In November of 1860, Alfred Augustus Crawford Williams, a young man of 20 years, had just graduated from Berkshire College as a medical doctor, having attended Union College from 1854 - 1858. In early April of 1861 he was a prosector at Brunswick College, had his passport in hand, and was planning to traveling to Europe at the close of the term to further his education in anatomy. Fate had different plans for AACW.
By June 3, 1861 he is listed as an Assistant Surgeon in the 1st New York Light Artillery. He volunteered to leave his unit and go with the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the Fire Zouaves, and found himself wounded and captured by the Confederates at First Bull Run, and sent to Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. He is aboard the Adelaide steamer that arrived in Baltimore on August 20, 1862 along with other released prisoners. By May of 1863 he is reported to be wounded , “by a ball passing through his arm”, at Chancellorsville and receives a letter of commendation from his Commander Col. H. Berdan. Berdan stated that even though wounded “he did not leave his duties for a moment.” By August 10, 1863, Col. Berdan is sending a letter of “Medical Department” to AACW stating, with regrets, that he can no longer remain in the field with the unit due to his latest wound. (We suspect AACW lost his left arm though we can find no confirmation of such.)
October 9, 1863 AACW is before a board, in San Francisco, answering questions and taking the oath as he enlists in the Nevada Territory Volunteers, as a Lieut. Colonel and is posted to Fort Churchill, Nevada. (His father, Gen. C. H. S. Williams, was a prominent lawyer in San Francisco at the time.) Throughout the rest of 1863 and into 1864 we find “Post Reports” where he is posted to Camp Douglas in Utah as a surgeon, and given command of Fort Bridger. In November of 1864 letters are being written to the territorial commander stating AACW has been found “in a state of degraded drunkness” outside the Gem Saloon in Salt Lake City, where he refuses help returning to his quarters, “and not for the first time.” December 8, 1864 he is ask to resign and AACW tenders his letter of resignation, which is accepted by the commander of Headquarters, Department of the Pacific, San Francisco, California, on December 21, 1864. Thus ending the distinguished military career of a promising young doctor.... three and a half years from young college graduate to a twice wounded and highly praised Prisoner of War to a disgraced officer of the US Army. The Civil War years were brutal!!
AACW stays in the San Francisco area... is involved with a piracy attempt on a South American ship in San Francisco harbor.... is a doctor in Petaluma, writes published medical papers.... has a failed suicide attempt after he is unable to secure funds to save the family vineyard in the Sonoma Valley... marries a young lady and has a daughter three weeks before he dies from typhoid fever January 4, 1871. The final irony was: AACW’s dissertation in medical college was on Typhoid Fever.