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 author is a historian and author who graduated from Bethlehem Central High School in 1979. A lifelong student of history, he has authored several books and published many articles on historical topics. His latest book, “The Civil War Memoir of William T. Levey,” is available from the Northshire Press.

A rare document that recalls the military service of a Civil War soldier from the town of Bethlehem was recently discovered for sale on an online auction website.

The document, an officer’s commission dated June 1, 1864, appointed Bethlehem resident Leonard Lasher to serve as a Second Lieutenant in the 43rd New York Volunteer Infantry. The document was signed by New York Governor Horatio Seymour and was purchased by a private collector.

Leonard Lasher was born in 1845, and his parents were Anthony and Anna (Litchfield) Lasher. When the 43rd New York was recruiting volunteers in the summer of 1862, Lasher enrolled to serve three years. Although the military records list his age as 21, he was actually only 17 when he enlisted.

He had an interesting, if convoluted, career with the famed 43rd New York, a regiment known as “The Albany Rifles.” Lasher was initially made a Sergeant in Company H of the Regiment shortly following his enlistment in the fall of 1862, but was later returned to the ranks and made a Corporal. He was not promoted back to non-commissioned rank until early in 1864, but then lost the Sergeant’s promotion again when his company of the regiment the 43rd was consolidated with another unit.

On June 1, 1864, Governor Seymour signed his commission as Second Lieutenant, but Lasher never served in that rank. He was put on the rolls of another regiment, the 59th New York Infantry, in December 1864, but never joined the unit. This may have been a bureaucratic courtesy to allow for the award of his commission.

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