Joseph Anderson was born in 1802 or 1806 in Scotland.
Joseph was married to a woman named Sarah and they had at least three children: Rose (b. 1837), Elsie (b. 1842) and Thomas (b. 1846).
Joseph lived for some years in Canada, but sometime after 1846 -- and possibly sooner -- left Canada for the United States. Sarah allegedly deserted and abandoned Joseph and his children around 1854, and in 1856 he was living in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan when he was granted a divorce from Sarah on those grounds. (Curiously, the circuit court commissioner connected with these proceedings was one Hiram Peake, who may have been related to Lucy Peake, Joseph’s second wife.) By the late 1850s Joseph settled in Grand Haven, Ottawa County where he served first as a Presbyterian minister, then as a Congregationalist pastor. At one time he was also the Bible agent for the American Bible society.
On August 23, 1857, Joseph delivered a guest sermon at the Grand Rapids church of Mr. S. N. N. Greely. One observer wrote afterwards that Rev. Anderson
delivered a very effective discourse last evening at Mr. Greely’s church from the text “My people do not consider’, Isaiah 1:3. Not the least impressive portion of his lecture, was, when -- after impressing upon his hearers the immensity of the soul’s interests, about which they are so careless, compared with worldly matters which they so laboriously “consider” -- the speaker suddenly sat down, saying, “we will pause to consider.” Then, after a pause, during which it seemed as though, throughout the house, every breath was suspended, when he rose with the slowly enunciated question, “have we considered?” It was solemnly impressive, and suggestive of material for reflection, while, when engrossed in business cares through the week, we are inclined to “consider” upon grosser matters, which sooner or later must fade and pass away as a dream.
Aside from whatever charisma with which he may have impressed some of his parishioners, there arose in late 1857 some controversy about his views on the issue of Slavery. A correspondent for the Eagle wrote in mid-December that
Grand Haven would be a dull, uninteresting and apathetical place indeed, during the suspension of navigation, were it not for some great and portentous idea, set afloat in our community from the pulpit, lyceum or bar -- more often the latter -- that furnishes a fruitful topic of discussion pro and con., in the offices, stores, groceries, taverns and groggeries, by their respective inmates. On last Thanksgiving day, the Rev. J. Anderson touched a chord of the “harp of a thousand strings”, that vibrated pleasantly and in congeniality with the feelings and sentiments of the larger portion of his congregation, while it produced discordant and grating sounds upon the tympanums of others.
The subject selected was Slavery, in a moral point of view, and its debasing and demoralizing influence upon society and our country at large; and though the Rev. gentleman at the outset promised that his subject had designedly no connection whatever with any political question that might at present agitate the country, yet certain of the standard bearers of the Democracy of our country took exception to the entire discourse, though forced to acknowledge the truthfulness of the arguments and facts adduced so clearly, boldly and unhesitatingly by the speaker, while descanting upon the evils inflicted upon the communities and our country at large by the ‘peculiar institution.’
. . . . [I]t is a part and parcel of the slavocratic policy to shut the mouths of all preachers upon the subject of Slavery in public, and stifle the utterance in the pulpit of a single note discordant to its peculiar tenets -- even though its adherents acknowledge that the minister, in his relation to his congregation and his God, is morally and religiously bound to act the part of a faithful watchman, “to lift up his voice and spare not”, when he is conscious of the approach of an enemy whose moral aspect threatens to overwhelm society and the church with intestine broils and commotions, that, if not checked, will most seriously endanger if not totally destroy their peace and prosperity. Though the writer is as much opposed as any one to making the pulpit a political rostrum, and ministers stump orators, yet he is the last one to take upon himself the fearful responsibility of saying to any one occupying the exalted position of the minister of the gospel, thus far shalt thou go and no farther, when they are to declare the “whole counsel of God” upon every subject that concerns the moral growth and perfection of their fellows. And if the sentiments now and then uttered in the pulpit, setting forth in burning characters the moral deformities and hideousness of Slavery, and the leaven of corruption that if infuses into the very vitals of society, offend friends and sympathizers of that institution, it is no fault of our religion, but of their politics.
The Rev. J. Anderson is the man for the times, and for the place he now occupies. -- Unassuming, yet bold and intrepid; possessing a mind of more than ordinary comprehension, and well posted in the moral and political phases of all leading questions now agitated, he administers the most withering rebukes upon every species of immorality, vice and corruption. His discourse, a few Sabbaths ago, upon Intemperance as it exists in our midst and throughout our County, was an eye-opener, and has produced much profitable reflection on the part of the sober-minded; and his discourse on Thanksgiving day will eventually result in good, notwithstanding it has caused an unusual amount of gaseous words and senseless, faultfinding remarks from the opposition.. The reverend gentleman enters the field manfully and undauntingly, with a seeming determination to battle for the truth, regardless of the opinions or prejudices of his hearers.
The question of Anderson’s position regarding the church’s relationship to the issue of slavery continued on into 1858, and involved one of his former parishioners in Ottawa County, the influential William Ferry; apparently Ferry had publicly criticized Anderson’s stand on the church and slavery. Anderson, not wishing to be perceived as a “radical”, wrote an open letter on May 17 in which he replied to various charges made by Ferry in a letter printed in the Enquirer of May 15.
[P]ermit me to say, that during my long ministerial life I have only once touched the subject of slavery in the pulpit, and then only in such a way as I believe met the approval of Mr. Ferry himself. Had the newly elected Regent of our University, then, any reason to apply to my pulpit ministrations the terms “Abolitionism rampant in the pulpit of Grand Haven”?
Mr. Ferry is mistaken when he says I gave “a most hearty denunciation to the American Tract Society, for not publishing tracts on Slavery for distribution all over our land.” The simple facts are, that the society instructed its executive officers to publish a tract on the duty of masters to their slaves. The officers refused. I condemned the course of the latter, but sustained that of the former. I believe in men performing those duties to their employers which they are paid to perform. Should not the Regent of our University be better posted on the subject which he ventures to write?
I do not believe in ecclesiastical bodies incessantly talking on the subject of Slavery to the exclusion of other matters which may more legitimately claim their attention; hence, at the last meeting of the Grand River Association I moved to lay on the table a resolution on Slavery, but not all from the reason Mr. Ferry gives, viz.: ‘It would not be policy to pass it.’ Mr. F. marks and italicizes these words as though they were mine. He is mistaken -- I never used such words. I am not ashamed to declare on all proper occasions my utter abhorrence of, and perfect hostility to, the whole system of Slavery; but I do not wish to be misrepresented. Should not the Regent of our University be a man who knows whereof he affirms?
The Rev. Anderson believed that the issue between himself and Ferry revolved not around “slavery” but around a more local problem.
Mr. Ferry says, “a new church has been formed at Grand Haven, called the first Congregational Church. The Rev. Joseph Anderson, the denunciator above referred to, was the nucleus around which this church was gathered.” Ah, there it is! The old saying holds true -- “Murder will out”. This explains the origin and animus of the whole article. I have dared to organize a Congregational Church in Grand Haven, by the will of the sovereign people, without authority from any other quarter [i.e., Ferry]. Well, brother Ferry, why should you be annoyed at this? If I choose, and others choose, to travel to heaven in a Congregational omnibus, rather than a Presbyterian one, what cause have you to complain? Am I any worse man, or minister, than I was on the 18th day of January last, when the Presbyterian Church and Society by a unanimous resolution (which was moved by W. M. Ferry, Jr.) voted that I should be called their Pastor? Now, Mr. Ferry is a Christian, the son of an aged minister, and newly elected Regent of the University. We put it to him, whether the spirit of his article was in harmony with these solemn and important relations? We wish the Regent of the University to remember the motto of the Scotch thistle -- “Ue’no me impune lacessit.”
Less than two years later a much more serious controversy surrounded Anderson. In late 1860 he fell afoul of Edward Parks, the Ottawa County Prosecuting Attorney. In late December Parks alleged that Anderson had come to his home while he was away on business and made improper advances against his wife. In a letter written to the Enquirer in early January, Parks said that
I have heretofore respected Mr. Anderson; myself and family attending his church in preference to any other, have contributed to his support. He came to my house while I was away attending to my regular business. He attempted improprieties with my wife, unworthy of a man much less (if possible) a Minister, thereby insulting her as well as an insult to myself. I allow that I am capable of taking care of, and protecting myself and those that are dear to me when it is necessary. I feel enraged again at him, and openly expressed myself as wronged. A committee of young men from his Church called to settle the matter, I told them that Mr. Anderson must do one of three things, either make a public confession, leave town or be horse-whipped. At a prayer meeting after this he denied of taking improper liberties. I heard of it. I then determined to, and did, horse-whip him. The attempt to turn the blame of this affair on Wm. H. Parks, my brother, or any one else in order to create sympathies or cover up an outrage, is cowardly and mean. The fact is he did all he could to prevent me, and would give me no advise what to do. I acted as I thought I was entitled in doing, and think any man would have done as I did. I alone am responsible for what I have done. My wife is well known in this place and needs no certificate of propriety of conduct. A strong attempt has been made to crush me and my family. I have only to appeal to the manhood of men to sustain me. I am willing to abide by that decision. I married my wife in Troy, Mich., her name was Maria Martin; she was the daughter of Rev. John Martin, a Baptist Minister.
The Congregationalist church in Grand Haven stood solidly behind Anderson, however, and a week later voted a series of resolutions in support of him and his family. An investigation by several church members claimed that in fact William Parks (the brother) had sworn revenge on Anderson, but Edward had discounted this idea in his letter to the papers, quoted earlier. The church also went so far as to vote Anderson a $200 increase in his annual salary, and in 1862 he was still preaching at the Congregationalist church in Grand Haven.
On December 18 or 28, 1859, Joseph married Vermont native Lucy Peake (b. 1832) in Lamont, Ottawa County, and they had at least one child, a daughter Louise (b. 1863). By 1860 Joseph and Lucy, along with three of Joseph’s children were living in Ottawa, Ottawa County.
In the spring of 1862, Rev. Anderson, who was living in Grand Haven, replaced the Rev. Dr. Francis Cuming of Grand Rapids as chaplain to the Third Michigan Infantry. He was commissioned April 1, 1862, and appointed chaplain the same date. On May 14, the editor of the Grand Haven News reported that “As much as we regret losing the benefit of the sound teachings and wholesome spiritual doctrine, discoursed to us from Sabbath to Sabbath, by Mr. A., if our country has a stronger claim to his services than his congregation we bid him God speed on his mission of love and patriotism.”
“I have the honor,” wrote Colonel Stephen Champlin of the Third Michigan to Michigan Adjutant General John Robertson On Monday, April 28, “to report the election by the commissioned officers of this regiment, of the Rev. J. Anderson of Grand Haven, Michigan, to the post of chaplain of this regiment,” replacing Rev. Cuming. “His commission should date from the 1st of of April AD 1862. Please forward commission. I have written Mr. Anderson to furnish you with his name in full that the same may be inserted in his commission.”
On May 5 Rev. Joseph Anderson wrote Adjutant General John Robertson “I am informed by Colonel Champlin of the 3 Mich. Infantry, now or lately occupying Camp Winfield Scott before Yorktown in Virginia, that I was duly elected Chaplain of that Regiment on the 28th ult. and at the same time I am commanded to report myself to you that my commission may be fitted out and sent to me as above, dating from the 28th ult. He also informs me that he has duly notified [Michigan] Governor Blair of my appointment.”
By May 26 he was in Baltimore on his way to join the regiment in Virginia. On June 1, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Fair Oaks on the 31st, Rev. Anderson wrote to the editor of the Grand Haven News reporting on his journey as well as on his observations since arriving in Virginia and the state of the regiment after the battle.
I left Baltimore at 5 o’clock P.M. on Monday [26th] and arrived at Fortress Monroe next morning, and left in a government boat the same day and arrived at White House Landing, on the Pamunkey River, the same evening. I slept on board, and next day arrived at Dispatch Station, by rail, where I met a train of provision wagons, from our Michigan Third. I got aboard one of them and arrived at Headquarters about 5 o’clock P.M. The tents were pitched in a wood. All baggage beyond a traveling bag prohibited. I accordingly was compelled to send back my trunk across the Chickahominey, in the rear. Soldiers are living n little shelter tents, and sleeping on the ground. So my first acquaintance of camp life was coffee and hard crackers, and a bed of cedar boughs, with a blacnket thrown over me. Friday we received the [order] to march. We struck tents and marched three miles in advance and pitched again. In the afternoon Capt. Lowing [of Company I] and I took a stroll of six or seven miles. I wished to see and examine for myself the character of the country and its inhabitants.
The inhabitants are very sparse – houses generally inferior to ours – no paint – sometimes they are whitewashed, and very generally the underpinning is not all round, but like the Dutch Church, at Grand Haven, partial only. The chimneys are invariably built outside. I have not seen anything like a barn. The state of agriculture is retched – above all you can conceive. They plough with one horse only, and never deeper than from six to eight inches, and this is the case, not merely in this portion of the State, but I have it from the most reliable information that the same is true all the way from Norfolk here, which is one of the best portions of the State, being the peninsula between the York and James Rivers.
The roads are beyond description. Just imagine the worst roads possible, and then believe they are ninety-nine times worse than your imagination and you may then come near the truth. You may believe this to be an exaggeration. Well, may be it is. But when you consider the character of the soil -- sandy clay – and that here it has rained almost every day since I came, and that cannon, ambulances, and heavy army wagons are constantly passing and repassing, you can scarcely imagine the terrible state of the roads. Ben. Luce [regimental sutler from Grand Rapids] told me that one passing three miles he counted no less than seven dead horses and mules. Do not, then, be surprised that the movements of our army are so slow.
The manners and education of the people are at a very low ebb; but few can read and write – and this is true of some who are far above the “mud-sills” of society. I called into several houses, the owners of which occupied a thousand acres of land and one hundred niggers. There was no carpet except on one room. The lady had none of the fineness of finish that a northern lady would have. The children (not the nigger children) were barefooted and dirty, and the young geese and chickens were running through the sitting room.
Col. Champlin [commanding the Third Michigan] who is now lying beside me, wounded in yesterday’s battle, but not dangerously, said to me a few moments ago that “the civilization of the inhabitants was no higher than that of the dark ages.”
Capt. Lowing and I returned drenched to the skin. I had a change of everything but pants and these I borrowed from our quartermaster. The night was the most tremendous of storm of rain, thunder and lightning I ever witnessed. I had to get up and shake the water from my quilt which soon soaked through, but so tired was I that I slept most of the night – a rough beginning, you will say, to the experience of my camp life. Upon rising in the morning the booming of cannon and musketry, about two miles off, proved that the battle with the rebels had commenced. The enemy attacked Gen. Casey’s and [Gen.] Couch’s Divisions, and drove them in, and then our Division, under General Kearney, was ordered up to assist Casey’s Our Third Regiment went forth like brave fellows, as they are, but soon the wounded and dead began to come in. I filled a canteen with water – I regretted that I had no spirits – and helped to assuage the thirst of the wounded and dying. I cannot describe to you the affecting scene. Capt. Judd is missing; his brother George lost an arm, but may recover. [He will.] Our Colonel is wounded in the hip – not dangerously; I have remained with him all night. I hear that Don Lovell is wounded [he is], but have not seen him, and I am informed the wound is not mortal. I heard since it is insignificant. In the midst of the bustle and confusion of a room where soldiers are constantly passing and re-passing I now write this, and rumors the most contradictory prevail. We have beaten back the rebels, however, that is certain; and our brave Regiment are now in the rifle pits, ready, should the opportunity be offered, to meet them again. The booming of cannon is still to be heard; and a moment ago we sent up a balloon.
The news (but not credited) has arrived that Richmond is in our possession, being taken by our army on the right; but the real facts of the case you will learn sooner and better from the papers than from me. All our commissioned officers are safe except those I mentioned and Capt. Lowing and his Lieutenant [Simon Brennan].
Now you perceive that my experience of camp life has begun pretty roughly. While our Regiment was on the advance I went to my tent to pray – and if I ever prayed earnestly in my life I prayed then; and, although the rifled cannon balls and shells were flying through the air, yet I felt not a single feeling of fear, but, on the contrary, all was peace and confidence within.
With much love to all friends, for they are too numerous to mention, and with this prayer, that the blessing of God may descend on my beloved church and society, I am, yours truly, J. Anderson.
The following day, Monday morning, June 2, Rev. Anderson added
There were killed of our regiment twenty-five; missing twenty-three; one hundred and four were wounded. Among the wounded are Capt. Lowing and his Lieutenant [Simon] Brennan. All hearts are saddened for the loss of Capt. [Samuel] Judd. He may have been taken prisoner. [No, killed in action.] I conveyed our wounded colonel to the railroad depot, to be sent to the hospital at Baltimore. And there were the wounded lying in the field waiting to be conveyed away. They were too numerous to count and the sight too depressing to describe. Our Regiment bore away the honors. I heard a despatch from a Brigadier general in which he used the words, “God bless the Third Michigan Regiment! To them belongs the honors of the day.”
I slept last night on my bag, and my head leaning on a box. The alarm that the enemy were upon us aroused us all, but the alarm was false. I was sent for by the Tenth Mass. Reg., last evening, to perform the funeral service of Capt. Smead. I briefly and kindly addressed the men and received the thanks fo the whole regiment. Our camp is within seven miles of Richmond. To give you interesting items would require days; but we have repulsed the enemy – thank God – but we expect them again at any moment.
Rev. Joseph Anderson writing under the name “Josephus” to the Detroit Free Press
, and who was on the field on May 31, wrote home that
The attack of the enemy was made with a greatly superior force concentrated upon our line, with the evident purpose of flanking us, and thus cutting off our communication with the Chickahominy and destroying our supplies.
Early on the morning of the 31st, Casey's and Couch's divisions were attacked by a large force of the enemy, and were taken by surprise, and after some hours' fighting were driven from their position, and compelled to fall back with some disorder. General Kearny's division was then ordered up to their assistance. Of this division, General Berry's brigade composes a part, consisting of the Second, Third and Fifth Michigan Volunteers, and the 37th NY -- the 3rd Michigan leading the advance. The fortunes of the day were soon changed. The rebels, who were rejoicing in the prospect of a complete victory, and of accomplishing their well planned purpose, were repulsed with great slaughter. As, however, I am connected with the 3rd Michigan, what I have to say more directly refer to them, and but incidentally to the others, and yet without at all detracting from their bravery.
The 3rd, commanded by Colonel Champlin, had taken position in the rear of a redoubt on the right. The distance from this to the battlefield of Fair Oaks was about one and a half or two miles, which was traversed with as much speed as the nature of the ground would permit. They at once deployed into line, their right wing resting on an abattis, while the left was thrown forward, at a double-quick into a thicket of pines, to the right of which was a slashing of oaks, from behind which the rebels kept up a steady and galling fire upon our men. Captain Judd commanded a corps of 50 sharpshooters of the 3rd Michigan, and lost his life while bravely encouraging his men to penetrate the fallen timber. But nothing could daunt the determined courage of our brave regiment, who overcame every obstruction, and, charging the enemy, drove them back with great slaughter until they reached a fence, where they again made a stand. At the commencement of the action, the brave Colonel Champlin received a severe wound in the hip, and yet, wounded as he was, continued to give orders for a time, but was obliged to retire to the rear. The command then devolved upon Lieutenant Colonel Stevens, who again rallied his brave and resolute, but fatigued men, and pressing forward, attacked the enemy in his new position. Just then the Michigan 5th were ordered up to his assistance, and with the 3rd continued to drive the enemy some 80 rods further, where they made a further stand, and where the heat of battle raged furiously, until our ammunition was well-nigh expended, and Major Pierce, of the 3rd, at great hazard to himself, volunteered to return and obtain a supply, and also further orders from General Berry.
About 5 o'clock p.m., one of the most brilliant exploits of the day was performed. In the ardor of pursuit, the Michigan 3rd and portions of the 5th Michigan and 63rd Penn., who, in the absence of their officers, were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stevens, had pressed the enemy in front, while the right and left wings of our troops were equally pressed by the enemy, and retiring, left this brave party exposed on their right and left flanks, so as to become isolated. Colonel Stevens perceiving his position, with consummate prudence, assisted by Major Fairbanks of the 5th and the senior Captains of the New York 63rd, retired upon our main body without loss, in the very face of the enemy, who had them almost in their power, but who had been so severely handled by this heroic band that they feared to take advantage of it.
Night closed the contest; our troops, however, occupied the ground which they held in the morning. Colonel Champlin lay wounded in an ambulance in the rear, and would not retire until he knew the fortunes of the day, and received orders from Brigadier General Berry. I was at his side when the dispatch arrived, in which I noted these words: “God bless the Michigan Third -- to them belongs the honor of the day.” The wounded soldier retired well satisfied.
Martin Clapper of Company I, and also from Ottawa County, wrote to his father on June 6, and related the following incident during the battle of Fair Oaks in which the Rev. figured prominently.
I had forgotten to tell you about our new Chaplain Mr. Anderson of [Grand Haven]. Yes he arrived last Friday I think. He was ordered by General Kearney [?] to go into the woods & help carry out the wounded, he being in the rear of the battle standing in a wheat field. The Chaplain looked up to the general as much to say I rather guess you do not know who I am. When the general asked him who he was, “I am,” said he, “the Chaplain of the Michigan 3d.” Said Kearney, “I don’t care a d______ who you are you start & carry off wounded men.” This is a story that our band leader tells, he being engaged carrying away wounded & happened to be resting near where the conversation took place. I think its rather rough on our Mr. Preacher & perhaps in the coming battle he will keep clear of General Kearney.
Well I had several chats with him. He seems very sociable & common. Talks a good deal with the boys & I guess will be thought a good deal of.
On Sunday, June 15, Eli Hamblin of Company F, Third Michigan, wrote home to his parents that he had just come from Sabbath service:
We had had our meeting and have had a good one. It is the first one we had had this spring. Our old chaplain [Francis Cuming] went home when we left Washington and we have a new one now [Joseph Anderson]. It is the first time he has preached to us. We like him first rate. He is a good man. We like him better than we did the other [Francis Cuming]. He is an old man but he is a clever old scotchman. He is around with the men and talking with them and but the other one was not so he talked well to us.
Although it was reported back home in Ottawa County in late June that Rev. Anderson had been suffering from fever and diarrhea, in fact he was present for duty with the Regiment in June and July during the Peninsular Campaign.
On June 22 he was with the Regiment at Camp Lincoln, near Richmond, when he wrote to a friend in Grand Haven,
your welcome letter was this moment received, creating much joy, but not unmixed with regrets – joy to hear from you, from my dear little church and society, and from friends, the remembrance of whom is precious in “this land of darkness and shadow of death.” I cannot tell you how good a letter from home reads here; you could only estimate it by being here sometime yourself. It rejoices me, too, that our Grand Haven friends have thought of our brave, wounded and sick soldiers. My Heaven’s choicest blessings descend upon them for it –may they be repaid richly for it from Him who has all the stores of nature and grace at his disposal. And yet my regrets, and those of our brave officers and men here, to whom I read that part of your letter about the box of good things in preparation, are, that, instead of being forwarded to the Soldiers’ Aid Society, it was not forwarded direct to the Regiment. You would then have been sure that our men only would have received the benefit. The truth is, that although that Society is doing a good work, yet our general hospitals, to whom these supplies go, are filled with the sick and wounded from the whole army, and few, comparatively, of our Michigan soldiers receive the benefit of them. But the worst is that these hospitals have a bevy of superintendents, stewards, nurses, etc., many of whom have families there, so that these supplies find a place at their tables, it is to be feared, fully as much as at the bedsides of the sick and wounded – nor can the strictest supervision and sanitary regulations prevent this, with so large an army and so extended a hospital department, scattered over the whole Union – and, besides, the sick in our hospitals compose but a part of the suffering and sick of our Regiments. We have now in our Regiment sixty-one privates and two commissioned officers on the sick list, who are lingering and bearing up against disease, and refuse to go to a hospital, hoping soon to get well, and some of them hoping against hope. Oh, what untold blessings would a box of jellies and cordials, which our ladies could make, impart to those worn and dispirited brave men, who are living on hard crackers, and coffee harder to the stomach than the crackers to the teeth, and drinking water that does not deserve the name! To these men your box of jams, jellies and cordials would have been a mine of wealth as well as of health. Our Adjutant, who sits beside me, told me, more in earnest than jest, when I read to him that part of your letter about the box and its destination, “Convey to the ladies the sentiments of my entire disapprobation.”
Why, brother S--, I myself would have often given a dollar for a single draught of ale, if I could get it. I am just recovered from fever and diarrhea, and it fortunately happened that I had ten lemons, half of them rotten, for which I had traveled miles, searching among the Sutlers of our army, and paid for them one dollar and twenty five centers! And they were invaluable. I could not tell you the fabulous prices we pay for things. Think of twenty-five cents for a single copy of a newspaper, sixty cents a pound for butter, the same for cheese – and both to disgusting for me to look at – yet eagerly bought and eaten by others. And then there are several of our officers who, tho’ on duty, and do not wish to report themselves sick, yet are borne down by fevers and dysentery while manfully fighting the battles of their country. The fact is, that the hospitals are full of the willfully sick and lazy, as well as the really sick, while very many of our brave men are nobly doing their duty with broken down constitutions, and are looking anxiously for the reduction of Richmond and then to return to their homes.
The romance, brother, of war you have at home – the stern reality is in the field. I now write about fifteen rods in the rear of our breastworks, and my desk is the bottom of a barrel – it has been sometimes a stump. We are about two miles form the enemy’s camp. Their shot and shell frequently fly over and around us – the latter come through the air with a hissing sound which is almost a scream. There lies at my tent door a twelve -pound shell, which did not explode, and was taken up by one of our men. Almost every day the command is given “Fall into line” expecting an attack. Last night there was heavy cannonading and volleys of musketry on our right, and, though very poorly and feverish, I was compelled to arise and pack up, with the expectation of retiring to the rear, but lay down again. We expected an attack today, but all seems quiet. Our regiment occupies the very front line; and on our left, sixty rods’ distance, an immense swamp. The whole of the peninsula is full of swamps, and this part not much improved, but mostly overgrown with timber – and yet this is the earliest settled part of Virginia, the land of Capt. Smith, Pocahontas and old Powhatan. The climate is exceedingly bilious, and after nightfall the air injurious to foreigners. The country is entirely ruined by the war – fences mostly burned up, and nay crop there was, eaten as forage for the horses. You can have no idea of the immense stores needed for such a vast army.
In my letter, which was published in the News, there were some inaccuracies about the battle; it was written too soon after it to be entirely correct. There was one, however, which I saw in a copy of the News, sent to Don Lovell, which, as he is not here, I opened and found it stated that the people here plough their land only seven or eight inches deep. Whether this mistake is mine, or the printer’s, I know not, but it should have been, in order to be correct, tow or three inches, instead of seven or eight inches.
I have been generally well since I came here – that is as well as any northern man usually is, coming here at this season of the year, and considering the regularity of my habits and the perfect contrast of camp life, a contrast which is as wide as the poles.
At the moment Lt. Col. Stevens, who commands the regiment since the departure of Col. Champlin, has entered my tent, and having told him the kindness of the Grand Haven ladies, in preparing a box of good things for our brave soldiers, he exclaimed, with a sigh, “I wish you could write in time to countermand its destination.” He too has been among the ailing.
The weather is now warm and the roads are improving. . . . Mr. Avery, from Grand Rapids, was here. We are so glad to see him we almost devoured him. He brought home the body of our brave Capt. Judd, in a metal case. His company mean to erect a monument [they do] to his memory, with a suitable subscription, costing $250. He deserved it.
When the fruit season arrives, I beg our ladies to remember the value of a box of currant wine, etc. Oh, how I could wish to spend one hour at Mr. Wart’s strawberry bed! You cannot think what a strong craving this climate and our hard camp life creates for the acids of fruits, etc. There is no fruit here of any kind. Wonder if Virginia was created when the rest of the world was! Even a draught ofg water from own well would be priceless.
I have more writing to do than I can attend to. Therefore tell R—that when I write to you I write to her and to everyone in Grand Haven. You will find in the Detroit Free Press of the 14th inst., a true account of our Regiment’s part in the battle of Fair Oaks. Signed “Josephus” which is from my own pen. I wish brother B—[Barns of the News?] would reprint it.; and I wish much he would send me his paper regularly.
I read our dear Sabbath School’s address to our Regiment, which drew tears from some eyes. Tell the dear children, superintendent and teachers, that I remember them daily at our Father’s throne. God bless little Charley Goff. When I go home tell him he shall have a half dollar instead of a penny. Tell all my dear friends that if I do not mention them by name it is for want of room, not want of will. God bless you brother, brother B--, my dear little church, and society, and all my friends.
P.S. I lost my horse. It was stolen. I cannot afford another, so must foot it now. . . . I wear only woolen – that is, half-cotton striped shirts and have not undressed since I joined the regiment. I would not know to sleep on a good bed now.
In early July Joseph wrote home to the editor of the Grand Haven News, to give him “a brief summary of events in the army of the Potomac, for the past ten days.”
I find the papers are conflicting in their statements. What I write you may depend upon. And, first, I would say a few words of the position of our army before Richmond.
If you look at any good map of Virginia you will perceive the Chickahominy River running into the James, a considerable distance below Richmond, on the left, but having its source much nearer the right. This river flows through a swampy country, partly impassable when it is swollen by rains. On the left our army had crossed the river in its approaches to Richmond, but not so on the right. At the battle of Fair Oaks the river was in our rear, and swollen by the long rains the country behind us and there was not a single loophole for retreat. Some days before the battle I mentioned this fact to several officers, but was met with a “pooh! Geo. B. McClellan never retreats”. Now, however brave a General may be, and however victorious an army, yet one of his first and chiefest works is to provide against disaster by securing a means of retreat. There had been a small bridge placed across this stream, at low water mark, but in the flood it was swept away. The rebels, therefore, showed great tact in attacking us just at the crisis when retreat was entirely cut off from us, and nothing saved our whole army from disaster and ruin but the intrepid bravery of our troops, tho’ unequally matched against a superior foe. Again, any one who looks at the position of our army before Richmond will see that at any time we were liable to be flanked, both on our right and left, whenever the enemy had sufficient force to accomplish it. This is proven by the fact of the raid of fifteen hundred horsemen, who, leaving Richmond, passed our left wing, around at White House Landing, in our rear, and gave such a fright to the host of sutlers there, and had they been of sufficient force could have done us real damage. They returned to Richmond on the right, having raveled round our whole army. you see from this the precarious nature of the position of our army before Richmond, and that it only required sufficient force to enable the enemy to flank us, and to cut off our communications. Thus, while the people at home were looking for and rejoicing in the speedy prospect of the fall of Richmond, and while most of our army vauntingly uttered the belief that we would be there in a week, the real fact was that we held our ground before Richmond on sufferance, and just because the enemy had not all the force necessary to accomplish what they meditated, and which, so soon as they obtained, they did accomplish.
On Tuesday, the 24th ult., McClellan, wishing to advance his lines, ordered strong reinforcements to drive back the enemy’s pickets, which was met with strong resistance. So that, although partially successful, at first, yet our pickets were driven back again, and we on Wednesday occupied the same position as before. On Thursday our right wing, under McCall, Porter and Keyes, wished to make an advance, so as to get possession of a hill, in front, which occupied a commanding position. The contest was deadly, and at first with some advantage on our side, but in the evening we were driven back with loss. The next day Friday, the rebels were determined to follow up their advantage, and attacked our right with an overwhelming force, and, lest reinforcements should be sent from any other part of our line, they attacked our whole line and kept it engaged while they threw and overwhelming force upon our right, which was thereby driven back, and a large force upon our flank, and, to add to our disaster, it was ascertained, also, that a large force of the enemy had possession of the railroad in our rear, that White House Landing had been deserted and our communications completely cut off. The peril of our position was imminent. It is said that the enemy sent in a flag of truce, giving Gen. McClellan until Saturday afternoon to surrender his whole army. How true this may be I cannot tell. But, on Saturday morning, the order was issued for each man to be provided with three days cooked rations and one hundred and fifty rounds of cartridge. Saturday all was quiet and still; the roar of cannon and rattle of musketry had died away.
I went to the hospital but what a sight met my eyes! The wounded and dying were there, torn and lacerated and mangled. I noticed one poor fellow, while bleeding himself, trying to wipe the temples of his dying brother. Another calls to me, “O, sir, will you write two letters for me?” I wrote for him, to his father and brother, expressing the hope that he would be permitted to return home to get well. Poor fellow! his home is the grave! Another, who lost an arm, was quite in good spirits, and described with briskness and energy his share in the battle. Another, an Irishman, was wounded in the temple by a musket ball, and strange as it may seem, instead of penetrating it actually flattened against the skull! I would not believe it until I handled the ball.
That night we had orders to hold ourselves in readiness to move. All night the noise of heavy wagon trains was heard in the rear, before we departed. We left several regiments and a strong artillery force to cover our retreat. I have no time, and I am incompetent to describe to you our retreat, commencing on Sunday, until Thursday, when we arrived at Harrison’s Point, on James River. The retreat of a large army in the face of an enemy of superior force is always a difficult and dangerous task. But our retreat was managed well. Our army and artillery teams were immense. The rebels pursued in great force. But I have no doubt that we killed of them more than they did of us. At one place we came in our march to a ridge of commanding heights, where we planted immense batteries of artillery, and, as the rebels pursued, they had to cross at an immense slough, where we had torn up the bridge, and we poured upon them one incessant stream of shells and balls which they returned. It seemed as if hell itself was opened and emitted sheets of smoke and flame. I never heard any thing to be compared to such a fearful cannonade. We drove the rebels back, and it is said that their dead lay piled in heaps. One of their balls fell within ten feet of me and spattered me with mud. After that, which was Tuesday, their pursuit was continued with less vigor, and we were then so near our gunboats, on James River, that their shells combined with ours towards the discomfiture of the enemy.
Doubtless our loss, in army stores burned up, cannon left behind, sick, wounded and prisoners, who have fallen into their hands, must be immense. Still, our retreat was wise. We were on the James River. Our communications are protected by our gunboats. The place is more healthy for our troops. But why our army, especially after the fall of Norfolk, did not make this River the base of operations, without being compelled to fall back upon it, I cannot tell.
Although on our retreat, I lived upon crackers and cold water, and slept with the sky for a canopy, yet I am well. This part of Virginia is far more beautiful and better cultivated that the Chickahominy country. Except we get large reinforcements we can not enter Richmond for a long time.
The express box has not come to hand, I hear it is at Fortress Monroe, but when I shall get it I can not tell, but hope soon. Love to everybody, and with prayers and best wishes for church and society, Sabbath-school, superintendent and teachers, and with love to brothers Taplin and Van der Vene.
From the regiment’s encampment along the James River, Rev. Anderson wrote to the Detroit Free Press on August 8, describing the recent events in the regiment along with several other observations about chaplains as well as the situation of the recently exchanged prisoners of war.
We are now in the dog days. There is a good deal of sickness in camp, the seeds of which I believe to have been sown amid the swamps of the Chickahominy – the miasma and water of which were impregnated with death; here the water of the wells is good, and the air, when we have any, appears salubrious. In the neighborhood of our division there is a mill-pond which affords the pleasures of a bath and invites to frequent ablutions, after rain it overflows, and to stand under the dam and receive the falling flood is an enjoyment in the way of a shower bath the like of which I never experienced. It is a luxury imparting not merely cleanliness but health and vigor. The banks of the pond are strewed with garments of all kinds, thrown away by our men, and many of them good ones too, which would be a godsend to the rebel soldiers, could they get them, even although they be peopled by a peculiar specimen of animalculae, too vulgar to mention to ears polite. It is to the shame of our men that they do not observe personal cleanliness sufficiently. When in the trenches, on the march, or amid the deadly or active struggle of war, this may be difficult, if not impossible, but there is no excuse for the want of it in camp. You can easily perceive how woolen garments, saturated with fetid matter, exhaled form the body, worn night and day, need frequent cleansing, and yet this is so neglected that many of the men wear them until they become so filthy or infested with vermin that they are compelled to cast them away.
A word about Chaplains. The correspondent of the N. Y. Times, in a communication from Harrison’s Landing, gives some rough stories about Chaplains. He says he heard of some of them “peddling socks at thirty-five cents apiece, and lemons at five cents,” but the account bears its own refutation on the face of it, for I never could buy a lemon for less than ten cents, and I have traveled miles and miles through camp at times to get them even at that price. And in the same passage he quotes, or rather misquotes, the text of a certain Chaplain’s sermon, showing at once that whatever value he may have as a newspaper correspondent, his biblical scholarship is not of a high order. Now it is a fact that our army Chaplains comprise many men of the ripest scholarship and highest order of intellect and purity in the ministerial ranks of our country; and at the same time it is also to be deplored that some have been employed who either were not ministers at all, or, being unfitted for it, had retired from the ranks to pursue some more congenial or lucrative employment, and sought the Chaplaincy, therefore, or were chosen to it, from interested or party motives, and their character casts a dark shadow over them. Some, again, appeared very well in the pulput at home, amid the surroundings of a quiet, respectable parish, a convenient church, and a nicely cushioned pulpit, but when called to execute the duties of their office, amid the roughness and hardships of camp life, the clash of arms, the deadly strife of battle, or the difficulties and dangers of a retreat they were recreant [?] to their trust, neglected their duties entirely and at length returned to the ease and quiet of home life. One of these last inserts in the Adrian [Michigan] Expositor, of July 25, as reasons for his resigning, among others. That “he was doing nothing.” This testimony, as coming from his own lips, must be owned to be true, but then a question arises whether his “doing nothing” arose from his own wishes, or that he had nothing to do. No one who knows anything of our army will, assert the latter. Another reason was, he had conscientious scruples about “receiving pay for imaginary services which he did and could not render.” Now it is a rather remarkable that it took him near a whole year to find this out, and yet he received the pay for that time without any scruple. The fact is, Chaplains, like other men, have their heart in their work, or they have not, and, if not, they will act out their nature like other men.
Some of our men have returned from Richmond [prisons] on exchange. They give a deplorable account of the scarcity of provisions. They had each a quarter of a loaf of bread a day, fresh meat twice a week, but without salt. They state salt to be from 50c to $1 a sack, according to size. Sometimes they were a whole day without any rations. One of them gave twenty-five cents for a teaspoonful of salt. Everything, they said, was correspondingly high. There were no medicines to be obtained for the sick, and mortality was very great. They state that there are no strong fortifications around the city, and that they were treated kindly, and permitted to express themselves freely about the rebellion. They think there is yet a strong Union feeling in Richmond. They were not deprived of their money, and could at any time get ten dollars Confederate money for five of ours, showing conclusively that even the Richmondites believe the Union is yet to prevail over Rebeldom.
Reports have been prevalent of the descent upon our fleet of the new Merrimac [CSS Virginia]. There need be no apprehension, however, upon that score. If she dares attempt it she will never return. You cannot have any correct idea of the strength of our fleet in the waters of the James.
Reports find their way into the papers that the army is kept constantly supplied with fresh bread from a bakery in Fortress Monroe. This is not true, certainly not as regards our division. Our Brigade Quartermasters will perhaps twice a week supply the officers with bread, but there is none for the common soldier. Occasionally they are able to purchase a loaf in a division who have had the care and foresight to establish bakeries for themselves, but this is the exception, not the rule.
We are on the eve of active operations, which it would not be wise to proclaim, but which you will hear of in due time. Our army is exercised in regimental or brigade drill every day, and are in fine spirits. Large additions have been made to it, from the return of absentees and exchanged prisoners.
In late August of 1862 Rev. Anderson wrote to Dwight Cutler, in Grand Haven, describing the recent movement of the Third Michigan to Alexandria from the Peninsula and also discussing his own future.
Dear Sir: The army of the Potomac, after a slow, fatiguing march of ten days, the privations and trials of which I cannot enumerate, arrived from Harrison’s Landing, on the James River, at Alexandria, on the Potomac, on Friday last, the 22d, and immediately, as quick as cars could be had to convey them, were sent off by rail to the neighborhood of the Rappahannock. The officers of our regiment left all their tents and baggage at Alexandria, and took nothing but their blankets, intending the sky only for a tent. They expected severe fighting, and they will doubtless find it so. [Indeed they will on August 29 at Second Bull Run.] And hence Col. Poe, who is in command of our Brigade, and Major [B. R.] Pierce, of our regiment. Detailed me to remain in Alexandria and to hurry on the troops without delay as they arrived. So, having some time on my hands, I came up to Washington and received some of my pay. . . .
I intend to resign and return home at the end of October next, if I am spared, and you may tell the church and society so. A letter from Grand Haven has not reached me for a long time. It appears as if all the world had shaken hands with me and bade me a final adieu. I do want to hear so much from Grand haven. How you are all doing -- what you are doing – who is alive, dead, married, enlisted or run away to Canada.
I had a great notion to take the cars this afternoon for Chicago. And surprise all of you with a visit for a few days, and would have done so but for two reasons: It is against military law to go without leave of absence, and, although my own officers would not complain, yet I would be giving the benefit of my example to what is wrong and demoralizing to the army, and, further, it would cost me about fifty dollars for the pleasure of saying “How do you do?” so I must deny myself the pleasure. You should know, too, that I cannot resign when I please – even although my regiment were all satisfied – yet Major General Kearney, at the head of our division, may refuse consent, and often does so – for he thinks that no officer should resign but upon some occasion of the utmost emergency. However, I mean to try it in October, it not before. My health is poor, and I want to rest. I mean, if I can, to go out into the country and stop with some farmer for a few days, if I can find one to take me. . . .
With kind remembrances to all my friends, and hoping to see them all in due time, I am yours very truly, J. Anderson.
On September 1, from Alexandria, Rev. Anderson wrote to the Detroit Free Press
When I wrote you last, the Army of the Potomac had been under marching orders for some days, but the where and the when still remained a mystery to us. On Friday, the 15th, the mystery began to be solved, for before day-light our tents were all struck, a hasty breakfast taken, and the long column began its march. The army was divided into separate columns, took different routes, and departed on different days, and this less obstructions would be met with on the march. Whoever has seen, or conceived of an army on the march, with its immense column of baggage wagons, ambulances and artillery, will easily conceive the necessity of punctuality in obedience to orders; when this punctuality is omitted the column is delayed – wagons, ambulances and artillery block up the passage, and the whole mass is thrown into confusion. Of this we have had more than enough of experience; and the arrest of officers for neglect could not prevent the unpleasant consequences.
Weary and overcome with fatigue, heat and dust, and exposed to the damps of night, we arrived at Yorktown on Tuesday, where a part of the column embarked on Wednesday, and another part at Newport News, and arrived at Alexandria, on the Potomac, on Thursday, where Col. Champlin, of the Third Michigan, although not yet completely healed of his wounds received at the battle of Fair Oaks, met his old companions in arms, and was received with enthusiastic demonstrations of joyful greeting. Such was the press of troops to join Pope’s army, that only on Saturday could our brigade find a passage by the Warrenton railroad.
You will have seen ere this reaches you how Stuart’s rebel cavalry, some 1,200 strong, again, as at White House [Landing], in the Peninsula, got into our rear and surprised Pope’s headquarters at Catlett’s Station, seizing papers, money, and several prisoners. How he could have done this unaided by traitors in our own ranks remains a mystery. You will have seen, too, how, while Pope retired across the Rappahannock and expected an attack from the enemy in front, Jackson stole a march upon him, and taking a circuit round the Blue ridge Mountains, marched his forces sixty-two miles in less than two days, and without tents or baggage, and but two day’s provisions in their haversacks, passed through Thoroughfare Gap and fell upon our communications, completely flanking us. Thus, while the enemy was looked for in front, he was in our read, had seized upon our depot of provisions, clothing, supplies, etc., at Manassas Junction, and appropriated all that was needful to his naked and famished troops, and destroyed our railroad trains and all the stores which he could not appropriate.
Thus was all communication between Washington and our army cut off for several days. I have it from good authority that before [rebel general] Longstreet’s division passed through Thoroughfare Gap, McDowell was ordered up to prevent his passage, and thus his junction with [general] Jackson; but that instead of promptly obeying the order, he delayed until it was too late, and thus Jackson’s force, which might have been taken prisoner or cut to pieces, was strengthened, and Pope’s plan defeated. Whether this is perfectly correct or not, such is the current rumor and belief here, and founded upon respectable authority. Certain it is, that the movements of McDowell are held in suspicion by all the officers of the Army of the Potomac; and in the Streets of Washington the exclamation from the lips of officers is often heard when his name is mentioned, denouncing him in good, set terms, and declaring that “he ought to be hanged”. I only state to you the current opinion and belief, and that upon authority worthy of credit.
No sooner had Pope knowledge of the fact that he was outflanked, and his communications cut off than he broke up his camp at Warrenton, and with his whole force marched on Manassas Junction, which he found Jackson had evacuated a short time before and retired to the old battleground of Bull Run. Pope pursued, and on Friday morning, the 29th ult., came up with this enemy, who had been reinforced by Longstreet. A tremendous battle from morning until night succeeded, the results of which, though upon the whole favorable to us, yet were by no means decisive. We pushed the enemy from his position, but were unable to pursue our advantage. It would be impossible, in the brief outline which I send you, to note the varied incidents of success, defeat, valor, or blunder, as the case may be, which that eventful and hard fought day disclosed. Let me simply mention the part which the Third Michigan acted, which, while it adds to their dear earned laurels, adds also to the number of their heroes who bravely fell upon that fatal field.
The enemy lay to the right of an unfinished railroad track and ours to the left. The road being elevated. Served as a breastwork to each party. The enemy moved a colum down with the purpose of outflanking us. Preventing this, Gen. Kearney ordered up the Third Michigan, One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania, and Twelfth Indiana, to cross the railroad and attack the advancing column, which had extended its left wing for the purpose of flanking. The three regiments crossed the track, and the Third advanced in obedience to the order, but, either from misconceiving the order or neglecting to, or from whatever other cause cannot now be ascertained, these two regiments designed to support the Third in their adventurous yet all important movement, failed to perform their part and remained stationary, while the Third, with that courage and daring which has ever marked them in the hour of danger, advanced under the guidance of their brave commander, whose wounds were not yet entirely healed, nor his body invigorated since the battle of Fair Oaks. How frequently have we seen mind triumph over the decays and weaknesses of the body, and the nerves strung to tension, and the whole inner man elevated in the presence of some grand or interesting object which absorbs the whole faculties of the soul; the body is borne along by the impelling power of the current within. Thus our brave little Colonel, forgetful of bodily defects and weaknesses, was carried along by the ardor of a heroic enthusiasm. The enemy opened upon the little advancing band with a front and a flanking fire, while, strange and unaccountable as it may seem, yet it is no less true, that the Sixty-third Pennsylvania Regiment, on the left side of the railroad, which should have supported our left flank, poured in for the space of ten minutes a galling fire. Thus attacked in front and the two flanks, this heroic little band pushed on, drove the enemy form their position and could have retained it, but, having gained their object, they found themselves alone and isolated from those who should have sustained them. They were compelled to retire, and it is believed that nothing but the dense smoke of battle preserved any of them alive.
Their loss, however, was fearful. They went into battle with only 233 – for the fatigues of the march had caused many to fall out of the ranks – and they lost, in killed 24, wounded 165. Lieut. [Byron] Hess, killed [in fact he survived the war]; Captain [Fred] Schriver, Captain [Israel] Smith, Lieuts. [William] Ryan and [Simon] Brennan severely though not mortally wounded. [All survived the war.] I am unable to give a list of the commissioned officers and privates killed and wounded. Thus, out of 233, there remained but 103. The stragglers who have since come in may increase the regiment to 200. Thus, a regiment which, about fifteen months ago, numbered 1,040, is now reduced to a mere skeleton. Our brave little colonel, having to command on foot, fell and was carried off the field. The muscles, but newly knit, unable to bear the strain, were again lacerated and the wounded pained him afresh; he is now laid up in Alexandria.
Saturday the rebels concentrated their whole force and attacked our lines, and we fell back to the strong position at Centreville, with our right extending to Fairfax. No fighting Sunday, and no news which can be relied on from the field, Monday or today, although cannonading has been heard briskly. No Washington papers published last night. We are all in the dark. No man can leave for Washington without a pass and the passport system is stringent.
Major B. R. Pierce, with that coolness and courage for which he is remarkable, did himself great credit, and sustained his former name as a brave and fearless officer, and the whole of the officers and men maintained the fame so dearly earned on the battlefield of Fair Oaks. J. Anderson.
Although Rev. Anderson did not in fact resign that fall he was absent with leave in Alexandria, Virginia, in December of 1862. He had in fact been a patient in First Division general hospital, Fairfax Street branch, in Alexandria. According to the Adjutant General’s Office, he was absent sick at Alexandria since sometime in September of 1862, and by February of 1863 he was still absent sick at Alexandria where he remained through March when he resigned his commission on March 14, 1863, on account of disability. (He was the last chaplain to serve with the Third Michigan.)
According to a statement made by Michigan Adjutant General James Robertson, on March 14, 1863, Rev. Anderson was discharged from the Old Third because his responsibilities “His constitution has been impaired by the . . . influence of the Peninsular Campaign so that he is at his advanced age unable to perform his duties in the field.” His resignation was accepted on March 25 and Joseph was honorably discharged on March 28, 1863 (per General order no. 43, War Department, March 22, 1863).
Apparently, Rev. Anderson had decided to accept an appointment as hospital chaplain, probably at the Fairfax Street hospital in Alexandria. On March 26, 1863, he formally notified Secretary of War Stanton that he had been nominated by President Lincoln and confirmed by the United States Senate as Hospital Chaplain, although it is not clear as to what his duties were. Indeed, apparently shortly after he resigned from the Third Michigan Joseph returned to Michigan. On April 16 the Grand Haven News reported that he had in fact returned home on the previous Thursday (April 8) and even preached a sermon the following Sunday. It as also noted that he was appointed as a Chaplain in the regular army and would be stationed in Cleveland. He was to depart for Ohio on May 1.
It is unclear whether Rev. Anderson ever did go to Cleveland. In any case, he was soon posted to the U. S. hospital in Detroit (probably Harper hospital) where he was working as chaplain when he returned to Grand Haven in early September of 1863. In January of 1864 he was suffering still from the effects of his serving in the field and sought medical treatment in Detroit, possibly at Harper hospital where he was serving as chaplain. For reasons unknown, and while still working as hospital chaplain in Detroit, sometime in April of 1864 Rev. Anderson dissolved “the pastoral relation” between himself and the First congregational church in Grand Haven. In any case, he served in that capacity until he was mustered out of service on August 4, 1865.
It is not known if the Rev. Anderson ever returned to Grand Haven or Ottawa County after the war. He was the hospital chaplain at Harper hospital in Detroit in August of 1865, and in 1865-66 was listed as the assistant rector of St. John’s church in Detroit, and as chaplain of the U.S. barracks in Detroit. He was also listed as boarding on the corner of Woodward Avenue and High st. in Detroit.
In 1865 he applied for and received a pension (no. 371360).
Joseph eventually left Detroit and may have settled for a time in Augusta, Kalamazoo County. In May of 1869 he accepted a call to the Congregational church, in South Haven, Van Buren County, remaining in that position until September of 1871 when he resigned, although he reportedly preached for about six months in 1872, presumably in the same church. He was working as a clergyman and living with his wife and one child in South Haven in 1870 and listed as a retired minister and living with his wife and daughter Louise (b. 1863) in 1880 in South Haven. He probably lived in South Haven the rest of his life.
Joseph was a member of the Star of the Lake Lodge, F. & A. M. as well as a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic Zachariah Chandler Post No. 35, of South Haven (founded in July of 1881).
Rev. Anderson died of “disease of the brain and paralysis” at his home in South Haven on Saturday, on April 2, 1882, and was buried in Lakeview cemetery in South Haven, section 5, lot no. 9, grave no. 2.
His widow, Lucy, applied for and received a pension (no. 232,312).