Alfred M. Gardner was born 1839 in Perry, Wyoming County, New York, the son of Alanson (b. 1801) and Marillinette (b. 1808).
Alfred’s parents were both born in New York and presumably married there sometime before 1829. By 1850 Alanson was working as a carpenter and Alfred was living with his family and attending school with three of his younger siblings in Perry, New York. Alfred eventually left New York and moved west, settling in western Michigan by 1860 when he was a lumberman and farm laborer working for and/or living with Dennis Sutherland, a farmer in Ganges, Allegan County.
Alfred stood 5’9” with blue eyes, brown hair and a light complexion, and was 22 years old and still residing in Allegan County when he enlisted in Company I on May 13, 1861. According to one source, he was among the second wave of recruits to come out of Ottawa County and did not in fact enlist until the end of May, along with Albert Hamlin, Calvin Hall, Nelson Davis and David Davis, Joseph Payne, James Rhodes, Perry Goshorn, Sylvester Gay, Joseph Soler (Josiah Schuler), Quincy Lamereaux, William Suret and John Ward.
He was wounded by a gunshot to his leg above the knee at about 4:00 p.m. on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, and was subsequently hospitalized as a consequence. By early August he was a patient at the hospital on David’s Island in the East River, New York harbor. He was still a patient at David’s Island when he wrote home to his parents on October 5, 1862.
I received your some time ago and I hope you will pardon me for not answering sooner. At present my health is very good. The abscess on my head is nearly healed up and my wound has healed nicely but my thigh is quite sore and I am still obliged to use a cane. It will be some time yet before I shall be able to join the regiment again. The doctor says he is afraid that my head will break out the second time but I do not think I shall have any farther [sic] difficulty from that source. I do not know whether all hospitals have the same rules and regulations in regard to money, clothing, watches etc. belonging to deceased soldiers or not but I think it is a general rile throughout the U.S. which is the same one as the one in this hospital. When a soldier dies in this hospital every thing is carried to headquarters to the surgeon in charge for safekeeping. His money, watch, etc. if he has any is put into a safe furnished for that purpose and his clothing is packed, labeled and sent to the storeroom. A memorandum of both is taken and sent to his friends or relatives to know what disposal shall be made of them and they are dispose of according to the wishes of his friends. You may perhaps ask how do they know where to direct to his friends.
When a soldier enters a hospital the recording clerk comes around takes your name, co., regiment, place of enlistment, age, rank, married or single, and where to direct a letter to his friends. He also inquires if they have any money or other valuables you wish to deposit with the surgeon in charge. If they have he takes them to headquarters and the head surgeon gives them a receipt. After this is done he brings around cards and nails up to the head of each one’s bed with their name, co., regiment, disease and the time they are admitted into the hospital. You will see that after they are through asking questions they know very near as much about a soldier as he knows himself.
I think perhaps they have written to some of his Spencer’s relatives. You can find out by writing to the surgeon in charge of U.S. Hospital at Harrisburg Landing. There [is] nothing on the Island but a hospital. When I first came to the Island there was but one house here and that was a dwelling house. The soldiers were quartered in tents. Since that time the government has expended about $25,000 for hospital buildings and they still keep building. There are at present about 1,500 [men] quartered in tents and as many more quartered in the new buildings that are finished. I heard today that we were all going to be moved from the tents to the buildings before the 15th of this month on account of the cold weather. W have just had our equinoxial rain storm and that together with the cold sea breeze off the Long Island Sound has made the tents very uncomfortable for the past week.
We are not allowed to leave the Island unless we have a pass from the surgeon in charge. They will not grant a pass for only six days. This one reason why I have not made Henry a visit and another is I have not the funds to make the trip. I have 7 months pay due me which I am expecting to get in a few days.
It is quite pleasant here on the Island. All the vessels and steamers going to Boston, New Haven, and Portland also the steamships going to England pass within half a mile of the Island. The Great Eastern has passed here three times since I have been here. I have heard nothing of Perry Goshorn being wounded the second time. In regard to the subject you spoke of the latter part of your letter I will simply say that I have never laid up any hardness towards you. I should [have] liked very much to have been there and seen Dennis [Sutherland?] shake. I should [have] had a hearty laugh to [have] heard his teeth chatter. I could have paid him off in his own coin. Give my love to all, yours truly, Alfred
Alfred remained hospitalized until he was discharged for “deafness” as well as a “flesh wound,” on December 31, 1862.
Following his discharge Alfred returned to Allegan County, probably settling in Ganges.
He married Ohio native Lydia A. (1841-1924), on November 23, 1864, in Otsego, Allegan County.
Alfred died on November 14, 1865, at Saugatuck, Allegan County. He was buried in Taylor cemetery, Ganges next to two of his sisters (Lydia is also buried with him).
In 1870 his parents were residing in Allegan village, Allegan County. By 1880 Lydia was working as a schoolteacher and living with Alfred’s brother John and his family in Pine Plains, Allegan County.
In 1886 his widow, who was living in Michigan, applied for and received a pension (no. 290083), drawing $30 per month by 1924. She was living in Otsego, Allegan County in 1890. It is likely that she lived in Allegan County the rest of her life.