Alfred P. Hanks was a resident of Mansfield on August 13, 1862 when he enlisted as a Private in Co. D of the 21st Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry; he was severely wounded in the side, June 3, 1864 at Cold Harbor, Virginia.
Following his wounding at Cold Harbor, Alfred Hanks was hospitalized until July 12th when he was granted a furlough. After a grueling journey home, he arrived in Mansfield on the 18th. He recuperated there until he was called back to service on August 13th. Reluctantly, he returned to his regiment, but he was still weak and needed more time to recuperate from his wound. Rather than returning to the line, he was assigned to assist Julian Parker, the Hospital Steward (also from Mansfield). He was discharged for disability May 16, 1865.
The descriptive muster roll of the 21st Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry lists his age as 18 and his occupation as clerk. He is described as 5’ 5” tall with a fair complexion and black hair and dark eyes. His marital status is single.
He was born April 14, 1844 in Mansfield to Frederick F. and Abigail (Page) Hanks. In the 1860 U.S. census in Marlborough, he is a 16 year old clerk in the household of Edwin P. Hanks. He was a clerk in a hotel in East Lyme in 1870 and living in his mother’s household in Marlborough by the 1880 U.S. census. Alfred Hanks was living in Fitch’s Home for Soldiers by 1900, he was a clerk in 1900 and listed as an inmate in 1910 who was Sergeant Major in the institution office; he never married. The Mansfield Historical Society has his diary for 1864 which contains information regarding the regiment’s activities and many stories of his fellow soldiers.
On March 5, 1866, he applied for an invalid pension, No.1041,078 that was granted under certificate No. 183,264. According to the list of pensioners on the roll in 1883, he was receiving a monthly pension amount unstated for a gunshot wound in the right side.
Alfred P. Hanks died on December 8, 1916 at the Fitch Soldiers Home in Darien and is buried in Saint Peter’s Cemetery in Hebron, Connecticut.
The Diary of Alfred P. Hanks
The Diary of Alfred Hanks provides insight into many different aspects of a soldier’s life. Hanks spans the normal day-to-day operations as well as active battles. This includes the battle at Cold Harbor, which left him injured and fellow Mansfield soldiers Canfield Humphrey and Theodore F. Bennett dead.
Hanks’ diary also gives a perspective lacking in other diaries- it has Mansfield as a center. Due to the 21st Regiment having the largest number of Mansfield Civil War soldiers enlisted, the diary includes references and extra information about other Mansfield soldiers such as Henry Thorne (Thorn) and the Parker brothers. Overall, Hanks’ diary includes Mansfield beyond that of just a hometown showing Mansfield as the Homefront as well as on the field in the form of other soldiers.