Lieutenant Frederick Henry Beecher

Civil War - Indian Wars

US Army
3rd US Infantry Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas
Detailed to Forsyth Scouts, Fort Hays, Kansas
Born: June 22, 1841
Civil War Service, 16th Maine Volunteers, June 1862-1864
Joined 3d Infantry - 1866
Killed in Action September 17, 1868 during the Battle of Beecher's Island, Colorado Territory
Buried on the battlefield, remains not recovered. Memorial marker at Beecher Island.

Son of Rev. Charles and Sarah Coffin Beecher of Georgetown, Massachusetts.

Beecher Island Annual, page 57, published 1930, Wray, Colo. by the Beecher Island Battle Memorial Association.

Short Sketch of the Life of Lieutenant Frederick H. Beecher

The Following Sketch of Lieutenant Beecher is Taken From a Booklet Published in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Class of 1862, Bowdoin College, June 25-27, 1912.
(Photo reproduced above.)

Frederick Henry Beecher, son of Rev. Charles and Sarah Coffin Beecher, was born June 22, 1841, at New Orleans, La.; graduated from Bowdoin college in 1862, received degree of A.M. 1865. 16th Me. Vols., 1862;, 2nd Lieut., 1863; 1st Lieut., 1863; 2nd Lieut., 3rd Inf., U.S.A., 1866. Died in the Battle of Beecher Island, Colorado, September 18, 1868.

Beecher and Edwards (George E. Edwards, a classmate) went up to Augusta the last day of May before graduation, and were enlisted there in the 16th Maine, June 2. They were mustered in August 2, four days before graduation. Among the thirty-five present to take their diplomas, Beecher was one. His regiment reached Washington, August 21, and had a severe march shortly after across the battlefield of Antietam, without even shelter tents to protect them, and with poor and insufficient rations, from which they fell sick. On October 6 he wrote of the monotony and filth of the camp on the banks of the Potomac. Edwards and he kept each other cheerful through the dreary experiences. On October 28 they moved to Brook's Station, near Fredericksburg. On the 13th of December he was severely wounded in the thigh and Edwards fell mortally wounded, his body never recovered. Beecher's father came after him and took him home to Georgetown, where he stayed until the following April, when he managed, although using crutches, to get back to the front, and was able after a while to march with the regiment. At this time he received his commission, first as second and again as first lieutenant. He was in the battle of Chancellorsville on April 29, 1863, and afterwards, suffering severely at times from his wound, marched with the 16th to the great engagement at Gettysburg, into which it entered on the first day of the general fight, just after the death of Reynolds. After a charge only forty men were left, flanked and overpowered and tearing their flag to pieces, in order to keep it from the enemy. Beecher commanded the remnant of the regiment part of the time in the two remaining days of the battle, showing great coolness and courage. On the second day of the battle a shell shattered his right kneepan. He said of it, "I thought I was cut in two and I expected to live but a few minutes, but was very happy." Tidings of his wound reached his home, and his mother graphically describes her search for her boy among the camps. He was removed to his home and obliged to resign from the service after months of prostration. The greater part of the summer of 1864 was spent by him in Brunswick at the home of his uncle, Professor Smyth. In September he received a second lieutenant's commission in the Veteran Reserve Corps at Alexandria. The service proved uncongenial. A touching letter home, in May, 1865, reveals his forebodings. In it he says: "My fortune has not been good and I do not know that it will change. I have much to be thankful for, I know; and yet I sometimes wish I were laid with the brave men at Gettysburg."

In June he reported to General Whittlesey, then Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, at Raleigh, North Carolina, where he enjoyed months of work for the Negroes, for whom he had a deep, patriotic interest.

In 1866 he accepted a second lieutenancy in the 3rd Infantry, U. S. A., and early in June reported for duty at Fort Riley, Kansas. He built various buildings of the Fort Wallace Army Post, situated about five miles from the Colorado line on the south bank of Smoky Creek. The fort was subject to frequent attacks from the Indians, who interfered with the work of construction by requiring the withdrawal of many men to watch and oppose them.

He longed to make one more home visit in the spring of 1868, and had planned to do so, when orders came for a serious campaign which proved to be fatal to our dear classmate. His last letter home was dated Fort Hays, Kansas, August 30, 1868, eighteen days before his death at the hands of the Indians.

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