US GenWeb

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

George W. Schermerhorn
of Rensselaerville.

George W. Schermerhorn was born in Durham, Greene county, New York, March 25, 1838. The names of his parents are Daniel and Lucinda Schermerhorn.

The only information that I have been able to obtain concerning him, is furnished in the following letter from his faithful Chaplain, the Rev. L. H. Pease, addressed to Mr. Allen Peck:

Mr. Allen Peck:
Dear SiróBefore this reaches you, you will probably have learned from other sources that you have been called to lay a costly offering on the altar of your country, one which will cause you deep sadness of spirit.

That select and esteemed regiment, the Forty-fourth, which left Albany a few weeks since with so much eclat, and so many hurrahs, has met a sterner and more relentless enemy than the rebels, even the king who wields his iron scepter everywhere, the king of terrors. And your son (Mr. Schermerhorn), has been called as one of the first fruits of the offering of the Ellsworth regiment on the altar of liberty.

Soon after we left Albany, the measles broke out, and this, together with the great change in the manner of life at this season of the year, and the great exposures to which the men have been subjected while getting used to camp life, have caused us to be visited with more than usual sickness.

But not till this week have any died. This week five have died, four in our midst, and one in Calorama hospital, on the other side of the Potomac. The first, a son of Edward Gardner, of West Burlington, Otsego county, died on Monday evening last, or rather Tuesday morning about one o'clock. The second, a son of Colonel E. Belcher, of Newark Valley, Tioga county, (I think) died about nine and a half on Wednesday evening, and on Thursday at about the same hour or a little later, your son George was called to bid adieu to earth.

About the same hour John Hines, of Evans' Center, Erie county, was called away, and also a man by the name of Wilson on the other side of the river. A sad week, long to be remembered.

Whether your son has fought a good fight or not, the battle is over. He has finished his course and has been early called to fill a soldier's honored grave. But, though he died far from kindred and home, think not that he died unattended and friendless. We arc all brothers in this regiment. I conversed and prayed with him a great many times during his sickness, and did everything in my power to lead him to Christ. A hospital in the camp is one of the worst places in the world, in which to prepare to die in. But, though no mother or sisters attended him in his last hours, the blessed Saviour was just as near as he could have been, if our young friend had been at home surrounded by friends; and the road to heaven is as short and straight from here, as there, and God will take care of his dust wherever it may lie.

His disease, in its later stages, was typhoid fever. He partially recovered, and came over from the hospital to the camp a little too soon, which was followed by a relapse. I cannot detail in this place, the particulars of the different conversations which I held with him. I repeatedly urged him to cast himself entirely upon Christ, and endeavored to explain to him how to do it; and more than once he affirmed that he did so. Whether he really did give himself away, God only knows.

The last conversation that I had with him was on the day that he died. I asked him, among other things, if he could put his trust entirely in Christ. "Yes, sir," he replied, "with perfect confidence." I prayed with him, and urged him to pray, and left him to see him here no more.

We must leave him in the hands of God; but let his surviving relatives beware how they put off repentance to that worst of all times to prepare to die, the death bed. And let them remember,

"Hearts like muffled drums are beating
Funeral marches to the grave."

I was in favor of having his remains sent home; so also were many of his company. You can have them sent home now if you desire it, by making the necessary arrangements. It is true, no matter where our dust lies, God will take care of it wherever it may be; yet we have a preference. Many a soldier sleeps on this "sacred soil;" a soil too sacred now for the tread of slaves. And of some of these soldiers it may truly be said:

"Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the cold grave was hurried,
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
0'er the grave where the hero lies buried."

But those uncoffined and unmonumental graves shall only make this whole land more dear in our sight, and nerve and gird our spirits for its defence and deliverance.

I trust you will never regret having sent your son forth. He could not have died in a more glorious cause, or fill a more honored grave. Rather be prepared to send another, if need be, to fill his place. And may He who is a very present help in every time of trouble, be better to you than sons or daughters.

So may you profit by this affliction that you will have occasion to thank God through eternity, that it was sent. Accept, I pray you, the sympathies and kind regards of a stranger but a friend.

Yours, truly,
Chaplain 44th N. Y. S. V.
Hall's Hill, Va., Nov. 24, 1861.

Send comments or suggestions to:
Debby Masterson

Go Back to Albany County Biographies
Go Back to Home Page