Albert C. Ward (1841-1912), aka Daniel S. Ward, Capt. Dan Ward, N. W. Page, A. C. Wood, V. C. Ward, Andrew J. West, Colonel Sellers, William H. Morgan, H. W. Keller, etc. — Swindler, Forger
Chief Byrnes’s entry on Daniel S. Ward wastes no time in making the sensational claim that Ward was a suspected Confederate agent involved in the attempt to burn New York City on Election Day in November, 1864. However, after tracking Ward’s activities during the Civil War and for the forty years following the war, a pattern emerges of a boastful, homeless, friendless alcoholic dedicated to one purpose in life: swindling others. No sane military authority would have trusted Ward in any capacity. At most, Ward might have heard gossip of the incendiary plot, and in turn blabbed about it while in his cups. He was sent to jail at New York’s Fort Lafayette on Election Day, 1864, but was released soon afterward.
Albert C. Ward was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1841 to David S. Ward and Martha Ann Wood. Martha was the second wife of David S. Ward, and Albert was her first child with Ward (she had also been married earlier). David S. Ward died in 1851 (when Albert was 10); Martha then married for the third time to wealthy carriage-maker Thomas W. Harding in 1858.
At the onset of the Civil War, Albert C. Ward joined the Indiana Volunteers of the Union forces. In January 1862, while in Washington, D.C., Ward found a like-minded young soldier from a New York regiment to carouse the town with, and they wandered from bar to bar. Finally, when both were drunk, Ward knocked his companion down with a stick, grabbed his pistol, and fired it near the man’s face while he was on the ground. Then he stole $280 the soldier was carrying. Ward was traced to Baltimore and arrested. He was tried and convicted, and sentenced to eight years in prison. However, Albert’s mother and step-father interceded on his behalf, and he was granted a pardon by President Lincoln.
By the following year, 1863, Albert C. Ward was in Louisville, Kentucky (perhaps with relatives, since his mother was originally from Kentucky). He was arrested in June of that year for “obtaining $10 by false pretenses.” He was detained for trial for four months on $500 bail. Finally, when his case came up in January 1864, it was decided not to prosecute him, and he was discharged.
Ward later claimed to have been a member of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s raiders, who harassed Union forces along the northern Kentucky border. There is no evidence this was true; or that he was ever a member of any Confederate unit.
After the effort to start fires at several New York hotels failed in late November, 1864, newspaper reports surfaced that General Dix, the military commander in charge of defending New York, had been warned of such a plot early in November by information from a man named Ward. Ward was briefly detained at Fort Lafayette, and then released. This claim has not been officially documented, so once again it may have been nothing more than an idle boast by Ward.
On April 5th, 1865, Ward was arrested as a suspicious character in Baltimore. He admitted to being a former rebel soldier, but said he had deserted. In 1866, Ward was found in Bergen County, New Jersey and in New York City, defrauding hotel keepers and soliciting loans that were never repaid. He was still at it in 1871, in a typical Ward adventure:
Ward was sentenced to 2 and a half years in Sing Sing in 1895. He was jailed again in Indianapolis in 1898 and in 1907 in Chicago. He tried passing forged checks again in Boston in 1908, and was sentenced to another three years. Afterwards, he returned to Indianapolis and died there in 1912, at age 71. To the end, he insisted he had been a member of the “Confederate Army of Manhattan” that had tried to burn down the city in 1864.