|Grand Army of the Republic
Captain Edwin Nicar
Department Commander 1884
From: A History of St. Joseph County, Indiana, Volume 1,
by Timothy Edward Howard. The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1907.
Captain Edwin Nicar. Its mission fulfilled in the union of its warring factions by a bond of common humanity, and, in place of a demoralized trade, the substitution of a commercial growth unparalleled in the history of the world—the tragedy of the Civil war has become only an echo, a fading into historical mists of tented fields, glittering armaments, marching armies and waving banners. Individual experience alone keeps a vivid remembrance of the desolation and uncertainty, carnage and heroism, of the great struggle for unity of purpose and ideals, which animated the followers of the great Emancipator.
Yet among those who comprise the fast thinning ranks of veterans a difference exists in impressions, influence and effect, and a perusal of the lives of these soldiers reveals stories of great human interest and import. To some the service was an episode, a fulfillment of duty as they saw it, and a subsequent return to accustomed tasks with little change save a broader conception of existence. To others the experience was a keynote, a magnet toward which seemed to gravitate their zealous youth, and which mastered and determined their entire future. In this class belongs Captain Edwin Nicar.
Edwin Nicar, who is connected with one of the largest corporations in northern Indiana, the Oliver Company, was born in St. Joseph county, on the 1st of January, 1840, a son of Robert B. and Mary E. (Lewellen) Nicar, both natives of Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1833 the father came to Mishawaka, Indiana, making the journey by team across the Allegheny mountains. There he followed his trade of a miller and millwright until 1851, when he was elected treasurer of St. Joseph county and thereafter made his home in South Bend. He held the office mentioned for five years, after which, until 1865, he was engaged in the hardware business in that city, ill health then necessitating his retirement from active work. His death occurred in the year named. The deceased was a Whig and afterwards a Republican and strongly opposed to slavery, this attitude being the principal reason which induced him to leave his native state. He was both honored and beloved among the early pioneers of St. Joseph county.
After completing his education in the public schools of South Bend, Edwin Nicar went to Wisconsin to live with relatives, and there remained for four years. Returning thence to South Bend he joined his father in the hardware business and thus continued until the outbreak of the Civil war, responding to the first call of 1861 and, as a member of Company B, Fifteenth Indiana Infantry, serving as a private and non-commissioned officer until November of that year. He was then made second lieutenant and in December, adjutant of the regiment with the rank of first lieutenant, while on the 26th of November, 1863, he was promoted to the rank of captain. He served in western Virginia, under Rosecrans and McClellan, and participated in the battle of Rich Mountain. This was followed by scouting duty during the summer months, when his command, under General J. J. Reynolds, repulsed the rebels under General Lee at Cheat Mountain. On the third of October, 1861, he took part in the battle of Green Briar, while in November following he was ordered to Louisville, Kentucky, to join the army of General Buell, afterward organized as the Army of the Ohio and the Army of the Cumberland. In February, 1862, a new division was formed commanded by Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood, and in that command Mr. Nicar served until after the battle of Chickamauga. He participated in the battles of Shiloh and Perryville and in numerous skirmishes, and was afterward in the fighting ranks at Stone River and Murfreesboro, in the latter engagement the fragment of a shell injuring his horse and wounding him in the ankle—the only wound he received during his entire army career. At this battle, also, his regiment suffered severely in killed and wounded, as it did in many other engagements. His brigade was the first to cross into Chattanooga and was left there as a garrison during the progress of the battle of Chickamauga. Afterward the regiment was thrown into Sheridan's division and took part in the battle of Missionary Ridge, where it lost one hundred and ninety-nine out of three hundred and thirty-four engaged. Captain Nicar, then on staff duty, was with General Wagner during the Atlanta campaign, and in May, 1864, took part in the battles of Rocky Face Ridge, Dalton, Adairsville and Kenesaw Mountain, after which he rejoined his regiment, which had been ordered home on account of the expiration of service, and was mustered out at Indianapolis, on the 25th of June, 1864. His military career is one which will ever redound to his honor as a loyal and brave son of the republic, and as one whose courage was founded on the rock of his convictions.
Returning at once to South Bend, Captain Nicar remained with his father in the hardware business until 1865, when he was admitted to a partnership, continuing to conduct the establishment after his father's death, or until 1875, when for four years he assumed the responsible duties of clerk of the circuit court. He then entered the employ of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works, with which corporation he has ever since continued.
In 1884 Captain Nicar was married to Miss Cora A. Beckwith. of Michigan, and they have two sons—Edwin B. and Philip L. Locally Mr. Nicar has held not a few positions of responsibility. He reorganized the volunteer fire department of South Bend and was its chief from 1873 to 1876. In 1902 he was appointed minority member of the board of public works, and, whether as an official or a private citizen has always done his full share in advancing the best interests of his home city. In his fraternal connections he is a member of the Masonic order, the Grand Army of the Republic, the Indiana Commandery of the Loyal Legion and Auten Post of South Bend, No. 8. Captain Nicar's character and personality are as well known in South Bend as are his services in behalf of the Union. Kindly in manner, obliging at home and abroad, always ready to do a good turn for those less fortunate than himself, he embodies many excellencies of mind and heart, and enjoys the appreciation and good will of all.
Captain Nicar died at his home in South Bend Indiana on March 23, 1922 at the age of 83. Edwin Nicar was a charter member of the South Bend post during its first organization, August 31, 1866. Upon the reorganization of the Dept of Indiana he served as commander of the Auten Post No. 8 in South Bend.
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