Lt. Col. Alford B. Chapman
Alford Chapman was 27 years old as he led the 57th New York into the wheatfield at Gettysburg on July 2. He was born August 1, 1835 in New York City. Prior to the war Alford had been a member of the Seventh New York Militia for eight years. With the call for troops he enlisted, August 10, 1861, as a Sergeant in the Seventh Regiment. After the ninety days he was discharged and began to raise a company which was to become Company A of the 57th New York Volunteers. On September 12, 1861 Chapman became its, Company A, captain. In August Alford was promoted to major following the promotion of Philip Parisen to Lt. Colonel. At the battle of Antietam he took command of the 57th after Lt. Col. Parisen was killed leading a charge from horseback while carrying the regimental colors.
Chapman was promoted to the position of Lt. Col. on October 27, 1862 with rank from September 17, 1862. Alford became the regimental commander of the 57th New York with the promotion of Colonel Zook to 3rd Brigade commander. During the laying of the pontoon bridges at Fredericksburg, the 57th was detailed to protect the engineers. There was no cover for the 57thas they positioned themselves along the river bank while the engineers continued construction. Chapman dismounted his horse and was quickly cautioned by an orderly that he should not expose himself so unnecessarily. Moments later Chapman was struck in the chest and from the location all assumed it to be fatal. Fortunately the ball had struck his pocket which contained a packet of letters and a small blank book which reduced the force left as the ball finally reached his body.
He recovered from his wound in time to lead the brigade at Chancellorsville and again at Gettysburg. He was promoted to Colonel with rank from April 24, 1863 with the commission being signed July 20, 1863. Prior to going into battle on May 5, 1864, Chapman had spoken with General Hancock indicating that he thought this would be his last battle. Alford was found on the battlefield, lying on his back, clutching a note he had scrawled to his father, "Dear Father: I am mortally wounded. Do not grieve for me. My dearest love to all. Alford." It is these words which can be found at the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY on his tombstone.
Several quotes regarding Alford Chapman:
"He was daring in action, conscientious in forming his opinions, sincere, frank, courteous to his companions and a man worthy of imitation by every soldier." Army and Navy Journal, May 14, 1864.
"Colonel Chapman, had, on a score of battlefields displayed the highest soldierly qualities; his figure had always been conspicuous in the front line of battle, and whether on the skirmish line or in the column of attack, he had proved himself one of the bravest and most capable officers in the corps." General F.A.Walker
"I cannot pay a greater tribute to the memory of our comrade than to say that a braver and a truer friend never lived." Lt. Col. James W. Britt, 57th New York Vol. Inf.
"While the deeds of brave men shall live the memory of Colonel Chapman will be bright." 1st Lt. Henry Brewster, 57th New York Vol. Inf.
"Colonel Chapman was good to his men and hence he was greatly beloved by them. He was a
man of personal friendships, and carefully rewarded faithful services among his officers and men."
Capt. Gilbert Frederick, 57th New York Vol. Inf.
Favill, Josiah, Diary of a Young Army Officer, 1909
Fox, William New York at Gettysburg, 3 volumes, 1902
Frederick, Gilbert, The Story of a Regiment, 1895
Phisterer, Frederick (compiler) New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865, five
volumes and index
Information gathered & written by Bradley Eide
I am constantly searching for additional information; specifically diaries, letters, CDV's or any additional information on the 57th, General Zook and the other regiments in his brigade. Please email me for questions, comments etc. Sam_Zook@msn.com