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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Col. Edward Frisby

Edward Frisby was born in Trenton, Oneida county, N. Y., on the third day of August, A. D. 1809, and was the son of Edward Frisby and Nabby Blackman. When about two years of age, his father removed to Whitestown, where he died when Edavard was about thirteen or fourteen years old. He was the second son, and the seventh of ten children, of whom but one survives him, viz: Hon. D. H. Frisby, of Illinois. Notwithstanding his youth, he was so unwilling to see his mother burdened by the cares of so large a family, that he determined to do something for himself, and commenced working his own way in the world in the Oneida cotton factory. During the whole time of his residence at home, he was noted for his kindness and attention to his mother. At the age of seventeen, he came to Albany, and on the first of February, in the year 1827, was bound apprentice to John Mayell, hatter, by his brother Eleazer B. Frisby, who, being fifteen years his senior, took more the place of a father than a brother. He served as apprentice until he was twenty years of age, after which he continued in the service of Mr. Mayell as a journeyman until he was twenty-two, when he commenced business for himself. When in his twenty-fourth year, on the fifth of November, 1832, he was married to Mary Augusta Stevens, of Amherst, N. H.

His parents were Presbyterians, but after coming to Albany he usually attended the Baptist church. He experienced religion in a protracted meeting, held in the First Baptist church in Albany, with which he united, then under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Mr. Hodge. His wife was already a member of that church.

Col. Frisby was the father of six children, two girls and four boys, of whom but two are living, the two youngest boys. The first four died in infancy. He was kind and devoted as a husband and father, as well as a son and brother.

When quite young, he evinced a great taste for a military life, and at the age of eighteen was chosen corporal in a State militia company. This post he filled until he was about twenty-two years of age, when, on the second of September, 1831, he received his commission as ensign in the Eighty-ninth Regiment of Infantry. In August, 1833, he was elected captain; in March, 1835, major; in September, 1839, lieutenant colonel; and in August, 1841, colonel; which position he held for about three months, when he received his commission as colonel of the Twenty-fifth Regiment under the new organization. On the 19th of May, 1856, he received his commission as brigadier general of the Eleventh brigade, Third division N. Y. S. M. This position he held until the fall of 1860, when he resigned, and for the first time in thirty-three years, was out of office. He was then in his fifty-first year. Although he was now in no way connected with the military of the State, still officers of every rank were constantly applying to him for the advice and instruction which he was so well qualified to give.

He now intended to give his whole attention to his family and to his private business. But he was not long permitted to remain in the quietude of domestic enjoyment. His country called, and found him ready to obey. In the spring of 1861, at the first appearance of trouble, he manifested a great interest in everything connected with our country's welfare, and repeatedly expressed a desire to enter the service and do something to avert the evils which threatened us as a nation.

When the old Twenty-fifth Regiment, of which he was so long a member, began to talk of leaving for the field of action, their Colonel, M. K. Bryan, desired Gen. Frisby to accompany them, both to give advice to himself and officers, and to encourage the men who placed such explicit confidence in him.

On the 22d of April (a day that will never be forgotten in Albany), they left home and friends, to go forth to battle for freedom.

Besides the children to whom we have referred, Col. Frisby had an adopted son, the child of his wife's sister, who died when the boy was an infant. This little one the Colonel, in the generosity of his nature, took and brought up as his own. He was older than his own sons, and took charge of his business while he was in the army.

While they were detained in New York, waiting for the necessary preparations to be made for their departure to Washington, Gen. Frisby wrote home to his wife, as follows:

"I have been very busy since our arrival here. Our men are in good spirits, and the best feeling prevails. I want to express my thanks to you, for your heroic conduct upon my departure from home; that you did not say one word to discourage me, but arranged everything in your power for my comfort, when I know your heart was full of trouble."

He remained with the Twenty-fifth until their arrival in Washington, and then hastened home to recruit a regiment of volunteers, to aid in the defence of the Union. This regiment, the Thirtieth N. Y. S. Volunteers, was mustered into the service. He was commissioned its Colonel. On the 27th of June, 1861, they left for the seat of war.

The following; is an extract from a letter written by him to his sons, dated at Camp Union, Brightwood, July 7, 1861:

"You are now of an age, when you will establish a character and habits which will grow through your whole life. I know you are well disposed, but many, who are equally well disposed, often yield to temptations, and soon find that they have no power to resist evil. I hope you will listen to the counsel of your mother in all things; be constant in your attendance at church and Sabbath school, and 'remember your Creator in the days of your youth.' I have felt, and still feel, a great anxiety about you, knowing, as I do, how necessary it is for boys to have the advice and care of a father. But the call of my country has come, and it is my duty to respond, and leave you in the hands of Him who tempers the wind to the shorn lambs, believing He will watch over, and guide you safely, through every trial and temptation, if you will look to Him. I have been very well since I left home, but the care upon my mind has been very fatiguing. We are situated very pleasantly, and are doing as well as could be expected under all circumstances. We are to have religious service at ten o'clock this morning, in a grove adjoining our camp, which will be conducted by our chaplain, Rev. N. G. Axtell,"

It is needless to follow our hero through all the changes of the army of the Potomac; through the long and weary marches, or in the dull monotony of camp life. In a letter to his wife he says:

"It is hard for you to be left alone, but you must consider that the cause in which we are engaged requires sacrifices, and you are doing your duty as much as the soldier who is fighting upon the field of battle. If I can see this war honorably brought to a close, I shall not regret any sacrifice that I have made. I may not live to enjoy it, but I know that my boys will not love their country the less because their father fought for it."

In another letter, speaking of his officers, he says:

"I am well satisfied with them, as well as with the men. My regiment is doing well, indeed, better than I could have expected. If we can have a little time to drill, I believe that we can do our country good service."

Again he writes:

"My dear wife, keep up good courage, our God is a God of war as of peace. Let us trust in Him. He is mighty in battle, and the right will conquer."

Col. Frisby enjoyed excellent health until July, 1862, when his health began to fail and he desired to see his wife. He wrote to her, desiring her to come to him immediately (he was then at Falmouth, Va., opposite Fredericksburg), saying nothing, however, of his ill state of health. She went with all haste to him, and on arriving found him lying very Iow with fever. By the tenderest care he was restored so far as to be able to travel.

While Iying on his sick bed, the army were ordered to march, and never did a father feel worse at parting with his children than did Col. Frisby at parting with his officers and men. He would lie upon his bed, the tears streaming down his checks, and exclaim: "Oh, my poor boys! My poor boys!"

He procured a leave of absence, and in company with his wife turned his face homeward. The sail up the Potomac seemed to revive him, and on arriving in Washington he felt so much better that he determined to return at once to his regiment, then stationed at Culpepper, where he expected they would remain in camp long enough for him to fully regain his strength. So he bade his wife and son (who was with her) adieu, little thinking that it was for the last time. He returned to camp, and instead of remaining there for several weeks as the regiment had anticipated, they were ordered into action at once. They fought all the way from there to Bull Run, where, on the third day after entering battle, he fell. The day he fell his leave of absence had not expired.

A young man, a member of his regiment, who went from Troy, and who was for some time in the Colonel's tent as orderly, writes to Mrs. Frisby as follows:

"A few hours before the battle I conversed with the Colonel. He seemed a little melancholy. He spoke, however, of the position of our troops, of the admirable position of the batteries, and expressed entire confidence in the ability of our commander. When we made that fatal charge, his duty called him from that part of the field, and I did not see him again. When I inquired for the Colonel, I was informed that he had fallen while leading us on.

"He was like a father to me, ever gentle and kind. I deeply feel his loss, but why should I complain, when others have equal cause, and are silent. Through this life, I shall act as I know he would desire me to. God be with you and bless you, my kind friend. With many prayers for you and yours, in your sorrow, I subscribe myself your friend.


The following account of the death of this gallant officer appeared in the "Albany Express," August 30, 1862:

"Col. E. Frisby, of the Thirtieth regiment, was killed in action near Centreville, Va. He was at the head of his regiment on the memorable Saturday when the second battle of Bull Eun was fought, urging his men forward, they having received an order to charge at double quick. While thus discharging his duty, a ball struck him on the lower jaw, passing through his face. He did not fall from his horse, but grasped the reins firmly. Maj. Chrysler, noticing that his colonel had been wounded, hurried to his side and said to him: 'Colonel, you are hit.' Col. F., the blood streaming from his shattered jaw, immediately responded: 'Major, to your post!' and, brandishing his sword, started his horse up. Scarcely had he uttered the words of command, when he was struck on the top of the head with another ball, which passed through and came out on the opposite side, killing him instantly. He dropped from his horse, and the renmant of his regiment, which had been in the hottest of the fight, was forced to fall back, leaving the remains of their heroic commander on the field of battle. Four days after, his body was interred by the surgeon of the Twenty-second New York State volunteers. When the common council committee reached Washington, Monday morning last, they learned that the body had been interred on the battle field, and that a regiment had been sent out to bury our dead. No intelligence was received from the regiment during Monday, and Col. Harcourt then resolved to go to the battle field. He procured the necessary passes for himself and Maj. Chrysler, and early Tuesday morning left the city in a carriage. They proceeded as far as Bailey's Cross Roads, where they met the regiment returning with the body of Col, Frisby. The body of Col. F. was found in the precise spot where the surgeon of the Twenty-second stated he buried it, with a board at the head marked Col. Frisby. On arriving in Washington, the committee at once made arrangements for embalming the body, a process which required some considerable time. They left Washington Wednesday afternoon at five o'clock, and came direct to New York without stopping, arriving there yesterday morning, too late for the early train. The remains were removed to the Hudson River railroad depot, when the committee was informed that the body could not be sent forward without permission from the city inspector. Col. Harcourt, after considerable effort, succeeded in procuring the document, and left New York."

The funeral of Col. Frisby took place September 11. The military escort took the cars at North Ferry street for the cemetery. During the movement of the funeral cortege all places of business were closed, the flags were flying at half mast, the bells were tolled and minute guns fired, the streets meanwhile being densely crowded with spectators.

A nobler hero, a purer patriot, has not fallen during the war than Col. Edward Frisby.

The following touching letters were received by the bereaved widow:

Washington, D. C, September 4, 1862.
Mrs. E. Frisby—I have hesitated and delayed writing to you in hopes the first rumors that reached us, in relation to the fate of our beloved Colonel, might be confirmed.

But, alas! my heart aches, my eyes become blinded, and my head is dizzy, when thinking of that awful field of carnage and death. O, God! that I could blot from my memory the scenes of that most unfortunate encounter. I cannot give you a detailed account of that battle, or of the part taken by any one. I can only say your husband, our beloved colonel, fought in the thickest of the fight, and died at his post of duty.

We have made every exertion to obtain his body, but have been unsuccessful, but feel in hopes that Dr. Chapin, who was taken a prisoner, will mark the spot where he is buried. I have collected his eftects and will send them by express to-morrow. Anything I can do will be cheerfully done. I have lost a very dear friend in your loss of a husbaud. I am in hopes of seeing you before long, when I can relate more particularly the incidents of that awful day. Bear up under this affliction. God is good, and doeth all things well.

Your friend,

Troy, Sept. 14, 1862.
My Dear Mrs. Frisby: It was with feelings of inexpressible sorrow, while absent from home, that I heard of the death of your genorous-hearted and gallant husband (my old friend and Colonel), Edward Frisby, by the hands of the enemies of his country. He died a martyr to law and order, a lover of the constitution and government under which he was born, reared and educated, and a brave and conscientious defender of that flag which so long had been the pride and admiration of his countrymen, and the emblem of hope and happiness of the oppressed in all parts of the world, as it was, and is, a terror to tyrants and despots. He died as all true patriots love to die—with his harness on, in the full, conscientious discharge of his duty to the government under which he was reared.

A bereaved country, a widowed wife, orphan children, sympathetic and condoling friends, mourn his loss; but their loss (consoling is the fact) is his gain. May you, his disconsolate widow, and his orphaned children, find consolation in the fact; and may He, who holds nations in the hollow of his hand, and without whose notice not a sparrow falls to the ground, aid you in finding that consolation.

I have said that Col. Frisby was my friend during all my association with him. I have found him to be such, and therefore I mourn his loss as a friend. Of course, I cannot mourn that loss as you do. But there is one thing that I can do. I can bear truthful and uncontradictory testimony to his moral worth as a man; to his honesty and usefulness as a citizen; to his devotion as a patriot, and his steadfastness as a friend. May the bright example, which he has so disinterestedly bequeathed to his posterity, never be forgotten by any of them. Believe me, Madam, to be most sincerely your friend and well wisher.


Keedysville, Md., Sept. 28th, 1862.
Dear Madam: Pardon me for addressing you by letter, which I presume to do, because of my former intimate relations with your deceased husband, and because I deeply sympathize with you in your affliction.

None knew Col. Frisby, outside his family, as I knew him. Our military connection commenced when I was so young, and lasted so long that I had come to look to him, as a son toward a father. I knew his inmost thoughts, so far as military matters were concerned, and could almost read in his face the thoughts passing through his mind. Amid the excitement of the battle field, and the tediousness of long marches, I have not fully appreciated that he is gone—that I shall never see him more; but during the past week, partially confined to my chamber by a wound, the fact has appeared to me in all its force, and I realize that I have lost a dear friend who loved me, and that the service has sustained an almost irreparable loss, in the sphere in which he moved.

How forcefully comes upon my mind our parting on the second of April last, at Alexandria! Then I knew how painful to him, and how painful to me, it was, to be separated in our official relations. Clasped in each other's arms, the big tears rolling down his cheeks, he said, among other things: "We may never meet again!" How true it proved, but how little did I then think it was our last meeting on earth.

Dear Madam: Let me assure you, in your bereavement you have the deep sympathy of the officers and men of the regiment, and of the division to which he was attached, and in which he served so faithfully and efficiently. Indeed, the remnant of the Thirtieth mourn his loss as children mourning the loss of a father.

While we thus lament his loss, it is a source of comfort to me to know that all acknowledged his worth, and showed their appreciation of his merit. To the city of Albany, to the militia of the State, the loss is great; for he and a few others, by their noble, yet at the time unappreciated, labors, made the militia of the city and State what it now is, and gave to the Nation a powerful force to check the onward march of the rebellion.

Col. Frisby's name will rank high among the heroes of this war.

The God whom he worshiped will give comfort to your bereaved heart. He will not see the widow or children of the soldier and patriot suffer. Let me commend you to Him; and with my most earnest sympathy, I subscribe myself,

Your obedient servant,
I write with some difficulty, having one arm still in a sling.

Fort Covington, Sept. 5,th 1862.
My Dear Mrs. Frisby: With the greatest solicitude, I have watched for, and scanned the lists of the killed and wounded, in the late terrible encounters. I saw in one of the papers that your husband was wounded, and in another, that he was killed; and was unable to ascertain which report was correct, until this morning, when my attention was directed to a paragraph in one of the New York papers, describing the manner of his death, and stating the fact that his body had been recovered.

My heart is filled with inexpressible grief; it is to me as if it were my father thus stricken down.

To you I need not praise him; and I but repeat what, often, while he was living, I expressed to others; that he was one of the bravest and best officers in our service.

As one of his military family, I had an opportunity for becoming thoroughly acquainted with him; and I loved and revered him.

He had a high sense of the responsibility of his position, and strove scrupulously and religiously to act up to those responsibilities.

His intercourse with his officers and men, exhibited those qualities which adorn the character of the true gentleman.

He was not only anxious that the men of his regiment should be well disciplined as soldiers, but was solicitous for their moral well-being.

Always did I receive his hearty co-operation in every plan for the moral and religious improvement of the regiment; and if all the colonels in the army had the same sense of responsibility to God, the love of morals would be far brighter, and I believe we should be far more successful in ending this cruel war.

You have lost a husband; I a friend, and the country a true, brave and noble soldier. We are sad; we mourn. God only can comfort. May he bless you and comfort you, is the prayer of

Your friend,

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