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Bill Thayer

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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Forty-Fifth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 12th, 1914.

 p89  George R. Bissell
No. 1588. Class of 1853.
Died, November 1, 1913, at Dromore, County Down, Ireland, aged 83.

George R. Bissell was born in the State of Connecticut, in the year 1830, and was the son of Captain Lewis Bissell, long a prominent resident of St. Louis, Missouri. His first ancestor that came to America from England was John Bissell, who brought with him his wife and son — John Bissell 2d, in the year 1628. From him descended Lieutenant John Bissell 3d, Captain John Bissell 4th, Captain Ozias Bissell, Major Russell Bissell and Captain Lewis Bissell. The grandfather of the first John came over from France to England, and brought with him the coast-of‑arms used at the present time by his descendants.

 p90  George R. Bissell entered the Military Academy in June, 1849, and was graduated therefrom in the class of 1853, standing tenth in a class which later presented an array of most distinguished names. Of his classmates who adorn the scroll of fame, the most notable are Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James B. McPherson and Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Philip H. Sheridan — both honored with statues, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John M. Schofield, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William P. Craighill, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Joshua W. Sill, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William S. Smith, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Thomas M. Vincent, and the famous Confederate leader, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.John Bolivar Hood.º

Upon graduating Bissell was assigned to the artillery arm of service, and soon after promoted to the Third Artillery, and then joined the famous battery of that regiment commanded by Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Braxton Bragg — who "saved the day" at Buena Vista, and later became more famous as a General of the Confederate Armies. Bissell served with it at Fort Gibson, on the march to Fort Washita, and theafter until the fall of 1855, when he was ordered to Fort Yuma, in California, and about a year later tendered his resignation, returned to his home in St. Louis, and engaged in the banking business. Our joint service began at Fort Gibson in 1853 and ended at Fort Washita, in November, 1854, and in the winter of 1855 we again met in San Francisco, whilst he was enroute to Fort Yuma, and we spent several hours together at the quarters of Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ripley and Captain Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stone, of the Ordnance, where I was for the time domiciled. He was then visiting his sister — the wife of Henry Haight — later the Governor of California. I did not see him again until a few years after the close of the Civil War for a few moments in the streets of St. Louis. Many years thereafter whilst he was residing at Los Gatos, in California, he met his classmate, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Henry C. Symonds, who enlightened him in regard to my whereabouts, and he at once opened a correspondence which continued at irregular intervals until his death.

When I left Fort Washita I raffled a fine horse which I had ridden during my battery service, and George Bissell  p91 won it, and rode it until he left the battery. When his daughter removed from California to Ireland, he made his home with her in Dromore in County Down. A stroke of apoplexy less than a year ago somewhat affected his memory and his physical activity, but he did not succumb until a second stroke from the "grim reaper" visited him. Thus the closing days of his life were spent beneath the balmy skies of Southern California, and in the home of his ancestors in Great Britain (Emerald Isle). He passed away with loving forms around him, falling to sleep "like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and lies down to pleasant dreams." Tears bedewed each eye, and loving words "soothed the dull, cold ear of death."

George Bissell was an amiable, kindly gentleman, and his pleasant, genial manner attracted those who were thrown into his society, and all who ever knew him were at once his friends. Save his connection with banking establishments in St. Louis, I am unaware of any other occupation that he pursued — at one time he indicated to me a taste or desire for scientific pursuits, but I am not aware that he ever indulged in the pleasing fancy. His Army career began amid the classic scenery of the Hudson, and ended in the dreary desert wastes of the Colorado — it was uneventful and without war's alarms from civilized or savage foe. The rest of his life until approaching its close was passed amid the busy marts and restless activities of a world of progress.

He passed away at the home of his daughter, Mrs. K. B. Minniss, in Dromore, County Down, Ireland, November 1, 1913.

Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.H. G. Gibson, Class of 1847.

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Page updated: 13 Nov 13