C. Lee was born in Pennsylvania around 1844, the son of Thomas McKane
Lee and his wife Eliza. The family had moved to Camden's Middle Ward by
the spring of 1850.
is unclear as to where William C. Lee was when the Census was taken in
1860. However, when the Civil War broke out in April of 1871, William C.
Lee and three of his brothers, Richard H.
McKane Lee Jr., and Joseph Lee, answered their nation's call.
William C. Lee enlisted in Company F, New Jersey 4th Infantry
Regiment on April 27, 1861.
Fourth Regiment--Militia, was commanded by Colonel Matthew Miller, Jr.,
serving under him were Lieutenant Colonel Simpson R. Stroud and Major
Robert C. Johnson. This regiment was mustered into the U. S. service at
Trenton, April 27, 1861, to serve for three months, and left the
state for Washington, D. C., on May 3, with 37 commissioned
officers and 743 non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 777.
On the evening of May 5 it reached the capital, and on the 9th it was
ordered to go into camp at Meridian hill, where, within a few days the
entire brigade was encamped, and where, on the 12th, it was honored
by a visit from the president, who warmly complimented the
appearance of the troops. On the evening of May 23 it joined the
2nd and 3d regiments and about midnight took up the line of march
in silence for the bridge that spanned the Potomac. This bridge was
crossed at 2 o'clock on the morning of the 24th, the 2nd was posted
at Roach's spring, and the 3d and 4th about half a mile beyond on the
road. On July 16, a guard was detailed from the 4th for a section
of the Orange & Alexandria railroad, which it was important to
hold; one company from the regiment guarded the Long bridge; still
another was on duty at Arlington mills; and the remainder of the
regiment, together with the 2nd, was ordered to proceed to
Alexandria. On July 24, the term of service having expired, the 4th
returned to New Jersey and was mustered out at Trenton, July 31, 1861.
The total strength of the regiment was 783, and it lost by
discharge 6, by promotion 2, by death 2 and by desertion 7,
mustered out, 766.
William C. Lee was among those who mustered out with Company F,
Fourth Infantry Regiment New Jersey on July 31, 1861 at Trenton,
NJ. After a short stay in New Jersey, on August 29, 1861 William C.
Lee re-enlisted in Company I, New Jersey 6th Infantry Regiment.
Sixth New Jersey Infantry, suring its three years of service was
commanded by Colonels James T. Hatfield, Gershom Mott, and George C.
Burling. This regiment was organized under the provisions of an act
of Congress, approved July 22, 1861, and was fully organized,
equipped and officered by August 19, at which time it was mustered
into the U. S. service at Camp Olden, Trenton, for three years. It
left the state on September 10, with 38 officers, 860
non-commissioned officers and privates, a total of 898.
arrival at Washington the regiment went into camp at Meridian Hill,
and remained there until the early part of December, at which time
it was ordered to report to General Joseph Hooker, near Budd's Ferry, Maryland,
where it was brigaded with the 5th, 7th and 8th New Jersey
regiments, composing what was generally known as the Second New
Jersey brigade, the Third brigade, Hooker's division.
May 5, 1862 at the battle of Williamsburg, Virginia, the brigade was
sent into the left of a road and occupied a wood in front of a line
of field-works. Among the killed was Lieutenant Colonel John P. Van Leer,
and among the wounded were a large number of officers. On May 6, 1862
William C. Lee was promoted to Full Sergeant.
the battle of Fair Oaks the Fifth and Sixth moved forward under Colonel
Starr, cutting their way through a mass of panic-stricken fugitives,
the loss of the 6th being 7 killed and 14 wounded. The next morning
the two regiments advanced and occupied the ground recovered from the
enemy, where they remained until June 25, being almost constantly
on duty at the front. In the combat at Savage Station, the New
Jersey brigade was not directly engaged, but the Sixth regiment had
2 men wounded by shells. At Bristoe Station Colonel Mott was badly
wounded in the fore-arm, and in the series of engagements, ending
at Chantilly on September 1, 1862, the regiment suffered a total
loss of 104 men. Going into camp at Alexandria, the brigade
remained undisturbed until November 1 when, Lee having been driven
from Maryland, it proceeded towards Bristoe Station, where it
arrived on the November 4, the Fifth and Sixth regiments being in
the Chancellorsville affair in the spring of 1863, the New Jersey
brigade, which at that time included the 2nd New York and 115th
Penn. regiments, as well as the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth New
Jersey, all under command of General Mott, crossed the Rappahannock on
Friday, May 1. The losses of the Sixth during the engagement amounted
to 6 killed, 59 wounded and 8 missing, Colonel Burling being among the
At the time of the battle
of Gettysburg the 115th Pennsylvania
and Second New Hampshire regiments were attached to the brigade, which
was under the command of Colonel Burling, General Mott not having
recovered from his wound received at Chancellorsville.
the battle of the Wilderness, at 5 o'clock in the morning of the
second day, six regiments of the brigade advanced, the Fifth, Sixth and Eleventh N. J. being placed under
Colonel William J. Sewell. In the assault at Spottsylvania the brigade was
in the front line, the Sixth acting as skirmishers. The
total losses of the regiment during the months of May and June, 1864,
amounted to 16 killed, 99 wounded, 8 missing. In August and September,
1864, a large number of recruits were forwarded to the regiment,
and with those who had reenlisted and those whose term of service
had not expired, were assigned to what was known as Companies A, B
and C, 6th battalion, until October 12, 1864, at which time they
were transferred to and consolidated with the Eighth New Jersey
regiment. By reason of such transfer the Sixth regiment as an
organization ceased to exist. The total strength of the regiment
was 1,485, and it lost, by resignation 26, by discharge 364, by
promotion 53, by transfer 314, by death 180, by desertion 209, by
dismissal 3, not accounted for 157, and 179 were mustered out at the end of the regiment's term of service.
Sergeant Lee was among those who mustered out of the Sixth New Jersey
Regiment on October 12, 1864. Sergeant
Lee, along with Private John J.
Olden, was among those who reenlisted.
They both were transferred to Company F, New Jersey 8th Infantry
Regiment on October 12, 1864.
Eighth New Jersey resumed operations shortly thereafter. The regiment
fought on October 27, 1864 at Boydton Plank Road, VA, and engaged the
enemy on five separate occasions in November at Petersburg before going
into winter quarters. The 8th New Jersey fought on February 5 and 6 at
Hatcher's Run, Virginia. On March 25 at Petersburg, again at Hatcher's
Run on March 31, and a final skirmish at Boydton Plank Road on April 2.
The Eighth New Jersey saw its final combat on April 6, 1865 at
C. Lee was promoted to Full Second
Lieutenant on June 24, 1865. He mustered out of Company F, Eighth New
Jersey Infantry on July 17, 1865 at Washington, D.C.
On September 2, 1869 City Council enacted a municipal
ordinance creating a paid fire department. It provided for the annual
appointment of five Fire Commissioners, one Chief Marshal (Chief of
and two Assistant Marshals. The City was also divided into two fire
districts. The boundary line ran east and west, starting at Bridge
Avenue and following the tracks of the Camden and Amboy Railroad to
the city limits. District 1 was south of this line and District 2 was
north. The commissioners also appointed the firemen who were
scheduled to work six 24 hour tours per week. William
Abels, from the
Weccacoe Hose Company No. 2 was appointed Chief Marshal with William
J. Mines, from the Independence Fire Company No. 3 as Assistant Marshal
for the 1st District, and William H. Shearman as the Assistant Marshal
for the 2nd District. Abels
had served with the volunteer fire
departments of Philadelphia, Mobile, Alabama and Camden for sixteen
years prior to his appointment as Chief of the paid force.
November 10, 1869 City Council purchased the Independence Firehouse,
the three-story brick building at 409 Pine
Street, for $4500. The
building was designated to serve as quarters for Engine Company 1
the 1st District. On October 29, 1869 City Council authorized
construction of a two-story brick building on the northwest corner of Fifth and
Streets as quarters for the 2nd District. On November
25th the Fire Commissioners signed a contract with M.N. Dubois in the
amount of $3100 to erect this structure. The 2nd District would share
these quarters with
Engine Company 2 and the Hook
& Ladder Company
and the facility would also serve as department headquarters
for the new paid force. The original contract remains part of the
Camden County Historical Society collection.
Engine Company 2 with 1869 Silsby Hose Cart. Photo Circa 1890. Note badges
upon derby hats worn by Fire Fighters.
Amoskeag second class, double pump, straight frame steam engines were
purchased at a cost of $4250 each. Two Silsby two wheel hose carts,
each of which carried 1000 feet of hose, were another $550 each and
the hook & ladder, built by Schanz and Brother of Philadelphia was
$900. Each engine company received a steam engine and hose cart.
Amoskeag serial #318 went to Engine Company 1, and serial #319 to
Engine Company 2. The Fire Commission also secured the services of the
Weccacoe and Independence steamers in case of fire prior to delivery
of the new apparatus. Alfred McCully of Camden made the harnesses for
the horses. Camden's Twoes & Jones made the overcoats for the new
firemen and a Mr. Morley, also of Camden, supplied the caps and belts
which were manufactured by the Migeod Company of Philadelphia. The new
members were also issued badges.
is the earliest known photo of fire headquarters on the northwest
corner of Fifth and
Streets. Originally built in 1869, the
building shows signs of wear some twenty years later. Note the
weathervane shaped like a fireman's speaking trumpet atop the tower.
Also, the fire alarm bell is pictured to the left of the telegraph
pole above the rooftop. The bell was removed from the building once
the fire alarm telegraph system was expanded and in good working
maker's plate once was attached to a harness made by A. McCully &
Sons, 22 Market Street, Camden, New Jersey. This firm provided the
first harnesses for the paid fire department in 1869.
worn by the marshals, engineers, stokers and engine drivers bore the
initial letter of their respective positions and their district
number. The tillerman and his driver used the number "3" to
accompany their initial letter. The extra men of the 1st District
were assigned badges 1-10; 2nd District badges were numbered 11-20 and
the extra men of the hook & ladder wore numbers 21-30.
the Fire Commission intended to begin operation of the paid department
on November 20, 1869, the companies did not actually enter service
until December 7th at 6 P.M. because the new apparatus and buildings
were not ready. The new apparatus was not tried (tested) until
new members of the paid force were:
Lee were brothers. Robert
Lower and Assistant
Chief Engineer William H. Shearman
were brother-in-law, Charles
and his brother Theodore A.
Zimmerman, also a charter member of the Camden Fire Department, were
brothers-in-law of Chief William
first style of breast badge worn by members of the career department
in the City of Camden. 1869. (Courtesy of the C.C.H.S. Collection).
Board of Fire Commissioners consisted of Rudolphus Bingham, Chairman and
Samuel C. Harbert, Richard Perks, Jonathon Kirkbride and Jacob Daubman.
helmet of natural grain believed to have been worn by Fireman
Charles Baldwin, Hook
& Ladder Company 1 when paid force was organized in
1869. Number 21 at bottom of frontpiece indicates member's badge
number. (Courtesy of the Camden County Historical Society
salaries for the members of the paid force were: Chief Marshal, $800;
Assistant Marshal, $200; Engineer, $600; Driver, $450; Stoker, $450;
Tillerman, $450; Extra Men, $50. All but Extra Men were paid monthly.
1870 Census shows William C. Lee living in Camden's Middle Ward with his
wife Camilla, daughter Jessie, and mother-in-law Mercy Bates. Two doors
away live the Grosscup family, their son Henry
Grosscup would have a long and illustrious career with the Camden
C. Lee resigned from the Camden Fire Department on April 19, 1872.
William C. Lee returned to the Camden Fire Department in October of 1873
as an extra man with
Engine Company 2 when Alfred
Ivins transferred to Engine Company 1.
He served until May of 1874. He returned on November 26, 1877 as an
extra man with the
& Ladder Company,
replacing Francis Turner. He served until April of 1882.
C. Lee was living at 29 Wood Street and working as an iron moulder when
the 1878 Camden City Directory was compiled. The 1880 Census shows
William C. Lee and his wife, the former Camilla Bates and their four
children, Lydia, Lollie, Joseph, and Clarence, and his mother-in-law
Mercy Bates living at 29 Wood Street
in North Camden.
family apparently moved around a lot in the 1880s and it is unclear as
to the multiplicity of those named "William Lee" in the Camden
City Directories as to exactly who was where and doing what. A William
C. Lee is named in the 1887-1888 Camden City Directory as living at 818
Kimber Street and working as the engineer, that is, the boiler operator,
at Camden's City Hall. The 1888-1889 Directory has William C. Lee at 818
Kimber Street with an occupation stated as farmer. He was still working as a
farmer in 1890, but had moved to 335 North 9th Street by mid-year.
1892-1893 and 1893-1894 City Directories have William C. Lee working as
a constable at City Hall, and living at 335 North 9th Street. The
1894-1895 Directory lists Camilla Lee as widow of William C. Lee at 335 North 9th Street. Her sons, Clarence and Joseph, both weavers at Camden
Woolen Mills, were living with her at 335 North 9th Street
Directory was compiled. Mrs. Lee was approved for her Civil War widow's
pension in March of 1894.
William C. Lee's family, a number were active in Camden's civic life
over the years. His brother Richard H. Lee served as Postmaster of
Camden for sixteen years and was active in the Sixth Regiment of the New
Jersey National Guard, which he commanded for a time. Older brother Thomas
M.K. Lee Jr. was elected, in
1865, as county clerk, and held the position for five years. He died
December 10, 1873, aged thirty-seven years, and was buried in Evergreen
Cemetery. His name lived on in Camden for many years after, as in
January of 1876, a Grand Army of the Republic Post was organized in
Camden. At the first meeting of the new post, it was unanimously decided
to honor Captain Lee by adopting the name Thomas M.K. Lee Post. The Thomas
M.K. Lee Post No. 5, was active in Camden well into the next