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J.L. Stetson

J.L. Stetson

Federal (USV)

Lieutenant Colonel

John Lemuel Stetson

(1834 - 1862)

Home State: New York

Command Billet: Regimental Officer

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 59th New York Infantry

Before Antietam

Before the War was a lawyer in Plattsburgh, on Lake Champlain in far northeastern New York State. His father Lemuel was a prominent Democratic lawyer, judge and politician who had served in the US Congress in the mid-1840s. Judge Stetson was proud to be a friend and supporter of the "Little Giant", Stephen A Douglas.

At the President's call for troops at the start of the War in April 1861 Captain J.L. Stetson raised a Company which mustered in 7 May, becoming Company E, 16th New York Infantry Regiment. Except for being "engaged but a very short time" at First Bull Run, the 16th saw no action before Spring 1862, being in the defenses of Washington. Stetson was with them until appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 59th NY Infantry in March 1862.

The 59th was also short of combat experience prior to Antietam. Since completing organization in October 1861 they, too, had also been stationed for most of their service in the fortifications around the capital. They were at Malvern Hill in August 1862, but saw no action there.

On the Campaign

Antietam provided the first significant combat for the 59th and their Lieutenant Colonel, with terrible results - on 17 September Stetson was mortally wounded in action "at the head of his Regiment" in the West Woods.

References & notes

The photograph above is from a standing portrait of Stetson in the Antietam National Battlefield library, kindly scanned and posted online by Jim Buchanan.

More on the Web

See a little more about Stetson and his family, along with sources for the details here in a post on behind AotW. Jim Buchanan has also posted an illuminating post-battle letter from Lemuel Stetson about his son at Walking the West Woods.


03/08/1834 in NY


09/17/1862; Sharpsburg, MD; burial in Riverside Cemetery, Plattsburg, NY