Q. What is the origin of the book's title?
A. "This Gunner at His Piece" is a reference to the opening
words of the Citation written in support for Carl Ludwig's Medal
of Honor Award fire." His story begins on page 171 and his
picture is also in the book.
Q. What inspired you to write the book?
A. My interest in the town itself, genealogy and the Civil War
were the three primary motivating factors. I had researched and
written an extensive family history and was also familiar with
using the National Archives for doing Civil War-related research.
A shirt-tail Dockendorf cousin sent me a list of College Point
soldiers compiled years ago by Vincent Seyfried, a noted Queens
historian. I began researching those names, and then went to the
1860 Census to find others, and from that point the project became
a two-year odyssey, taking on a life of its own.
assist you with your research?
A. Susan Brustmann, Director of the Poppenhusen Institute in College
Point, Robert Friedrich, Retired Senior Librarian at the Queensborough
Public Library and Vincent Seyfried all shared from their storehouse
of information. Their photographs, newspaper copies, and other
bits of ephemera filled in many a blank space, and added color
to expectedly bland data.
Q. How was
the research done?
A. All of the preliminary research to identify the soldiers was
accomplished using the computer and assorted websites that showed
regimental lists, units, and pension cards along with assorted
census databases. Before cable access to the Internet arrived
in my neighborhood, downloading of data took a lot of time. As
soon as it became available, I took advantage of the technology,
and primary research took much less time.
The review of pension and military files took place at the National
Archives in Washington, DC, and that part of the process took
the better part of six months as I could only do the research
in the evenings and on Saturdays. There was always someone else
to research or some point to confirm so I was there frequently.
Q. Of the
226 men located, for how many were you actually able to write
A. There were very few, 3 or 4, I believe, who were never found
even though their names appeared in the Flushing Journal. I'm
not certain, for example, that T. Quaid or Z. Baumeister ever
existed, but I believe these names do represent persons who actually
did serve. Additionally some of the men who enlisted in the Navy
were difficult to identify as they did not apply for pensions.
By and large, most of the biographies contain enough information,
genealogical and otherwise, to help anyone interested in pursuing
additional research on any individual.
Q. Who would
be most interested in "This Gunner at His Piece"?
A. Certainly anyone whose family history has a College Point or
Queens connection would enjoy it, but many of the men moved to
other parts of the city, to New York State, and to states including
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
Michigan, the District of Columbia and others.
Civil War researchers would also enjoy the book especially with
the number of units the men served in, 82, and the index created
to connect the soldiers with those units. I make the point that
the book is not a "Civil War" book, but you can't escape
its impact on the lives of these men.
When you put Vincent Seyfried's Flushing During the Civil War
Years, 1837 to 1865 and "This Gunner At His Piece" side
by side, they create a fairly complete picture of the general
area at the time of the war. College Point was not an entity separate
from Flushing until the town incorporated on April 5, 1867.
Also, these two books are really microcosms of what was happening
in “small-town America, North and South, in 1860. Vincent
and I just happened to write, fairly extensively, about our towns,
Flushing and College Point.
Q. How many
College Point men were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor?
A. One actually, Carl Ludwig, but there are at least two other
men who lived in the town who had the honor bestowed, and one
who didn’t, but should have. It is a very intriguing story
Q. Who was
A. Sergeant Adam Wirth was a very well respected, and much-liked
soldier and member of Company L of the 2nd New York Heavy Artillery.
He was wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run, August 30, 1862,
and long believed to be the first soldier to die in the war from
College Point. GAR, for Grand Army of the Republic, Post No. 451
was named in his honor, when it was founded in College Point in
1884. Wirth died a month after the battle on September 25th.
Q. Who really
was the first College Point man to die in the war?
A. One of the most interesting stories in the collection, it begins
on page 239.His name was George.
Q. How many College Point men lost their lives
A. Twenty-four men died either in battle or as a result wounds
||Fort Lyon, VA
||Fair Oaks, VA
||Battle of South Mountain,
||New Orleans, LA
||Battle of Knoxville,
||Windmill Point, VA
|| Fort Richmond, New York Harbor
||2nd Battle of Bull Run
||2nd Battle of Bull
Their names are inscribed on a marble monument
commemorating their sacrifice. It was erected in 1867 in Flushing,
and is there today on a busy thoroughfare called Northern Boulevard.
Q. Whose name
appears on that monument, but shouldn’t have been?
A. Emil Schubert, and what an interesting story that is.
Q. Did any
men whose names are not on the Memorial, die as a result of wartime
Q. Why is the name David Schultz important?
A. Schultz, a member of the 79th New York Infantry, was killed
at the Battle of Knoxville, Tennessee on November 29, 1863. When
the Sons of Union Veterans Post No. 29 was formed in College Point,
it was named in his honor. The book includes a very moving story
involving his mother following the war.
Q. How many College Point men were wounded during
||2nd Battle of Bull Run
|James C. Cornell
||2nd Battle of Bull Run
||Santa Rosa Island
||2nd Battle of Bull Run
||Poplar Church, VA
|James R. Smith
|William H. Snyder
||1st Battle of Bull
Q. What College
Point family sent the most members to the war?
A. Two families share this distinction. The Dockendorf family,
my ancestors, sent three, Frederick, Joseph and Francis. They
all survived and raised their families in College Point. The Stader
family also sent three; father, John, and sons Charles and George.
The story of Charles is particularly sad.
Q. How many
College Point men spent time at Andersonville?
Q. Were any
other College Point men captured during the war?
A. Nine men were prisoners of war at one time or another.
Q. What Army
Unit attracted the largest number of volunteers?
A. 42 men served in Co. L of the 2nd New York Heavy Artillery
that became the 34th Battery of New York Light Artillery. 18 men
served for 30 days in the 15th Regiment of New York State Militia
and 17 served in the 20th New York Infantry.
Q. In how many military units did College Point
A. 82 served in the Army and 11 in the U. S. Navy. They served
units from 10 separate States and in United States service also.
Q. How many College Point men were subject to
Court Martial following the Battle of Chancellorsville and why?
A. Four College Point men, all Germans believing the terms of
their enlistment had been satisfied, laid down their arms before
the battle. The total number of men involved in this noteworthy
event hovered around 200. All served in the 20th New York Infantry,
and all were exonerated.
Q. What veteran had the largest number of children?
A. Henry and Barbara Wurtz had 16 children. Other veterans also
had large families.
Q. What soldier left College Point to work on
the Mississippi River?
A. Casper Sternberg and an adventurer was he.
Q. What do Henry Apel and John Steinbrucker have
A. They were friends before the war and served together in the
same units, the 29th New York Infantry and later the 7th Infantry
Veteran Regiment, but there is much more to their two stories
that makes for interesting reading.
Q. What soldier enlisted and served using one
name, but lived out the remainder of his life under another name?
A. Theodore Sennewald. One of the most curious stories in the
collection that remains an unsolved mystery.
Q. Did anyone else use an alias?
A. Dennis Illerd. Another curiosity for which there is no apparent
Q. What soldier took a trip to New York City on
September 19, 1889 and why is it of interest?
A. Ernst Lutters. His is one of the saddest stories in the book.
Q. Who was the last College Point veteran to
A. GAR member Joseph A. Roessel died on December 30, 1935. His
life span went from horse and buggy and candlelight to the automobile,
airplane and radio. He had hopes of seeing television perfected.
What a life!
Q. What soldier
enlisted five days after his arrival in America?
A. GAR member Charles Rausmuller
Q. What soldier
spent the shortest amount of time in the army?
A. Michael Horn, but the real question is why.
Q. What Civil
War soldier served during the war with Mexico?
A. Joseph Frey. He liked being a soldier or so it would seem.
Q. How many of the 226 men identified in the book
were actually from College Point originally?
A. 144 appears to be the number. 83 were enumerated in the 1860
Census and an additional 61 names appeared on a list printed in
the August 23, 1862 Flushing Journal newspaper. The majority of
the remaining 80 men were GAR members.
Q. The majority of those who served were from
A. 140 men had origins in Germany with Ireland coming in a distant
third with 15 men. 33 were born in New York and most of these
had parents from Germany.
Q. What soldier
ran away from Germany in order to avoid military service there?
A. According to his widow Justine, Gustave Mutz. His story has
an unhappy ending.
Q. Did any
veterans commit suicide?
A. Yes, Frederick Beardslee, Peter Larke and John Kaufmann. Beardslee
was the son of George Beardslee whose invention of a magneto-electric
generator greatly improved battlefield communications. Sad stories
Q. Who was Conrad Poppenhusen?
A. Called the "Benefactor of College Point", Conrad
Poppenhusen was a Hamburg-born entrepreneur who brought his rubber
manufacturing company from Brooklyn to College Point in the mid-1850's.
His factory was the major source of employment for College Point
men and their families before, during and after the war and it
was a primary reason for the large percentage of men available
for service from the town. I’m writing a comprehensive biography
that will be ready in 2004, I hope.
Q. What was
first name most often used?
A. What would you expect? It was John
Q. Who were the last men to be researched and
included in the book, and why are they special?
A. Jacob Wieners - his unit was not known until the day the manuscript
was to be taken to the publisher. He made it in under the wire.
Matthew Johann - his unit too was discovered very late in the
Franklin Schultz - he was not "discovered" until a chance
glance at the list of Flushing residents who went to war, that
appeared in the Flushing Journal. He almost didn’t make
John Leppert - his name was included on a list of veterans buried
in Flushing Cemetery, and one that I looked at, by chance, again
within days of taking the manuscript to the publisher. Had I not
looked at that list, his fascinating story would not have been
included in the book.
Hieronymus Herbig - a chance review of the article about the Sons
of Union Veterans gala held in College Point that is described
in the book, turned up the name O, for Otto, Herbig that led to
a search for soldiers by this surname. The result was the story
about his father. Had I not happened to look at this article shortly
before taking the manuscript to the publisher, his story would
not have been included.
The fathers and families of both Charles Hemminger and Fred Thurston
never lived in College Point, but their names were in the same
article containing the Hieronymus Herbig's name. That's how they
were included in the book.
George Vix - While his story was written early on, it was not
completed until the day the final copy of the manuscript was taken
to the publisher. His story is perhaps the most interesting of
all that appear in the book, but that’s one man’s
They all are special in that each of them became known so shortly
before the book was to go to the publisher, almost as if they
were insisting on having their stories reworked or included. I
find that fascinating, bordering on mysterious in a Rod Serling
kind of way.
Q. How complete is the list of soldiers identified
in the book?
A. Fairly complete I would think, but I'm certain I didn't find
them all and very likely there were more men who will be identified
as a result of the book being published.
Q. Were there any candidates for inclusion who
were eventually rejected?
A. Absolutely. There were a number of men enumerated in the 1860
Census of College Point who came very close to being included,
but there was no definitive way to confirm that they were the
individuals who had served in different units. Some names that
come to mind are: John Adelman, Augustus Aue, Peter Baker, Michael
Bradigan, John Day, Ernest Grube, Thomas Hanson, Henry Hoffman,
John Leary, Charles Rice and Michael Walsh.
Q. The churches in College Point in 1860 were
St. Fidelis Catholic, St. John's Lutheran, and St. Paul's Episcopal.
What can be said about the soldiers' affiliations?
A. When the question of denomination occurs within the biographies,
Lutheran is mentioned 30 times and Catholic 19. It appears religion
was a dominant force, or at least a presence, in the lives of
Q. Who was the tallest? Shortest?
A. William Ludwig at 6'4" was easily the tallest man from
College Point. Charles Ziessler was 6'2", and Emil Schubert
stood 6' even. Shortest person honors went to John Hefermehl and
George Richard who both stood 5'1'.
A. Again, absolutely.
The genealogist in me wanted to include the married names for
all of the female children. A large part of that could have been
accomplished using church records, but the book would have doubled
in size. I also wish I had been able to include more information
about the arrival date in the USA for more of the men and their
At the same time I wish there could have been more of the soldiers'
Civil War stories. As it is, there were quite a few, but I know
there had to be more. I also regret I was unable to write more
about the contribution Conrad Poppenhusen made to the war effort.
The Government purchased rubber goods, buttons, combs etc., and
his company had to have been a primary supplier because of his
having had the rights to Goodyear's rubber-hardening process.
The book I am writing about him will enlarge upon what I say in
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