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).

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