William A. Fisher
Database Record Change Request
|Name at Enlist|
William A. Fisher
William Alfred Fisher
8 Aug 1841 – 18 Mar 1896
|Resident of Muster-In|
Two Rivers, Manitowoc County, WI
|Company at Enlistment|
|Rank at Enlistment|
12 Dec 1861
Grand Rapids, Kent County, MI
Ester (Hester) Evens (Gurner)
Joseph Norris Fisher
Sarah J. (Jennie S.) Hubbard
25 Oct 1866
Jackson County, MI
William A. Fisher was enlisted with Joseph G. Fisher, who joined up with him the same day. The men of Company F called themselves “KK’s Protectors” in honor of the 15th’s first Lieutenant Colonel, Kiler K. Jones. They were also as the “Valdres Company” because many of them were from that part of Norway. William was mustered into Federal service as a Private (Menig) on December 12, 1861 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time, the Army recorded him as being 20 years old and not married. His residence was listed as Two Rivers, Manitowoc County, WI.
On January 1, 1862, Private Fisher was appointed as a Corporal (Korporal) in Company F. On January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th were issued Belgian rifle muskets. After about 10 weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Corporal Fisher left there on early March 1862, with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until July 1862, he was listed as “present” with the 15th. As such he would have participated in the successful siege of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River in TN, and the surprise raid on Union City, TN, in March and April 1862. Starting June 11, 1862, he would have left Island No. 10 with the 15th to go on summer campaign though TN, MS, and AL. On July 19, 1862, Corporal Fisher was “detailed on extra duty as Storekeeper in Quartermaster Dept.”
In August and September, Corporal Fisher would have participated in the grueling 400-mile retreat with U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water. Corporal Fisher may have been present at the October 8, 1862, fighting at Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which was also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. Corporal Fisher was listed as “present” with the 15th from November 1862 until May 1863.
On December 26, 1862, Corporal Fisher would have participated in the 15th’s desperate charge upon a Confederate artillery battery at Knob Gap, TN, just south of Nashville. There the 15th captured a brass cannon. He would have also fought at the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, at the end of December 1862. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery.
On January 1, 1863, Corporal Fisher was appointed as the 2nd Sergeant (Sersjant) in Company F, the second highest non-commissioned officer (NCO) position in a Civil War company. The highest NCO in the company, 1st Sergeant Nils J. Gilbert was appointed as its new 1st Sergeant in February.
Starting in January, the 15th camped in the Murfreesboro area for 6 months, except for 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. On May 1, 1863, Sergeant Fisher was detached from the regiment and assigned by the 15th’s former commander, Colonel Hans C. Heg, to be a clerk in his brigade headquarters (3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland), the same brigade the 15th was assigned to.
Starting June 23, 1863, the brigade and the 15th took part in U.S. Major General William S. Rosecrans’ Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, they went into camp at Winchester, Franklin County, TN for 6 weeks. Starting sometime in July or August, 1863, Sergeant Fisher was once again listed as “present” with the 15th, and remained so until February 1864.
On August 17, 1863, the 15th left there to participate in General Rosecrans’ Chickamauga campaign. That same day the 15th’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ole C. Johnson appointed Sergeant Fisher as the regiment’s Acting Commissary Sergeant. As such, Fisher was responsible for drawing rations from the brigade, foraging for additional food from the countryside, and issuing it all to the regiment. At that time the rations included a herd of live cattle, some of which were butchered every few days and the beef issued out. The forage included peaches and field corn taken without compensation from the farms of local Confederate sympathizers.
Acting Commissary Sergeant Fisher is believed to have been present at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the 15th led. Commissary Sergeant Fisher was present at, but did not take part in, the September 19-20, 1863, fighting at Chickamauga, GA — the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. He spent much of the first day in the rear at Crawfish Springs, GA. That evening he found what was left of the 15th out on the battlefield and issued them beef before heading back to Crawfish Springs. Fisher estimated in his diary there were “only about 60 of the Regt. left” after the vicious fighting around Viniard’s Farm that afternoon, which he wrote was “as hard a fight as at Murfreesboro.” On the second day of the battle Fisher wrote that he was “off hunting up cattle” that had strayed during the night, and then headed “off to Chattanooga” with the retreating Federal Army. Some 63% of the 15th’s soldiers who fought at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.
Acting Commissary Sergeant Fisher would have then served with the regiment during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began right after the battle. The siege resulted in severe shortages of food, medicine, and firewood which, together with cold, wet weather, caused much suffering, sickness, and death. The Confederate siege was finally broken by the Union Army’s victorious charge up Mission Ridge on November 25, 1863, which the 15th took part in.
Starting right after Mission Ridge the 15th was engaged in almost non-stop marching and counter-marching all over Eastern TN throughout the winter of 1863/1864. By many original accounts, this was the worst period of the regiment’s 3-year term of service. Poor rations, inadequate clothing and shelter, and unseasonably cold weather made these months nearly unbearable. Sergeant Fisher was listed as “left sick Knoxville, Tenn.” starting February 24, 1864.
Sergeant Fisher was next listed as “present” with the 15th from sometime in March or April 1864 until July 1864. As such, he would have participated with the 15th in the first half of the famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA, that was led by U.S. Major General William T. Sherman. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months. The 15th’s role in the first half of the campaign included fighting at Rocky Face Ridge, GA in early May; at the bloody Battle of Resaca, GA on May 14-15; and at the disastrous Battle of Pickett’s Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church), GA on May 27, 1864. It was there that the 15th suffered 50% casualties, including 29 soldiers captured, most of whom subsequently died of malnutrition-related diseases in the infamous Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, GA. Sergeant Fisher survived these battles, and the fighting at Kennesaw Mountain, GA on June 23, 1864. However, starting July 21, 1864, he was listed as being ” absent sick” from the regiment.
After a rest following the capture of Atlanta in early September 1864, the 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty in Chattanooga at the beginning of October. While it is not clear when Sergeant Fisher returned to the regiment, it was probably before October 8, 1864 when he was appointed as the 1st Sergeant of Company F by order of the 15th’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson. Fisher filled the vacancy created that same day when 1st Sergeant Gilbert was transferred and promoted to be the new 1st Lieutenant of Company A. As the highest NCO position in a Civil War company, the 1st Sergeant ran the company for its officers. At that time the commanding officer of Company F was Captain Charles Gustafson and its second-in-command (and only other officer) was 1st Lieutenant Thor Simonson.
Starting in mid-October 1864, the 15th was reassigned to guard a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga. Some of the 15th’s soldiers felt was the easiest duty of their entire war service. On January 13, 1865, 1st Sergeant Fisher and most of the other surviving members of Company F were mustered out of Federal service in Chattanooga at the end of their 3-year terms of service. However, after mustering out William A. Fisher re-enlisted, serving in the 9th United States Veteran Volunteers under the name Alfred W. Fisher.
On February 25, 1867, Fisher was commissioned as a Brevet 1st Lieutenant by Governor Lucius Fairchild of WI, who was himself a distinguished Civil War hero. 1st Lieutenant Fisher’s rank was made retroactive to February 21, 1865, but he was never mustered into the Federal Army at that rank.
After coming home from the war, William Fisher moved to MI, got married, settled in Grand Rapids, and began going by the name Alfred William Fisher. He and his wife had 4 children, all born in Grand Rapids: Etta Sarah, born September 12, 1869; George H., born May, 1874; Emily Faith, born October 1879; and Lloyd, born September, 1888.
The U.S. Census listed Fisher as a “Pail Maker” in 1870 and as a “Gardner” in 1880. The Grand Rapids City Directory listed Alfred W. Fisher as working as an “insurance agent” in 1889, as a “gluer” for the New England Furniture Company in 1890, and as a “clerk” at the New York Tea Company in 1892.
Brevet Lieutenant Fisher passed away of “paralysis” at age 55 on March 18, 1896.
Sources: Genealogical data provided by William A. Fisher’s relative, Rob Forrest; Genealogical data, including transcripts of portions of William Fisher’s Civil War Diary, provided by Wayne Augustine; Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett (Decorah, Iowa, 1894); Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886); Gloucestershire City Council, online genealogy records, reference #d2537/2/1.