Dutcher-Lambert Civil War Page


The Dutchers of Michigan were a prolific clan who managed to contribute at least thirteen members to Union forces. Seven of the thirteen died in service or shortly after return: all of these were felled by the greatest killer of all--disease. The Lambert family, with whom they intermarried, sent five men to the Civil War, of whom two fell to disease. (Of the 600,000 deaths in the Civil War, only 200,000 were due to enemy action. The remainder fell to typhoid, dysentery, pneumonia and other infectious diseases. The toll was especially great among troops recruited from rural areas, who had less immunity to the diseases generated when a hundred thousand men crowded together with inadequate sanitation.).

In alphabetical order:

Ambrose Dutcher, of Hillsdale. Enlisted in 10th Michigan Infantry. d. 1865 of measles (measles' complications killed tens of thousands of men during the War). Medical records show he was admitted to a general hospital in April, 1865 with pneumonia; contracted measles within two weeks, and died at end of May. Left children Merrit (b. 1861), Elnora (b. 1863) and Ida (b. 1864). In an 1867 pension petition for the children, their guardian, David Dutcher, alleges that the widow has abandoned the children and become a lady of the evening.

Byron Dutcher, of Richmond, Mich., b. N.Y. 1839, m. Rebecca Hunt, d. 1886. He enlisted in the 9th Mich. Infantry. After his death his widow moved to Fresno, California and their sons, Charles, Lee, Merton and Wilbur, moved to California or Washington. The pension file contains a 1912 letter from A.C. [Charles?] of Western Furniture Co., Montrose Colo., as executor of his mother's estate.

Daniel W. Dutcher, of Big Rapids, Mecosta Co., b. 1831, Herkimer Co., N.Y., m. Sarah White, d. 1908 in Wisconsin. Parents Simeon and Lydia Dutcher. Enlisted in 6th Mich. Cavalry, Co. F. Captured by confederates at Seneca, Md., June 11, 1863, returned June 29. (An affidavit from another trooper, lodged in his pension file, states that while he was seriously ill upon his return, he "would not go to the hospital. He said that if he went to the hospital he would go to the boneyard." Given the mortality rate of civil war hospitals, this was an understandable view.). Discharged at end of war, rank corporal. Moved from Big Rapids to Rock Elm, Wisc. in 1876.

David W. Dutcher m. Lucy Johnson 1853, d. 1901, Kent Co., Mich. Enlisted in 1st Michigan Engineers. Discharged after a bridge-building accident which left him "breached in the testicles." Since he sired four children--Alvado (b. 1855), Charles J. (b. 1857) Sarah A. (b. 1863) and Clarence (b. 1865)--the injury must not have been irreparable.

George Dutcher, b. 1840 in N.Y., d. 1863, enlisted in the 6th Mich. Cavalry. Taken prisoner along the Rapidan in Sept. 1863 probably while taking part in the Mine Run campaign (when Meade crossed the river to test Lee's strength after Gettysburg), he died of disease shortly after his return.

Gilbert Dutcher, of Hazelton, Mich., enlisted in the 6th Mich. Cavalry, was captured at Liberty Mills, Va. in 1863. His records state that he died "of starvation and cold," at the Belle Isle POW camp (on the edge of Richmond) in 1864. His brothers, Warren and William, also served (see below); only one survived the war (Parents were Benjamin & Louise Dutcher). His letters home give an insight into the Civil War which is rarely mentioned in history books--the everpresent lice:

Stafford Church, Va.

August the 13th, 1863

Dear parents

........ We left Warrenton Junction the day before yesterday and came here to Stafford Church. I do not know how long we will stay here. Was on picket last night. It is pretty hard for me to sit on my horse 2 hours in the night with out going to sleep but the boddy lise is so thick that it keeps us all of the time a-looking for for lise. The boys will go out on picket and they will pull of their close and begin to burst lise. The boddy louse is long and slim and when they see us after them they will stick up their tails and run like deer. There is no use trying to keep rid of them because there is boys that has [shaved?] ever so close and then they would go and wash themselves all over and then they would put on new close and in 2 or 3 days they would be just as bad as ever, so there is no use of trying to keep rid of them. We just keep looking for them and keep them thinned out so that they won't carry us off. There is not a man in camp but has not got them, officers as well as men. ... I think that I have seen enough of this army. If they will give me my discharge now I will be satisified but there is no danger of my getting out of this until my three years is up.

Henry Dutcher, son of Roughloff and Leah Dutcher of Cherry Valley, Herkimer Co., N.Y., enlisted in the 4th Mich. Cavalry under the alias of Henry Kenyon. He died of disease (tuberculosis) in Detroit, 27 Sept. 1866. Siblings were Edward and Mary Dutcher (both b. 1850).

John Dutcher, of Bay City, b. 1848 New York, m. Maggie Yaeger 1883, d. 1906. Left a daugher, Laura "Maggie" (Brigham).

Joseph Edward Dutcher, of Four Rivers, St. Joseph Co., enlisted in the 1st Michigan Infantry. He died August, 1862, of typhoid fever, in the general hospital at Ft. Monroe, Va.. Parents Joseph (d. 1857) and Avrill (d. 1898) Dutcher.

Mortimer Dutcher, b. 1844, The Shame of Saginaw, served in the 8th Mich. Cavalry. (He also served in the 1st Michigan Lancers, 1861-62, but that unit was not accepted for federal service and disbanded). He was wounded by a gunshot in the leg in Nov. 1864. He was son of Daniel Dutcher and either Lavancia Dutcher or Mary Lambert Dutcher; siblings Richard (b. 1857), Jane, Ella and Frank. His files disclose that after the War he returned home, impregnated and gave a social disease to an underage girl, and left town under the alias of James Monroe. Under the alias he married Jane McNeil; children Frank Monroe (b. 1867-69), Chas. E. (b. 1871), Emitt R., "Raymond" (b. 1878) and Howard C. (b. 1881). He became a railway switchman and was killed in an accident in Chicago, 1882. His Monroe descendants were last heard of living in Los Angeles in 1930. (Daniel Dutcher, his father, was a pioneer of Oakland County. One early account refers to Freeborn Harry Banks, who cared "for the smallpox patients in the Dan Dutcher family near the Wixom farm.... No neighbor would go into the farm and when it became known that Mr. Banks had had the small-pox he was drafted and compelled to act as nurse, doctor and later undertaker to that unfortunate family." (Collections of the Oakland Co. Pioneer & Hist. Soc., vol. II at 243). After the death of Lavancia (date unknown) Daniel married in 1846 Mary Lambert. (see below)

Seth Dutcher, b. 1835, served in the 6th Mich. Cavalry. He died in 1864 of typhoid fever. Brother Davis Dutcher.

Stephen L. Dutcher, b. ~1857, m. 1861Martha E. (Clickins?) (b. 1844 in N.Y.) of White Oak, Ingaham Co, was drafted in March 1865, and assigned to the 15th Michigan Infantry. He joined the regiment in Kentucky but was discharged in July of that year after hospitalization, and died in March 1866 of dystentry. Parents Daniel D. and Maria D. Dutcher. He left two children--Martha, b. 1862, and Daniel S., b. 1864, of Ingraham County. Warren Dutcher, brother to Gilbert, b. 1832 Westfield, Pennsylvania, m. Sylvia (?), d. 1904-1909 in Pa. He served in the 3d Mich. Cavalry. He deserted in mid-1864 to return home to marry, He was arrested, but by the time he was returned to his regiment his term had expired anyway, so he was simply given a discharge in October, 1864. After the war the family returned to Pennsylvania. He left a daughter, Elenora King, b. 1871.

William Dutcher, brother of Warren and Gilbert, served in the 2d Mich. Cavalry and died of disease in 1864.

The Lamberts were another prolific clan, linked to the Dutchers by marriage and location. Many of the Lamberts enlisted in the same units chosen by Dutchers.

Frank Lambert, who spelled his name Lamber, enlisted in the 6th Michigan Cavalry at Ionia, on 28 Feb. 1865. Age given as 17, place of birth "Canada East."

Richard Lambert of Hillsdale, b. 1835 England, m. Martha M. Barnard (b. Medina NY 1841) 1864, d. 1905, enlisted in the Second Michigan Infantry in July 1861, for three years. He served through the Seven Days Campaign and was given an honorable discharge a year later "in accordance with G_[eneral] Order No. 151." The couple had four children: Lula Marie (b. 1866); Isabella (b. 1869); Richard Frederick (b. 1874) and May (b. 1877). Robert T. Lambert, of Caseville b. 1836 in Milford, Oakland Co., m. Ella Dutcher (location unclear, appears to be Unionville), enlisted in the 2d Missouri Lt. Artillery, 1864. (Artillery units were expensive to outfit: possibly he wanted that arm of the service at a time when no Michigan units were being formed). They had three children: Merle E. (b. 1876), Robert B. (b. 1878), and Roy P. (b. 1881). His 1915 pension application states his wife died some 24 years before and he is living with his son Robert, a veteran of the Spanish-American War.

Robert Lambert, of Saginaw, m. Elizabeth (?), d. 1867, enlisted in the 12th Michigan Infantry. Elizabeth applied for a widow's pension in 1898; application was rejected on grounds her husband had deserted. The service files show he was captured at the battle of Shiloh, Apr. 6, 1862, held as a POW until the end of May, when he was paroled and vanished from the records. (Parole was an efficient system for handling POWs: each side released POWs upon their agreement not to serve in a fighting capacity until their parole was "exchanged," cancelled out by agreement of the governments. Since parolees could not take part in campaigns (upon pain of being shot if recaptured) they were supposed to report to special camps until exchanged. Many reasoned that, if they weren't going to fight, they'd rather go home, and did so.).

William B. Lambert of Saginaw, d. 1866 (Saginaw City), enlisted in the 22nd Michigan Infantry at Oakland. His mother's pension application indicates that he was brother to Robert Lambert (b. 1836) of Saginaw and to Mary Dutcher (b. 1825)--probably the wife of Daniel Dutcher and mother of Mortimer Dutcher, mentioned above. His mother, Sarah Thompson, states that his father, Peter Lambert, died in 1856 and she thereafter married Moses Thompson. A letter was written on her behalf by Carl Heisterman from Bad Axe, July 1888.

(She chose a sound advocate: Heisterman was a Prussian soldier who, upon arriving in the U.S., enlisted and served in the Mexican War; the letter he wrote the Pension Office on his own behalf, protesting a request to demonstrate he was unable to earn a living, shows that the old Prussian was not lacking in fire:

Yours of Oct. 2nd 1894 received. All we Mexican War soldiers, or more properly speaking, all we democratic soldiers, have left is the pension of $8.00 per month and our honor as an inheritance to our families. We have to perjure ourselves, and being perjured, testify or prove that we are paupers, in order to get an additional $4.00. I decline to do either one. Any man over 70 cannot live by manual labor, that is plain. Who will engage a man of 74? And who will parade himself before the people as a pauper, when he served his country so well for 5 years.

Yours truly,

Carl Heisterman

Heisterman married Mary Dutcher, daughter of Daniel and sister to Mortimer, homesteaded on Heisterman's Island and became a state senator. When he died in 1896, a newspaper reported him Michigan's last survivor of the Mexican War, and added a last dig at the pension office:

A lifelong Democrat, he was disgusted with the appointing power of the administration, whcih he arraigned in scathing terms. ... He exhibited a sabre cut received at Monterrey and a bullet mark given him at Vera Cruz, for which he was in the receipt of the princely pension of $8 per month, an increase having been denied him through the influence of political enemies.

(One may speculate on Heisterman's discussions of the Civil War, since the officers of his Mexican War regiment (4th U.S.) had included Lts. Braxton Bragg and James Longstreet, later Confederate generals, and Lts. Reynolds, Thomas, and Hayes, later Union generals--not to mention Lt. U.S. Grant and Capt. Robert Buchanan, who forced Grant to resign from the peacetime army for drunkeness. Not every civilian in 1864 would have known the commander of the Armies of the United States, the commander of the Army of the Cumberland, "Lee's Warhorse," and Jefferson Davis' chief military advisor!

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