William James Fisher, at the age of 17, received a civilian appointment as 2nd lieutentant to the 10th US Infantry, a regiment of the Regular Army, dated and signed by the Secretary of War and President Lincoln, August 1861. Congressman George P. Fisher (no direct relation) procured Fisher’s commission at the urging of Fisher’s father, Isaac Montgomery Fisher.
The Delaware Volunteer Regiments had no officer billets available for an unknown, uncredentialed teen. Officers left the Regular Standing Army Regiments to staff and train the newly formed Volunteer troops. It was a natural political move to staff these vacancies by appointing promising young men from Civilian Life. As the Fishers were strong Union, Lincoln men, young Fisher was one of twelve to be commissioned into this youngest regiment of the Old Army.
Through the Fisher Collection letters, we learn of Fisher’s service with the Regulars until his death in the wheatfield, Battle of Gettysburg, early in the evening of July 2, 1863.
The purpose of this site is to flesh out the life and times of Lt. Fisher and to promote the story of a regular soldier, largely unknown to the Civil War community. His immediate family and descendants cherished the collection of letters and artifacts for many years. These became available for public view in a private museum located in New Market, VA., circa 1954. The collection was put up for auction in 2001. It was subsequently purchased and donated to the Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP), and now resides in that location. Artifacts and letters of this Fisher Collection are on display, “William is no More,” at the new Museum & Visitor Center of the GNMP.
The procurement of the Collection reflects the saga of a 1954 movie post Civil War rifle, “Winchester ‘73.” This fascinating story has yet to be told. Be on the look out!