Heroes of Albany - Alonzo Grove Ludden

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The following sketch is taken from the " Lutheran Observer," pulblished in Baltimore, Maryland

On the l6th February, 1865, the angel of death entered the Lutheran parsonage at Bern, Albany county. New York, and laid his blighting hand upon the youthful form of Alonzo Grove LUDDEN. Alonzo was the eldest son of the Rev. A. P. and Caroline LUDDEN, and was born in Augusta county, Virginia, on 28th February, 1846, and had, therefore, attained not quite nine- teen years when his young life was quenched by the great destroyer.

The subject of this memoir was of a naturally amiable and affectionate disposition, and, almost from infancy, exhibited a religious tendency. Nurtured in a Christian home, his intellectual and moral natures were, in their first developments, brought under the molding influences of a genuine and fervid piety, as exhibited in the daily lives of those, to whose parental training God had committed him. Watched over with all the solicitude which parental affection, quickened by a sense of Christian obligation always excites, he was early taught the great truths of our holy religion and was daily made the subject of earnest and faithful prayer. Under these circumstances we need not wonder, that the principles of Divine grace were very early implanted in his soul, and that, like Baxter, " he could not remember the time when he did not love the Saviour."

At the very early age of nine years, he connected himself with the Lutheran Church at Madison Court House. Va., then under the pastoral care of his father. This step was taken voluntarily, with great circumspection, and, as his conduct always afterwards proved, from an enlightened sense of the obligations which a Christian profession imposes. His piety exhibited very little of the emotional; it was the piety of principle, of thorough conviction of duty. Hence he never seemed to act from momentary impulse or mere excitement; never exhibited any excesses, either in language or action, but was always calm and self-possessed, and at the same time was fervid, thoroughly conscientious and ever consistent.

When only fifteen years old, he commenced to maintain the family altar, in the absence of his father, whose ministerial duties very frequently called him from home. About the same time he became a teacher in the Sabbath school, and was also appointed to lead the choir in the Lutheran church at Bern. He also took an active part in the prayer meeting. In every position he seemed to realize his responsibility, and acted with a promptitude and fidelity which indicated how deep and thorough were his convictions of duty.

In 1864, when only sixteen and a half years old, he entered the army as a volunteer in the One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Regiment New York State Volunteers. This step he did not take without the consent of his parents. He had made his duty to his country, in the present crisis, the subject of earnest prayer, and told his father that he felt a conviction that he ought to volunteer his services. His regiment was ordered to join General Banks in his expedition against Port Hudson, and was engaged in two fierce and bloody, but fruitless assaults upon that stronghold of the enemy. After these repulses. General Banks called for one thousand volunteers to act as a storming party; they were known as the " one thousand stormers." When the call for these volunteers was made, Alonzo, with three others, stepped forward to represent his company. Whilst, however, this storming party was drilling for the assault, the city surrendered.

As a soldier, as well as in private life, his virtues were equally conspicuous. Amidst all the temptations and corrupt influences of "camp life," he maintained a consistency of deportment and a purity of character which secured the confidence of his superiors and the esteem of his associates. His Captain, in a letter to a friend, says: " I think Corporal Ludden is the most perfect of any representative of cool, quiet daring my eye ever saw. He, my dear sir, is a perfect stranger to fear. He calmly obeys every order, regardless of the risks it may involve. No man can surpass him in all the elements of a true soldier, and of a consistent Christian." The chaplain of his regiment bore testimony to his uniform propriety of life. He never, under any circumstances, deviated from the path of Christian rectitude. After the return of the regiment, the Chaplain remarked to his father: "I did not have a more faithful Christian than your son in my whole regiment."

After having been honorably discharged from the army, he spent some time at home recruiting his health, which had been very much impaired by his long and perilous campaign in the insalubrious climate of the south. As soon as he felt himself sufficiently restored to engage in business, he secured a situation as clerk in Mr. Gray's book store, in the city of Albany. Before he had been there three months, he had so far won the confidence and esteem of his employer, that his salary was nearly doubled, and he was promoted to be book-keeper and bank clerk, the most responsible position in the establishment.

His constitution, however, had become greatly enfeebled by disease, contracted amidst the arduous campaigns of the army. Twice he was compelled to ask leave of absence to go home and endeavor to regain his health. In this he partially succeeded, and returned again to his business. But, alas the seeds of fatal consumption, which had been planted in his system, began to develop themselves, and on the lOth of November he was compelled once more to return as an invalid to the parental roof. On entering the house he said to his mother, in a plaintive voice, but with a calm resignation: "Dear mother, I have come home to die."

For three months he lingered under the wastings of disease, uncomplainingly enduring much bodily suffering, and submitting to the Divine will with so much patience and resignation, that even his physician was moved to tears, and said: "I have never, in all my practice, attended such a patient."

A short time before his death, it became the melancholy and painful duty of his affectionate father to inform him of his approaching dissolution. The sad announcement did not move him. With perfect composure he replied: " I, too, have thought my end was nigh; this intelligence does not alarm me at all; I feel fully resigned to God's will. I trust in my Saviour, and He is precious to me. I can hardly wait for the time of my departure. My faith in Christ enables me to talk calmly of my coffin and my burial place." His younger brother being alone in the room a few hours after, he called him to his bedside and said: "Luther, I want you to be a good boy, obey your parents, love your Saviour, and meet me in Heaven." On a subsequent occasion, he gave a like charge to each of his sisters.

A few days before his death he divided his effects. To his kind physician he gave his gold pen, saying: "Doctor, it is a good pen, keep it to remember me. You have done all that could be done to save me; I thank you for all your kindness, and hope to meet you in Heaven." To his eldest sister he gave his gold watch, and to each member of the family some token of his affection, that each might have some memento of him when they should see his face no more.

Having disposed of his earthly treasures, and spoken a word of affectionate counsel to his brother and sisters, he meekly composed himself to meet the final conflict. He was greatly reduced by disease, and his voice was feeble and trembling, yet his faith was firm and soul-sustaining. In gentle whispers he was heard to pray: "Come, Lord Jesus, and come quickly." A scripture promise being repeated by his father, he seemed strengthened as by divine energy, and exclaimed in a loud, clear voice: "Lord Jesus, I thank thee that thou hast come. The holy angels are coming to carry me home. Oh! what sweet, delicious music I hear, such as no earthly instrument and no human voices ever made." As the hour of his departure drew near, his spiritual nature seemed to be endued with unearthly vigor, and several times he exclaimed with great strength of voice; "Glory be to God in the highest; bless the Lord — oh ! my soul."

To his deeply afflicted parents and friends he frequently said: "Weep not for me, for I shall soon be at rest." With a full, strong voice, he sung part of the hymn: "When I can read my title clear, &c.," and then requested that he might be turned on his back and his limbs composed. Calling his sisters and brother to his bedside, he reminded them of his admonitions, and gave them a farewell charge to meet him in Heaven. He took an affectionate leave of his parents, saying: " Kiss me, father; father, good bye. Kiss me, mother; mother, good bye. I want you all to kiss me." After all in the room had complied, he remarked: "I hope you all love the precious Saviour." In this happy, exulting, heavenly frame he continued for about half an hour, when he gently and quietly "fell asleep in Jesus," and the redeemed and disenthralled spirit went up to meet its Saviour and its God, amidst the bliss and glory of its heavenly home.

"Servant of Christ, well done !
Rest from thy labors now;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter into thy Master's joy.

"The pains of death are past —
Labor and sorrow cease —
And life's stern warfare closed at last,
Thy soul is found in peace."

The funeral services were held in the Lutheran Church, at Bern, on Saturday, Feb. 18th, in presence of one of the largest audiences ever there assembled. The Rev. Dr. Lintner preached an eloquent and deeply affecting sermon from Phillippians, i, 2, 3: "I am in a strait betwixt two." The Rev. E. Belfour, of the Lutheran Church at Schoharie, and the Rev. E. Miller, of the Dutch Reformed Church at Bern, each followed with an excellent address, all paying a warm tribute to this young and noble soldier of Christ, of whom it has been fittingly said: "He was early at the cross, early in the grave, and early in Heaven." His life was no doubt sacrificed in his desire to do his duty as a soldier in defence of his country. But God mercifully spared him to return to his home and die peacefully upon his bed, amidst the sympathies and ministrations of those who loved him most tenderly to bequeath his parting blessing to his parents, his sisters and brother, and to leave a legacy of sweet and hallowed memories, which will be forever sacred and precious, and whose blessed influences will never be lost.

" Death should come
Gently to one of gentle mould, like thee,
As light winds, wandering thro' groves of bloom,
Detach the delicate blossoms from the tree.
Close thy sweet eyes calmly and without pain.
And we will trust in God, to see thee yet again."

P. A. S.

Brunswick Centre, March 1, 1865.