Alfred G. Bates
was born January 24, 1837, in Bath, Steuben County, New York, the son of Nathan (b. 1796-1850s) and Charity (Temple, b, 1802).
Vermonter Nathan and New York native Charity were married, probably in New York sometime before 1833 and resided in New York for some years. By 1840 Nathan was probably living in Wayne, Steuben County, New York, and by1850 Alfred was attending school with his siblings and living with his family in Wayne, Steuben County, New York where his father worked as a carpenter. In 1853, when he was 16 years old, Alfred and his family left New York and headed west, eventually settling in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.
Sometime after the family moved to Michigan Nathan died in Michigan and by 1860 Alfred was working as a farm laborer and residing with his mother Charity and family in Grand Rapids Township. (The family included his older brother Benjamin who would also enlist in the Old Third and a younger sister Emily who would marry another member of the Old Third, James V. Smith, in 1864. It is likely that they had another sister or perhaps a cousin named Harriet Ann, also born in Steuben County, New York, and who would marry Abram Darling who would also serve in Company A, Third Michigan.)
Alfred stood 5’8” with hazel eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion and was 24 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company A on May 13, 1861. (Company A was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, specifically the Valley City Guards, or VCG, under the command of Captain Samuel Judd, who would also command Company A.) In 1862 he was joined by his brother Benjamin.
Alfred was reported as a hospital nurse in the regimental hospital from at least the end of 1861 through 1862, and from December of 1862 until late May of 1863 he served as a nurse in both Division hospital. (Alfred was being treated for conjunctivitis in late September.) He apparently rejoined the Regiment sometime before October and on November 30, 1863, Alfred was captured at Mine Run, Virginia, and confined at Richmond on December 30. He was then sent to Andersonville prison in Georgia on either February 24 or March 18, 1864, and was admitted to the prison hospital for scorbutus (scurvy) on July 13 and returned to the prison population on September 3.
James McElroy in his memoir This was Andersonville wrote that Alfred, called “Pete” by McElroy, once remarked to him on the physical characteristics of one of their squad whose eyes didn’t sit quite right. “Pete [Alfred] Bates of the 3d Michigan, who was the wag of our squad , accounted for Smith’s condition by saying that once, while on dress parade, the colonel of Smith’s Regiment had commanded ‘eyes right’, and then forgot to give the order ‘front’.”
Once a gang of thugs roaming the prison and stealing at will from those men who were sick and helpless, took a watch from one of the men in Bates’ squad. According to McElroy, Bates, who he reported was the Sergeant of their prison squad, “had considerable confidence in his muscular ability. He flamed up into mighty wrath and swore a sulfurous oath that we would get that watch back, whereupon about two hundred of us avowed our willingness to help reclaim it.” Which they did.
Some years after the war Bates told a newspaper reporter for the Grand Rapids Eagle that he had remained at Andersonvilletill the rebels scattered the prisoners, for fear that Sherman would release them in his “March to the Sea”. In November, he was taken to Savannah, and afterward to Millen, where he was paroled, and was exchanged at Tybee island. All but two, he thinks, of the ten members of the Old Third who were taken with him, died in the prisons. He says that nothing that has been printed, or can be printed, overstates the horrors of those prison pens or the barbarities practiced upon them by their vindictive and unfeeling captors. . . . One-third of the Andersonville veterans died at the post, while the rest were so worn by disease and savage treatment that he thinks the majority have ‘passed up’ to join their comrades ‘on the other shore’ -- ‘got their final papers’, is the way Mr. Bates expresses it. One of those ten, Peter Myers, he thinks, lives near Sparta Center. He does not remember all their names. Among them he mentions, as he recollects them, Francis Brinnick, Jack Spencer, -- Biblee [Bippley] -- Greenhault or Greenwalt, Charles Soules and Willard Olds.”
Alfred was paroled on November 11 or 19 at Savannah, Georgia, and reported to Camp Parole (College Green Barracks), Maryland, on November 25. He was admitted to Division hospital no. 1 at Annapolis, Maryland, on November 25, and sent to Baltimore on November 27. He was eventually sent to Washington, DC, and admitted to Douglas hospital where he was finally discharged for chronic diarrhea on January 28, 1865.
He listed Grand Rapids on as his address on his discharge paper and indeed following his discharge he returned to Grand Rapids. In early February of 1865 the Eagle wrote,We are pleased at any time to meet and shake by the hand, any man who is now or has been in the ranks of the Union army, a loyal and glorious defender of the Old Flag. Yesterday, Alfred G. bates, who went out a member of the lamented Capt. [Samuel] Judd’s company [A], in the glorious Old Third, and who has just returned, or the first time since he left here in 1861, made us a call. From November, 1863, to November, 1864, Mr. Bates was a prisoner among the rebels, having been taken at Miner’s [sic] Run. His account of the treatment of Union soldiers in rebel prisons, is corroborative of most all other reports, which are too shocking to repeat, or believe, if we were not compelled to, by a multitude of witnesses. Thank God, that the race of fiends in human shape is nearly ruin.
After his return to Michigan, Alfred settled in Middleville, Barry County and married New York native Mary Jordan (1838-1938) on February 22, 1866 in Middleville; they had at least three children, Milton (b. 1871), Myron (b. 1874) and James (also known as “Jay”, b. 1879); they may have had three more as well. Alfred and his family eventually returned to Kent County and was living in Harris Creek, Bowne Township in 1870 where he worked as a miller. He was probably still living in Bowne in 1876, but by 1880 was living in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward where he worked as a teamster.
By 1883 (or possibly 1885), Alfred had settled in Monroe County, where he lived variously at Federman and Lulu. In any case, he probably resided in Monroe County for the rest of his life. (Benjamin Bates too settled in Monroe County after the war.) Alfred was living in Lulu in 1888, 1890 and 1894 and served for some years as a Justice of the Peace in Lulu.
He was a member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association, and Grand Army of the Republic Joseph Smith Post No. 76 in Monroe. In 1865 he applied for and received pension no. 45,454.
Alfred died of heart disease on December 1, 1906, in Lulu and his funeral service was conducted by Rev. Warfield, who took his text from 1 Corinthians 15:38: “But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.” Alfred was buried in the Lulu cemetery (as was Benjamin Bates). (See photo G-671.)
His widow received a pension (no. 621,886).Benjamin Franklin Bates
was born October 30 or November 17, 1835, in Wayne, Steuben County, New York, the son of Nathan (b. 1796-1850s) and Charity (Temple, b, 1802).
Vermonter Nathan and New York native Charity were married, probably in New York sometime before 1833 and resided in New York for some years. By 1850 Benjamin (listed as just “Franklin”) was attending school with his siblings and living with his family in Wayne, Steuben County, New York where his father worked as a carpenter. Sometime after the family moved to Michigan Nathan died in Michigan and by 1860 Benjamin was working as a laborer and living in Grand Rapids Township along with his mother and family (which included his younger brother Alfred. (Alfred would also join the Old Third Michigan, and a younger sister Emily, would marry another member of the Old Third, James V. Smith, in 1864. It is likely that they had another sister or perhaps a cousin named Harriet Ann, also born in Steuben County, New York, and who would marry Abram Darling who would also serve in Company A, Third Michigan.)
Ben was 26 years old and stood 5’8” tall with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion and was working as a farmer living in the Grand Rapids area when he enlisted in Company A on September 1, 11 or 15 1862, at Grand Rapids for 3 years and was mustered on September 15; received $25.00 bounty and one month’s advance pay. (His brother Alfred had enlisted in Company A the previous year.)
While in transit to join the Regiment in Virginia Benjamin allegedly deserted in Washington, DC on October 14, , and was dropped on November 14 for failure to report to his unit. He finally joined the Regiment on December 12 at Camp Pitcher, but by February of 1863 was detached as a nurse in the Division hospital, a role he occupied through May of 1863.
Benjamin was admitted to Finley general hospital in Washington, DC, on October 23, 1863, diagnosed with syphilis, and was sick in the hospital in Washington, DC, through May of 1864, being furloughed three times during his hospitalization. He was transferred to Company A, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and although absent sick until he was discharged on May 3 or 31, 1865, near Washington, DC, he was promoted to Corporal on April 1, 1865. (He claimed in later years that he had been injured in the left arm and hip near Appomattox in April of 1865 and was subsequently treated in the regimental hospital.)
After the war Benjamin eventually returned to Michigan and by 1870 he was working as a a miller and living with the Arnold family in Grand Rapids Township, Kent County. (His brother Alfred was also a miller and working in Bowne, Kent County that same year.) was living in London, Monroe County in 1890 and in Summerfield, Monroe County in 1894. (Alfred too had settled in Monroe County.)
He was married twice, first to one Matilda who died very young and second to Elizabeth (or Eliza) Dowling (d. 1929), on New Year’s Day, 1872, in Brussels, Ontario, Canada. They had at least seven children: Mary (b. 1873), Mabel (b. 1878), Charlotte or Lottie (b. 1879), Alfred William (b. 1881), French (b. 1883), Blanche (b. 1886), and Harrison (b. 1888).
Benjamin worked as a miller for many years and both he and his wife Eliza were Protestants.
In 1888 he applied for and received a pension (cert. no. 929580) and was a member of Joseph Smith Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 76 in Monroe.
He died of cirrhosis of the liver at his home in Lulu, Monroe County on May 24, 1900, and funeral services were conducted by Rev. S. Cunningham of the Lulu U.B. Church. He was buried in Lulu cemetery (as was Alfred Bates). See photos P-233 and 234 and G-672.
His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 527854). Subsequently, a pension was file don behalf of at least one minor child and granted (no. 575932). His widow was living in Toledo, Ohio, at 816 Fernwood Street, in 1929 when she died, and her remains were sent to Michigan and she was buried alongside Benjamin.