James A. Hammond was born in 1842, in Michigan, the son of Carmi (b. 1810) and Mary A. (b. 1817)
Both New York natives, his parents moved from New York and settled in Michigan sometime before 1838, and by 1850 James was attending school with his siblings and living on the family farm in Essex Township, Clinton County. By 1860 James was attending school with five of his younger siblings and still living with his family on a farm in Essex.
James was 16 years old and living in Essex or St. Johns, Clinton County in 1861 when he enlisted in Company D (his cousin Benjamin enlisted in Company G), presumably with his parent’s consent.
James was mustered into state service on May 13, 1861, but was never mustered into federal service on June 10, since he was drowned in the Grand River on Sunday, May 26, 1861. It had rained a bit that morning when the Regiment was marched from Cantonment Anderson to “the Grand River, at some distance below Hovey's Ware House, West Side,” and Hammond “was suddenly taken with cramps, and before assistance could reach him, was drowned. His body was soon recovered, and every effort made at reuscitation [sic], but without avail.”
On May 27 Frank Siverd a member of Company G described what happened
Yesterday forenoon an accident occurred that cast a gloom over the whole camp. The Regiment was marched to the River to bathe; while several hundred men were in the water, James Hammond, a cousin of B. F. Hammond, and a member of the Boston Light Guard was seized with a cramp, and in the midst of his comrades, sunk in twelve feet of water. Consternation seized the whole of them and they fled to the shore leaving him to his fate. Allen S. Shattuck, of the [Williams’] Rifles [i.e., Company G], though at some rods distance rushed to him, and though unsuccessful, certainly deserves credit for the effort made to rescue him, He was the only person that made an effort. -- The body was recovered after a delay of forty minutes, by Mr. George Garner, of the Muskegon Rangers. Unsuccessful efforts were made under the direction of Lieutenant [Robert] Jeffords [Jefferds], M.D., of the Rifles, at resuscitation. Six hundred men went out in the morning full of hilarity and joy, and returned a few hours later in gloom and sorrow. It was surprising what a change the presence of death wrought. Mr. Hammond was from St. Johns. He was universally liked by those who knew him -- his remains will be sent home under a proper military escort.
A Grand Rapids correspondent for the Detroit Daily Advertiser wrote that Hammond “gave evidence of making a good soldier. This is the second death that has occurred since the quartering of the Regiment here. His funeral will be attended to-morrow (Monday) unless orders to the contrary shall be received from his parents.” The Enquirer reported on Wednesday that “His body was conveyed to St. Johns in the Monday morning train of cars, accompanied by Captain Houghton [commanding Company D] and a file of 8 men.” James was presumably buried in Essex.
His parents were living in St. Johns, Bingham Township, Clinton County in 1870.