Brevet Brig. Gen. (USA), James Chaplin Beecher

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Brevet Brig. Gen. (USA), James Chaplin Beecher

Birthplace: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: August 25, 1886 (58)
Elmira, Chemung County, New York, United States (Self-inflicted gunshot)
Place of Burial: Elmira, Chemung County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. Lyman Beecher and Harriet Beecher
Husband of Frances Beecher (Johnson)
Ex-husband of Ann Goodwin Beecher
Father of Catharine Esther Beecher; Mary Frances Beecher and Margaret J. Beecher
Brother of Frederick Porter Beecher; Isabella Hooker; Rev. (USA), Thomas Kinnicut Beecher; Frederick William Beecher and Frederick C. Beecher
Half brother of Catharine Esther Beecher; William Henry Beecher; Edward Beecher; Mary Foote Perkins; George Beecher and 3 others

Occupation: Colonel of the 35th U.S. Colored Troops
Managed by: Ivy Jo Smith
Last Updated:

About Brevet Brig. Gen. (USA), James Chaplin Beecher

James Chaplin Beecher, (January 8, 1828 – August 25, 1886), was an American Congregationalist minister and Colonel for the Union Army during the American Civil War. He came from the Beecher family, a prominent 19th century American religious family.

Source: Stowe, L.B. Saints, Sinners and Beechers. c. 1934.

U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles

Name: James Chaplin Beecher

Age at enlistment: 34

Enlistment Date: 20 Jun 1861

Rank at enlistment: Chaplain

Enlistment Place: Brooklyn, NY

State Served: New York

Survived the War?: Yes

Service Record: Commissioned an officer in Company S, New York 67th Infantry Regiment on 20 Jun 1861.

Promoted to Full Lt Colonel on 14 Oct 1862.

Mustered out on 08 Sep 1862 at Yorktown, VA.

Commissioned an officer in Company S, New York 141st Infantry Regiment on 14 Oct 1862.

Promoted to Full Lt Colonel on 18 May 1863.

Mustered out on 07 Mar 1863 at Hunter's Chapel, VA.

Commissioned an officer in Company S, U.S. Colored Troops 35th Infantry Regiment on 18 May 1863.

Promoted to Full Colonel on 09 Jun 1863.

Promoted to Brevet Brig-General on 13 Mar 1865.

Mustered out on 01 Jun 1866.

Birth Date: 8 Jan 1828

Death Date: 25 Aug 1886

Death Place: Elmira, NY

Sources: New York: Report of the Adjutant-General

Dyer: A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion

Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue

Heitman: Register of United States Army 1789-1903

Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force 1861-1865

American Civil War General Officers 

Name: James Chaplin Beecher

State Served: New York

Highest Rank: Brigadier General

Birth Date: 1828

Death Date: 1886

Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Army: Union

Promotions: Promoted to Full Chaplain (67th NY Inf)

Promoted to Full Lt Colonel (141st NY Inf)

Promoted to Full Lt Colonel (35th UC Inf)

Promoted to Full Colonel

Promoted to Brevet Brig-Gen

1880 United States Federal Census

Name: James C. Beecher

Home in 1880: Hardenbergh, Ulster, New York

Age: 52

Estimated birth year: abt 1828

Birthplace: Massachusetts

Relation to head-of-household: Self (Head)

Spouse's name: Francis J. Beecher

Father's birthplace: Connecticut

Mother's birthplace: Maine

Occupation: Minister Of Gospel

Marital Status: Married

Race: White

Household Members: Name Age

James C. Beecher 52

Francis J. Beecher 48

Catharine E. Beecher 8

Mary F. Beecher 6

Margaret J. Beecher 6

Fanny J. Bailey 17

Henry J. Dibble 16

James Beecher (also listed as Jarvies C Beecher), died 8/25/1886 in Elmira. Age 58y, 7m, 19 days. died of gunshot - suicide. Son of Lyman & Harriet Beecher. Chaplain of the 1st L.I. Regiment of N.Y. Volunteers,(The Brooklyn Phalanx)later became Senior Captain, commanding company A.,Lieutenant Colonel 141st New York Volunteers,Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel 1st North Carolina Colored Volunteers(35th U.S.C.T.).Seaman's Chaplain to Brigadier General.

James Chaplin Beecher, was an American Congregationalist minister and Colonel for the Union Army during the American Civil War. He came from the Beecher family, a prominent 19th century American religious family.

James Chaplin Beecher was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and the youngest child of Lyman Beecher and Harriet Porter Beecher. Lyman was a Presbyterian minister who became best known as a revivalist and social reformer in the years before the American Civil War. His noted half-siblings include; Harriet Beecher Stowe, famed abolitionist and author of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Catharine Beecher, noted educator and author, Henry Ward Beecher, a famous preacher and abolitionist, and Charles Beecher and Edward Beecher. His sister, Isabella Beecher Hooker, was a leader and activist in the American Suffragists movement, and his brother, Thomas K. Beecher, was a preacher and educator.

James was educated at Lane Theological Seminary in Walnut Hills, within Cincinnati, Ohio, of which his father was president. He entered Dartmouth College and graduated in 1848. After a couple of years serving a coaster which traded along the eastern U.S. coast, James took up the study of theology at Andover Theological Seminary. During his time at Andover, James married Anne Morse, a widow with a young daughter. In May, 1856, James was ordained a minister of the Congregational Church. Soon after his ordination, James and Anne left for China to be missionaries in Canton and Hong Kong. In 1859, Anne Beecher returned to America for health reasons. During a correspondence with Isabella Beecher Hooker, James admitted to his sister that Anne was suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Anne went to Gleason’s sanitarium in Elmira, New York for their water cure treatment before she was committed to an asylum in June 1860.

James remained in China until the outbreak of the Civil War. Upon returning home, James quickly enlisted in the army. The "Beecher's Bibles," and "Beecher's Pets," nicknames of the 1st Long Island Regiment (later the 67th New York Infantry), would be Beecher’s first assignment as chaplain. Soon after, he would take charge of the 141st New York Volunteer Infantry. The heavy demands of leading a regiment and the increasing concerns of Anne’s health, James began to break down and briefly returned to civilian life until Anne’s death in 1863. As the war progressed, James rejoined the army and accepted the promotion of lieutenant-colonel and was appointed to recruit an African American regiment, the 1st North Carolina Colored Infantry (35th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry). In 1866, James Beecher was mustered out of service rising to the rank of Brevet Brigadier General.)

In 1864, James married Francis “Frankie” Johnson, of Guilford, Connecticut and after the Civil War, James re-entered the ministry. The two adopted three daughters and opened a school in Jacksonville, Florida for newly emancipated people. After serving as pastor for nine months at Thomas Beecher’s church in Elmira, New York, James would have charge of two churches: one at Oswego, New York in 1867 and one in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1870. Three years later, James would resign his position as Pastor of the Poughkeepsie Congregational church, where he was “extremely popular and in receipt of a large salary.” James would build a home near what would be called “Beecher Lake,” and remove himself from the pastoral life of the church. In 1881 Henry Ward Beecher asked James to take over Plymouth Church. James reluctantly agreed, he preferred a more rural life. After years of mental suffering, James spent some time at the Middletown Asylum in Middletown, New York and then at Dr. Gleason's Water Cure Sanitarium in Elmira, New York, where his first wife had sought help. On the evening of August 25, 1886, after an afternoon at the shooting range with others, James Beecher "suddenly went to his room and taking a rifle placed the muzzle in his mouth and fired, killing himself instantly."

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Brevet Brig. Gen. (USA), James Chaplin Beecher's Timeline

January 8, 1828
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 43
Saranac Lake, Franklin, New York, United States
September 15, 1873
Age 45
New York, United States
August 25, 1886
Age 58
Elmira, Chemung County, New York, United States
September 15, 1983
Age 58
New York, United States
Elmira, Chemung County, New York, United States