Notable Members of the
52nd New York
The experiences of the men that served in the 52nd New York did not only include their time with the regiment, but span most of the time period from 1810 to 1945. They include not only their time in the 52nd, but other military units as well, and not just from the American Civil War. Those experiences are also from events across the country and around the world, such as European revolutions and wars, the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan, European colonization of the world, the Indian Wars and settlement of the American West, and the funeral of a president, as well as the growth and development of the US. Though the majority of men probably settled down, raised families and worked for a living, the seemingly mundane things that everyone else does, their stories are no less important, as they all contributed in some way to history.
Augustus joined the 52nd NY as a Private in September 1862 as a 30-year-old clerk who had arrived in New York City from Germany only a few weeks before. He had blue eyes, fair hair, a light complexion and stood 5 10. As a clerk, he had a good hand for writing, and had knowledge of German, French, Italian and English, though he had forgotten most of his English after leaving school. He was wounded at Fredericksburg, and while convalescing in a hospital before his discharge in March 1863, he did some clerk work for the hospital and began to relearn how to write in English. Settling in Connecticut after his disability discharge, Augustus worked in a factory, but enlisted in the 16th Connecticut in February 1864 because he was in debt. He was captured on April 20, 1864 at Plymouth, NC with the rest of his regiment and sent to the prison camp at Andersonville. While in the stockade, Augustus wrote a letter to the prison commander, Capt. Henry Wirz, telling him that he had been a clerk in Germany, had knowledge of four languages and could work as an interpreter. Wirz chose him to work in his office until his parole in November 1864. Augustus wrote this letter in the hopes that his life would be better as a prisoner if he were on the outside of the stockade. The letter may have saved his life, as 1/3 of those sent to Andersonville died there. Discharged in June 1865, he was called to testify for the defense in the trial of Henry Wirz in October 1865, as he knew about the day to day running of the prison, and had been in close contact with Wirz. Despite the testimony, Wirz was eventually convicted of war crimes and executed. Augustus moved to California, where he became involved with the GAR and died in 1904. He is buried in the Los Angeles National Cemetery.
William C. Orcutt
William was born in Central New York around 1840. When he joined the 52nd New York in August 1863 as a Private, he had grey eyes, fair skin, brown hair and was 5 7. He had enlisted in Chautauqua County, NY. He was mustered out of the 52nd as a Sergeant on July 1, 1865, near Alexandria. He married a woman named Helen Sprague, and had six children survive to adulthood. He was a member of the GAR, received a pension due to rheumatism contracted during the war and died in Chautauqua County in 1882. He is buried in Mayville, NY. Though his life was probably typical of many ex-soldiers, going home and raising a family, William is still different. He has the distinction of indirectly touching the lives of tens of millions of people and making important contributions to American culture and Hollywood. One of his daughters, Flora, was the maternal grandmother of the actress and comedienne Lucille Ball.
Louis enlisted as a Private in the 52nd New York in August 1863 in New York City and mustered out on July 1, 1865 near Alexandria. He gave his age as 32 on his enlistment. There is no definite mention of Louis after the war, it seems that no pension filed, and he fades into history. However, a Louis Lobering joined the US Army in April 1867 from New York City. He had blue eyes, brown hair, a ruddy complexion and stood 5 6.75. He said he was a 32-year-old former soldier who was born in the Kingdom of Hanover. He served in the 37th and 3rd US Infantry regiments, before reenlisting in 1870 in Kansas in the 7th US Cavalry at the age of 36. He reenlisted a second time in 1875 at Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota. This was his final enlistment, as he was killed on June 25, 1876 while serving as a Private in Co. L, 7th US Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn under George Custer. Though it is currently unknown if these two Loberings are the same man, there is nothing to say that they are not. The differences in ages do not count, as many soldiers in the 52nd shaved or added years to their age during their enlistment, and the Louis in the US Army shaved a year or two from his age during the course of his enlistments.
An original member of the 52nd New York, he ended the war as second in command of the regiment. He joined the US Army after the war, and served 32 years as an officer in the 25th US Infantry, one of the Buffalo Soldier regiments. In 1897, he was at Fort Assiniboine, MT, where he appears in a picture with other officers assigned there. One of them is a young Lieutenant in the 10th US Cavalry, John Pershing. Pershing would later command the American Expeditionary Force during World War 1.
Charles was born Carlo in 1834 in Brescia, Kingdom of Lombardy. He joined the 20th Infantry Regiment of the Sardinian Army during the 1848 Revolutions, as the Sardinians fought the Austrians who controlled Lombardy in an attempt to create a more unified and independent Italy. He was involved in a revolt in his hometown in 1849. After a failed revolt in Milan, he was forced to flee to the US in 1853. Carlo returned in 1859 to fight for Italian independence again, and was wounded at Milazzo, fighting with the Sardinian forces that had reinforced Giuseppe Garibaldi. He joined Garibaldi afterwards, and fought under him at Aspromonte. Carlo left Italy in 1863 and came back to the US. He joined the 52nd New York in July 1864 as a 30 year old. His time with the regiment was short, as he accepted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 39th US Colored Troops. He was killed on January 16, 1865, at Fort Fisher, NC, one day after the forts surrender, in an accidental magazine explosion. He is buried in Wilmington National Cemetery.
William Burton Crandell
When William enlisted in the 52nd New York in 1863, he said he was 20 years old. In reality, he was a 13-year-old born in Cohoes, NY who had run away to join the army with a friend. His friend was turned away but he was accepted as a substitute. He was described as having grey eyes, light hair, a light complexion and standing 5 6. He said he worked at the regimental headquarters and was a drummer before joining the ranks. He was unfamiliar with the men in his company because many had foreign names and a lot of his time was spent at the headquarters. He was wounded in the head on May 18, 1864 at Spotsylvania. While in the hospital, he said he met Abraham Lincoln, who shook his hand, remarked how young he looked and had him discharged. It was also said that his parents had petitioned for him to be discharged. Regardless of how it happened, William was discharged on account of minority by order of Lincoln on June 8, 1864. He moved back to Cohoes, then moved around Ohio and Massachusetts, before settling in California. He joined the GAR in California, and was the last member of Post 131 in Fullerton in 1942. William died in 1945 and was the last Civil War veteran in Orange County. He is buried in Anaheim Cemetery.
Jacob said he was 34 on his enlistment in New York City. An original member of the 52nd New York, he mustered in as a Corporal in November 1861. He moved up the ranks to Sergeant, then First Sergeant, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1863. Col. Paul Frank cited him for gallant conduct at Fredericksburg in his after battle report. Jacob was promoted to Captain in November 1863. On June 16, 1864, at Petersburg, he was wounded in the right arm and had it amputated at the middle of the humerus. He was discharged for disability in March 1865. According to Emil Frank, Jacob was a veteran of the Crimean War, and a former Bering Sea whaler.
(real name George Hegeman)
Henry said he was a 26-year-old sailor when he enlisted as a substitute in New York City. Actually, he was 18-year-old George Hegeman, born in Flatbush, NY who had served for 30 days in the 13th New York State Militia in 1863. He mustered in on September 14, 1863 as a Private in the 52nd New York. With only a month in the army, he was captured on October 14, 1863 at Bristoe Station, where he said he was wounded in the thigh and mouth. George had started a diary shortly before his capture, and was able to continue writing in it during his confinement at Belle Isle, Andersonville, and Charleston, SC, as well as his movements around Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. He wrote about the weather, the food, diseases, the awful conditions, news about the war, the movement of prisoners in and out of the prisons, and the daily reminders of death. George also wrote about his two escape attempts. He mentions the horrible treatment prisoners received from guards and Southern civilians, but also mentions the kindness of the Confederate surgeon who nursed him through a serious illness, as well as the Southern woman who sheltered him during an escape attempt. On December 26, 1863, he mentions sharing and eating the dog of the prison commander, one of several references to a dog-eating incident at Belle Isle. He was eventually paroled from Charleston in December 1864 and discharged in June 1865. After the war, he married and had several children, and was living on Long Island as of 1913.
Richard gave his age as 22 when he enlisted as a substitute in New York City. From Wilsdorf, Kingdom of Saxony, he mustered in as a Private in the 52nd New York on September 16, 1863. He was wounded at Spotsylvania and promoted to Corporal. Reduced in rank, he was promoted again to Corporal, then Sergeant, before mustering out on July 1, 1865 near Alexandria. He then enlisted in the US Army on August 3, 1865 in Washington, DC. Richard said he was a 23-year-old soldier, with hazel eyes, brown hair, a fair complexion who stood 5 6. He was mustered in as a Private in Co. E, 12th US Infantry regiment. He served in the Army continuously for the next 28 years, reenlisting 6 more times in 1869, 1871, 1876, 1881, 1886 and 1891. Moving with his company, he was in Washington, DC during his first enlistment, then in northern California during the 1870s. In 1873, he was involved in the Modoc war, surviving a battle on April 26 where 1 officer and 13 men of his company were killed or wounded. He was sent to Fort Klamath with a large number of sick from the field as their cook, and rejoined his company when they arrived, escorting 144 Modoc Indians as prisoners at the end of the campaign. He remained there until October 1873, guarding the Indians until the leaders were executed and the prisoners sent to Oklahoma. He also served in Arizona, at Fort Niagara, NY and in the Dakotas. In 1885, his company was chosen to be the honor guard for President Ulysses S. Grant after his death. Co. E kept watch over him as he laid in state at Mount McGregor, NY, until the end of the funeral in New York City. He was also with the soldiers involved with the Sioux Indians in the Dakotas in 1890, during the Ghost Dance War, during which Chief Sitting Bull was killed and the Massacre at Wounded Knee occurred. His company was kept on alert to move on short notice from Fort Yates, ND during December 1890. On December 15, they were sent out with rations, forage and supplies to assist the men of the 8th US Cavalry that left earlier that day to help in the arrest of Sitting Bull. However, the Chief was killed during the arrest attempt, and the cavalry returned to Fort Yates after putting down the unrest it caused. The cavalry and the infantry column met up at Oak Creek, camped for the night and returned to the fort on December 16. Richard and his company remained at the fort while other units were in the field for the next month and a half. He was retired by Special Order on August 1, 1893 as part of Co. H, 12th US Infantry, with the rank of First Sergeant, at Fort Yates. His widow, Virginia, filed for a pension from California in 1913.
Charles gave his age as 35 when he enlisted, but he was really 37. Born in Paris, France, he had previously served as an officer in the French Foreign Legion in Algiers according to Emil Frank. He served as the original Adjutant of the 52nd New York until he was killed on December 13, 1862 at Fredericksburg.
Edward M.L. Ehlers
Born in Denmark, Edward was a member of the 12th New York State Militia before enlisting in the 52nd New York in March 1862 as a First Lieutenant. Wounded at Antietam and Fredericksburg, he accepted a commission in the Veteran Reserve Corps. After mustering out in 1868, he became very involved with the Freemasons, and served as the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of New York for 35 years, until his death in 1917. He was involved in a number of historical events and met a number of famous people.
Count Hermann Von Hacke
Born in 1831 to a Prussian Count, he was an officer in the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards in the Prussian Army before coming to the US to fight in the Civil War. He joined the 52nd as a First Lieutenant after serving as an officer in the 7th New York for several months. He was wounded and captured on May 10, 1864 at Spotsylvania. He died of his wounds in Richmond and buried in Richmond National Cemetery.
Robert W. Fryer
Born in 1847, Robert enlisted in the 52nd New York as a substitute in 1864. He was wounded in the right hand on March 31, 1865 at White Oak Road, losing several fingers in the process. He was discharged in July 1865 and became a minister.
Adolphus E. Becker
Born in Germany in 1813, Adolphus shaved a few years off his real age and said he was 45 when he enlisted in the 52nd New York. Before coming to the US, he had joined the Bavarian Legion in 1833, and served in the Greek Army for nine years under King Otto, the second son of the King of Bavaria and chosen to be the king of a newly independent Greece. Ludwig Blenker also served in the Legion, before he became an 1848 Revolutionary in Europe and then a general in the Union Army during the Civil War. He mustered in as the Captain of Co. I, 52nd NY on November 1, 1861. He was discharged for disability on August 18, 1862. Adolphus moved to Colorado in 1871, where he became a farmer and cattle rancher, a member of the GAR and received a pension. He had six children, and died in 1889. He is buried in Denver.
George W. Von Schack
George was born in Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia in 1827. After attending the Potsdam Military Academy, he became an officer in a Prussian cavalry regiment and rose to the rank of Captain. He was also the Chamberlain to Prince Frederick Karl of Prussia, and was said to have bounced the future Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany on his knee. He came to the US in 1861 after taking a leave of absence from the Prussian army. He mustered in as the Major of the 7th New York on July 31, 1861, and became the Colonel and commander of the regiment in February 1862. Though wounded at Fredericksburg, command of the brigade fell to him and he remained with his men until the brigade left the field. He mustered out with the regiment in May 1863, and tried to get back into the war as soon as possible. His first attempt to reorganize the 7th NY in 1863 failed. George then attempted to become an officer in the USCT, but did not pursue it after he was recommended for a rank no higher than Major. He was also commissioned as the Lt. Colonel of the 52nd New York in January 1864, but he declined, starting his second attempt to reorganize his old regiment shortly thereafter. His 7th NY Veterans arrived in the field piecemeal during 1864, being attached to the 52nd until enough companies were in the field for George to take command as the Lieutenant Colonel in July 1864. He was promoted to Colonel in November when the final company was mustered in. He was injured on March 17, 1865 when his horse fell on him during the horse races in celebration of St. Patricks Day, which prevented him from taking part in the last battles of the war. His regiment mustered out on August 3, 1865 at Harts Island, NY. He was brevetted a Brigadier General of US Volunteers in March 1865. After the war, he decided to resign his commission in the Prussian Army, and became a US citizen. He married his second wife, Lena, in 1887 (his first wife, Helene, Countess Von Blumenthal, left him during the war and went back to Prussia.) He worked in the New York City Customs House and died in 1909. He is buried in Cypress Hills National Cemetery.Back to Main Page