Member Biography

Joseph Washington Fisher 


Military Photo, USAMHI

Sessions Office Position District Party
1867       17 Republican
1868       17 Republican

COUNTIES: Lancaster  


10/16/1814 - 10/18/1900

Brevet Brigadier General Joseph Washington Fisher (R17) Lancaster County 1867-1869

Early Life: 

Brevet Brigadier General Joseph Washington Fisher, born October 16, 1814, Northumberland, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania; local school education; moved, Columbus, Warren County as a boy, Lancaster, 1840; engaged, tailoring business; married, Elizabeth R “Emma” Shearer Fisher, 1836, children, Rebecca C. Fisher Bruner, Tunis Joseph “T. Joe” Fisher Sr.; elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1848-1849; elected, Justice of Peace, Columbia, Pennsylvania, 1850-1855; admitted, Lancaster bar, law practice, 1856; Brevet Brigadier General, United States Volunteers, Civil War, 1861-1866; elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1867-1868; appointment, Chief Justice, Wyoming Territorial Supreme Court, 1871-1879; appointed, United States Commissioner, 1881-1890; died October 18, 1900 (aged 86) Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming; interment Lakeview Cemetery, Cheyenne, Laramie County, Wyoming. 

Early Career:

Enlisted, May 15, 1861, Captain, 34th Regiment., Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 5th Pennsylvania Reserves; promoted, Lieutenant Colonel, June 21, 1861, after Colonel Seneca G. Simmons was killed in action, Battle of Glendale, during the Seven Days Battles, Richmond, Virginia.  At 2d Manassas, known as Bull Run, promoted, Colonel for meritorious conduct while sustaining serious wounds when his horse was shot at full gallop. 

Commanded, 5th Reserves, Battle of Antietam, forcing a Confederate retreat. Performed gallantly at Battle of Fredericksburg, Reserves Division under the command of Major General George G. Meade. The Reserves were removed from the field to recover from hard service in 1862, Fisher commanded the brigade in the XXII Corps, Department of Washington.

When the two brigades of the Reserves returned to the field in 1863, they were commanded, Brigadier General Samuel W. Crawford. Colonels Joseph W. Fisher and William “Buck” McCandless (member, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1st district, 1867- 1869) led these units in the V Corps at the Battle of Gettysburg on the left flank of the army. Figuring prominently, Fisher was the first to ascend Little Round Top, late on July 2, 1863. 

Saw action at the Wilderness, left sick bed against surgeon orders to participate at Mine Run, November 1863, and Spotsylvania Court House. Battle at Charles City Crossroads led the famous charge that shattered the enemy. Last action as brigade commander was the Battle of Cold Harbor. Mustered out three days later, on June 15, 1864. 

Returned to service in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Colonel, 195th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 100-day service, commanding his regiment at Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. Promoted, Brevet Brigadier General, United States Volunteers, November 4, 1865, President Ulysses S. Grant; mustered out, January 31, 1866, with his regiment.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Whig, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1848-1849; refused reelection, owning his refusal to support Thaddeus Stevens, United States Senate. 

Elected, Justice of Peace, Columbia, Pennsylvania, 1850-1855. 

Elected, Republican, Pennsylvania State Senate, 17th district, Lancaster County, 1867-1869; committee assignments, Judiciary Local, Military Affairs, Pension, Private Claims and Damages (Chairman).

Continued Government Service/National Politics:

Appointed, President Ulysses S. Grant; Chief Justice, Wyoming Territory Supreme Court, ten-year term, 1871-1881; replaced, Judge James B. Senar, President Rutherford Birchard Hayes, December 18, 1879.

Appointed, United States Commissioner, 1881 served until statehood 1890.


Cox, Harold. "Senate Members F"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project Wilkes University.

Smull’s Legislative Handbook, (1867). Smull, J.A., (Editor) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pages 257, 261-264.

Smull’s Legislative Handbook, (1868). Smull, J.A., (Editor) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pages 276, 280-282.

The Semi-Weekly New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) Saturday October 20, 1900, Page 1.

List of American Civil War brevet generals (Union) - Wikipedia

Joseph Washington Fisher (1814-1900) - Find a Grave Memorial