site logo
I.J. Wistar

I.J. Wistar

Federal (USV)


Isaac Jones Wistar

(1827 - 1905)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Education: Haverford College

Command Billet: Commanding Regiment

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 71st Pennsylvania Infantry

Before Antietam

He was in California - one of the original '49ers at Nevada City - and a lawyer when the war began. He returned to Pennsylvania and was elected Captain of Company A of the "California Regiment" - designated the 71st Pennsylvania Infantry - on 21 May 1861. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel to date from the same day, and was promoted Colonel on 11 November 1861 after the death of Colonel/Senator Baker at Ball's Bluff, VA.

On the Campaign

In his Antietam after-action report, Gen Howard said:

In my brigade ... Colonel Wistar, Seventy-first Pennsylvania, with his right arm nearly useless from a former wound, had his left, disabled. He also was prompt and efficient."
He was shot through the shoulder and left behind on the battlefield near the Dunker Church when the Second Corps was overrun and retreated. While there, he was assisted briefly by John S Mosby, then a courier to General J.E.B. Stuart. Later in the day he got back through the Confederate lines, and got medical treatment at Keedysville.

The rest of the War

He was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers on 29 November 1862, and resigned 15 September 1864.

After the War

After the war he made his fortune by financing railroad building. In 1892 he established the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology in Philadelphia with gifts of $1 million.

References & notes

His service from Heitman1 and Bates.2 His gravesite is on Findagrave. His picture from a CDV sold in April 2020 by Heritage Auctions.

More on the Web

His Autobiography (1914) is online from the InternetArchives, source also of a series of fine photographs of him at ages 17 (1845), 25 (1853), and 35 (1863).


11/14/1827; Philadelphia, PA


09/18/1905; Claymont, DE; burial in Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, Philadelphia, PA


1   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903  [AotW citation 26772]

2   Bates, Samuel Penniman, History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-65, Harrisburg: State of Pennsylvania, 1868-1871  [AotW citation 26773]