James E. Trimmer was born around 1835 in Rochester, Oakland County, Michigan, possibly the son of James.
According to his pension records James served in the Mexican War, probably from the state of Michigan.
In 1850 there was a 22-year-old James Trimmer living with one David Wright in Springfield, Oakland County. In 1860 there was a James Trimmer working as a laborer and living with and/or working for William Rowley, a farmer in Montcalm, Montcalm County.
In any case, James stood 5’10” with black eyes, brown hair and a sallow complexion and was 26 years old and may have been residing in Shiawassee County when he enlisted in Company G on May 13, 1861. He was severely wounded in the left hand on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, although according to Homer Thayer of Company G was already back in camp by June 3.
Interestingly, the Detroit Free Press of June 6 wrote that Trimmer was among the returning prisoners-of-war, while the Grand Rapids Enquirer of June 11 reported that Trimmer was wounded and had been sent to a hospital in Washington, DC, and indeed Thayer wrote the Republican on June 20 that Trimmer had indeed been hospitalized at Judiciary Square in Washington, DC.
By early July Trimmer was still in Judiciary Square, and according to one eyewitness, had suffered the loss of two of his fingers but was reported to be “doing well.” He was discharged on July 30, 1862, at Judiciary Square hospital for “loss of 2nd & 3rd fingers of left hand at metacarpal-phalangeal articulation together with a considerable portion of the two metacarpal bones.” He was also suffering from “emphysema by which his lungs are chronically impaired.”
James returned to Michigan where he reentered the service in Company K, Eighth Michigan cavalry on February 9, 1863, at Groveland, Oakland County for 3 years, and was mustered on March 26 at Mt. Clemens, Macomb County, giving his residence as Groveland. (The regiment was organized at Mt. Clemens between December 30, 1862 and May 2, 1863.) The regiment left Michigan for Covington, Kentucky, on May 12, 1863, and from summer of 1863 through spring of 1864 participated in numerous operations in Tennessee.
James was an ambulance driver from March 30, 1864, through October, and reported missing in action on November 28 at Duck River, Tennessee. He soon returned to the Regiment on December 26, 1864, was transferred to Company F on July 20, 1865, and was mustered out with the regiment on September 22, 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.
After the war James returned Michigan, probably to Oakland County.
He was married to New York native Rhoda W. (b. 1839) and they had at least two children: Thomas J. (b. 1867) and John (b. 1876).
By 1870 James was working as a farmer and living with his wife and child in Holly, Oakland County. By 1880 he was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Holly, and was still in Holly in 1883 when he was drawing $8.00 per month for a wounded left hand (pension no. 58,577). He was still living in Holly in 1890 and 1894.
James died on March 22, 1911, in Fenton, Genesee County and was buried in block H (section 10), Oakwood cemetery, Fenton.