Biography of Gen. Alfred Neafie
Orange County, NY Biographies

GEN. ALFRED NEAFIE. Alfred Neafie was born in Walden, Orange County, N. Y., January 8, 1832, being the son of Cornelius Neafie, a member of one of the old Knickerbocker families, who came to New York in 1637.

Cornelius Neafie built the first cotton mill in Orange County and the second in the State. As a boy Alfred Neafie, fond of hunting and fishing and of an adventurous turn of mind, it is not strange that he should at the age of nineteen, start for the newly discovered gold fields of California.
It was in 1851 that he left in a sailing vessel, the Grecian, for the six months' voyage "round the Horn."

His first vote was cast in the canyons of the North Yuba in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. During his successful career in California he was a member of the celebrated Vigilance Committee and was one of those who helped to apprehend the famous outlaw "Yankee Sullivan," and was present at the trial and hanging of Juaquin Murat and "Three Fingered Jack."

Returning home at the death of his father and starting in business in Ellenville, N. Y., yet at the outbreak of the war Mr. Neafie put aside personal interests and went to the front. He was offered the captaincy of the Walden Company of the 124th Regiment, but declined it, as he had already raised nearly two companies of what became the 156th Infantry.

His military record is to be found in brief in the Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, Vol. 1, page 741, as follows:

"Neafie, Alfred, N. Y., N. Y. Capt. 156th N. Y. Inf., 13th Sept., 1862; Lt.-Col., 9th Jan., 1864; Lt-Col. Vols., 13th March, 1865, for gal. and meritorious services at Battle of Winchester and Fisher Hill, Va., and Brig. Gen. Vols., 13th March, 1865, for conspicuous gallantry at Winchester, Va., 19th Sept., 1864. Mustered out 23d Oct., 1865."

During the war Gen. Neafie was provost marshal of Alexandria, La., and Baton Rouge.

While at Savannah he held the offices of supervisor of trade, collector of military taxes, relief commissioner and assisted in the repatriation of the South, as by virtue of seniority of rank he was chief of staff of the department.

A few of the brilliant and picturesque events of his military career were:-

After the capture at Washington, Ga., of the archives of the Confederacy, which included records of Generals Beauregard, Polk, Joseph E. Johnston and Albert Sidney Johnston, $300,000,000 of cotton bonds, $760,000 in gold and silver and thirty wagon loads of valuable jewelry and personal articles, General Neafie, with two federal officers and two treasury agents, inventoried and sent to their proper owners, scattered all through the Southern States, all private property, while all public property was turned over to the United States Government. This was done in about two months.

As General Grover's chief of staff, General Neafie received Jefferson Davis when he was captured and delivered him to Lieutenant Commander (now admiral, retired) Luce, in command of the double ender Pontiac, in Savannah River.

Jefferson Davis, Jr., a most lovable boy about ten years old, was a guest in the house in Savannah where General Neafie lived, they drove together daily and a great affection sprang up between the two.

His early death of yellow fever in Memphis was a sorrowful event for all who knew him.

General Neafie with General Grover was present at the solemn and thrilling raising of the flag at Fort Sumter, four years to a day from the time it was lowered by Sergeant Hart.

It was taken from the sealed mail bag, where it had been placed by Sergeant Hart, who now released it from its leathern prison, and once more raised to its place of honor.

When this was done it was seen that the flag was pierced by at least thirty shell fragments, and was ragged and torn ; not a star had been shot away.

When that fact was disclosed to the men who had been fighting four years to keep the stars of our Union together, the emotion was too great for expression.

But from outside came the noisy welcome from the battered and indented iron dads and monitors, who had been circling around waiting to give tongue with their cannon throats.

Since the close of the war, General Neafie has led a business life of wide and varied interests, with homes in Ellenville and Goshen, N. Y.

The History of Orange County New York
Edited by: Russel Headley
Van Deusen and Elms, Publishers
Middletown, N. Y. 1908

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