Skip to main content

My Journey to Visit the Brother that Did Not Survive

Remember Henry Chaple? He was one of two brothers from a New York regiment that were captured at Plymouth, NC during the Civil War. They were both sent to Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia. Henry survived, but his brother did not. When I photographed Henry's grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Fitzgerald, Georgia, I had no idea of his story. After I returned home and learned more, I decided I wanted to also pay my respects to the brother that did not survive. His name was Alfred Chapel.

We headed down I-75 yesterday morning. It was raining, and the forecast was not great. I was determined to go, however, since various things had interrupted my plans in recent weeks. I was armed with Alfred's grave site number that I had obtained online, as well as a map and my digital camera. At some point, before we reached Andersonville, I began to wonder about Alfred's arrival to the prison camp. Since he was captured in April 1864, it is very close to being exactly 146 years ago. Was it raining when he arrived? If it was, there was no shelter once he stepped off the train that brought him to his final "home."

Once we arrived at Andersonville National Historic Site and Cemetery, we went into the building that houses visitor information and the Prisoner of War Museum. I have visited the excellent museum in the past and decided to skip it this time around. I did get some photos of the beautiful memorial located just outside.




Alfred's Gravesite Number & Section
I then returned to the visitor information section. Located there are a couple of computers that allow you to look up prisoner and burial information. While I knew Alfred Chaple was #4726, I decided to see what else I could find. While I already knew much of the information given -- his military information and cause of death -- I was able to determine he was buried in section F of the cemetery. That should make it easier to find him. I wrote down the information on a small card provided.

Instead of going directly to the cemetery, we drove around the actual prison camp site. This was not my first visit to Andersonville, but you can never get used to the feeling that comes over you when you take the time to try and absorb what happened on the ground on which you are standing.

View from Star Fort, the headquarters of the commandant.

In the photo above, at the bottom and just to the right of center, are two stone structures. They represent the South Gate entrance/exit to the stockade. Just across the "street," to the left of the gate in the photo, was the site of the Dead House. This was a small structure built of tree branches. When Alfred died in August 1864, his body was taken there. It was then carried by wagon to the cemetery for burial.

Next stop was the cemetery to find where Alfred was buried. On the back side of the small card on which I had written his gravesite number and section, was a map. Alfred was in section F, just inside the cemetery entrance on the left.

Using the information gathered, his marble military tombstone was easy to find.


I don't often spend long periods of time at particular gravesites when visiting cemeteries. I rarely know much about the individual sites I photograph until after I return home and research is conducted. This time was different. I told Alfred all about how I first found his brother Henry in Fitzgerald. How I learned of Alfred from the research of Henry, and how I decided it was necessary for me to visit Alfred at Andersonville as well. I wondered if anyone had ever visited Alfred. Was his brother Henry ever able to make the trip? Could he even have mustered the strength it would have taken for him to return to this horrible reminder of his time spent at Andersonville? I certainly do not know, but I got the distinct feeling this Georgia girl was a welcome visitor.

While that was probably the best place to end this post, I want to share with you a couple of photos from one of the monuments closest to Alfred. It so happens to be one erected in 1911 by his home state of New York.

Front of NY Monument
Back of NY Monument


Comments

Life Goes On said…
you have done a wonderful posting of this historical site and your visit to this one man. My husband has an ancestor that died at Anderson. Some day I hope to visit.
Gale Wall said…
Very moving. I have wanted to visit here for a long time. I'm going home to Columbus in May and I hope to take time to make the trip down to Andersonville.
S. Lincecum said…
Thanks, yall. It's definitely worth a visit.
Jeannette said…
Alfred Chaple was my great-great uncle, Henry was my great grandfather. Thank you so much for your visit to Alfred's grave. The Chaples are a huge family and many of us have visited the grave sites of both of these men. It is so heart warming to know that they are remembered by others. They were just farmers caught up in this terrible war. I find it amazing after all these years that we are talking/writing about the
S. Lincecum said…
Thank you so much for your comment, Jeannette! Learning just a bit of the story of Henry and Alfred was a great journey for me.
Anonymous said…
Very nice article, just what I needed.

Popular posts from this blog

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you.

Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here."

Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. Howe…

Southern Cross of Honor

I'm late to this discussion, but it's one I'd like to join. :-) Terry Thornton at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country started with Grave Marker Symbols: The Southern Cross of Honor and UCV (link no longer available). Judith Shubert at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges continued with Hood County Texas: C.S.A. Veterans & Southern Cross of Honor Symbol. [UPDATE, 1 June 2009: Judith has moved this post to the blog, Cemeteries with Texas Ties. The link has been corrected to reflect this move. You may also link to her article via her nice comment on this post.]

Wikipedia states:
The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Army's Me…

Thursday Link Love: EyeWitness To History

Yesterday, a link was added to the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo. The link was to the website titled EyeWitness to History.com: History through the eyes of those who lived it. It's a great site, and I encourage all to visit it.

Here are several items I found while snooping around.

- Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944: "Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of "undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others."

- Crash of the Hindenburg, 1937: "Radio reporter Herbert Morrison, sent to cover the airship's arrival, watched in horror. His eye witness description of the disaster was the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast and has become a classic piece of audio history." [You can really …


blog.SouthernGraves.net

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)