George Lerch

Kepi of the 148th New York Infantry

Flag of the 148th New York Infantry

Corporal George Lerch (1844-1865)

George Lerch, 3rd cousin, 4 times removed of Past Camp Commander Thomas L. Grund, Jr., was born in Seneca Falls, Seneca County, NY on February 12, 1844. His parents were Abram Lerch (1819–1893) and Mary Catherine (Singer) Lerch (1820–1887). His siblings were Reverend Jesse Arthur Lerch (1842–1896), Samuel Lerch (1847–1858), Sarah Ann Lerch, and Linus S. Lerch. He was the 3rd cousin of Teamster Thomas Lerch, great-great-grandfather of PCC Grund.

George enlisted in Company D, 148th New York Infantry on August 30, 1862 at Varick, NY, and mustered in as a private on September 14, 1862. The regiment performed garrison and guard duty at Norfolk, VA, until October, 1863, and at Yorkown, VA until April 1864. The 148th's first major action was Wistar's Raid against Richmond on February 6-8, 1864. The regiment was then transferred to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 18th Army Corps, Army of the James, under Major General Benjamin Butler.

George was promoted to corporal on May 1, 1864, just in time for Butler's campaign on south side of the James River in May 1864. This included the operations against Fort Darling (Drury's Bluff) on May 12-16, 1864. The 148th NY then participated in the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 1-12, 1864, and the Battle of Petersburg, VA, June 15-18, 1864. The regiment then performed duty in the trenches before Petersburg and on the Bermuda Hundred front between June 16 and September 27, 1864. Operations included the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg, VA on July 30, 1864 (in reserve), the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, New Market Heights, VA, September 28-30, 1864 and the Battle of Fair Oaks, VA on October 27, 1864.

George was captured at Fair Oaks and was held as a prisoner of war at Salisbury Confederate Prison in Salisbury, NC. During his time at Salisbury the prison became horribly overcrowded. Designed for 2500 inmates, the prison had over 28,000 prisoners between October 1864 and March 1865. Thousands died and were buried in 18 unmarked burial trenches in a cornfield outside the prison. George survived much of the winter, but he died on February 1, 1865 at the age of 20 and is buried as an "unknown" somewhere in the trenches.