Posts Tagged ‘andersonville’

The first grave marker I ever saw that I felt absolutely compelled to photograph was for Albert Hotchkiss, a Civil War soldier. Hotchkiss is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.

Albert Hotchkiss

This side of the monument reads:

Albert G. Hotchkiss.
Born at Rochester, N.Y. Sept. 20, 1846.
Died, a Christian Patriot, at Andersonville, GA, Aug. 26, 1864.

From additional research, I have discovered that the other side of the monument states:

I know I am in the way of duty. I die in a glorious cause-Albert.

The epitaph was so compelling I had to know more about this young man.

With his father’s permission, Albert Hotchkiss enlisted in the Union Army at age 16 in 1863. He was part of the 8th New York Cavalry. The 8th New York Cavalry’s records online note him as captured at Stony Creek station on June 29, 1864. Hotchkiss and his comrades were shipped to Camp Sumter, which we know better today as Andersonville.

The prisoners at Andersonville suffered horribly. It is difficult to express the level of deprivation, sickness and death. A Google image search for “Andersonville prison” will bring up the photographs of the walking skeletons that the Union Army found when they reached the camp in 1865. The camp was little more than a stockade with a stream running through it. The prisoners had to make shelter in whatever way they could manage, and the prison became overcrowded almost immediately. Death stalked the Union soldiers-turned-prisoners in multiple ways: exposure, malnutrition and starvation, disease, and sometimes violence from other inmates. More than 12,000 prisoners of war perished in the harsh conditions at Andersonville, including young Albert Hotchkiss. We know when he died thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of Sergeant Major Charles Moody, who noted that Hotchkiss died of “disease.” According to an article entitled “Andersonville: The story of a Civil War prison camp” by Raymond F. Baker on the National Park Service website, the highest death toll for one day was 97 on August 23, 1864, which according to this article, is Hotchkiss’ actual date of death, despite the carving on his tombstone. Most of the suffering was caused, not by malice, but by the weakness of the Southern economy, which prevented the Confederate officers overseeing the prison from being able to secure shelter, rations, and medical care for the prisoners. Despite those limitations, the commandant of the camp, Henry Wirz, was convicted and executed for conspiracy and murder in 1865.

Hotchkiss’ father traveled to Andersonville to collect his son’s body. after a funeral in December of 1865, Hotchkiss was laid to rest for the second and hopefully final time in his hometown of Rochester in the family plot, where he was eventually joined by his parents and sister.

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