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

Col. James D. Visscher

Colonel Visscher was the son of John V. S. and Eleanor Visscher, and was born in Albany, March 26th, 1829.

In childhood he was remarkable for his good conduct and kindness of heart. He was hopefully converted at the first union prayer meetings held in the North Pearl Street Baptist Church, and united with that church under Dr. Hague. At the time of his enlistment he was in the employ of Messrs. Weed, Parsons & Co., and was highly esteemed by all who knew him.

He felt it to be the duty of every young American citizen to give their service to their country, and he was among the first who responded to the call for volunteers after the fall of Fort Sumter. In April, 1861, he left home with the Burgesses Corps, of which he was a member, to join the Twenty-fifth Regiment New York State Militia, then at Arlington Heights, Va., and was with them in crossing the Long Bridge into Virginia. He returned with the regiment after three monlhs service, and remained at home for one year very reluctantly. All that deterred him from re-enlisting was the thought of leaving his aged mother alone. He felt it would be breaking up his home forever, as he was the only child remaining with her, one brother being already in the field with the Forty-fourth New York State Volunteers.

At last he decided that it was his duty to take an active part in the struggle for the right, and the rest he would leave to God. He knew in whom he trusted. He enlisted in a company to be attached to the Forty-third Regiment New York Volunteers, then in the field, and took command of company G., Sept 4th, 1862.

He was in all the engagements with the regiment until the time of his death. After the battles of the Wilderness he was promoted to the Colonelcy of the regiment, May 12th, 1864. He was loved and respected by his officers and men for his soldierly conduct and Christian virtues.

He was killed by a bullet from a sharpshooter in the attack on Fort Stevens, Washington, July 12th, 1864. He breathed but a few moments. "My poor mother, God help her," were his last words. He never went into an engagement without committing himself to his Heavenly Father. His body was embalmed and sent home, and was buried with military honors from the church of which he was a member. His remains now rest with his kindred in the Albany Rural Cemetery.

The following is an extract from the last letter that he wrote to his mother:

Near Petersburg, July 1, 1864.
Having a few spare moments from duty, I take the opportunity of writing. I thank God that he has preserved John and myself amid all the dangers through which we have passed. I trust all the future to Him, and hope, my dear mother, you will pray for us, that God will spare us to return. But if it is His will that either of us should be taken, may we all meet in heaven. With love, your affectionate son,
J. D. V.

The following remarks were made at the funeral of Col. James D. Visscher, by the Rev. C. D. M. Bridgman:

"Of those whose names have given to the Forty-third Regiment an historic interest—whose deeds have illumined its progress, is that of James D. Visscher, so recently promoted to its colonelcy, so suddenly released from its honorable duties, for the glory which they wear and the rest which they inherit who go upward from the midst of tribulation, having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. At the commencement of our civil strife he gladly went to the field of duty with the military organization with which he was earliest connected—the Twenty-fifth Regiment—and received his equal share of the honors awarded it. On its return, after a brief term of service, he decided to enlist a company of his own, and threw himself promptly, laboriously, into the work. No argument, no appeal, could uproot his deep conviction or break the force of his high resolve. He seemed, as he bent inward, to have heard a call in his own soul to which it behooved him to give most earnest heed. He saw everything dear and valuable in life and society on these shores at stake; and though loving those who, in a great measure, were dependent on him, with a rare devotion, the spirit that was abroad in the air entered into and possessed his soul. A higher breath than kindred and blood can impart, from God and the time, blew through his breast till it made the music there of the trumpet-stop. So was he stirred from within to mix in this conflict of the land and age. So did he assume his martial aspect, and the voice we had so often heard in our Sabbath praises sunk to a deeper tone and mingled into the grander diapason of a nation's righteous wrath.

"Unlike so many who have gone away from the restraints of home and from daily converse with those who were their defence against wickedness and shame, he bore himself commendably, and, amongst the temptations which gather so thickly in the camp, illustrated, to a high degree, the strength which flows from a Christian's faith.

"It was my privilege, a little more than a year ago, to visit his regiment in Virginia; and, while there, I witnessed a scene that will always live in my remembrance. It was on a warm and cheerful Sabbath morning, when, the usual inspection being over, martial music sounded through the little valley along which the regiment was encamped, summoning us, by its solemn strains, to the usual religious services. As we gathered to the slope on which such services were usually observed, we saw two persons in that company whom we never more will meet on earth—our brethren Wilson and Visscher. The hymns were borne upward chiefly on their voices; and when I addressed the regiment and gazed into those two hearkening faces, it was with gratitude to God that their lives were not in contradiction with their pastor's words. Again, in the hospital, they stood with me in the evening of that day, leading our praises in that quiet hour, and lending to us, as to their Chaplain they had always done, the voice of their authority. I gratefully recall those scenes to-day; for they serve to illustrate what companions have affirmed of both, that they maintained a Christian bearing during their absence from us, and help to confirm our faith that death to them was only translation to the sceneries and blessedness of the heavenly estate.

"In the recent battle in front of Washington—almost in sight of the plumed statue of Freedom, whose elevation to her lofty height, while the nation battles for the idea, is grandly significant—our brother fell, bravely baring his bosom to the foe, and interposing it as the living shield of our nation's capital. And so they both have passed away. Lovely and pleasant in their lives, in their death they were not long divided. Each has made his name honorable and illustrious; and whilst the State blazons their achievements on her historic annals, we will think of them as not dead, but translated to that higher realm, where earthly honors are lost to thought in the immortal dignity of being kings and priests to God, who serve and reign forever and ever.

"So are we contributing, men and brethren, in these frequent gifts of youth, so strong and brave, to that great sacrifice which is to re-unite these separate fragments of our nation, and purchase for us a better than our former peace. So are we hallowing, in these graves of sons and brethren, the places along which the roots of the great tree of human freedom shall run, and take up a flavor and a richness to be unfolded in its blossoms and fruit through coming ages.

"We can appreciate the anguish which to-day heaves and swells in the souls of the bereaved, as they think of him whose mortal tabernacle lies still and cold, emptied of all that gave it comeliness and made it dear. They think of his tenderness as a brother, of his rare fidelity as a son. They think, perhaps, of that final appeal into which his spirit seems to have been breathed for her, whose pangs at his dying have been heavier than his own. But is there not a full, sufficient comfort in the fact that his life was devoted to such high uses? Is there not an adequate consolation in the Gospel which declares our Christian dead as never lost, but only taken up into the glories of the heavenly world, whence they reach out inviting arms to us who longer wait below? Is there not such a grandeur about our cause as compels them, even in their deep grief, to confess that he never could have fallen in a more glorious service, or won immortality by a more honorable fate? May these abundant comforts which God has given with this affliction be realized in all their fullness by the survivors. May this bereavement be so sanctitied as that out of this death life shall spring, and in the beauty of spirits chastened and purified by loss, the beauty of the Lord our God shall be upon us."

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