Holmes, Erastus Hamilton

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Erastus Hamilton Holmes was born in Westerlo, Albany County, NY in about 1824.[1]

Erastus Hamilton Holmes was born on November 21, 1823 at Westerlo, NY, a son of John S. Holmes born on November 1, 1772 and Almy Robbins born on February 27, 1780 at Long Island, NY.[2]

Marriage & Children

Erastus married Sarah Abigail Mabey, a daughter of Enoch Mabey and Mary Avery on July 16, 1852, at Westerlo[2], NY and had the following children:

  • Frank Holmes, born December 22, 1853[2]
  • Mary M. Holmes, born July 19, 1855[2]
  • Enoch J. Holmes, born May 11, 1857[2]
  • Gideon R Holmes, born August 18, 1859[2]
  • Rose A. Holmes, born February 22, 1863[2]


Before his service in the Civil War, Erastus worked as a carpenter.[1]

Military Service

Residence: Westerlo
Marital Status: Married[3]
Enlistment Date: 6 Aug 1862[1]or 14 Aug 1862[3]
Enlistment Place: Westerlo, NY
Enlistment Rank: Private[1]
State Served: New York
Regiment: 7th Regiment NY Heavy Artillery[1]
Company: Company K[1]
Promotion Date: 18 Aug 1862[1]
Promotion Rank: Corporal[1]
Wounded on: 16 June 1864 in hand[1]
Captured on: 16 June 1864[1]
Captured at: Petersburg[1]
Imprisoned at: Andersonville, GA
Transferred to: Columbia, SC
Died of Disease on: Oct 16, 1864[1]
Place of Death: Columbia, SC[1]
Additional Remarks: Enlisted at the age of 38. Erastus and his brothers Edward Holmes and James Holmes all served in Company K of the 7th Heavy Artillery Regiment.[1](This appears to be in error since they all had different parents) All three served time in Andersonville prison and all three died in Confederate prisons.[1] Robert Keating in the Carnival of Blood says he died of wounds. "Was in all the engagements of the Army of the Potomac from May 15, 1864 untill the Battle of Petersburg June 16, 1864 was taken Prisoner there & confined at Andersonville and Died while there"[3]

Born Westerlo, NY, Age 38, Carpenter, Blue eyes, Light hair, Light complexion, 5'10" tall.[4]

Sources Used: Ancestry.com, American Civil War Soldiers and Andersonville Prisoners of War; Annual Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of NY for the year 1898; Keating, Robert, Carnival of Blood: The Civil War Ordeal of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, Published by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Md 1998; Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War


Sarah Abigail Holmes’s effort to collect a pension for herself and her children the documents suggest that she had a difficult time as late as 1868 in securing benefits retroactive to 1864. There were two Erastus Holmes at Andersonville with one from Connecticut and one from Indiana. In addition there was an Edward and an Edmund Holmes of New York with one being a private and buried at Andersonville and one having been moved to Savannah, Georgia to a hospital and died there. The confusion surrounding Hamilton’s death and confirming where may not be entirely settled. But there was confirmation that Sarah had married the man, had his children and was entitled to a pension in spite of it not arriving for some four years.

Sarah sought the help of an agent in securing her pension, but soon applied on her own behalf when no benefits were forthcoming. She documented her marriage in Westerlo that took place July 16, 1852 and documented her children’s births including the names of some observers to the births.

The pension in the form of 8 dollars per month for the widow and two dollars for each child began in 1868 and was retroactive to 1864. The benefits for children ended when they turned age 16 years of age.

Minor discrepancies in dates exist in these records, but the pension plan appears to have ended for children turning age 16.

The detail in Pension File Certificate Number 106933 finds a woman with five children questioning in 1868 why no pension relief has become available four years after the death of her husband.

Sarah Abigail Holmes was diligent in her pursuit of a pension for herself and her children, but she was also mindful to report her second marriage which ended her pension. She reported in May 1890 that she had married April 24, 1890 in Netcong, New Jersey to Frank O’Neal. [2]


Erastus died on October 9, 1864 at Columbia, SC while he was a prisoner of war.[1] He was the second brother to die as Edmund had died two months earlier and James would died 8 months later (This is an erroneous statement).[1]

The date of death recorded in the 1865 census for Westerlo is given as August 16, 1864. Presumably that was the date provided to his widow who in turn gave it to the enumerator.


Additional Research Notes

Additional Media

Heroes of Albany County


Mr. Holmes was a native of the town of Westerlo, and was the son of John and Sarah Holmes, who were connected with the Methodist Church.

Influenced by a sincere and earnest desire to serve his country, he enlisted on the 5th of August, 1862, in Company K, Seventh Regiment, under the gallant Col. Lewis O. Morris. He was stationed with this noble officer at Fort Reno, and was afterwards engaged in the assault on Petersburg. His bravery carried him in the thickest of the fight, and on the 16th of June, 1864, he was wounded in the hand, and was taken prisoner with many others. He was conveyed to Andersonville prison, where he, in common with multitudes of others, suffered everything, which the fiendish passions of their persecutors could heap upon them.

When Gen. Sherman marched through Georgia, Mr. Holmes, with about fifteen hundred others, was removed to the Savannah prison. Here he encountered new forms of wretchedness and horror, and lingered until the 9th day of October, 1864, when he expired.

He leaves, in entire destitution, an interesting family, consisting of his widow, Mrs. Sarah Abigail Holmes, and five little children. The children are all under twelve years of age. Though left with no other inheritance but poverty, yet as they advance in years they will learn to appreciate the private virtues and public services of their noble father, who suffered and died a martyr for his country, and for the cause of human liberty."

Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Keating, Robert, Carnival of Blood: The Civil War Ordeal of the Seventh New York Heavy Artillery, Published by Butternut and Blue, Baltimore, Md 1998
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Ken Mabey research and documentation of the Maby/Mabee families of New York
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Town and City Registers of Men Who Served in the Civil War
  4. NY Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, Ancestry.com Military databases