Sons of Union Veterans of
P. O. 24969 San José, CA

My Union Ancestor



Co. B, 1st Michigan Infantry

Half great-great-granduncle of Tad D. Campbell, PCinC

William J. Foster, the eldest son of Moses and Joanna (Slarrow) Foster, was born about 1840-42 in Wayne County, Michigan. The family moved to Shiawassee County, Michigan about 1850-57 and settled at Corunna in Caledonia Township. Here his father worked as a shoemaker, a trade he had learned from his father. They had four sons and a daughter.

During the first half of 1857, William's mother became quite ill. While she was on her deathbed, she made Sarah A. Miller, the family's housekeeper, promise to marry William's father after she died. Joanna Foster passed away on June 19, 1857 and shortly thereafter Moses and Sarah were married.

As his new step-mother, Sarah was a mere three years older than William, and twenty-one years younger than his father. This marriage also produced four sons and a daughter.

William J. Foster enlisted in the Army as a Private at Flint, Michigan on July 13, 1861 at the age of twenty. On July 22, 1861 he was mustered into Company B, 1st Michigan Infantry at Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Tad Campbell and daughter Emelia
at the grave of William J. Foster.

His description was given as five feet, eight inches tall, dark complexion, dark eyes, dark hair and by occupation a shoemaker. At some point during his service he was promoted to Corporal.

The regiment started for Virginia September 16, 1861. They took part in the Peninsular Campaign of 1862, under General McClellan, serving in the First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps. It fought gallantly at Mechanicsville, Gaines's Mills, Peach Orchard, Savage Station, Turkey Bend, White Oak Swamp and Malvern Hill.

After the Peninsular Campaign it was assigned to Fitz John Porter's Corps where it was desperately engaged at Second Bull Run, August 30, 1862, with the other regiments of the brigade and sustained a fearful loss under the murderous fire of the enemy's masked batteries.

The regiment took part in the bloody battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Virginia, where William J. Foster was severely wounded by a gunshot in the spine on May 3, 1863. He was admitted to Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C. on May 9th where he lingered until his death on May 12, 1863.

He was interred in the Military Asylum Cemetery (now called Soldiers Home National Cemetery) in Washington, D.C.

William J. Foster had two brothers that also served in the Union Army, namely: John N. Foster of Co. B, 3rd Michigan Infantry who died from typhoid fever and wounds received at Fair Oaks; and Charles D. Foster of Co. F, 10th Michigan Cavalry.

Copyright © 2001-2015 — Phil Sheridan Camp 4, Dept. of CA & Pacific, SUVCW
Created 28 Jan 2001; Revised 25 Aug 2015

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