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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Sergt. James S. Gerllng

James S. Gerling, son of Thomas R. B. and Eliza Gerling, was born in West Walton, Marshland, county of Norfolk, England, October 7, 1845. He came with his parents from London to New York, and arrived June 14th, 1854. Two years afterwards James was sadly afflicted by the loss of his beloved and faithful mother. That bereavement he felt severely to the day of his death.

At school, James was an obedient and diligent scholar, and faithfully performed every duty assigned to him. His memory was retentive, his judgment mature, and his moral character was without reproach. He loved, too, his Sabbath lessons, and appreciated the advantages of his Sabbath school.

As a son and brother, James was kind and affectionate, and was ever ready to deny himself for the good of others. As a clerk, his employer ever found him truthful and trustworthy.

James enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirteenth New York Regiment, in July, 1862. He was anxious, as he said, to serve his adopted country, especially in putting down a slaveholders' rebellion. He fully believed in human liberty, and adopted as his own, the words of our Declaration of Independence, declaring that all men are born free and equal.

Arriving with his regiment in Washington, he entered upon the duties of his position with patriotic enthusiasm. He became a brave soldier, and very rapidly made friends among the officers and soldiers with whom he was associated.

He kept his father informed, by frequent letters, of all his movements, and sought to allay his anxiety concerning him.

James, by his own merits, rose to the position of Corporal, and was afterwards appointed Sergeant. Very often he received the warm commendations of his superior officers.

When Gen. Grant ordered the regiment to the front, James wrote to his father thus: " I am in excellent health and spirits. I know not where we are going; perhaps to Gen. Meade's army. We have had to part with a great many things on our way, but whatever else I may have to part with, I shall try to keep the Bible you gave me. Pray for me, for I need your prayers."

He participated in the battle of the Wilderness, and on the morning of June the 3d, 1864, was in the charge made upon the rebels at Coal Harbor, where he was wounded. Having reached the rebel lines, his own gun for some reason, would not go off. He was stooping, in the act of taking the piece of a dead comrade, when he was shot in the shoulder. Our forces not being able to hold the line, had to retreat to their own lines, where his wound was dressed. He was then sent to the rear, and to the hospital.

The wound not being a dangerous one, he soon obtained a furlough to return home. On his way, he stopped at David's Island, East river. New York, where he heard a sermon from a young Episcopal minister, that made a deep and lasting impression on his mind.

While at home he took pleasure in attending upon religious worship, and visiting the Sabbath schools.

At the expiration of his furlough he was urged to have it extended another month, as his wound was not entirely healed, but he refused, and resolved to report himself for duty. Accordingly he left home, July 26, 1864, and joined his regiment, then near the James river.

On the 24th of August, while engaged, with others, in tearing up a railroad, the rebels came in full force suddenly upon them, and he received a wound in his side, that afterwards proved fatal. He was taken to City Point, and thence to the Emory Hospital, in Washington. While there he wrote several letters to his father and brother, in which he expressed the hope that he would soon recover. He was attended by a skillful surgeon and faithful nurse, and everything that was possible, was done for his comfort. But early in October he sank rapidly, and died October 8, 1864, aged nineteen years.

His father, who was with him, brought his remains home, and his funeral took place in the Bowery Methodist Episcopal Mission Church, where he had attended Sabbath school. A large number of sympathizing friends were present. Dr. Hawley officiated, and preached a most appropriate and affecting discourse, which was listened to with solemn attention. Thus has passed away another young martyr to the great cause of human liberty.

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