Category Archives: Military History

Civil War Albany Rises To Action


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Shipment of Guns and Ammunition from the Watervliet ArsenalAs had happened during the French and Indian War and later the Revolutionary War, from the first days of the Civil War Albany was converted into a military camp. Lincoln’s original request for troops designated Albany, New York City and Elmira as military marshaling points. Troops from the entire northeast, including upstate New York as far west as Buffalo, east to Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts reported to Albany. Continue reading

Unique World War Poster Collection Being Auctioned


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image005On July 8-9, New York City-based auction house Guernsey’s will be conducting an unreserved auction of an extraordinary collection of patriotic posters relating to World War I, believed to be the largest such collection known to exist.

The collection is that of Brooklyn-born Edward H. McCrahon, who joined the French Army two years before the United States entered the war. Once the U.S. became involved, McCrahon returned home, joined the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of Colonel. During his stint in France he became interested by war poster art. At the end of the war, McCrahon began assembling his collection and by the mid-1930s his collection was widely exhibited. Continue reading

The First Days of the Civil War in Albany


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Fort Sumter Newspaper HeadlineEarly Sunday morning on April 14, 1861, barely two months after Lincoln left Albany, news arrived there that Fort Sumter had been fired on and surrendered. Fort Sumter was not far from Washington, and this news hit Albany like a shock wave.

New York State Governor Edwin D. Morgan called an emergency meeting of his staff and leaders of the Senate and Assembly that afternoon in the Executive Chamber in Albany. A bill was drafted calling for New York to appropriate $3 million to provision and provide 30,000 New York Militia to support the preservation of the Union. Continue reading

The Battle of Diamond Island on Lake George


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General Lincoln by Charles Wilson PealeToday it’s a State-owned island – a day use area for picnics – but Diamond Island witnessed a horrific bombardment by gun boats manned by Patriots during the American Revolution. The fight occurred during British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign to capture Albany. Initially, Burgoyne’s 9,000 man army had successfully captured Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence in July.

When Burgoyne’s progress stalled near Skenesborough (present-day Whitehall, NY), his supplies were quickly eaten up by his extended campaign. Since his large army could not easily live off the land, except for shooting an occasional deer or bear, or boiling up a captured rattlesnake or turtle, the 54-year old general established a long supply line back to Canada. It was anchored by Fort George at the southern end of Lake George and by Fort Ticonderoga at the northern end. Between the two forts, a supply depot, guarded by two companies of the 47th Regiment of Foot under Captain Thomas Aubrey was fixed on Diamond Island. Continue reading

Entering the Post Civil War Sesquicentennial Era


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lithograph of the Battle of Gettysburg from the Library of CongressA recent article “Made in New York: The Empire State at War,” in the Albany Times Union by Civil War historian Bill Howard reminded readers of New York’s central importance in the Civil War.

Howard noted, among other things, that New York governor Edwin Morgan began mobilizing troops for the war even before the surrender of Fort Sumter, enlisted about 450,000 soldiers during the war (more than half of the state’s population under 30), was a major supplier of arms and other war materials. Howard analyzes several other New York contributions and concludes that “the war could not have been won without New York’s contributions.” Continue reading

Plane Crash Wreckage Hike Recalls Mount Beacon 6


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Dixie Kiefer on the USS TiconderogaOn Sunday, November 11, 1945, a Navy Beechcraft twin engine transport plane traveling from Curtis Wright Airport in New Jersey to the Quonset Air Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, crashed near the northwest ridge of Beacon Mountain in the Town of Fishkill, New York.

Among the six men who lost their lives that day was Navy legend Dixie Kiefer, Commander of the Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and one of the World War II Navy’s best known figures. On Saturday June 20, 2015 there will be a hike to the site of the crash on Mt. Beacon, were some wreckage remains. Continue reading

The Oneida Nation Supported American Rebels


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Oneidas  at the Battle of Oriskany in 2009James Kirby Martin, a history professor at the University of Houston, traces his interest in the Mohawk Valley to his birthplace in northern Ohio.

Joseph Brant of the Mohawk Nation was born in what is now Ohio in 1743 and Martin was fascinated by Brant’s life. The younger brother of Sir William Johnson’s longtime consort Molly Brant, Joseph Brant and Sir William’s son John led devastating raids in the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolution.

Sir William, Britain’s Indian agent in our region, died in 1774 before the war. However, his good relations with the Iroquois Confederacy kept most of them on the side of the British during the Revolution. Continue reading

Artillery Day At Knox’s Headquarters


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American Revolution ArtilleryThe long barrel artillery piece or gun was a dominating presence on most of the battlefields of the American Revolution.  Firing solid iron balls out to distances of 1,000 yards and deadly shotgun blasts of caseshot, small iron balls, in a tin canister, up to 300 yards, the gun devastated enemy formations.  The larger versions battered down walls and smashed holes in great warships.

On Saturday, June 20th, from 11 am to 3 pm, Revolutionary War cannon firings every half-hour will highlight a program about the 1780-81 artillery encampment at Knox’s Headquarters in New Windsor, Orange County, NY. Continue reading

Mabee Farm’s Civil War Living History Day June 27th


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Mabee Farm Civil War DayOn June 27th the Mabee Farm Historic Site will present Civil War Living History Day from 10 am to 4 pm. Living history educators, historians, and musicians from across New York and beyond will be on hand to recall one of the tumultuous moments in American history.

The event will feature education and family entertainment including living history demonstrations of military life, a children’s military muster, the exhibit “Witness to Assassination: President Lincoln’s Death and the Schenectady Connection,” and a  musical performance by the 77th New York Regimental Balladeers. Continue reading

James Reynolds Day Salutes Revolutionary War Veteran


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IMG_0193More than a decade ago, Anne Hutchinson-Bronxville Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) member Virginia Reynolds Hefti was credited with helping to save the historic Mt. Zion Burial Ground – part of a historic corridor in Somers, NY – from the threat of commercial development.

Situated on both sides of Primrose Street, the historic corridor also includes the 1794 Mt. Zion Methodist Church (the second oldest surviving Methodist chapel in Westchester County), The Reynolds Homestead, and the Angle Fly Preserve, a 654 acre tract of open space. The historic church and burial ground are listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Continue reading

Hermione Arrives in U.S., Lafayette Exhibit Planned


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Hermoine arrives in Yorktown Virginia“She sails like a bird,” the Marquis de Lafayette wrote of the Hermione – the ship that carried him and a cache of materiel across the Atlantic in 1780 and which is the model for a modern replica which arrived in the United States on Friday.

The New-York Historical Society in Manhattan is celebrating Lafayette, the “Boy General” whose friendship with George Washington and diplomatic networks in Paris helped win the American Revolution with a new exhibit timed to the arrival of the Hermione. Continue reading

Grant Cottage Property Being Transferred To State Parks


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Grant CottageThe New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced that Grant Cottage State Historic Site, formerly part of the now closed Mount McGregor State Correctional Facility, will be part of a 750-acre parcel being transferred to Moreau Lake State Park.

Grant Cottage State Historic Site is the site where President Ulysses S. Grant died in July 1885.  Continue reading

Orange County Civil War Talk Wednesday


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gettysburgWilliam E. Mapes, a native of Florida, New York, volunteered in the summer of 1862 to save the Union. In this he was no different from any of the 300,000 men who signed up to fight in a war they had expected to be already over. President Lincoln and the loyal governors of the North called upon the eligible male population to enlist before conscription began. If they did so, they could serve with friends and neighbors in a regiment commanded by men they had known most of their lives. Continue reading

On Memorial Day Help Protect Fishkill’s American Revolution Cemetery


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Memorial Day the New York History Blog encourages you to take a moment to support Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot who are working to protect 10.4 acres that include an abandoned American Revolutionary War Soldiers’ Cemetery from commercial development.

In late 2007, an archaeological team rediscovered the cemetery on privately-owned land just south of the Van Wyck Homestead along U.S. Route 9 in Fishkill.  Fishkill served as the Patriots’ principal supply depot throughout the American Revolution, providing troops with supplies, weapons, ammunitions, transport, and food from 1776-1783.  The majority of the original 70-acre site has already been lost to commercial and transportation development. The Van Wyck Homestead served as the headquarters for what was George Washington’s principal supply depot during the Revolutionary War and is the site’s only remaining structure. Continue reading