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A United States Civil War Soldier Whose Son Is Still Living Today

Updated on December 19, 2017
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Through his travels and reading, Chris gathers information and writes about historical events and concepts that are often overlooked.

Fredrick Upham

Follow the lnk to the National Geographic article.
Follow the lnk to the National Geographic article. | Source

Fred Upham is a 93 year old gentleman who lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He was born in 1921 in Marshfield, Wisconsin. Fred had a brother, William, who died in 2009 at the age of 93.

Fred is one of 35 people still living (as of the writing of this article on November 20, 2014) whose fathers fought in the United States Civil War nearly 150 years ago. Although he was only 3 years old when his father died in 1924, Fred says he remembers his father and their home in Wisconsin.

Here are some of the details of the life of Fred’s father, William Upham Sr.

William H. Upham Sr.


In 1861, William enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Company F of the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment called the Belle City Rifles. He had not been in the military long, when his regiment fought at the First Battle of Bull Run in Virginia. William was shot and severely wounded when a musket ball passed through the shoulder strap of his cartridge box, close to his scapula. The surgeon of his company operated and saved his life, but Captain Strong, William’s commanding officer, had witnessed him being shot and was not aware that William had survived. He sent word to the Upham family that he had been killed. His family and community back in Racine, Wisconsin held a community funeral for him.

While at the field hospital at Bull Run, William was captured by the Confederate Army and held in Libby Prison, a converted tobacco barn in Richmond, Virginia. In May of 1862, there was a prisoner exchange between the North and South, and William was released. He continued to serve in the army until 1869. During this period, he was Officer of the Guard at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia where he temporarily oversaw Jefferson Davis, the imprisoned President of the Confederate States of America. William said that he and Davis usually passed the hours until after midnight in conversation and added that, "Mr. Davis was very pleasant and social ... full of reminiscences ... familiar with all parts of Wisconsin, he could tell me the meanings of all the Indian names of the [state].”

President Lincoln on the Battlefield

Abraham Lincoln, Allan Pinkerton and John Alexander McClernand, visiting the Antietam battlefield, October 3, 1862. Photograph By Alexander Gardner
Abraham Lincoln, Allan Pinkerton and John Alexander McClernand, visiting the Antietam battlefield, October 3, 1862. Photograph By Alexander Gardner | Source

During his military service, William had the opportunity to meet President Abraham Lincoln. The meeting at the White House was arranged by Wisconsin Senator, James Doolittle. The President inquired about William’s injury, asking to see the wound. Lincoln personally appointed William to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, from which William graduated in 1866.

In 1895, William was elected Governor of Wisconsin. He served one term and chose to not seek re-election.

William’s first wife, Mary Kelly passed away in 1912. Two years later, at age 73, he went on an extended sailing trip along the east coast. A violent storm forced him to seek shelter at Beaufort, North Carolina. While there, he met a woman, much younger than he, by the name of Grace Mason. William and Grace were married, and she bore two sons, William Jr. in 1916 and Fredrick in 1921.

William H. Upham Jr. passed away on August 20, 2009. As of the writing of this article on November 20, 2014, Fredrick M. Upham was still living at 93 years of age.

Yes, if you cared to make the trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado you could visit with Fred Upham and talk to him about his father, the man who fought in the Union Army and shook hands with President Abraham Lincoln.

Other Living Children of U.S. Civil War Soldiers

  • Iris Lee Gay Jordan, 92-Georgia, daughter of Southern soldier, Lewis F. Gay.
  • Clifford Hamm, son of Southern soldier, John Hamm.
  • John, Garland, and William Pool, and their sister, Florence Wilson (All still alive) are the children of Union soldier, Charles Parker Pool.
  • Hazel Jeter, daughter of Silas D. Mason, a Union soldier from Maine


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