Heroes of Albany - John Quincy Adams Crouse
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS CROUNSE OF KNOX
John Quincy Adams Crouse was the son of John Crouse and Margaret Van Aernam. He was born on the 30th day of April, 1829, in the town of Sharon, county of Schoharie.
He was from youth a person of correct habits, and as soon as he attained that age in which young men of purpose naturally decide for themselves, he became anxious to obtain a thorough education, and as far as opportunity and means would admit, he diligently pursued his purpose.
From his early years he suffered greatly from dyspepsia, and this finally broke him down, while he was connected with the army. Those who knew him best were apprehensive, at the time of his entering the military service, that his constitution would give way under the severities of camp life; and so, alas! it finally proved.
John was a youth of great industry and energy, and at several academies and seminaries, he prosecuted his studies with diligence and enthusiasm.
He graduated at Union College, and was familiar with various branches of mathematics, and different languages. He was particularly well informed in the German and French languages, to which he gave special attention. His habits of reading and study led him to collect scientific and literary works, and when he entered the army, he accumulated quite a large and valuable library.
His political opinions were of the most decided character, and they were the result of thought and honest convictions. He made many speeches and wrote a great deal for the advancement of the cause of freedom. He never understood either the wisdom or statesmanship, in the idea often advanced by others, that because a man was ignorant and defenseless, therefore he should be made a slave. He supposed that one great object of all true governments was to keep the strong and powerful, from usurping the rights and privileges of the weak.
To a mind imbued with such principles, it was perfectly natural, when the slave holders inaugurated the rebellion for the purpose of establishing an empire, the corner stone of which edifice should be slavery, that he should be against the conspiracy, and all who in any way aided or sympathized with the plot, and the overthrow of the government.
As early as May 4, 1861, while he was attending Union College, he wrote to his parents at Sharon, in which letter he first intimated a desire to enter the service. He said:
- “I reached Schenectady Tuesday afternoon, at two o’clock, and, on arriving at college, found almost every body talking of enlisting for the war. I was asked to volunteer myself, and said I would think about it. I have thought about it, and have come to the conclusion that, f it meets with your approbation, I will enlist. Prof. Peissner is organizing a company, which he will take command of himself. Quite a number of the students have already gone, and more will follow, to the seat of war.”
His worthy and venerable parents, although not less zealous in the cause than their son, could not be prevailed upon to consent to his going. They had already yielded to the importunities of one son, who was, at that time, in the military service; but in this case they were apprehensive of the results, as they fully realized that John could not endure the hardships of war. Therefore they dissuaded him from the undertaking, and he yielded to their request.
After he left college he became a teacher in the academy at Knoxville, Albany county, and taught there for some time, to the entire satisfaction of all. He raised that institution to a very prosperous and thriving condition. But the situation of the country still preyed upon his mind, and he felt that he ought to make sacrifices as well as others. He saw his comrades and associates going to the scenes of conflict and of danger, and he could resist no longer. Contrary to the expectations and wishes of all his patrons, at the close of the term, when the school was in the most prosperous condition, he came to Albany, and in the month of July, 1862, enlisted as a private in the Eleventh New York Havelock Battery, for three years. There was no difficulty at that time in his getting a commission in some other company then forming, but he chose to go as a private in this battery, as the younger men composing it, were represented as persons of correct moral and religious habits.
He left Albany almost the same day he enlisted, and became very soon engaged in active service. He was with the Army of the Potomac, and participated in nearly all the battles in Virginia. He was also at the battle of Gettysburg, in which the battery performed a very active part. He possessed courage of the highest order; a courage sustained by strong moral convictions; and under all circumstances he was a faithful soldier.
But the forces of his constitution were gradually giving away, under the severe hardships and exciting dangers that he was called to encounter.
He was in the terrible battle at Chancellorsville, and he said in writing to a friend, that the Sunday, on which that battle fought, was to him, one of the most terrible days he ever saw on earth. The continuous roar of cannon; the fierceness of the conflict, and the awful carnage of the day very deeply affected him. While he was in camp, he still cherished his fondness for study. He wrote several times to a friend at Albany, for some French and German books, that he might review some of his favorite studies.
It was evident from letters received by his friends, that he was conscious that the hardships of camp life were destroying his health, and he was induced to seek for a position of a teacher of the freedmen, which, unfortunately, for some reason, he did not obtain. Could he have been assigned to some responsible position in that department in time, his life might have been saved, and the cause of human freedom would have had a most faithful and efficient champion; one whose whole head and heart would have been most earnestly engaged, in elevating and directing the minds of an oppressed people. He, however, gradually sunk under the service, until almost reduced to a skeleton; when he was removed from City Point to the Baptist hospital at Alexandria, Virginia, where, on the 12 of November, 1864, he died.
About two weeks before his death, a telegram was sent to his parents at Sharon, Schoharie county, informing them of his condition. His father was, at the time, in Nebraska territory on business; but his aged and venerable mother, although feeble in health, hastened to his relief, and for nearly two weeks had the consolation of alleviating his sufferings.
During his protracted illness, his patience and fortitude never forsook him. He expressed his perfect trust in God, and his reliance upon divine mercy. On the day of his death, he requested the principal nurse to tell his mother to stay with him that night, for he thought that the crisis with him was near. And so it proved. His last words to his mother were: “Be composed for all is bright with me,” Then, in a strong tone of voice, he added, “Tell my friends I die like a man in my country’s cause, and am not afraid to die.”
His mother caused his remains to be embalmed, and they were taken to Sharon, where his funeral was attended by a very large circle of friends. He was buried near and in full view of the home of his aged and afflicted parents, in a quiet rural cemetery, where the roar of hostile cannon, the conflict of fierce passions, and the oppressions of the poor and the weak of the earth, will never disturb him more.
His relatives in Albany county, in remembrance of his patriotism and his many noble and manly virtues, have recently, by voluntary subscription, raised a fund by which a suitable monument has been erected in his memory.