Richard E. Arthur was born on February 2, 1843, at Chateaugay, Oswego or Clinton County, New York, the son of New Yorkers William B. Arthur (b. 1811) and Mary Polly Bostwick (1811-1902).
In 1850 William and Polly along with their children Lucinda and Richard were living on a farm in Ellicott, Chautauqua, New York. In 1855 Richard was living with his parents and brother Edmund in Ellicott, New York. Richard’s family left New York and moved westward, eventually settling in Saranac, Ionia County, Michigan. By 1860 Richard was a farm laborer working for one Thurman Mosher, a farmer in Boston, Ionia County, and attending school and living with his mother and two siblings on the family farm in Boston.
Richard was possibly living in Boston in July of 1860 when he and his older brother Edmund joined the Boston Light Artillery -- also known as the Boston Light Guard -- under the command of Captain Moses Houghton. (The BLA was a local militia company comprise mostly of men from the western side of Ionia County and many of whose members would serve as the nucleus for Company D of the 3rd Michigan infantry, which was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County and which would be organized in Grand Rapids in the spring of 1861. Indeed, Captain Houghton would also command Company D, 3rd Michigan.)
Richard stood 5’8” with gray eyes, light hair and a dark complexion and was 18 years old and probably still living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861 (Edmund Arthur would join Company D in December).
From January of 1862 through June of 1863 Richard was present for duty. He was promoted to First Sergeant on May 4, 1863, replacing Hiel Clark who had been killed at Chancellorsville on May 3, 1863, and was awarded the Kearny Cross for his participation in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3, 1863.
Richard was wounded in the left leg while the regiment was engaged in the Peach Orchard on July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He remained hospitalized until May 25, 1864, when he was discharged at Jarvis general hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. His discharge paper noted that he suffered from a compound comminuted fracture of the left thigh caused by a musket ball and the bone had united and the wound was nearly healed, but that he was not eligible for the VRC “as his time soon expires.”
Following his discharge from the army Richard returned to Michigan and may have lived briefly in Grand Rapids. He soon returned to Saranac where he was living in 1865 when he applied for and received a pension (no. 53622), dated November of 1865, drawing $6.00 per month.
He married Michigan Lydia E. Branson (1842-1905) on December 11, 1866, in Berlin (Saranac), Ionia County, and they had at least seven children: Jennie (1867-1879), Hugh (1869-1881), Lizzie (b. 1875), Lydia (b. 1877), Thomas (1879-1948), John (b. 1883) and Frederick (1885-1914).
By 1870 Richard was working as a laborer and living with his wife and children in Berlin (Saranac). By 1880 Richard was working as a laborer and living with his wife and children in Boston, Ionia County.
Richard was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Clark Post No. 153 in Saranac, and he was still living in Saranac in 1882 when he became a member of the Old 3rd Michigan Infantry Association.
He remained in Saranac through 1888 but by 1890 he was living in Ontonagon, Ontonagon County, Michigan, and indeed in 1891 he bought 121 acres of land in Ontonagon County.
There is some evidence that by 1894 he had settled in Polkton, Ottawa County, Michigan, but that is by no means certain. By 1900 he and Lydia and three children were living in Boston, Ionia County.
On July 30, 1900, he was admitted to the Northwestern Branch National Military Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was discharged at his own request on April 19, 1901. In 1902 he was apparently living in Texola, Greer County, Oklahoma, and probably around 1907 as well although he soon returned to Saranac. He was readmitted to the Milwaukee NMH on June 13, 1908.
Richard was living at the NMH in Milwaukee when he died of pneumonia on January 23, 1909. His remains were sent to Saranac where he was buried in Saranac cemetery: lot 144.