Pvt. Henry Merdith Alward

Henry Merdith Alward

Grave of Henry M. Alward, Stone's River National Cemetery

Henry M. Alward was the son of Henry Arista and Eva Maria (DeCamp) Alward. Henry M. was born August 9, 1844 at Elkhart County, Indiana. The family moved to Wallace, Fountain County, Indiana during the 1850′s, Henry’s mother would die there in 1857. By 1860 Henry Sr. had sold the farm in Fountain County and remarried, the family then moved to Montgomery County, living in the town of Waveland. His father’s occupation was a plasterer and farmer, he owned a 2 acre farm in Waveland and rented farm ground. In a statement for state pension, Henry Arista stated his son Henry Merdith had helped provide income for the family by his work on the farm.

Henry was not old enough to enlist in 1861, he was just 17 years old. One of Henry’s best friends, Thomas “Poney” Moody was working as a hired hand on the Alward farm. He had just enlisted in Company C, 40th Indiana Inf. on September 13, 1862. Thomas Moody leaving to enlist, probably had a lot to do with motivating Henry to enlist. They worked together and had became close friends. Henry recieved his fathers blessing and enlisted as a private in the Company H, 40th Indiana Infantry. Captain Dewitt W. Wallace (Graduate of the Waveland Academy) of Company C was the recruiting officer. Henry signed his enlistment papers on September 17, 1862, and received a $25.00 bounty. He is described in his enlistment papers as being 5 feet 6 inches tall, Complexion; Light, Eyes; Hazel, and Hair; Brown.

On December 6, 1862, Henry M. had caught up with his regiment, then in camp around the city of Nashville.In statements after the war for Henry Arista’s pension, Thomas Moody and another local friend, Chauncy Smith (Co. H) stated that they saw Henry quite often. He had written several letters home and had sent money to his father once. Henry was among his friends.

The Army of the Cumberland would soon be on the march to Murfreesboro, Gen. Rosecrans wanted to push Gen. Bragg’s Army of Tennessee out of middle Tennessee. After being in the regiment only 25 days, Henry was engaged in the battle of Stones River on December 31st, 1862; January 1st and 2nd, 1863. Around mid afternoon on the 31st, the regiment was pounded by heavy artillery fire along the railroad as it waited for it’s place on the front line. On the evening of December 31, the 40th Indiana was placed on the front line in the vicinity of the Round Forest along the Murfreesboro Pike.The 40th was relieving the tired 58th Indiana Infantry. In a short time Confederate’s from the 4th Flordia Inf. and a portion of the 60th North Carolina Inf. began to advance on the 40th Indiana’s position. Major Henry Leaming allowed the advancing Rebels come within “easy musket range” before giving the order to fire. After several well aimed volleys from the regiment’s Enfield Rifle Muskets, the Confederates were in full retreat. Once the Rebels were out of sight, Major Leaming had the men replintish their cartridge boxes and wait for another attack that never came.

On January 2, 1863 the 40th was only lightly engaged, but most men were able to see the Confederate assault fail. Losses for the 40th Ind. in the battle of Stones River was 4 Killed, 68 Wounded and 13 Missing. Henry had stood the test of combat and survived the battle unscathed. After the Union victory at Stones River, the Army of the Cumberland settled into winter quarters around Murfreesboro. During early April of 1863, Henry suddenly became ill while in camp at Murfreesboro. Confined to the Regimental Hospital, Henry Merdith Alward died on April, 23, 1863. Army doctor’s recorded that Henry had died of Remittent Fever.

Pvt. Henry Merdith Alward is buried in the Stones River National Cemetery. History was not kind to Henry, his headstone reads “H.M. Alwood”, instead of Alward. Unfortunately, the NPS will not replace the marker of my 2nd Great Grand Uncle. Sadly he will always be seen as “H.M. Alwood” to the visitor’s that walk through the cemetery.

Written by Scott Busenbark


One Response to “Pvt. Henry Merdith Alward”

  1. phillip norris Says:

    my ancestor august meyer was in this regiment,any info most appreciated,thanks

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