Joshua Simister Garsed

1st Lieutenant
Company B
23d Pennsylvania Volunteers

Contributed by Frank Marrone

Joshua Simister Garsed, the eldest son of Joshua Garsed, Junior, and Susan Worrelll Garsed, was born on November 11th 1839, presumably at the Monastery (The Livezey House) on the Wissahickon (Creek), at that time just northwest of Philadelphia, (Today, Roxborough is part of the city of Philadelphia) where his parents were living at the time. He graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia in 1857, and went to work in the Law and Collection office of Messrs. Bullitt and Fairthorne in Philadelphia, where his father and brother, Frank also worked, as evidenced by the headings of many of the following letters. Like his Father he was a vestryman of St. Albans, the first Episcopal Church in Roxborough where he attended as a teen and young man. It was situated near the house on Leverington Avenue, below Ridge Avenue, where Josh's parents lived during the war years with his brothers, Frank and Harry. When they were not in the Army, which they were at various times, and with his young sisters, “Cassie” or Catherine Louise (later Janney) and Josephine (later Prowattain).

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, Joshua S. Garsed enlisted in the 23rd Pennsylvania Volunteers “Birney's Zouaves” on August 2nd 1861, as a corporal. He was proved to be such a quality individual and soldier, that he was promoted several times, first to Sergeant, then to 2nd Lieutenant (October 20th 1861), and finally to 1st Lieutenant (July 12th 1862). He was taken prisoner, at White 's Ford on the Potomac a little more than a year after his enlistment (September 15th 1862) and was consigned to Libby Prison until exchanged on November 5th 1862.

At the Battle of Marye's Heights on May 3rd 1863 the 23rd Pennsylvania charged the heights voluntarily without order after seeing a hole in the line. 100 men, including Joshua Garsed were awarded The "Ely Medal" for their actions. Early in June of 1863 Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army invaded Pennsylvania, pursued by the Army of the Potomac. They caught up and collided at Gettysburg, with fateful results.

On July 3rd 1863, the 23rd Pennsylvania was placed to the right and rear of Meade's Headquarters near the Taneytown Road after spending the previous evening defending the earthworks on Culp 's Hill. At around 5:30 P.M, Joshua Simster Garsed was struck by a solid shot (Whitworth Shell) between the right shoulder and neck area and was instantly killed. His brother Frank stated that the impact “tore him to pieces.” In the words of a Newspaper letter to the Transcript written by a member of the 23rd Pennsylvania on August 11th 1863 it was stated:

"We fell back from our lines on the Rappahannock, June 13th, and by forced marched by night and by day, retreating and advancing, we reached the battlefield on July 2nd in time for our First Division to turn back Joe Reb, and probably save a disaster to our Army. On the 3rd inst. Our Corps (Sixteenth Sedgwick's) was under one of the heaviest shot and shell fires ever on this continent, acting as reserves and supports. Our regimental loss was slight, one killed and fifteen wounded. Near dusk First Leiut. Joshua S. Garsed was struck by a Whitworth shot and instantly killed. Garsed had been with the regiment since August 2nd 1861, participating in the Peninsular and Maryland Campaigns of 1862, and became distinguished for his coolness, bravery, and moral worth. He was beloved by all. His blood now consecrates Pennsylvania soil, another martyr to the Union."
The funeral took place at his father's residence on Sunday July 19th 1863 in Roxborough, Pennsylvania, at 4 o clock P.M. It was attended by officers of the 23rd , his family, friends and many members of the church. An outpouring of public emotion was noticed as the local churches sounded their bells in honor of this fallen hero from Pennsylvania. The hearse was taken to Leveringon Cemetery in Roxborough where he was buried with military honors next to his grandfather. He lies there today in Section A,14, Lot 21.

In life, Joshua Simster Garsed was a young and promising man with a career in Law. He loved very much his entire family evidenced by his constant asking of them in these letters. He was a deeply devoted “believer and supporter of the Holy Religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” as stated by Chaplain Shinn of the 23rd. He was also an American Hero, who at a troubled time in The History of the United States, when the country was on the verge of splitting up, he seen the call of duty and enlisted to serve his Country. He served it faithfully even unto death. May the memory of Joshua Simster Garsed, and the 23rd Pennsylvania never be forgotten!

Written by (in straight text)
The Late Eleanore Price Mather
(Mrs. Robert Worrell Mather)

Additional Information (in italics) by
Frank Patrick Marrone, Jr.
Major 23rd Pennsylvania Re-enactors


A second funeral will take place at Leverington Cemetery in a few weeks where Joshua has been buried in a vandalized Grave. He will have a brand new headstone to replace the broken one. It looks as if there will be a police escort to the cemetery. It appears the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News will also be there. Anyone interested in participating please contact us via the website






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