Civil War Blog

A project of PA Historian

Gen. Francis A. Stitzer Dies in Colorado at Age of 99 Years

Posted By on August 19, 2013

In October 1939, there appeared an obituary in the Elizabethville Echo newspaper for Gen. Francis A. Stitzer, who passed away at his home in Colorado at the age of 99.  Francis A. Stitzer was a native of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, and was born to John David Stitzer and Sarah [Heckaman] Stitzer on 29 August 1840.

During the Civil War, he served first as a Private in the “First Defenders,” and then joined the 25th Pennsylvania Infantry as a 1st Sergeant, rising in the ranks to 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant, and Captain after he enlisted in the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry.  He was discharged at the rank of Brevet Major, and afterward he was made a General in the Pennsylvania National Guard.

In his civilian post-war career, he was a railroad clerk (1870) and a collector of internal revenue (1880) in Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, and in 1900 was Commandant of a Soldiers’ Home in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after which he retired to Denver.  He was married twice and had several children, one of whom made application to the Sons of the American Revolution and was accepted, proving he was a direct descendant of David Statzer, a member of the artillery in the Continental Army.



The death of General Francis A. Stitzer, 99, at his home in Denver, Colorado last week, removed the last survivor of the “First Defenders” Association.  General Stitzer was a native of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania.

The “First Defenders” comprised 530 Pennsylvanians who enlisted in the Union Army for defense of Washington in the early days of the Civil War in 1861.  General Stitzer had enlisted with a Pottsville unit of the “First Defenders.”

He made his last rip East when he attended the reunion of Confederate and Union Army veterans at Gettysburg in 1938.  The reunion last year marked the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

For prior blog posts mentioning Francis A. Stitzer and the “First Defenders,” see:  Military Funeral for Comrade William Irving, The 1935 Reunion of the First Defenders, and Story of the First Defenders as Told in 1935.

For a more detailed biography of Francis A. Stitzer, see: Profiles:  Francis A. Stitzer, Co. K, 48th PA. found on John David Hoptak‘s blog.


The photograph of Francis A. Stitzer in his military uniform can be found on several sites including Ancestry.com, Findagrave.com and the Blogspot for the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry.  The obituary is from the collection of the Gratz Historical Society.


2 Responses to “Gen. Francis A. Stitzer Dies in Colorado at Age of 99 Years”

  1. Colonel Todd says:

    wonder if he took that delicious lager with him to DC from Pottsville???

  2. Edward Holland says:

    This was a great discovery for me. General Stitzer was my grandfather’s uncle. I have pictures (sketches) of the general’s parents (John and Sarah Stitzer) hanging on my wall. I recently received these from my older brother who was not sure where John and Sarah fit into the family tree. Like General Stitzer, my mother–Mary Lear Sitizer (Holland) –was born in Schuylkill Haven, PA. I had heard once or twice that there was a General Stitzer in our family, who had settled out West and lived to be quite old. But I knew nothing more. I was delighted to find this web-site and can’t wait to share it with “the cousins”. Ted Holland

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