Fletcher H. Archer was the son of Allen Archer (ca. 1783-1869), a miller of Petersburg, Virginia, and his wife, Prudence Whitworth (1783-1851). He studied law at the University of Virginia in session 17 (1840-1841). He set up his law practice in his home town of Petersburg.
Archer served in the 39th Virginia Militia Regiment, then in 1846, recruited men who were first called the Petersburg Mexican Volunteers, and later became Company E of the 1st Virginia Volunteer Regiment, and Archer served as their captain. The 1st Virginia Volunteers saw action in Mexico during from 1847-1848. (Calkins; United States Mexican War Pension Index)
Before 14 Aug. 1850, Archer married Eliza Ann Eppes Allen (ca. 1827-1851) and in 1850 the couple lived in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, near Petersburg. (1850 U.S. Census) The Archers had one daughter, named Eliza Ann C. Archer. Eliza Ann Archer died soon after her daughter was born. Archer married his second wife, a widow—Martha Georgianna (Morton) Barksdale (1827-1902)—on 31 Mar. 1863. (Calkins; U. S. Census)
In April 1861, Archer raised a company of men, designated Company K (the “Archer Rifles”), of the 12th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Over the next year, he served the Confederacy in several positions, then retired in May 1861 and returned to Petersburg.
In June 1864, as the Union army moved into the Richmond-Petersburg area, Archer was commissioned a major commanding the 3rd Battalion Virginia Reserves (Archer’s Battalion). This unit was comprised of young men between the ages of 16 and 18, and older men between the ages of 45 and 55. The unit was charged with the defense of Petersburg, and saw action on June 9, 1864 (First Battle of Petersburg or “the Battle of Old Men and Young Boys”), on June 15-18 (Second Battle of Petersburg), and during the nine-month siege of the city by Union forces, which ultimately succeeded when General Robert E. Lee abandoned the city in April 1865. (Archer; Calkins)
After the Civil War, Archer reestablished his law practice, and was active in the Conservative Party. He lost elections for the post of mayor twice, but was then elected to the Petersburg City Council, and in 1882, became mayor. He died at his home in Petersburg after some months of “feeble health,” and was buried in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg. (Calkins; Bernard)
[Note: Archer’s birth date is from the University of Virginia Matriculation Books.—JLC]
- Ancestry.com. 1850-1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
- Archer, Fletcher H. “The Defense of Petersburg on the 9th of June, 1864.” (An address delivered 6 June 1889), In War talks of Confederate veterans, edited by George S. Bernard. Petersburg, VA, 1892, p. 105-149.
- Archer tombstones, Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, VA. Findagrave.com.
- Calkins, Christopher M., “Fletcher H. Archer (1817-1902),” Encyclopedia Virginia, 15 Aug. 2013 http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Archer_Fletcher_H_1817-1902
- “Fletcher H. Archer,” In War talks of Confederate veterans, edited by George S. Bernard. Petersburg, VA, 1892, p. xvi-xviii.
- “United States Mexican War Pension Index, 1887-1926”, index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K8H4-HP3 : accessed 21 Jun 2014), Fletcher Harris Archer, 1887.
- University of Virginia Matriculation Books, 1825-1904, Accession #RG-14/4/2.041, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
- “Virginia, Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X519-1BF : accessed 21 Jun 2014), Allin Archer, 11 Feb 1869; citing Petersburg, Virginia, reference p 1; FHL microfilm 2048594.
- “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRW2-8LT : accessed 21 Jun 2014), Fletcher H. Archer and Martha G. R…Indale, 31 Mar 1863; citing Petersburg City, Virginia, reference 14; FHL microfilm 33441.
- Wallace, Lee A., jr. and Conway, Martin R. A history of Petersburg National Battlefield. Washington, DC, 1983. <http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/pete/wallace.pdf>