Clinton Bowen Fisk

Clinton Bowen Fisk was born at York, Livingston County, New York, on December 8, 1828. While an infant he was taken by his parents to Coldwater, Michigan. He obtained some education at the academy in nearby Albion and became successful as a merchant, miller, and banker in Coldwater, only to be financially ruined by the panic of 1857. Fisk then moved to St. Louis and engaged in the insurance business. According to a campaign biography published in 1888, he served in the Union home guards and took part in the capture of Camp Jackson in St. Louis in May, 1861. However, the records disclose no earlier service than his appointment as colonel of the 33rd Missouri Infantry on September 5, 1862. The same month he was ordered to organize a brigade and was commissioned brigadier general on November 24, 1862; he was brevetted major general in March, 1865. Meantime, his war service was almost entirely in Missouri and Arkansas, where he commanded the District of Southeast Missouri and later the Department of North Missouri. In both of these capacities he successfully opposed the recurrent raids and attacks of Generals Sterling Price, J. S. Marmaduke, and Joseph O. Shelby on the state and its capital. At the close of the war Fisk, an avowed Abolitionist who neither drank nor swore, was appointed assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau for Kentucky and Tennessee. President Andrew Johnson remarked: "Fisk ain't a fool, he wont hang everybody." He founded Fisk University, today a leading Negro institution, in an abandoned army barracks in Nashville and supported it with generous gifts for the remainder of his life. Fisk moved to New York where he once again began to prosper in the banking business; in 1874 President U. S. Grant appointed him to the board of Indian Commissioners, on which he served until his death. He had for years supported the Republican ticket, but in 1884, in keeping with his principles, supported the Prohibition candidate. In 1886 he ran for governor of New Jersey on the Prohibition ticket and two years later polled a quarter of a million ballots for President. He died in New York City on July 9, 1890, and was buried in Coldwater.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.