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

Alanson F. Hoffman
of Coeymans

Alanson S. Hoffman was born at Coeymans Hollow, October 18, 1839. He was of German descent; his ancestors having emigrated from Germany to this country about the year 1670, and settled at Claverack, Columbia county, State of New York. They continued to reside in that locality till shortly after the commencement of the present century, when his grandfather and father moved from thence to Coeymans Hollow, Albany county, where the deceased was born.

No event worthy of notice occurred during his childhood or youth. At school he was an apt scholar, and a general favorite with teacher and pupil. He was a young man of more than ordinary intelligence, and possessed a remarkably happy and genial disposition, and was liberal to a fault.

At the breaking out of the rebellion, he expressed his regret that we were about to be involved in a fratricidal conflict, but at the same time fully realized what was his duty, and what was the duty of every man in the north during that terrible struggle. His father was rather opposed to his going in the army, for he was the child of his old age. But he said his country was in peril and demanded his services, and that he did not think it was manly for his son to stand back when his neighbors were marching to the rescue of our government, some of whom were leaving wife and children, while he was a single man. To Alanson, it was hard to leave friends, home, and business for the privations of the camp and the perils of the battle field; but he said that duty called him, and if he died, he died in a good cause. After leaving home and entering upon the duties of a soldier, he kept his father informed of his movements.

The following are extracts from one of his letters:

Bonnet Carre, March 10, 1863.
Dear Father—Once more I take my pen to inform you that, through a kind Providence, my life and health have been spared, and I hope I may be permitted to return to my home and friends once more. Life, I know, is uncertain, but I am now enjoying better health than ever before; still, I will not boast. * * * *

We have an inspection every Sunday, and every man has his forty rounds of ammunition, in case of a surprise. A few nights ago, about twelve o'clock, when we were all nicely asleep, the long roll was beaten. I was awakened from sleep, and it was certainly the most solemn sound I ever heard. I did not lie long, you may be assured, after waking. I must admit that I was startled, but made up my mind to give the rebels at least one shot before running, so I put on my belt, caught up my gun, gave Jerry, my comrade, a kick, and ran out of my tent. I was the first one out, and the first in line of our company. Lieut. Mix came next. It was frightful to hear the officers calling the men out. The Major ran through the camp and demanded silence. It may be that there was not any shirking, yet I think that the darkness hid many a pale face. I will say nothing of my own, but I was bound to stick to the work. I am sorry to say that a few in our company did not face the music.

But this could not be said of our little drummer boy, who caught up a sword, and fell in line with the rest of us. We then marched out about six hundred yards, on the double-quick, and formed in line of battle. Our regiment was the first in the line.

Our Major (young Napoleon, as he is called, and whom nothing can frighten,) marched us forward, gave us "right about face," ordered us to load, elevate our pieces, and fire. This order was given by the General through the Major, and the whole was accomplished in just six and a half minutes from the first tap of the drum. Is not that pretty quick work, for the men to dress, get on their accoutrements, and form a line of battle ? The General rode along our line and demanded attention to orders, when he read an order from Gen. Sherman, to call us out and try us, as he said we might be called out to face the enemy some night, but if the One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Regiment was in the advance, he had nothing to fear.

We can beat any regiment drilling I have seen since we have been here, and I do not except even the old regiments. Write soon and give me all the news. Give my respects to all.

Your son,

The following letter, announcing his death, was received by his father from Lieut. Leger:

Bonnet Carre, April 13, 1863.
Camp of the One Hundred and Seventy-seventh N. Y. S. Volunteers,
Second Division, Third Brigade, Defences of New Orleans, Louisiana:
Died, April 13, at six o'clock in the morning, of typhoid fever, Alanson S. Hoffman, Company —, One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Regiment N. Y. S. V.
Mr. Hoffman:
Dear Sir—It causes me much sorrow to be obliged to make the above announcement to you of the death of your son. I know it will cause you much sorrow, but it is so. God, in his infinite mercy, has chosen him for a greater sphere of happiness than is allotted on earth.

Alanson was sick about three weeks, not dangerous, it was thought, until last Thursday, when he began to fail very fast. On Sunday he told me that he was going to die. I tried to encourage him, but he told me that he would not be with us long, and he appeared to be happy. This was in the evening. About half past five in the morning he inquired for me. I went immediately to see him. He recognized me, shook hands, and in a few moments passed away.

He had good care and attention, and good medical assistance, but all has failed, and the melancholy fact of his death remains to be communicated to his friends. I am glad to say that Alanson died happy. While he has been connected with the regiment, we have been intimate friends. I often went to his tent, and, as a general thing, found him reading his Testament. This should be a great consolation to you and his friends at home. As for myself, I feel that I have lost a confidential friend, as well as brother soldier.

Respectfully yours,
Lieut. A. B. LEGER.

The following letter was received after the death of young Hoffman from John M. Whitbeck, his mess-mate and companion in arms:

Bonnet Carre, April 15, 1863.
Mr. I. Shear.
Dear Sir—It is with a sad heart and unwilling pen that I sit down this morning to inform you of the death of our tent mate, Alanson S. Hoffman. He died this morning about six o'clock, and is to be buried this afternoon at half past two. He was taken some three weeks ago with a diarrhoea, and remained in his tent until about ten days ago, when he was taken to the hospital. A fever set in, and he began to fail very fast. He has had the best of care since he has been sick, and while he was at the hospital, he was taken care of by Stephen Schermerhorn, as good a man as could have been selected from our company.

His death has cast a gloom over our company, and I suppose it will in Coeymans Hollow. He was a boy that was liked by all, and I do not believe he has done a wrong to any man intentionally during his life.

He died happy, and I believe has gone to a home where there will be no more sickness, and where friends will meet to part no more. He told the doctor that he was not afraid to die. He told Stephen in the night that he could not live, "but," said he, "it makes no diflerence. Heaven is my home." I trust that this will be a consolation to his relatives and friends. He has made it a habit, since he has been here, to read his Testament every day, and I have not heard him speak a profane word since we left home. He was promoted to Corporal, but never served in that capacity. It was his dying request that the Rev. Mr. Birch should preach his funeral sermon.

From your friend,

The following letter was received by his father from Lieut. Peter A. Hoffman, of the One Hundred and Forty-third Illinois Volunteers, brother of the deceased:

Fidelity, Illinois, July 14, 1863.
Dear Father—I received your letter in due time, but little did I expect to receive the sad intelligence of the loss of an only brother. Little did I expect, when we parted in Albany, that he would be the first of the family to depart this life; one so young and healthy, and apparently destined to live many years. But such are the ways of Providence, and it is our duty to submit to God's will. The event may be intended for our benefit, as it teaches us the uncertainty of life, and warns us to be prepared for that day, when all shall be judged according to their deeds on earth.

Sad as it is, to lose a son and only brother, it would be unmanly to repine, when so many have sacrificed their lives in the cause of their country. It is a great consolation to know that he died in the defence of his country's rights, which is next to his duty to his God. He may have died alone in a strange land, without father, sister or brother to soothe him in his dying hours; his remains may be deposited far away on the banks of the Mississippi river, with nothing but a rude stone to point to his grave, yet to know that he died as he has died, is a far greater consolation to a lover of his country, than to have had him deposited in the most costly sarcophagus, attended with all the pomp and pride of royalty, if above his name should be written: "He died a traitor to his country."

Your only son,

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