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Letter written by
Francis Duane Keeler
5 July 1862
to Mrs. B. F. Fisher


I received emails from Jack Wardrop stating that he was doing Civil War research on the 16th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, that Francis Keeler was a member of that regiment, and that he owned a letter from Keeler to the wife of Captain Benjamin F. Fisher.

He further stated:  "Keeler wrote Fisher's wife about the death of Fisher.  Keeler had been in the the 16th Michigan Infantry under Captain Fisher but Fisher had been promoted to major into the 23 Infantry.  Somehow it fell upon Keeler to write to Fisher's wife.  But it turns out that Fisher was not killed in action but captured.  Keeler didn't know that so you can imagine the wife's grief upon reading this letter."

Mr. Wardrop was kind enough to send me scans of the letter so that I could post it.

John William Myers, III
August 2010
Las Vegas, Nevada

Text of the Document

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Text of the Letter

Added notes are {italicized-bracketed}.

Camp at Turkey Bend James River Va
Stocktons Regt. 16th Mich. Inf. {16th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment} July 5th 1862

Mrs. B. F. Fisher

Painful indeed is the duty which compels us to inform of the fall of your husband.  On the field of battle at Gaines Mill {Battle of Gaines' Mill} on the 27th of June he was seen to fall while our forces were being driven across the Chickahominy.  Nearly one half of his company fell with him but not one body could be brought from the field.

A kind Captain he has ever been Standing up for the rights of his command and sharing their dangers and privations on the field he proved as brave a soldier as he has a kind protector.  He was not rash but stood at his post cool and undaunted thus by his example cheering and encouraging his men to their duty and winning the praise of all who have experienced the horrors of such a battle as the one of June 27th.

But while we bear testimony to the brave, generous and energetic disposition he has shown us we would express our entire sympathy with you in your bereavement.

If there were a chance for our hope of him being alive yet we would gladly encourage it, but it would be cruel to raise hopes which must eventualy{sic} be crushed.

We have carefully packed his valice{sic} and expressed it with his Rifle to you.  He has a trunk in Washington City.  Lt. Mahan {First Lieutenant Theodore S. Mahan} will inform you where to send for it.  He is rather unwell just now or he would have written you sooner.  The Captain's watch and purse was of course lost with whatever he had with him.

WIth much sympathy and respect

I remain yours

            F. D. Keeler {Francis Duane Keeler}

Co. "D" 16th Regt. Mich. Infty. {Company D, 16th Regiment, Michigan Infantry}

This information is provided for the use of persons engaged in non-commercial genealogical research
and any commercial use whatsoever is strictly prohibited. Copyright © 2010 by John William Myers III.