Lucy (b. 1797).

New York natives Nathaniel and Lucy (or Lany or Lena) were presumably married there. In any case, Dewitt came to Dewitt with his family sometime around 1834 and probably resided there until the war; by 1860 Nathaniel and his wife were living in Dewitt, Clinton County, Michigan.

Dewitt was 29 years old and probably living in Clinton County, Michigan, when he enlisted as a Fifer in Company G on May 10, 1861. By mid-Summer he was serving in the Regimental Band. He was reported to have been promoted to Principal Musician in the field and was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

Dewitt also reportedly served in Company I, Sixteenth U.S. infantry and Companies F & K, Eleventh U.S. infantry. In any case, he reentered the service as a private on October 8, 1864, in Company G, Sixty-fourth Ohio infantry, probably for one year, and was mustered in the same day. He was mustered out presumably with the company on October 11, 1865, at Victoria, Texas.

Dewitt eventually returned to Michigan. By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his mother, along with the Charles Reed family in Wacousta, Dewitt Township, Clinton County.

He married New York native Harriet (M. (1838-1922) on July 3, 1871, and they had at least one child: Lana or Lena (b. 1874); Harriet had been married at least once before and had two daughters by her previous marriage.

By 1880 Dewitt was working as a carpenter and living with his wife and daughter on Pleasant Street in Grand Ledge, Eaton County; also living with them was his stepdaughter Henrietta (b. 1866). Dewitt was living in Grand Ledge in 1888 and in Grand Ledge’s First Ward in 1894.
In 1882 he applied for and received a pension (no. 414253).

Dewitt died of a bowel obstruction on October 12, 1910, at his home in Grand Ledge and was buried Oakwood cemetery, Grand Ledge: 5-5-5 .

In 1910 his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 721933). In 1912 one D. M. Forman was reported as a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Allen Ripley Foote

Allen Ripley Foote was born January 26, 1842, in Olcott, Niagara County, New York, possibly the son of Elijah (1811-1863) and Olbia L. (b. 1801)

Allen’s family was living in Newfane, Niagara County, New York in 1850 when Elijah was working as a harnessmaker. They left New York State and moved west, eventually settling in Grand Rapids, Michigan. By 1860 Allen was working as a clerk for J. Kendall & co., and living in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward with Wilson Jones and his family. (Jones would also enlist in Company B, as would Alfred Pew who was married to Lucy Foote, Allen’s sister.) Next door lived David Northrup and his family; David too would join Company B in 1861. And two doors from David lived Baker Borden who would command Company B when the Third Michigan was first organized in the spring of 1861.

Allen stood 5’4” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 19 years old and probably living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted with his parents’ consent in Company B. on May 13, 1861. (He is not found in the 1905 Third Michigan Regimental history; but he is found in the 1905 Twenty-first Michigan Regimental history; see below.)

“We have met the enemy and were repulsed,” wrote Allen shortly after the Union debacle at Bull Run on July 21, 1861. In a letter to Wilson Jones which was reprinted in the Grand Rapids Eagle, Allen was quick to add

but we fear not another meeting. Our retreat did not demoralize us. There is not a man in the army but has some comrade to avenge, for we all regard a soldier as a friend, no matter who he is, or where he came from. Our soldiers have been treated with cruelty and barbarity, and we will avenge them on our enemies. I do not mean to say that we will stoop to their level, that we will treat their wounded as they did ours; but we will fight them as men have not fought before, when next we meet. Their only appeal must be to the sword and the bayonet, until they surrender. We have had our last repulse; we have made the last stampede. When next we go on the battle-field, we shall be well officered, well armed, and well provided for. The battle-ground will be, most likely, the same. The rebels must be cautious how they meet us there, where the blood of our butchered wounded shall cry to us for revenge. If on Sunday, the 21st of July, our troops could fight with courage, in the next battle they will fight with a desperateness and a courage, that hearts feeling their wrongs alone can give. Look forward with cheerfulness, for we will conquer. It is as plain as though it was written in burning letters on the walls of the batteries that surround Richmond. You may think that I am getting a little enthusiastic; but you must excuse me if I am. I do not think, if you were in my place, and could hear all that I do, that you would be less so; for the more we hear of the rebels, and of their actions -- the more we talk about and think what a peaceful and happy country they have plunged into a war -- the more determined we are.”

Allen was reportedly promoted to Corporal on January 23, 1862, although according to one source he was in fact a Corporal as early as August 1, 1861. Although he was subsequently reported as promoted to Sergeant on May 21, 1862, he never claimed that rank; and in fact Allen recalled years later that he was only a corporal when he wounded at Fair Oaks, Virginia, on May 31, 1862.

And indeed Allen was shot in the right lung on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks: a rifle or musket ball struck him in the center of the chest, passed through his right lung and out on the right side under his arm and between the 3rd and 4th ribs. Years later, Allen recalled that his company had possession of the regimental colors when they came onto the field at Fair Oaks. “I was,” he said, “not of this guard, but was a corporal then, on the left of my Company next to the color guard. Our line was hardly formed when we received the Confederate charge. Firing was at short range. Fourteen out of the sixteen corporals composing the color guard were shot almost simultaneously; some killed; some wounded, but the colors did not fall.” As for Allen,

I was on my knees in the front rank. The corporal on my left was shot in the head and fell across my legs. He spoke to me. I turned to look at him, and said “”I cannot stop work now to help you.” As I said this I was shot, the bullet entering squarely on my breast, cutting off the first shirt button below the collar. It passed through the bone, which turned is course to the right, and passed out between the ribs. I was in the act of loading my gun at its muzzle. I had the powder in. When hit my right arm fell. I tried three times to put the bullet in and finish loading, hoping to give the enemy one more shot. Finding I could not do it, I dropped my gun, unstrapped my cartridge box and crawled to the rear until I came to a cleared field where a battery was stationed firing over the heads of our men into the Confederate ranks. As I raised up to a walk, a gunner motioned to me to step aside out of range and then continued firing. I walked around back of the battery and stopped to see it work and listen to the music of its roar.

The Confederate charge was stopped. . . .


That night I lay on the ground under a large tree. Noting that every breath sent bubbles of air through my wound, I called a soldier who was trying to care for the wounded and told him I could not live long on half-rations of air. He looked at my wound, tore some square pieces off a bandage roll, placed them over the wound and punched them into it with his finger and poured some cold water on the cloth. This caused the blood to congeal about the cloth and enable me to get the benefit of the air I was breathing.


The following morning, Allen was taken to the division hospital at Savage Station, Virginia, to have his wounded treated. The physician in charge was Dr. D. W. Bliss, who had begun the war as Regimental Surgeon with the Third Michigan infantry. As Dr. Bliss cut off Allen’s shirt, “I looked up at him and said, laughingly, ‘Doctor here is a wound you cannot amputate.’ As soon as he had uncovered it, he said, ‘It would be much better for you, my boy, if I could.’” As soon as his shirt was removed, Allen “discovered another wound on my left arm about half way between the shoulder and elbow. The bullet had chipped off a spot as large as a silver dollar but had not buried itself in the flesh. The arm was black and much swollen.”

There was some confusion in Allen’s military records regarding his subsequent hospitalization: one source reported that he was hospitalized on July 13 at Brooklyn, New York, but another noted that as of July 17 he was in Chesapeake hospital near Fortress Monroe, having been wounded in the chest and “doing well.” According to Allen, his wounds were quickly bandaged at Savage Station and he was sent on to Chesapeake hospital. From there he was transferred to Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn for convalescence and by early August he was reportedly a patient in College Hospital in New York City.

Allen eventually recovered from his wounds and was returned to duty. From New York he was sent to the Convalescent Camp at Alexandria, Virginia.

In going through Washington we passed by the Armory Square Hospital, then in charge of Dr. Bliss. I “fell out” and went into his office. Fortunately I found him at his desk. When he looked at me he recognized me at once and said, “See here, young man, this will never do. You will ruin my reputation. I reported you mortally wounded at Fair Oaks and have had you dead and buried in the Chickahominy swamp for six months.” I said, “I will improve your reputation by giving you an opportunity to resurrect me.” I then told him I did not want to be a “condemned yankee” and wanted him to find a way to save me from going to the Invalid Camp. He immediately called the hospital steward, ordered him to put me in a bed and keep me there four days. I protested, saying I was perfectly able to be about. The Doctor said to me in an undertone, “You stay in bed four days; by that time I will have an order reassigning you to do duty in my office.”

Allen was in fact transferred to Armory Square hospital in Washington, DC on October 1.

While there he was placed in charge of making out the necessary papers for patients discharged from the hospital. “I frequently urged the Doctor to order me to my regiment, but he refused, saying I could never serve as an enlisted man since receiving my wound. Being convinced there was no hope of ever being permitted to join my regiment, I made out my own discharge paper and placed it in a package I submitted to the Doctor for his signature. After he had signed all of the papers, I took mine out of the package and showed it to him. He endorsed it, “Able to serve as an officer, but not as an enlisted man.” Allen was discharged from the military on December 23, 1862, for a gunshot to the right lung.

Upon his discharge from the army Allen returned to his home in Grand Rapids, and resided briefly in the First Ward, where he resumed work as a clerk. Although he reportedly applied for a pension on January 31, 1863, in fact he reentered the service as Private in Company B, Twenty-first Michigan infantry at Grand Rapids on January 2, 1864, for 3 years, and received a $60.00 in bounty. He was “discharged” on March 12 to accept promotion to Second Lieutenant, commissioned as of January 26, crediting Grand Rapids, and replacing A. E. Barr who had been promoted.

Allen joined the Regiment on March 13 at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and by the summer of 1864 the Twenty-first Michigan was on detached service with the engineering troops.

Allen was present for duty in August, and in fact on August 23, 1864, the Eagle reported that Foote, along with Captain A. E. Barr and Lieutenant William Thornton, also of the Twenty-first “will please accept our thanks for a photographic card containing their likenesses and a romantic view of Lookout Mountain [Tennessee]. We are happy to have among our collections of the pictures of esteemed friends, the facsimile of such brave workers in the Union Army, and truly loyal men as those men represent. That they, one and all, may ere long return to their happy homes, covered with glory and bearing aloft in triumph over all, the starry old Flag of the free.”

According to William Trumper, who has studied the various movements of Foote during this period, on September 25, 1864, the Twenty-first Michigan was relieved of its engineering duties and assigned to the Second Brigade, First Division, Fourteenth Corps. On October 17 elements of the Twenty-first left Chattanooga to join the Brigade then at Rome, Georgia. By late October Allen was acting Commissary of Subsistence at Dalton, Georgia, and was consequently “responsible for large amount of stores issued to various Battalions and brigades passing through Dalton, and to the Garrison at Tilton, Georgia.” Apparently no replacement had been found for Allen who was consequently out of touch with his Regiment during this period.

On November 20 or 30, 1864, Allen requested a leave of absence for 30 days to remain within the Department of the Cumberland for the purpose of settling the business pertaining to the Department, before reporting for duty. He held the post of Commissary of Subsistence through January of 1865, and in February and March was Assistant Quartermaster at Dalton. Allen returned from detached service to his Regiment on April 22, when he assumed command of Company B on April 30. The regiment marched to Washington on April 29 and participated in the Grand Review on May 24. Allen was mustered out with the regiment on June 8, 1865 at Washington, DC.

After the war Allen returned to Grand Rapids where he lived briefly, possibly at 175 Lincoln Avenue, on the west side of the River, working as a clerk. He took the opportunity to apply for a renewal of his pension on November 1, 1865. He was a member of the Twenty-First Michigan Infantry Association and in late 1866 was living in Grand Rapids, probably in the Fourth Ward, where he was also active in the burgeoning “Boys in Blue” veterans’ political movement. Shortly after the war Allen applied for and received a pension (no. 14046).

On October 2, 1866, the Grand Rapids Eagle reported the following communication received from Foote regarding the political role of the veteran. “My attention,” he wrote,

has been called to the following the Democrat of September 26th, to which I wish to make reply through the columns of your paper.

“Political Dodge to Capture Boys in Blue. -- A movement is on Foote in this city to inveigle the soldiers into a secret political organization under the captivating title of ‘Boys in Blue’. Let soldiers beware of this snare to entrap them into the radical camp, and by oath bound pledges commit them to the support of the radical schemes.”

Timely warning, from a friendly source. Soldiers beware; there has been an attempt to capture Boys in Blue. During thirty years of Democratic rule the plan was being perfected; it was proclaimed to the world in the thunder tone of the first gun fired at Fort Sumter in 1861. There were Boys in Blue in the fort there. Since then a million men have fallen into the ‘snare to entrap them into the radical camp, and by oath-bound pledges, have committed themselves to the support of the radical scheme’ of putting down the rebellion and punishing treason. Many desperate attempts were made to capture them, not by radicals, but by the Democratic rebels of the South. Thousands of them were captured. Comrades, those of you who enjoyed the hospitality of Libby Prison and Andersonville prison-pen, how did you like the fare? Not well. Then ask the sympathetic friend of ours, who so generously advises you of danger, what effort his party made to release you. His answer must be: “We voted not a man nor a dollar to assist in releasing you; we did what we could to discourage enlistments, and to dishearten your comrades in arms; we spent our time in consultation with the traitors ‘over the border’, in passing peace resolutions, and finally abandoned you entirely, by declaring the war a failure.”

Soldiers, from such a source comes this warning; can the same tree produce both good and evil fruit, can the same heart ask for us both a blessing and a curse? Ah, friend of ours, do you not know that the oath which made soldiers, made Boys in Blue also? That is the only oath we have taken, there is no more secrecy in the organization of our political army, than there was in the formation of our military forces, every oath of which was administered in public. Do you not remember the 10th day of June 1861, when the ‘glorious old Third’ a thousand strong, in the presence of the Almighty God, and as many of our citizens as chose to be present, swore to defend the Government against all it enemies? Do you not remember how at the same time your party was preaching ‘fire in the rear’? You opposed the formation of our military army, and for one and the same reason, our bullets and ballots are both fired against Democratic rebels.

Secret political organizations are bad; we endorse much that you say respecting them. But that is the first we ever saw of the secret oath of the Boys in Blue. You must recollect we are only boys; why do you take us back to the know-nothing organization, which dates back beyond our political memory? Are there none of a more recent nature? How is it with the Knights of the Golden Circle? That ‘smacks of conspiracy, of revolution, of plots, of secret designs against the Constitution and laws of the land.’ It was composed of members of your party. ‘It is an evil sign’ to ‘secretly bind each other in a political organization for political purposes’ as did the rebel agents, when they tried to burn the hotels of New York, and to liberate the rebel prisoners at Chicago; do not say that was not a political act, for they were all men of your party, they all support ‘my party’ now, and you known the rebellion was only a “political dodge to capture Boys in Blue.”

You have given us an instance of an outbreak of one organization, we remember of another, ‘which caused the gutters of the Streets of some of our cities to run with human blood.’ It is a fearful crime, it is a dark stain upon the page of our American history, and those who witnessed or remember their horrors, look upon these riots of the reconstructed Democratic rebels, in the cities of Memphis and New Orleans, ‘with a shudder that chills the blood and shames the pride of American citizenship’. You ask us to vote these men into power, you ask us to affiliate with them and trust them as we would honorable men who have never perjured themselves by breaking the most sacred oath of office. You pretend to be our friends now, and offer your ‘blandiloguent’ advice as though we knew nothing of your record for the last five years, and warn us against being ‘captured by the radicals’, as though we ever belonged to your party!

Soldiers, study well the questions of the day and the records of the past. Under the leadership of Grant and Sherman we have fought our way ‘round the circle’. By our own blood and that of our fallen comrades we have welded each link of the chain of thirty-six states in the Union; and now that the conflict has been carried back to the ballot box, our bullets having won the battles in the field, our ballots must do the work for us now. Let us form solid ranks, be on your guard, do not be ‘inveigled’ into any movement, but be careful to sustain that for which you fought; do not be captured by a Corporal’s guard of war failure Democrats. We defeated the Southern wing of this Democratic party at the point of the bayonet; we can defeat its Northern wing with our paper wads. Then rally once again, let each soldier feel the friendly touch of his neighbor’s elbow. Forward! On the sixth of next November we shall win another victory, of which the muster roll of the majority shall outnumber the surrenders of Johnston and Lee.

Sometime around 1867 Allen left Grand Rapids and moved to Missouri living briefly in St. Louis. He was living in Webster Grove, Missouri when he married Emily (or Emma) Louise Hayt (or Hoyt) on April 30, 1868, in Collinsville, Illinois and their only child, a daughter Isabella was born in Webster Grove in July of 1872. Allen and Emily separated sometime around 1875, although Allen apparently helped to finance his daughter’s education and he attended her wedding to Walter Pinkham in Quincy, Massachusetts in July of 1900. It appears Allen and Emily never divorced.

In any case, Allen remained in Webster Grove until 1878, and by 1879 he was living in New York City where he was in partnership with one A. Brymer, selling pianos and organs, located at 291 Broadway and at 40 Fourth Street in Brooklyn. He was residing at 315 West 45th Street in New York City (although it was “not a permanent address”), and in 1880 he was still selling pianos and living with his wife “Emma” and daughter “Bella” in Manhattan, and they were all living with Clara Eckert.

Allen eventually moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was living in 1889-92. He soon moved to the west coast, and from 1893 to 1894 he was residing in Tacoma Park, outside of Washington, DC, although apparently he returned briefly to New York City from 1895-96. He was back in Tacoma Park from 1897-99, at 315 Linwood Avenue in Columbus, Ohio from 1907-15 and by 1921 he was living in Fletcher, North Carolina; he may also have resided at various other times in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Allen was for many years an economist and writer on political and economic affairs, and was apparently something of an expert on the public utilities industry (all of which might account for his various and numerous travels). In 1889 he published several works on the new technology of electric light and its impact on society, and in early February was appointed Chairman of the National Electric Light Association committee to investigate state and municipal legislation on the utilities.

He was a member of the American Economic Association (1899?), the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (1899?), a commissioner on the Ohio State Board of Commerce (1907?), was president of the National Tax Association in 1907 (1907?), and a member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. In December of 1907 his address was listed as 417 Board of Trade Building, Columbus, Ohio, and he was still livingin Columbus in 1912.

In 1913 Allen, then living in Columbus, Ohio, read a paper before the Ohio Commandery of the Loyal Legion held in Cincinnati, in which he recounted some of his more interesting wartime experiences. He closed his remarks with a tribute to the “loyal volunteer.”

Ask him now how he values the memory of that day when, with his regiment, he first left home for the scenes of war. Can the picture ever fade? Streets thronged with the populace and decorated with the flag he was to defend! Can he ever forget the holy inspiration of the silent cheer from his speechless father, mother, sister or lover as he passed them?

Ask him how he values his memory of a thousand incidents of army life that are never recorded by a single line on the page of history, but which revealed comrade to comrade, knotted life to life, and gave opportunity for the expression of nobility by noble men.

Ask him how he values his memory of the hours of conflict when the magnetic touch of elbow to elbow, comrade to comrade, gave courage and the line grew firm as adamant; when the spirit of those who fell entered into those who remained, as the dying transformed their unwilling groans into cheers for the living. In the crucible of conflict men become molten. Their blood mingles. Their souls blend. Their lives are fused into the life of the Nation. Who that has felt the mystic power, the grand exaltation, the unutterable joy of that supreme moment when his heart’s blood leaped forth as he fell at his post, would call back one drop of it for all that can be given him in return?

Ask him now how he values the memory of that day, when, duty done, his mission accomplished, with tattered battle flags, clothes soiled and torn, bronzed face and hardened muscles -- it may be with scarred and disabled body -- he returned to his home with the survivors of his regiment. Again the Streets are thronged with the populace and decorated with the National colors. The storm cloud passed, all are wild with joy made solemn by thoughts of those who could not come, remembered by none more tenderly than by those by whose side they fell. The glory of flowers, mingled with the voices of music, enchant the eye, perfume the air, exalts the soul. Suddenly, from out the mass of eager faces there darts a father, a mother, a sister or a lover, as some looked-for-one is recognized. The heart can endure the strain no longer. He is snatched from the ranks and embraced amidst the cheers of all observers.

Words!! There are no words for such moments! But the entry written by the recording angel that day will forever read -- “Thank God! My boy, my brother, my lover has done his duty.”

The days of trial and victory are passed, but the memory causes them to live forever in the eternal NOW.

Such memories are the true reward of loyal duty courageously performed. They can be possessed only by those who have earned them. Find such a one, become acquainted with him, and you will find one who will exact least from the defended and is most generous to the vanquished.

These memories stir within old soldiers their best manhood, and thrill them with the noblest pride as they look into each other’s faces. They only are capable of appreciating at their true value the comrades of the campaign, the veterans of the battlefield. They, better than all others, know how to honor him that was loyal and performed the duties of loyalty when the Nation had need of his services.

All who seek to perpetuate the history of war for the preservation of the Union by pen or brush or chisel; all who speak about or ponder over the events of those days, must ever stand uncovered in the presence of him who cay of the first battle of Bull Run, of the last grand review, or of any of the battles between -- “I performed the duties of Loyalty -- I was there.”

Allen was editor of Public Policy for some years, and he published numerous articles on, among other things, the economic implications of military-service pensions in the American Journal of Politics (June 1893) and in the Forum. In fact, Stuart McConnell in his history of the “Grand Army of the Republic,” the Civil War veterans’ organization contends that Allen “attacked the service pension proponents as ‘mercenaries’ and announced a ‘Society of Loyal Volunteers,’ dedicated to the idea that military service was a duty and not a cash transaction.”

By 1920 he was boarding (?) with the Snyder family in Mills River, Henderson County, North Carolina.

Allen died a widower of a stomach ulcer on January 14, 1921, in Hendersonville, Henderson County, North Carolina and his remains were sent to Michigan where he was buried on January 18 in Fulton cemetery, Grand Rapids: block 16.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

John Fluhrer

John Fluhrer was born June 8, 1838, in Germany, the son of John.

Sometime before the war broke out, John (younger) left Germany and immigrated to America, eventually settling in western Michigan.

He stood 5’5” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was a 22-year-old blacksmith probably living in Kent County when he enlisted as Fifth Corporal in Company F on May 13, 1861. “On or about the fourth (4th) day of April, 1862, he was attacked by a disease of the throat and entirely lost his voice, but still remained with his regiment in the line of his duty” until August 15, 1862 when he was sent to McKim hospital in Baltimore. He remained hospitalized in Baltimore until he was discharged on December 10, 1862, for aphonia (loss of voice) at Baltimore, Maryland.

After his discharge from the army John returned to Grand Rapids where he was living in January of 1863 when he applied for a pension (no. 10,664); by 1883 he was drawing $2.00 for aphonia (pension no. 10,664), and $15 per month by 1908.

He was living in Grand Rapids when he married Neu Darmstadt native Catharine or Katarina Ritz (1838-1916) on December 15, 1864, in Grand Rapids, and they had at least five children: Elizabeth (b. 1867), Mary (b. 1870), Sophia (b. 1876) and two unknown.

He was working as a laborer in Grand Rapids in 1865-66, and living at 143 Turner Street on the west side of the Grand River. By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Lisbon, Chester Township, Ottawa County. By 1883 he living in Ravenna, Muskegon County, where he was living in 1886 when he became a charter member of Grand Army of the Republic Sperry Post No. 337 in Ravenna. In 1888 he was living in Muskegon, Muskegon County, and in 1890 and 1894 he was residing in Harrisburg, Chester Township, Ottawa County.

John died of cardiac asthma in Conklin, Chester Township on June 18, 1909, and was buried in the Lutheran cemetery in Chester.

The epitaph on his tombstone carries two verse references from the Bible: the first is 2nd Timothy, 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing;” and second is Psalm 4:8, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

His widow was living in Conklin, Ottawa County when she applied for a pension in July of 1909.

John Fluhrer

John Fluhrer was born June 8, 1838, in Germany, the son of John.

Sometime before the war broke out, John (younger) left Germany and immigrated to America, eventually settling in western Michigan.

He stood 5’5” with gray eyes, light hair and a light complexion, and was a 22-year-old blacksmith probably living in Kent County when he enlisted as Fifth Corporal in Company F on May 13, 1861. “On or about the fourth (4th) day of April, 1862, he was attacked by a disease of the throat and entirely lost his voice, but still remained with his regiment in the line of his duty” until August 15, 1862 when he was sent to McKim hospital in Baltimore. He remained hospitalized in Baltimore until he was discharged on December 10, 1862, for aphonia (loss of voice) at Baltimore, Maryland.

After his discharge from the army John returned to Grand Rapids where he was living in January of 1863 when he applied for a pension (no. 10,664); by 1883 he was drawing $2.00 for aphonia (pension no. 10,664), and $15 per month by 1908.

He was living in Grand Rapids when he married Neu Darmstadt native Catharine or Katarina Ritz (1838-1916) on December 15, 1864, in Grand Rapids, and they had at least five children: Elizabeth (b. 1867), Mary (b. 1870), Sophia (b. 1876) and two unknown.

He was working as a laborer in Grand Rapids in 1865-66, and living at 143 Turner Street on the west side of the Grand River. By 1870 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and two children in Lisbon, Chester Township, Ottawa County. By 1883 he living in Ravenna, Muskegon County, where he was living in 1886 when he became a charter member of Grand Army of the Republic Sperry Post No. 337 in Ravenna. In 1888 he was living in Muskegon, Muskegon County, and in 1890 and 1894 he was residing in Harrisburg, Chester Township, Ottawa County.

John died of cardiac asthma in Conklin, Chester Township on June 18, 1909, and was buried in the Lutheran cemetery in Chester.

The epitaph on his tombstone carries two verse references from the Bible: the first is 2nd Timothy, 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing;” and second is Psalm 4:8, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

His widow was living in Conklin, Ottawa County when she applied for a pension in July of 1909.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Leonard Fleck

Leonard Fleck, also known as “Flake,” was born March 31, 1838 in Camden, Hillsdale County, Michigan, the son of John (b. 1805).

Leonard’s father was born in Pennsylvania and the family probably moved from Ohio (where his older brother George was born) to Michigan sometime between 1830 and 1838, and by 1850 John was working as a farmhand for one Benjamin Bradley in Camden, while Leonard was attending school and living with the Edwin Merriman family in Reading, Hillsdale County. By 1860 Leonard was working as a day laborer and living with George and his family in Fairplains, Montcalm County. His father had apparently married New York native Mary (b. 1834) in about 1853 or 1854, and was working as a farmer and living in Sidney, Montcalm County in 1860.

Leonard stood 5’8” with a dark complexion, dark eyes and dark hair and was 20 years old and residing in Greenville, Montcalm County when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. He was a company cook in August of 1862, and in September was Adjutant’s clerk.

He was wounded on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville, Virginia, and subsequently hospitalized serving as a nurse in July. Leonard soon returned to the Regiment and was wounded again, this time in the left ankle, on November 27, 1863, at Mine Run, Virginia. He was sent to the “Methodist church” hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, and remained there for some three months when he later claimed he was returned to the regiment where he remained until he was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit. (It is in fact uncertain whether he did return to the regiment since his service record does not list him as present on duty at that time.)

In any case, following his discharge Leonard eventually returned to Montcalm County

Leonard was reportedly living in Sidney, Montcalm County when he married another Sidney resident, Ohio native and widow Elizabeth Barret (b. 1839) on January 1, 1865, in Montcalm County. (Her first husband, Sylvester Barrett had died in early 1864 while in the army, and she was left with two children from her previous marriage. Leonard had apparently adopted them by 1870.)

By 1870 Leonard was working as a farmer and living with his wife and her two children in Sydney, Montcalm County. He probably lived the remainder of his life in Montcalm County working for many years as a farmer and carpenter.

According to Elizabeth they separated around 1871 (in fact they separated on October 15, 1871). She claimed that “he ran around with other women” but that “he was good in other respects.” She added that about 20 years later “he tried to have me take him back and acknowledged the fault was his.” After they separated Leonard went to live with his brother George and his family in Fairplains, Montcalm County. He never did get a divorce.

Nevertheless, he married his second wife, Lydia Butler on November 16, 1879, also in Montcalm County. She too had been married before and had at least three sons by her previous marriage (William, Edwin and James).

It is not known what became of Lydia, but Leonard married his third wife, one Amanda Wisel around 1880 and was possibly living in Six Lakes, Montcalm County around that time as well. Amanda herself claimed in 1904 that she and Leonard were married ‘about 25 years ago.”

A half-brother Roswell Fleck claimed that he had heard Leonard lived in Grand Rapids for a year or two and while there he married a woman named Carrie Mason but that they separated soon after returning to Greenville, Montcalm County and she moved back to Grand.

By 1880 Leonard was working as a farmer and living with his wife and step-sons in Belvidere, Montcalm County, and in 1883 he was living in Greenville, Montcalm County.

It appears that sometime in the mid-1880s Leonard served time in prison in Michigan. His first wife Elizabeth claimed that Leonard had been in the jail at Stanton, Montcalm County for about six months and in the prison at Jackson for two or three years; all of this reportedly happened sometime in the early to mid-1880s. This was substantiated by his niece, Euphenia Briggs, who testified in 1904 that Leonard was sent to Jackson state prison for some two or three years.

He was living in Greenville in 1890 when he became a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association and in Montcalm, Montcalm County in 1894.

In 1883 he applied for and received a pension (no. 255848).

Leonard reportedly took up with a woman named Stella Benjamin and the two of them apparently stayed together until his death in 1900.

Leonard died of acute bronchitis in Montcalm Township on March 4, 1900, and was buried in the Grand Army of the Republic section of Forest Home cemetery in Greenville.

In December of 1903 his first wife Elizabeth applied for and received for a widow’s pension based on the military service of her first husband, Sylvester Barrett.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Allen Fiske

Allen Fiske, no known date or place of birth.

Allen is listed only in the Regimental descriptive rolls (on microfilm in the Michigan State Archives in Lansing), and even that information is sketchy.

In fact, there is no further information other than the notation that “Per G.O. no. 116, War Department, he was transferred to the VRC on March 31, 1864.” The VRC was made up of men who while ambulatory were generally incapable of performing regular military tasks due to having suffered debilitating wounds and/or diseases and were assigned to garrison the many supply depots, draft rendezvous, camps, forts, prisons, etc. scattered throughout the northern cities, thus freeing able-bodied men for regular military duty.

In fact there was one Allen Fiske, who was 20 years old when he enlisted on June 4, 1861, in Company B, Third Maine infantry and who was subsequently transferred to the VRC. He survived the war and received a pension for his service in the Third Maine infantry.

Rendel or Randall Fisher

Rendel or Randall Fisher was born in 1838.

“Rendel” was 24 years old when he reportedly enlisted in Unassigned on February 19, 1862, for 3 years at Flushing, Genesee County. However, Rendel is listed only in the regimental descriptive rolls at the Michigan State Archives; he has no service record in the Third Michigan records at the National Archives, nor is he listed in the 1905 Third Michigan Regimental history.

In any case, there is no further record for military service in the state of Michigan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

James K. Fisher

James K. Fisher was born 1842 in Michigan, the son of Erastus (b. 1814) and Sarah R. (b. 1819).

Massachusetts native Erastus was living in Sutton, Worcester County, Massachusetts in 1840. He eventually moved west and in April of 1841 was living in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County, Michigan, when he married another Ypsilanti resident, Mrs. Sarah Taylor at the Methodist church in Ypsilanti. By 1850 James was living with his family in Emmett, Calhoun County, where Erastus was working as a mason. By 1860 Erastus was working as a farmer living in Greenville, Montcalm County (but James is not living with them).

James was 19 years old and probably still living in Montcalm County when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. Shortly after the Regiment reached Washington, DC, on June 16, 1861, the Greenville Independent reprinted a letter from a member of Company A to his parents who resided in Greenville, to describe the journey from Michigan to Washington. Present research leads to the likely conclusion that the writer was in fact James Fisher.

You have probably read of our departure from Grand Rapids. We had a grand time; people were rushing for the depot to bestow some encouraging word or some gift upon the departing soldiers, and at every station on our road they were assembled to see us, and you may be sure that we did not lack for food; we were given flowers by the bushel, coffee, lemonade, and everything else, in the shape of edibles. After marching through Detroit we took the boats for Cleveland and had a pleasant night’s ride. All along the route from Cleveland to Harrisburgh [Pennsylvania], the people were as anxious to see us as those in Michigan. Our route lay through a most delightful country. We got glimpses of the oil wells, coal mines and iron works, and, as we crossed the Alleghany Mountains, we passed some grand and awful places -- two tunnels, the first three quarters of a mile lone, and a short curve on the side of the mountain, where we could look straight down 175 feet on one side, and on the other, where the rock did not project too much, up 200 feet -- enough to make one hold his breath.

At Harrisburgh we stopped two hours for arms, ammunition and refreshments, and, when we again embarked on board the cars, and were placed in regimental order, expecting to have a fight passing through Baltimore, where we arrived Sunday morning [June 16] at 8 o’clock. Every man was ordered to prime [his weapon] and be in readiness to resist an attack, but we were disappointed, though some were very ill but recovered before reaching Washington. We were escorted in fine style through the city by the Police force -- were treated with the utmost respect, and complimented as being the finest regiment that had passed through there. -- I saw few persons besides negroes. We had a merry time going from Baltimore to Washington where we arrived at 10 a.m., and marched to our post, Georgetown Heights, two and a half miles from the Capitol. The city is full of soldiers in all kinds of uniforms, which gives a picturesque air to all the surroundings. Our camp is on the banks of the Potomac -- stationed there to guard the [Chain] Bridge -- and in the midst of scenery which almost bewilders one with its beauty. Cool, soft springs, shady groves and musical brooks are all around us.

We have had some few incidents of interest: one night a spy is shot at, the next, two of the enemy’s pickets are captured, and the next morning are released, and we have just heard heavy cannonading in the direction of Fairfax Court House, though we have not learned the particulars.

James was absent sick, probably in the Regimental hospital, from August 23, 1862, until he was admitted to the Third Division general hospital at Alexandria, Virginia on March 24, 1864, suffering from an “old sunstroke.” He was discharged by Special Order no. 185, War Department, dated May 23, 1864, at Knight hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.

James returned to his family home in Greenville, Montcalm County, Michigan, where he died of “quick consumption” on May 23, 1866, age 24 years, and was buried in Greenville’s Forest Home cemetery, Grand Army of the Republic section, grave no. 1 (originally L-842).

In 1867 his parents moved to Big Rapids where his father opened up a store and by 1870 his parents were living in Big Rapids’ Second Ward where his father was reported as a retired merchant (with some $10,000 in real estate). In 1873 they sold out and moved to Grand Rapids, Kent County, and in 1879 moved to Paris, Mecosta County, where they wer living in 1880. By 1886 they were residing in Greenville, Montcalm County.

In 1883 his mother applied for and received a pension (no. 251834).