Joseph Heinrich was born in 1828 in Baumgarden (?) Prussia.
Sometime before 1855 Joseph left Prussia and immigrated to the United States, probably settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he married Baden native Frederica Wolff (b. 1834) on October 22, 1855; they had at least two children: Herman (b. 1861) and Ernst (b. 1867). They eventually settled in western Michigan.
Joseph stood 5’8” with light eyes, brown hair and a light complexion and was a 32-year-old cooper possibly living in Kent County when he enlisted 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 probably a Corporal when he was injured at Chain Bridge, Virginia in July of 1861. He was discharged for a hernia on July 20, 1861 at Washington, DC, and returned to Grand Rapids by the end of July.
Although Joseph survived the war, several official Regimental records list him as having died at Andersonville prison on August 14, 1864, and buried in the National Cemetery: grave no. 5556. Furthermore, records show that in fact Mathias Greenwalt of Company C, mistakenly listed with Company C, First Wisconsin cavalry, died in Andersonville on August 13, 1864 and was buried in grave no. 5557. According to a statement Heinrich’s widow gave on August 22, 1891, Joseph never served in any unit other than the Third Michigan infantry.
In any case, after his discharge from the army Joseph eventually returned to Michigan and by 1867-68 was living in Grand Rapids and working as a cooper on the east side of Ottawa between Fairbanks and Trowbridge Streets, and living at 127 Ionia Street. By 1870 he was operating a tavern and residing with his wife and two sons in Grand Rapids’ Second ward.
He was admitted to the Central Branch of the National Military Home at Dayton, Ohio on October 30, 1877; his wife remained in Grand Rapids. At the time of his admission Joseph was still suffering from his hernia of 1861, which was “not controllable by truss.” He was still living in the Home in Dayton in 1880.
He died of consumption at the Dayton Home on December 16, 1884, and was buried in the National Cemetery in Dayton: section E, row 10, grave 10.
His widow was living with her son at 225 Fourth Street in Grand Rapids in 1890. In 1890 she applied for a pension (application no. 437,063) that was rejected in 1892 on the grounds that her husband failed to serve at least 90 days in the armed forces before being discharged.