Galusha B. Balch - Doctor, Family Historian

Galusha B. Balch (February 6, 1839-sometime after 1897) was born in Plattsburgh, New York to Alvah Burchard and Mary (McArthur) Balch.

*Disclaimer: The remainder of this article was reproduced, in full, from Galusha Balch's book Genealogy of the Balch Families in America*

Galusha B. was born and reared upon the farm on which his grandfather located in 1800. He finished his schooling at the Plattsburgh Academy, and after teaching district schools for two sesisons entered the Berkshire Medical College at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Here he was under the tutilage of Dr. Harry Childs and his son, Dr. Timothy Childs. He then finished his medical education at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Medical Department of Columbia College at New York City, and graduated in 1860. After graduating he practiced first at Saranac, and then at North Lawrence, New York. At the outbreak of the Civil War he passed the examination of the board of examiners for medical staff appointments in New York regiments, and was commissioned assistant surgeon of the 98th New York Infantry, October 20 1861. The regiment was at that time being recruited at Malone, N.Y.

In the spring of 1862 he went to the front with this regiment. It was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and went to the Peninsula under General McClellan. Upon the taking of Yorktown he was detached from his regiment and assigned to duty in the general hospital there, and for a time was in charge of the steamer State of Maine, transporting sick to Baltimore. While thus engaged Dr. J. Simpson, the medical director at Baltimore, said in a letter to the Surgeon General that the condition in which the State of Maine arrived was highly creditable to Dr. Balch, that the sick were well cared for and that the sanitary condition of the vessel was in a much better state than that of the others that had lately arrived.

Contracting typho-malarial fever at Yorktown, he lay sick in hospital for about six weeks. Having returned to his regiment early in August before he had fully recovered, the condition of his health led him to resign on Sept. 20, 1862. Returning north he located, as soon as his health would permit, at Sheffield, Massachusetts, and practiced his profession till December, 1863, when, feeling restored to health, he accepted commission Assistant Surgeon of the Second Regiment of Veteran Cavalry, New York Volunteers. With this regiment he went to the Department of the Gulf in February, 1864 and was the only surgeon with the regiment during the lied River campaign of that year, and with it in the battles of Alexandria, Grand Eccre, Camptee, Pleasant Hill, Cane River, and Yellow Bayou.

During the summer of 1864, and winter following, the regiment was stationed at Morganzia Bend on the Mississippi river, and was kept constantly scouting up and down both sides of the river between Baton Rouge and the mouth of the Red river, having frequent sanguinary skirmishes. The Doctor was almost always out with these scouting parties, and consequently was frequently exposed to the bullets of the enemy.

In March, 1865 the regiment was sent to Pensecola, Fla. and joined General Steel, who moved around intothe rear of Mobile, Ala. to co-operate with General Canby in capturing that city. After the surrender of Fort Blakely the regiment moved out through the state of Alabama, and on April 11, fought the battle at Mt. Pleasant, one of the last of the war. After the surrender of all the opposing forces the regiment was sent to Talladega, Alabama, where it remained until it was mustered out on November 8, 1865.

In the spring of 1866 the Doctor located at Plattsburgh, N.Y., and purchased a drug store. This was destroyed by the great fire of Plattsburgh, in 1868. In 1872, he moved to Yonkers, N.Y., where he is now practicing his profession (or was at the time of writing his book). In 1876 he was appointed Health Officer for the city and organized the Health Department and made it one of the best in the state at that time. This office he held two years.

In 1877 he was elected vice-president of the Westchester County Medical Society, and in the year following, was chosen as its president and is still a member of that society (or was at the time of writing this book). He was one of the organizers of the Yonkers Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and since its organization in 1881 has continued as its president at the unanimous desire of its directors. In 1867 he became a member of Clinton Lodge, 155, of F. and A.M. and has taken the Royal Arch and Council degrees. He served two years as thrice illustrious master of Nepperhan Council R. and S.M's, No. 70. During the year 1883 he was Commander of Kitching Post, No. 60, G.A.R. and was Commander of John C. Fremont, Post No 590, for seven years. The Doctor and Mrs. Balch are members of the First Presbyterian Church. His first ballot was cast for Abraham Lincoln, in 1860, and he has voted the Republican ticket ever since. He was one of the organizers of the Yonkers Historical and Library Association and is its librarian. The work of compiling this Genealogy was taken up by him in 1874, and has occupied his spare moments for twelve years.

Genealogy of Galusha:

Father: Alvah Burchard
Mother: Mary McArthur

Wife1: Harriet Cornelia
Married: October 9, 1860


1. Samuel Weed
2. Frederick Andrews
3. Harriet Elizabeth
4. Mary Louise
5. Margaret Andrews

Primary Sources/Links:

Genealogy of the Balch Families in America - By: Galusha B. Balch

Other Sources/Links:

Galusha B. Balch - Civil War Letters

"Yonkers in the Rebellion of 1861-1865" - By: Thomas Astley Atkins and John Wise Oliver

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