Wednesday, July 3, 2013

At Gettysburg

Easily visible along the stretch of South Ridge Road that curves up hill from the main office, this marble tree stump is one of the many graves of fallen Civil War soldiers at the Albany Rural Cemetery. 

The tree, truncated and without branches, indicates a life ended in its prime.  A soldiers' cap lies on the roots, a flag wraps around the trunk, the stone bases is carved with the names of the fourteen battles in which this young man fought (including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Fairfax Courthouse).

This beautiful monument marks the grave of Lieutenant William Pohlman.  He was born in 1842 Borneo to missionary parents, but raised in Albany by an aunt following the death of his mother.  He was a student at Rutgers University when the war began and soon enlisted in the 1st New Jersey Infantry Regiment.  By the following year, Pohlman was a Lieutenant and Adjutant in the 59th New York Infantry.

On July 3, Lt. Pohlman was struck in the arm by shrapnel from a cannon at Gettysburg.  Wounded, he continued to fight until shot in the arm during Pickett's Charge.  He was first brought to a field hospital, about a week later transferred to the hospital set up in the nearby Swopes Mansion.  A surgeon was brought from Baltimore to examine him and, at first, it seems the young man would recover.  He was able to receive visitors and wrote to his sister to ask her to come see him.  He would ask every day if she had arrived.  But on July 20, his condition worsened.  Following a hemorrhage, he entered into a brief coma.  He regained consciousness on the 21st, but was confused and called out, "Cease firing!"  They were his final words, now carved on his monument's canon. His body was embalmed and returned to Albany for burial.

Grave of Rev. Henry Newman Pohlman
He was buried in the plot belonging to his uncle, the Reverend Henry Newman Pohlman, the former pastor of Albany's 1st Lutheran Church.  It was Rev. Pohlman who oversaw the Cemetery's consecration ceremonies in 1844.

The shield on the front of the younger Pohlman's headstone reads:

Died July 21, 1863 At Gettysburg From Wounds Received In Battle In The 22nd Year of His Age

Click here for a more extensive bio of Lt. William Pohlman, including photos

No comments:

Post a Comment