Picture of Coe, UniformAlbert L. Coe
Quarter Master; Captain, Company K

Albert Lyman Coe was born in Talmage, Ohio in 1832 [according to Upton]. His parents were Rev. David L. Coe and Polly Hayes Brainard (her first husband Henry Brainard died in 1826). Rev. Coe was clergy and scholar, active in the early days of education in Ohio's Western Reserve and the formation of Western Reserve College; he "was one of the deepest scholars of the Western Reserve, being a master of Latin, Greek and Hebrew, as well as of pure English, and that, besides preaching regularly as a Presbyterian clergyman." He died at Richfield, Ohio, July 20, 1836" (Upton, 1021-2).

After his father's death, Albert's mother married Orestes K. Hawley of Austinburg, Ohio. There in Austinburg, Albert's mother "established at her house one of the most enterprising 'underground railway stations' in the region, often feeding, clothing and harboring many of the colored race while escaping to Canada. The two sons, Henry H. and Albert L., while yet in their early teens, frequently were called from their beds at night to assist their mother in her ministrations to her kitchen-full of negroes; their duty was to harness the family horses to lumber wagons and transport the fugitives to the harbor of Ashtabula before daylight". For such service Polly Hayes Brainard Coe Hawley, Albert's mother, was honored with one of the two hundred plates presented to anti-slavery leaders of the United States by the English Anti-Slavery Society (Upton, 1023).

In 1853, Coe moved west to Chicago, and entered business in the coal trade and was engaged in the coal business until the beginning of the Civil War and his enlistment in the Fifty-First Illinois in September 1861. Originally, Coe received a commission as second lieutenant of Company K. His first duty came in February 1862 when he was charged with arrangements for care of the sick left at Camp Douglas. He joined the regiment in the field during the New Madrid-Island No. 10 campaign.

Coe was promoted regimental quartermaster on June 9, 1862, when Henry Howland was promoted to brigade quartermaster, but already on September 25, 1862 Coe was detached to serve as a brigade quartermaster under General James D. Morgan who commanded a division of first the Army of the Mississippi, then briefly of the Army of the Ohio, and then the Army of the Cumberland. That service under Morgan continued for two and a half years despite various promotions of Coe in the Fifty-First Illinois.

In March, 1864, the Fifty-First Illinois returned to Illinois and Chicago for its thirty-date reenlistment furlough. On March 17 Coe married Charlotte E. Woodman. Ten days later he returned to the front. On June 14, 1864, Coe was promoted to captain of Company K, but he was not immediately mustered at that rank. On February 28, 1865, still waiting official muster as captain of Company K, Coe was assigned to duty as first lieutenant of Company H, which was bereft of officers, but this turned out to be only a paper filling of the gap, for Coe was on detached duty as the acting assistant quarter master of the Second Division of the Fourteenth Corps. Thus, while the Fifty-First left Georgia in pursuit of Hood and fought Hood's army at Franklin and Nashville, Coe was with the main body of Sherman's army in Georgia. Coe was therefore one of the few men of the Fifty-First Illinois who traversed Georgia on the "March to the Sea" and then marched up through the Carolinas. At the end of December 1864, a squabble broke out among generals over Coe's quartermasterly services. Coe was ordered back to the Fifty-First, and the regiment was in need of his services. The order originated with Sherman and was glossed by his aide-de-camp, "The 51st Ill does not belong to this part of the Army & by existing orders Genl Morgan should not have kept Lt. Coe with him." Morgan was allowed a rebuttal, however. Morgan said, among other things, that Coe was "faithful, active, capable, honest & [in] every way qualified to fill his position." Morgan went on, "His services are at present absolutely required with the Div. I am sadly in want of officers and have no one that can fill his place." Besides, Morgan said, Coe came to Morgan by the "consent and recommendation" of Coe's commanding officer (who would have been, in Autumn, 1862, Luther Bradley). Morgan prevailed, and Coe stayed in the East. He was there to participate in the Grand Review at Washington, D. C. in late May, 1865. Finally on July 8, 1865, Coe was ordered to join the Fifty-First. In late August, however, Coe was still in Washington, D. C. settling accounts with the Quarter Master General's Office. By then the regiment was in Texas preparing itself to muster out, and Coe never rejoined the regiment.

After the war Coe returned to Chicago. He was successful in business there and active in civic life. In 1867, Coe entered into a partnership with Aaron B. Mead and they formed a real estate company, Mead & Coe, which was still successfully in operation at the time of Coe's death (Waterman, p. 1220). Coe died on July 25, 1901 in Denver, where he had gone seeking to improve his failing health.

The paragraphs below detail some of Coe's business and community associations and activities. They are taken from Memorials of Deceased Companions of the Commandery of the State of Illinois Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States:

Coe, Old, in Chicago

Picture from same volume of MOLLUS memorials.

COMPANION ALBERT LYMAN COE was born in Talmage, Ohio, in 1835 [sic], and died in Denver, Colo., where he had gone to seek health and a rest, on July 25th, 1901. He was the son of the Rev. David Lyman Coe. one of the prosperous and influential pioneers of the Western Reserve, in Ohio. The father was a scholarly man and a graduate of Williams College and related to the late General and President R. B. Hayes. He died in 1836 when Albert Lyman was an infant, and his mother in 1838 married Dr. O. K. Hawley, a prominent and influential man, the intimate friend of Joshua R. Giddings, and Senator Benjamin Wade. Thus it happened that our companion from his earliest years came directly in contact with the avowed enemies of human slavery, when abolitionism was nearly as much an opprobrium in the North as in the South. Colleges were not so plentiful then as now, and young Coe only received academic instruction at Painesville for two years, and after, at Grand River Institute at Austinburg.

He was a strong, athletic lad, brave, cautious and prudent, and for such qualities he was chosen by the old abolition leaders to pilot in the darkness many a band of fugitive slaves fleeing to Canada for freedom. Thus life passed until he reached the age of eighteen years, when he resolved to strike out in the world and enter upon business.

He settled in Chicago, in 1853, and entered into the coal trade with the firm of L. R. Clarke & Co.; years later the name was changed to Coe & Carpenter, and so continued until the beginning of the war. Upon Mr. Coe's return from the war, he entered the real estate business under the well known firm name of Mead & Coe. During the war, in March, 1864, Major Coe was married to Miss Charlotte E. Woodward, daughter of Joseph Woodward, a leading merchant of Mansfield, Connecticut. During all the years of his life in Chicago, Major Coe was no drone. Modest almost to a fault, he yet took a deep interest in every work for the social, moral and financial upbuilding of the city. He was one of the organizers of the Union League Club. He was for many years Treasurer of the City Missionary Association, and Trustee and Vice-President of the Young Men's Christian Association. He was the financial adviser of the Young Woman's Christian Association, and upon the very day his death was announced in Chicago, two letters from him were received and read by that organization planning for large improvements in the near future. These letters, written in his sick room, evidence the deep interest of the man in these Christian benevolences, which commanded so much of his time and thought. Since its building, Major Coe was a director in the Auditorium Association, and for years a director of the Royal Trust Company bank.

He was a member of the New England Congregational Church from its organization in 1853, and when he died was one of the honored and loved deacons. He was a member of the Loyal Legion since 1879, also the Grand Army of the Republic, George H. Thomas Post, and loved both organizations. It was in September, 1861, he was compelled from a sense of patriotic duty to drop all and enter the army. He enlisted as a private in the Fifty-first Illinois Infantry, a Chicago Regiment. Before leaving camp he was commissioned second lieutenant; serving for a time in the Army of the Cumberland. Upon the organization of the Army of the Mississippi under General Pope, Lieutenant Coe with his command joined it, and took part in the siege and battles of New Madrid and Island No. 10. From New Madrid his command went to Fort Pillow and joined the main army on its march to Corinth at Hamburg Landing, in its movement under command of General Halleck. From Corinth he went in pursuit of the Confederate Army, and after was for some time stationed at Tuscumbia, and Decatur. From thence he was ordered to Nashville, and assigned to duty as Assistant Quartermaster on the staff of General Morgan, commanding First Brigade, Second Division of the Fourteenth Army Corps. He was in the campaign from Nashville to Chattanooga, the battle of Mission Ridge, the Atlanta campaign; went with Sherman to the sea, and marched through the Carolinas and to the Grand Review at Washington. He was mustered out of service at Springfield, Illinois, in November, 1865. Afterward, in 1875 until 1880, he helped organize the Illinois National Guard and served as Quartermaster and Major on the staff of General A. C. Ducat, and was on duty during the riots in Chicago in 1877. When he was called to settle his accounts at Washington in 1865 as Quartermaster, so complete and businesslike were his papers that not a change was required, and the department complimented him for the manner in which he had accomplished his difficult task.

It was thus that our companion in life proved equal to every task he assumed, or that was placed upon him by a confiding public. From the nature of his daily business, he had become the wise counsellor and adviser of scores and hundreds of orphans and widows who had little investments to make upon which their home life depended. He was a profoundly religious man, without a show of bigotry; interested in everything that would benefit the masses; and as his record clearly shows, he belongs in the great roll of patriots, fast going to their reward. We but honor the living, and do simple justice to the dead, when we honor the memory of a man, who willingly offered his life that the nation might live and the flag still float in its beauty and glory over the millions to follow.

Coe-in-uniform photograph courtesy of Nicolas Kaup of Northbrook, Illinois.

Albert Coe, Compiled Service Record, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917, Record Group 94, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

A[rba] N. Waterman, ed., Historical Review of Chicago and Cook County and Selected Biography, Three Volumes. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1908, p. 1220.

Memorials of Deceased Companions of the Commandery of the State of Illinois Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, From July 1, 1901, to December 31, 1911, Volume 2. Chicago, 1912, 10-13.

Harriet Taylor Upton, History of the Western Reserve, Two Volumes, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1910, Vol. 2, 1021-22.

1860 United States Census: Albert L. Cox, Chicago, Cook County, Wood & Coal, born Ohio,