G.A.R. Post: E. M. Stanton Post #86 Haller City/Arlington, WA
25th WISCONSIN VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: 1862 Camp Salomon, La Crosse, WI
Mustered In: 9/14/62 Camp Salomon, La Crosse, WI
Mustered Out: 6/7/65 Crystal Springs, MD
The 25th was a three year” western Theater" regiment. Five days following Federal muster it left Wisconsin for Minnesota to aid in quelling Indian outbreaks. That task completed, in February, 1863, it was ordered to Columbus, KY to focus on fighting Johnny Reb. From Kentucky, in June, '63 the regiment moved to Snyder's Bluff as the forces of Union Gen. U.S. Grant moved upon Vicksburg, MS.
The Winter 1863 and spring of 1864 found the 25th utilized in movements not only within Mississippi, but also into Alabama. Following an engagement at Decatur, AL the unit joined the armies of Union Gen. W.T. Sherman as they moved toward Atlanta, GA. Within that state it was in action at Resaca in the front line and under heavy enemy fire, holding a hill against three determined charges.
Next came three days of skirmishing near Dallas. This action was followed by two weeks of being under fire at Kennesaw Mountain. Ordered to Decatur, GA in July to guard a wagon train, the 25th became engaged in a hot contest with two divisions of Confederate cavalry intent upon capturing that train. Although compelled to fall back to their reserves, the 25th fought to such effect that the enemy was held at bay. Reaching Atlanta on July 24th, the unit assisted its brigade in dislodging a Rebel force camped on a hill. After that dislodgement it aided in effectively fortifying that location.
During the siege of Atlanta that followed, the regiment performed effective service and, with the fall of the city, moved with Sherman to Savannah. From there, during the early months of 1865, the 25th proceeded north through the Carolinas. Within this period it was engaged in a spirited fight at the Salkehatchie River in SC and supported attacking forces at Goldsboro. Participation in the Grand Review at Washington, D.C. preceded final muster and being sent home.
Residence: Inf. Not Avail. Age: 32.8 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 8/9/62 Platteville, WI Rank: Cpl.
Mustered In: 9/14/62 La Crosse, WI
Mustered Out: 6/7/65 Washington, D.C.
Highest Rank: Sgt.
According to his 1906 obituary, Abner Fry was born in January 1, 1830 in Greenville, Pennsylvania. His parents were John (b. ca. 1801 PA) and Olive (nee Fossie b. ca. 1815 PA). The eldest of at least eight Fry children, Abner's younger known siblings were as follows: Thomas (b. 1835), Carlisle (b. 1837), George (b. 1833), Merilla (b.1839), Sarah (b. 1841), John (b. 1845) and Almira (b. 1848 PA). According to the 1850 U.S. Census for Pymatuning, Mercer Co., Pennsylvania - where all their children were likely born - the Frys were a farm family.
Abner's obituary also states that at the age of 21 years he left his birth state and settled in Rock Island, Illinois were he was noted as one of the early settlers of Illinoise. . It was there, in 1853 at Rock Island, Rock Island County that Abner married to Sarah Jane Gamble. As a farm family, the couple followed the pattern of Abner's parents and produced numerous children. While some birth names and years are, at best, confusing, it appears produced at least twelve - and perhaps thirteen - children, not all of whom are named and/or survived into adulthood: Leroy (b. 2/4 or 2/7/55 IL), Emerson (b. 4/26/56) Samantha (b. 9/16/57 WI), Luella/Luetta (b. 1858 WI), William Josiah (b. 7/4 or 7/60 WI), Abner (b. 1862 WI), John Sherman (b. 4/22/66 WI), Elizabeth/Eliza Jane (b. b.11/28/67 IL). Samuel (b. 1869, IL), George Francis (b. 8/29/71 or '72 IL), Emmil/Emuel (b. 1873 or '74 IL) and Herman/Hermann (b. 1874 or '78 IL).
The birthplaces and dates of the Fry children coming into this world tell us at least two things. Firstly, it appears after being wed Abner and Sarah set up housekeeping in Illinois. It was there the couples' first child, Leroy, was born. However, whether or not it was before or after the birth of their second, Emerson, the couple removed to Wisconsin where daughter Samanatha was birthed. However, later, circa 1867, the family had returned to Illinois. Secondly, Fry children were birthed both before and after Abner served in the 25th Wisconsin infantry during the War of the Rebellion. Let's now look at the second of these factors.
In August, 1862 at Plattesville, Lafayette Co., Wisconsin, - in the southeast corner of the state near the Illinois border - Abner enrolled for three years in Captain Scott's company of the 25th Wisconsin Volunteer infantry. That organization would shortly become company "E" of that same regiment. At age 32 he was older than the average 27.5 year old Civil War combatant. Further, being married with at least one child, he undoubtedly appeared much more responsible than some of his fellow enlistees. This would likely help explain his entry level rank being corporal rather than private.
1863 present/absent muster rolls for Abner's company show him as always present for duty except when sick in the hospital. During that calendar year that occurred on three occasions. The first, being on April 8th was the result of his suffering from bronchial irritation. When he returned to duty from that stay is not known, but on the 21st of the same month he was again admitted for "bilious fever. Again, when he returned to duty is not documented, but the same diagnosis reappeared on September 30th and, on this occasion, he did not return to duty until October 29th. He then completed the year with hospital admittance due to "debility."
1864 would prove to be a "banner year" for corporal Fry. Always present for duty, he had been assigned to the duty of regimental color bearer in June of '63. During the American Civil War national and regimental flags were important, almost sacred icons. To be chosen as a member of the color guard was a tremendous - and often fatal - honor. In this instance, while in action on July 22nd, at an unnamed location, corporal Fry was noted for having performed "gallant and meritorious service." As we shall see, this would prove a boon to him. Muster reports for the remainder of the year noted the corporal as always being "present" for duty.
The consistent report of being present for duty continued into 1865. This undoubtedly prompted the following order which was issued on March 1, 1865 from the headquarters of the 25th Wisconsin volunteers near the Cape Fear River in South Carolina: " I certify that it appears from the records of the regiment that Corporal Abner Fry (of this regiment)...assigned to the duty of color bearer, June, 1863.....has retained that position to the present date. (He) has been in the regiment during every engagement and proven himself a faithful and fearless soldier. (As a result) he has he has been promoted the (the rank of) sergeant for gallant and meritorious service in the field and on every other occasion." Signed John Fitz Gerald, Adjutant.
The War ended, sergeant Fry was mustered out of Federal service with an additional notation concerning his faithful and meritorious service. Still, when his financial accounts were settled this did not prevent him being assessed a charge of forty five cents for the loss of a government canteen..........
Military life behind him, Abner apparently returned to civilian life in Wisconsin - exactly where in that state is not known - and continued to grow his family. However, all was not well with the former sergeant as, during the winter of 1865/'66 it was medically noted that "he had been healthy when he entered the army, but this winter is suffering from chronic hepatitis, dyspepsia and diarrhea."
The U.S. Census tallies for 1870 and 1880 found farmer Abner and family residing, not in Wisconsin, but in or near Hampton, Rock Island County, Illinois. Exactly when and why this interstate move had been made is not known. Regardless of why the move was made, it was not to be the final one for Abner and family because, as early as June of 1883, they were residing in Arkadelphia, Clarke County, Arkansas. (Note: There is some information to indicate that prior to the move to Arkansas the family's Illinois community of residence had changed from Hampton to Moline in Rock Island, County. Again, why the move to Arkansas was made is not documented.
While available documentation is far from conclusive, it appears that sometime in 1880 Abner may have been granted a $2 per month U.S. Government disability pension based on ailments which he traced back to his days of Civil War soldiering. If available documentation is to be believed, that pension was made retroactive to the day after he was mustered out of Federal service in 1865. In June, 1882, a medical affidavit from Davenport, Iowa shed some light on that suffering as it noted that claimant Fry suffered from disease of the liver and resulting fever. (Because of this) "his skin has a pecular bronze tinge."
In June of the following year - to be precise, June 9th of 1883 - Abner provided more details on his physical travails while in the service of his country by penning the following from his home in Arkadelphia, Clark County, Arkansas: " I was taken from northern Kentucky (in) June, 1863 and was stationed on the Yazoo River in the rear of Vicksburg (MS) at a place called Snyder's Bluff. I was taken sick sometime in July. Our doctor was all sick. The regimental hospital being full I was obliged to lay in the tent. There was a doctor from the 3rd Minnesota regiment to tend for our sick. He told me that my liver was badly affected and advised our orderly sergeant to send me to a northern hospital. I had never been sick in my life before. I done everything in my power to stay with the regiment. Some time about the first of August the regiment was sent to Hellena (Arkansas) to go with Steele's Little Rock Expedition....The regiment was so badly used up from that Yazoo expedition that we was left there. I still had to attend sick call and did so up to about the first of October (when) I got down so low I was carried to the regimental hospital. I was treated in the hospital a month or more and then returned to quarters and was not able for duty and was obliged to attend sick call up till the first of February, '64. The regiment was then ordered to Vicks burg to go with Sherman across the state to Meridian....I was yet so bad when the regiment came back to Vicksburg the first of March that our regimental doctor came to me and told me to get our captain to make out my Descrptive list for I was not fit to go with the regiment. I never said anything to the captain. I was determined to go with the regiment as long as I could,. We was then ordered off into northern Georgia with General Serman and I began to get better as we traveled north and was able for duty again and was engaged in Sherman's Georgia campaign. At the battle of the 22nd of July, 1864 we lost all our camp equippage and had to lay on the bare ground without a blanket or tent.....I was badly over hearted and very tired. I lay down on the ground. I awoke in the night so cold that I was obliged to get up and build a fire and sit by it the balance of the night. Since then I have never bin well a day, but was able for duty until the war ended and started from Raleigh NC with the regiment to go to Washington, D.C. but failed and was obliged to be hauled to Washington. Soon after we got there we was discharged and returned home and for 18 months or more I was home and all has said my liver was bad affected and I have bin advized by some as good doctors as there is in northern Illinois that I had better change climate for if climate would not help me medicine would not. A great share of the time since I have bin home (I) have not bin able to perform any work whatever."
Throughout the remainder of the 1880s affidavits flowed in from former comrades-in-arms attesting to Abner's soldiering perseverance; these apparently gathered in an effort to gain him an increase in his monthly pension stipend. One testament dated 4/25/87 reads as follows: "I was with company E of the 25th Wisconsin for the greater portion of the time from thir enisting in Augus, '62 until their discharge in the summer of '65. I was personally acquainted with Abner Fry, late a sergeant of company E. Said Fry was color bearer of the regiment and for good soldiering and conduct during his term of service no man was his superior. He was brave to a fault and I will say the flag kept floating by Sgt. Fry when there were only a very small number of men left to support him. He was sent to the hospital in Helena, Arkansas in October, 1863 and was absent a long time - I do not remember how long. I know that after his return he appeared sick and unfit for duty and at different times was compelled to fall out of the ranks while on duty on account of severe illness." On 6/1/87 Abner's pension was increased from $2 to $4 per month.
Another affidavit from January of 1888 read as follows: I saw Abner in Coal Town in September of 1865. His ailment then was ague and (his) liver (was) badly affected. When he got better in the spring of '66 he went to farming in my neighborhood....I did not hear about him until '68 when his ailment was h is liver and rheumatism. At any rate he was taking blue mass pills for his liver disease...(That) was his trouble until 1884. Then he moved to Arkansas and I did not know anymore about his ailments to 1887. (When) I saw hem and he seemed down hearted. He said he could not work so he felt so sad. My judgment was his old ailments were getting worse with growning old and his mind weakening. His condition was very badly broken down."
In 1888 - perhaps in an effort to increase in his monthly stipend - Abner generated the following letter from Alpine, Clark County, Arkansas where the family was then residing: "Mr. John Black. About the last of January I received a letter from you calling for better evidence from 1881 to 1887 in my claim. It is just an impossibility to furnish more evidence.....for people in this part of the county are so bitterly opposed to pensioning Union soldiers that evidence cannot be got.....There is not a northern man within sixteen miles of me." Regardless of this "local" lack of support it appears at some point Abner's pension was upped from four to eight dollars per month. In 1890 that stipend was upped again, this time to $12 per month based on sufferings from malarial poisoning and disease of the liver. His pension would remain at that level until his death.
There is no U.S. census data available for the year 1890 as most was destroyed in a fire. However, at the time of Abner's pension increase to $12 on June 4th of that year, his residence was noted as being Alpine, in Clark Co., Arkansas. As such, it would seem to be likely that was where he was living when, during the same year his wife Sarah reportedly died. No details are documented pertaining to her passing.
Following his wife's death Abner remained in Arkansas where he continued to face difficulties and frustrations in his efforts to obtain an additional pension payment increase. Consider the following letter composed in late November 1891: "I was at Hot Springs and went through what the bord of the place would call an examination, but there was no examination about it. I was the first man to be examined and the secretary took my statement. I told him that the first start of my trouble was of malarial fever at the siege of Vicksburg. After a long time a crabby old Frenchman come and I was called up to be examined. The first thing he said to me (was) where is your fever? Where is your fever? (He) said (that) a number of times. I did not know what he meant. I told the secretary that I did not understand him. He said that he wanted to know what ailed me. I told him that I had the enlargement of the liver and spleen and that my heart an stomach was both affected. He then felt me a little. He said to me your spleen is a little hard. Then he felt my liver. Your liver isn't very hard. Then he thumped a few times on the breast and held his ear to my breasts. He never felt my pulse or looked at my tongue. He asked me how my bowels was. That was the only question I was asked. Well, I am well satisfied now that I will get but little out of this operation. You seen the statement that the Dr. gave me. There is plenty of Rebell Solders that will file a statement that I am not able to labor well. Well, t he south has bat (beat) me out of my pension from the start and I giss will to the end. I know that you weill do all for me that can be done under the circumstances and antyhing that I can (to) help you I will. There is but a few us here. Everything I have seen so har has some one employed to do their business."
Abner reportedly departed Arkansas in 1898 choosing to move to the Snohomish County community of Arlington in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. While no documentation exists pertaining to the whys of this move, hindsight would indicate that it was likely because four of his children lived in the area.
The census for 1900 noted widower Abner Fry - a merchant- as head of an Arlington household. Also within the home were sons, George, Emmil and Herman/Hermann. In Arlington, Abner continued to suffer from the effects of malaria contracted during the Civil War. However, it appears it was his heart, not his liver or spleen that lead to his leaving this earthly realm. On December 31, 1905, one day shy of his seventy sixth birthday he was found dead sitting in a chair at home.
Interment was in Arlington's Harwood Cemetery. The casket pall bearers were his Civil War comrades.
Buried at Harwood Cemetery Arlington
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