Alfred Hammer

Story Behind the Stone: Alfred Hammer
By: Teri Surber, Park Ranger

During the Civil War, fathers, brothers, and friends from local communities often joined the service together. Alfred and Hiram Hammer were no different, enlisting on September 24, 1861, into Company B of the 9th U.S. Kentucky Infantry. Alfred and Hiram fought in many battles throughout 1862, including Shiloh, Corinth, and Perryville. At Chickamauga on September 19th, 1863, Alfred was wounded and the two brothers were captured together.
Hiram and Alfred were sent first to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Then, in December 1863, both were transferred to Danville, Virginia. Conditions in the warehouse prisons of Danville were extremely poor, and after only three months, Hiram died. There is no grave for Alfred at Danville National Cemetery, which could mean that he is interred in one of the 143 unknowns buried there.
Whether Alfred was transported to Andersonville before or after Hiram died is unknown, but he arrived at the prison without his brother. After spending several months in Confederate prisons, Alfred did not survive long at Andersonville. He died from chronic diarrhea on June 15, 1864, and is buried in Section K, Grave #1990.

Alfred Voorhees

A Story Behind the Stone: Alfred Voorhees
By: Davis Duffey, Park Guide

Alfred Voorhees posed for a photo as many soldiers did, likely on his first payday, next to a chair looking dapper in his uniform.

Using diaries, oral histories, and other historical evidence we highlight the life of a soldier interred at Andersonville.

Alfred Voorhees was born in New Jersey and worked as a baker prior to his enlistment with Company H of the 1st New York Cavalry on August 5, 1861, at the age of 22. After three years of service, he re-enlisted on January 1, 1864.On May 13, 1864, Voorhees was captured before the Battle of New Market in the Shenandoah Valley. After crossing the mountains and making their way to New Market, his unit of 280 men came upon 4,000 to 5,000 Confederates who they were unable to evade. Alfred Voorhees began a diary on the day of his capture.

Initially, Voorhees was transferred between prison camps in Virginia. On May 15th, he was held in a church in Richmond where he was stripped of his belongings. He was moved to Lynchburg and then Danville where he was quartered in a large building and given good rations of cornbread and bacon. He arrived at Andersonville on May 25, 1864. For the remainder of his diary, he detailed the everyday difficulties such as overcrowding, inconsistency of rations, and exposure to the elements due to lack of shelter.

Voorhees’s problems with insufficient food began almost immediately when he was unable to draw rations the day after he arrived in camp. His diary entries on the lack of good rations often coincided with his feeling sick. In an entry dated June 11th, he wrote of receiving a good dinner, but two days later he receives only rice and meat. He also wrote of prisoners receiving rations of unbolted corn. At the end of his diary, Voorhees talked about the many prisoners who arrived at the prison daily who lacked proper shelter. Many men died of exposure from the Georgia sun, heat, and rain. Voorhees had his own shelter but said he and his fellow prisoners were powerless to help those without shelter. Voorhees first talked of experiencing diarrhea, the number one cause of death at Andersonville, on July 25th. On July 28th he inscribed that “he is sick again with diarrhea that is serious.” His final diary entry was August 3rd and on August 13, 1864, Alfred Voorhees succumbed to chronic diarrhea. He is buried in grave 5503.

Edward Boots

Born in Pennsylvania in 1834 to English immigrants, Edward Boots enlisted in the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry on October 29, 1861. By November 13, 1862, he had risen to the rank of Quartermaster Sergeant. In the spring of 1864, his unit was serving in North Carolina and fought in the Battle of Plymouth. On April 20. 1864, the entire Union garrison was forced to surrender after becoming trapped between Confederate naval and land forces.

Boots was subsequently sent to Andersonville where he arrived in May of 1864. During his imprisonment, Boots saw and endured some of the prison’s worst conditions. He witnessed the trial of the Raiders and the high death rate of August 1864. During his service Boots wrote letters home and he was able to write and send a letter home before his death at Andersonville. The last letter he sent was dated June 23, 1864. In the letter he tells his family he is heathy, and that he wants to hear from them. He also hopes a prisoner exchange would occur soon. He never lived to see an exchange. Boots contracted scurvy near the end of August. He died on September 12, 1864, and is buried in grave 8606.

 

 

 

Samuel Gerhart

Andersonville National Historic Site maintains a database of prisoners of war from all American wars. Many of the entries contain additional information kept in physical files in the research library. These files, often donated by prisoner families or their descendants, contain a variety of information such as copies of military records, photos, letters, pensions, newspaper articles, and census records.

Recently, Jeanne Carper, the 2nd great granddaughter of Andersonville prisoner Samuel Gerhart sent copies of documents in an email. She wrote, “For years we thought he (Samuel) died in Libby Prison, but then I found a scrap of paper with the grave number and his name in an old shoebox on the attic stairs while cleaning up an aunt’s estate and that led to finding out more.”

Jeanne’s research led her to discover a photo of Samuel Gerhart, a copy of his muster roll, and a newspaper article with his name on the regiment’s list. This is Samuel’s story:

Corporal Samuel Gerhart was born in 1841 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, to German immigrant parents. On Christmas Day 1861, he married Rachael Phillippi and, the following year, they had a daughter named Alice. A few weeks after Alice was born, Samuel enlisted into Co C, 142 Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. According to his enlistment papers, he was 5’9” with brown eyes and brown hair and his occupation was listed as a farmer.

Samuel fought with the 142nd Pennsylvania at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville before being listed as missing during the Battle of the Wilderness. Later, his entry in the Pennsylvania muster rolls was updated to “Captured at Wilderness, Va., May 5, 1864; died at Andersonville, Ga., September 17, 1864; grave, 9,005.” He was twenty-three years old.

Jeanne wrote, “He was so young, looks so earnest, and then left to go to war, leaving an 18-year-old wife with a baby he probably never saw again. Samuel fought for what he believed and died too young, but his lineage lives on because of Alice, who married in 1882 and had seven children.”

Samuel Gerhart’s database entry has been updated with the information Jeanne sent us, and he now has a physical file in our research library. There are thousands of stories like Samuel Gerhart’s and Jeanne’s, and helping people make family connections is just part of what makes Andersonville National Historic Site special.