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B.A. Vanderkieft

B.A. Vanderkieft

Federal (USV)


Bernard Albert Vanderkieft

(1829 - 1866)

Home State: New York

Education: Military Medical School (Utrecht, 1850), University of Leuven, Class of 1858

Branch of Service: Medical

Unit: 102nd New York Infantry

Before Antietam

After graduating from medical school in 1850 he served as a Surgeon 3rd Class in the Dutch Navy in the Dutch East Indies to 1856, returned to school, in Belgium, and briefly practiced medicine in Brussels. He arrived in America on 25 September 1861.

Giving his age as 36 (he was 32), on 6 November 1861 he enrolled in New York City and mustered as Assistant Surgeon of the 53rd New York Infantry on 12 November. He mustered out with them on 12 March 1862. He was briefly a US contract surgeon at the Douglas Hospital in Washington, DC, then enrolled again for war service and mustered as Surgeon of the 102nd New York Infantry on 1 June 1862.

On the Campaign

He was Surgeon in Charge of the field hospital known as the Antietam Hospital at Smoketown near the battlefield. In his Report Medical Director Letterman noted:

There were many cases both on our right and left whose wounds were so serious that their lives would be endangered by their removal, and to have every opportunity afforded them for recovery the Antietam hospital, consisting of hospital tents, and capable of comfortably accommodating nearly 600 cases, was established at a place called Smoketown, near Keedysville ...

Surgeon Vanderkieft, U.S. Volunteers, who was in charge of the Antietam hospital, was unceasing in his labors, and showed a degree of professional skill and executive ability much to be admired.

The rest of the War

While still assigned to Smoketown, he took the Federal exams and was appointed Assistant Surgeon, US Volunteers on 11 March and Surgeon on 26 March 1863. In May 1863 the Antietam Hospital was closed and he was assigned to take charge of the "Naval School" Hospital on the Naval Academy grounds in Annapolis, MD (the USNA had been temporarily moved to Newport, RI). He served there to the end of the war. He was honored by brevet to Lieutenant Colonel on 15 March 1865 for his war service and mustered out on 15 November 1865.

After the War

He died less than a year later at the home of Dr William S Ely in Rochester, NY, not quite 37 years old, apparently precipitated by the death of his wife.

References & notes

His service from the NY Adjutant General1 and Heitman.2 Personal details from Mike Fitzpatrick's bio in Military Images of March/April 2001 [page images] and his obituary in the New York Times of 16 September 1866. His gravesite is on Findagrave. His photograph also from Mike Fitzpatrick, posted to his flickr stream. Thanks to Tom DeNardo for the nudge to add Dr Vanderkieft.

He married the "young and beautiful" Josepha L. S. Biget (b 1834) before 1861, but she became ill while working in the hospital with him and died in September 1865. He was buried next to her in Green Mount Cemetery a year later.

Dr William Child worked with Dr Vanderkieft at Smoketown. His wife Caroline had their second son on 28 November 1862 and they named him Bernard Vanderkieft Child; that's quite a testimonial.


10/09/1829; Utrecht, HOLLAND


09/08/1866; Rochester, NY; burial in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD


1   State of New York, Adjutant-General, Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of New York [year]: Registers of the [units], 43 Volumes, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1893-1905, For the Year 1900, Ser. No. 25, pg. 644; 1902, Ser. 33, pg. 674  [AotW citation 28509]

2   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, Vol. 1, pg. 981  [AotW citation 28510]