POV: A Civil War soldier’s story

Leonard Lasher’s grave is located in the Elmwood Cemetery in Selkirk.

Leonard Lasher’s grave is located in the Elmwood Cemetery in Selkirk.

The 43rd New York served in the Union Army of the Potomac and was composed primarily of Albany County men – although there were two companies formed in New York City and two others in other New York State counties. The Regiment fought in some of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles, but was only lightly engaged in the three-day fight at Gettysburg, where it lost one officer and three men. During its service, the 43rd lost a total of 15 officers and 229 enlisted men.

Corporal Lasher was wounded during the Second Battle of Fredericksburg in May 1863, but the Albany newspapers reported that his wounds were slight; one paper reported him as wounded in the “arm, not seriously,” and another reported wounds to the “head and arm.” Most of these newspaper accounts were based on letters that were sent home by officers and men serving with the Regiment in the field, and the specific details were not always accurate.

Captain David H. Burhans, another Bethlehem resident who served in the 43rd Infantry, wrote in a letter to his brother after the Salem Church battle in May 1863 that “Corporal Lasher has a slight wound in the arm [and that] no Bethlehem boys [were] hurt in the fight that I know of, excepting Corporal Lasher.” Burhans would later be killed in action at Spotsylvania, Virginia on May 10, 1864.

After the Union army’s hard fought campaigns in the summer of 1864, Lasher was finally promoted to Sergeant in November. He had been given an officer’s commission to the rank of Second Lieutenant in June 1864, but was never formally mustered into the position. In a statement provided to the Bethlehem town clerk long after the war, Lasher indicated that he had “served thro’ all of the campaigns of the Regt. [and had] been promoted 2d Leut. and then 1st Leut.”

Lasher returned to Bethlehem after the war and was engaged in farming. He married the former Mariah L. Kimmey and received a federal invalid pension in 1890. When he died in 1914, his wife was awarded a widow’s pension. The couple is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Selkirk in a lot that features an impressive stone obelisk. His gravestone notes his service with the 43rd New York Infantry.

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