Dubuque County IAGenWeb      

Join Our Team


~ Military Biography ~

Dubuque County Civil War Soldiers
 of the
Twenty-first Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry

Historical information, notes & comments, in some cases correcting the record
Soldier biographies written by Carl Ingwalson

Carl will do look-ups in his extensive records of the 21st Iowa and he is always willing to share what he has.



      Emigrating from his home in Württemberg, Germany, George Fisher became a naturalized U.S. citizen on November 6, 1860, the same day Abraham Lincoln was elected President. Originally surnamed “Fischer,” George “droped the C from his name as being too dutchy” and on August 18, 1862, while living in Dubuque, Iowa, enlisted as a private in what would be Company C of the 21st regiment of the state’s volunteer infantry. George was described as being twenty-four years old, 5' 9½” tall (an inch taller than the regiment’s average) with dark eyes and brown hair; occupation miner.

      The company was mustered into service on August 20th at Camp Franklin in Dubuque where, two weeks later, George was appointed Company Clerk. When all ten companies were of sufficient strength, the regiment was mustered in on September 9th and on the 16th the able-bodied marched into town and, from the levee at the foot of Jones Street, boarded the four-year-old sidewheel steamer Henry Clay and two barges tied alongside and started south. They spent their first night on Rock Island before resuming their trip, debarking at Montrose due to low water levels, traveling by rail to Keokuk and boarding the Hawkeye State. They reached St. Louis on the 20th, were inspected on the 21st and that night boarded rail cars and headed west.

      For the next five months they would be in Missouri - Rolla, Salem, Houston, Hartville, back to Houston (after a wagon train was attacked on November 24th), West Plains (where George was promoted twelve ranks from Private to 2nd Sergeant), Eminence, Ironton and Iron Mountain. On March 11, 1863, after a sixteen mile march, they reached Ste. Genevieve and camped on a nearby ridge. On April 1st, on board the Ocean Wave, they started south and two days later, while laying over at Memphis, George was appointed Clerk in the Quartermaster’s Department at Brigade Headquarters. On the 6th they debarked at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana, where General Grant was organizing a large, three-corps, army to capture Vicksburg.

      Serving under General John McClernand, they walked south on dirt roads, crossed bayous and waded through swamps west of the river until April 30, 1863, when they crossed from Disharoon’s Plantation to the landing at Bruinsburg, Mississippi. Designated as the point regiment for the entire army and guided by “Old Bob,” a former slave, they walked slowly inland under orders to keep moving until fired upon. About midnight near the A. K. Shaifer house, Confederate pickets opened fire and for a short time gunfire was exchanged before men rested. On May 1st, George participated with his regiment in the Battle of Port Gibson and on the 16th he was present when they were held out of action during the Battle of Champion Hill. That night they rested at Edward’s Station, but the next morning their brigade took the lead as they headed west.

      Between them and Vicksburg was the Big Black River and its large railroad bridge. Hoping to keep the bridge open so all their troops withdrawing from Champion Hill could cross, Confederate officers positioned men behind an abatis and barbed wire with the river behind them. The 21st’s Colonel Merrill and the 23rd’s Colonel Kinsman conferred and then ordered their men forward, across an open field with the 22d Iowa and 11th Wisconsin following. The assault lasted only three minutes but drove the Confederates from their position and opened the way for General Grant to lead his army to the rear of Vicksburg. During the assault the regiment had seven men killed outright and eighteen with wounds that would prove fatal. Forty others were shot but survived although some of their wounds were sufficiently debilitating to cause at least seven of the men to be discharged.

      Among the wounded was George Fisher who was cared for behind the lines until May 30th when he was one of eight from the regiment who joined others on the R. C. Wood as it left Chickasaw Bayou for Memphis. Arriving on June 1st, George was admitted to the Overton General Hospital. From there he was transferred to the general hospital at Jefferson Barracks and from there to a general hospital in Quincy, Illinois, where he was admitted on September 23rd.  Hospital records indicated he had suffered a “rifle ball entering 2½ inches below knee joint passing laterally through limb posterior to tibia. Genl. health good. Wound healing kindly.” With only “simple dressings” now needed, he improved steadily as doctors monitored his progress: November 20th (“muscles contracted so that he is unable to put the heel to the ground”), December 25th (“limb gaining strength straighter than it was”), January 15th (“can walk without cain but tires easily”) and February 15th (“improving walks much better”). On the 16th he was granted a furlough and returned to Iowa, but by March 4th he was back in Quincy and five days later he was” returned to duty.”

      In April he reached the regiment then stationed on Matagorda Island, Texas. From there they moved to Louisiana and then saw service along the White River in Arkansas. They were stationed at DeValls Bluff when Captain Jesse Harrison, in recommending George for promotion to 2nd Lieutenant, said “he has won his way to promotion by his bravery on the field of battle he is a thoro scholler and of good morrel carecter and will command respect.” George, he said, “was offered his discharge but believing that his adopted country required the services of every patriot he refused his discharge.” Jesse was eventually forced to resign due to wounds he received at Vicksburg but, even after his resignation, continued to urge a promotion for George. Governor Kirkwood commissioned Charles Brugh as the company’s new captain to replace Jesse and George Fisher as 1st Lieutenant to take Charles’ place. George remained present during the balance of the regiment’s service, was mustered out at Baton Rouge on July 15, 1865, and was discharged at Clinton, Iowa, on July 24th.

      On August 3rd of that year, saying he had lived in Peosta since his discharge and his occupation “has been that of a laborer in the lead mines,” he said the wound sustained two years earlier “produces great pain and stiffness of the leg in consequence of cord in the limb being cut off.” His application was witnessed by Charles Brugh and supported by Jesse Harrison while Dr. R. L. Lewis said “the tendons of the muscles of the calf of the leg were allowed to slough. The leg is atrophied and shortened hence cannot walk or stand on it without severe pain.” A certificate was issued entitling George to $4.00 monthly, payable quarterly.

      A son, Henry L. Fisher, was born in 1870 to George and his first wife who died the following year. In 1872 the regiment’s first reunion was held in Dubuque starting on September 16th (ten years after they had left the same city for war). George attended and on November 14th of that year married Anna Hooper in Epworth. They would have three children: Charles W. on February 24, 1875, in Dubuque; Bertha Anna “Annie” on November 9, 1876 in Parkersburg; and Mary Emma on November 4, 1885, in Wood Lake, Nebraska. George’s wife died on August 28, 1886, and was buried in Minnechaduza Cemetery in Wood Lake.

      Two years later, on December 5, 1888, George died while being treated for consumption in an Omaha hospital.  Obituaries said George, “late clerk of the district court of Cherry county” had “left quite a goodly estate” and was well known in Omaha, “having been at one time a partner in the firm of Cooper & Fisher.” After his funeral “from Drexel & Maul’s with full Masonic honors,” his remains were taken to Johnstown so he could be buried beside his wife in nearby Wood Lake.

      Initially, Charles Johnson was appointed administrator of George’s estate and guardian of Charles, Annie and Emma, but he was later replaced by George’s sister-in-law, Ellen Finch of Pueblo, Colorado. With no records of either his marriage or the birth of his children, it took many years but eventually in 1905 (after all of the children had reached adulthood) pensions were approved retroactive to August 25, 1890, and ending on their sixteenth birthdays.


~ Compiled & submitted by Carl Ingwalson <cingwalson@cfilaw.com>

back to Dubuque Military

back to Dubuque home