Joseph Washington Fisher, 5th Pennsylvania Reserves

Colonel Joseph W. Fisher

JOSEPH WASHINGTON FISHER, was born in Northumberland county on the 16th of October, 1814. Two years after, his father died, leaving a widow and several small children, of whom he was youngest. His education was consequently the result mainly of his own efforts. He married in 1836 Miss Elizabeth R. Shearer, and in 1840 removed to Lancaster county, where he studied law and was admitted to practice. In 1848 he was elected a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature. He entered the service as a private in April, 1861, and was subsequently made Lieutenant-Colonel of the Fifth Reserve regiment. He made a campaign in West Virginia in the fall of 1861, and in 1862 was in the Seven Days” battle on the Peninsula, commanding the brigade skirmishers at Beaver Dam Creek, was in the hottest of the fight at Gaines” Mill, and at Charles City Cross Roads led in the famous charge which shattered the enemy and threw him back upon his supports. He was soon after promoted to the rank of Colonel. On his way to the Bull Run field his horse fell upon him, inflecting serious injuries, which prevented him from participating in that battle.

Colonel Joseph W. Fisher

At South Mountain he led his regiment in the assault and capture of that stronghold, and with equal gallantry fought at Antietam. At Gettysburg he was in command of a Brigade, which he led upon Little Round Top at an opportune moment, and subsequently, at dark, sealed Round Top itself, driving out the enemy, and fortified it. He continued to command his brigade in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Bethesda Church, and was mustered out with the corps at the end of its service. In less than a month he was in the field again with a regiment for one hundred days, at the end of which he raised one for veteran service, and was ordered into the Shenandoah Valley, where he was pitted against the redoubtable Moseby. Colonel Fisher was brevetted Brigadier-General in this his final campaign, and soon after the close of the war was elected a member of the Pennsylvania Senate. In February, 1871, he was appointed an associate justice of the court in Wyoming Territory, and in December was made Chief Justice, where he died on October 18th, 1900.1

Colonel Joseph W. Fisher
Joseph W. Fisher here is photographed as Brigadier General. The officers in the photograph it is theorized are members of the 195th Pennsylvania Volunteers. From the left, Adjutant John A. Willoughby, former member of the 5th Reserves; next (seated) is Lieutenant Colonel William L. Bear, former member of the 1st Reserves; Unknown; General Joseph W. Fisher; Assistant Surgeon Harrison T. Witman, former member of the 5th Reserves; remaining two officers unidentified.

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Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.

  1. Martial Deeds of Pennsylvania by Samuel P. Bates; Philadelphia: T. H. Davis & Co., 1876. Part II, Chapter XIV, Pages 947-948.