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. Hank
The following excerpts are from an 1864 diary written by Alfred P. Hanks while he was in service in the Union Army. He re-copied the original diary and enhanced the entries in 1909, while he was residing in the Soldiers’ Home in Noroton Heights, Connecticut. Although this diary covers the year 1864 only, he was in service from August 1862 to May 1865, a period of 2 years, 9 months and 3 days. His diaries for the other years were stolen.
Alfred P. Hanks wrote the following on the first page of this copy of his 1864 diary:
“While looking over the diary pretending to record the events of 1864 while in the army I find that as little time was spent in keeping it as possible. That many events are not given so that anyone else now reading it, would have little or no idea of what it recalls to me as clearly as though but yesterday. So [as I] am doing nothing this winter thought I would rewrite it and record some of the events that may be of interest to others and that are now clear to my mind as then. A diary of the other years while in the army was stolen from a trunk while left in care of a family in 1883.
Soldiers house. Noroton Height, Conn. Feby 3, 1909”
Some Relevant Diary Excerpts
Hanks’ Account of The Battle of Cold Harbor, VA:
“Humphrey of our Co. was hit in the knee and later the leg was amputated and [he] died I think. While lying down in line looking towards the enemy, T.F. Bennett who lay by side of his brother was hit by a ball… This was our first day in the Battle of Cold Harbor Va.”Hank Diary
Hanks’ account of being wounded at Cold Harbor, VA:
“Within half a minute a Musket Ball struck me in the right side & went though my body”Hank Diary
Hanks’ account of being transported to a hospital in Washington, D.C.:
“Recall how near like heaven it seemed to get there”Hank Diary