Josiah was born in Newport, Rhode Island, about 1838, the son of John and Mary Bittner. He lived with his family in Taunton, Mass., in 1850.
In 1860, he married Georgianna Wilkinson, daughter of Joseph and Mary Wilkinson; she was 15 and he was 21.
When the Civil War broke out, Josiah was 23 years old and enlisted on April 30, 1861. He mustered in as a Private in Company K of the Massachusetts 17th Infantry on July 22, 1861. He was discharged 3 years later, on August 3, 1864.
After the war, he resided with his family and their children in Newton, Mass. He was a member of the Newton militia (1869-1871) and worked as a painter and glazier.
He was a resident of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home in 1892. He died later that year of epilepsy in Worcester, Mass, at 53 years of age. He was buried at the Newton Cemetery in Newton.