Tag Archives: Civil War

12th U.S. Infantry Hosts Civil War Weekend in Peterboro


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nurses skirmish 2016The 12th Regiment U.S. Infantry Co. A (reenacting) and the Civil War Heritage Foundation will host the 25th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend from June 9 to 11. The 12th was first organized in 1798 and disbanded in 1800, raised again in 1812 and for the Mexican War. The regiment portrayed by the reenacting unit was organized by direction of President Lincoln on May 4, 1861. The 12th Infantry is still active.

As in many years past, “The 12th” (reenacting) will be encamped on the western half acre of the Peterboro Green and will be joined by several other military re-enacting units. The field is under the command of Captain Neil MacMillan. “The 12th ” participates in both local and national events as members of the U.S. Continue reading

Peter Hess: Civil War Reaches Albany


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 Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Albany's Washington ParkFollowing his election as President in 1860, Abraham Lincoln undertook a train ride to Washington that would take him through Albany. He arrived here on February 18, 1861 with his wife and three sons. As their train passed the West Albany railroad shops, an electrical switch was turned off at the nearby Dudley Observatory, causing an electromagnet mounted on the roof of the Capitol in downtown Albany to release a metal ball that slid down a pole, signaling to military officials to start a 21-gun salute in Capitol Park. Continue reading

Ulster County Civil War Soldier Survives Andersonville Prison


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There is an interesting headstone in the Pine Bush Cemetery in Rochester, Ulster County, NY on Route 209. If you are not looking for it, you will definitely miss it. It is unassuming, and partially overshadowed by the gas station next door. A closer look  reveals a remarkable story and the Civil War solider who lived it.

His name was David L. Wells, the son of a carpenter named Charles Wells. He was 18 when he enlisted in Company C of the 120th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Ulster Regiment, as well as Washington’s Guard. It was under the command of  Colonel George H. Sharpe. Wells enlisted in Rochester in Ulster County April 12, 1862. Continue reading

Children Who Served In The Civil War


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Johnny Clem On Thursday, April 27, from 7 pm to 9 pm. at the Senior Center (next to the Florida Library), at 4 Cohen Circle in Florida, NY, Civil War historian and re-enactor Yvonne Bigney will tell the story of 12 year-old Johnny Clem’s experience in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Clem was one of many children who served in the Civil War.  In 1863, escaped slave, “Contraband Jackson”, served as a drummer boy and stretcher-bearer in the 79th Infantry Regiment – U.S. Colored Troops. It was an all-black unit that incurred heavy casualties. Fifteen year-old Tillie Pierce served as a nurse at Gettysburg. They were just three of the thousands of boys and girls engaged in the Civil War; whether on the front lines or back home, active in vital adult roles that would astonish us today. Continue reading

The 1862 Binghamton Race Riot


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binhampton-ny-1876For a few hours on the night of October 7, 1862 in the village of Binghamton, N.Y., law and order vaporized when a mob of white men attacked black residents, their homes, and their churches. The trigger for this race riot was an interracial fight at the circus in town. According to the Broome Republican, the rioters’ expressed goal was to “clean the negroes out.”

Right after the circus performances ended, “all the colored persons present” were attacked. Many suffered bloody injuries at the hands – and stones and clubs – of 20 to 30 rioters. There was no organized resistance as the victims fled for safety. In addition, there were no arrests, or police presence or response. Continue reading

25th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend June 9-11, 2017


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12th-us-infantry-reenacting-drill-2016The Smithfield Community Association’s Civil War Weekend Committee is preparing for the 25th annual Peterboro event June 9 to 11, 2017. The event began a quarter century ago to raise funds to repair the Smithfield Community Center and to bring attention to Peterboro’s history.

Thanks to volunteers and sponsors, the event has raised money to continue to upgrade community buildings and acquire the Gerrit Smith Estate, as well as promote the history of Peterboro. Continue reading

Why New York Fought the Civil War


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recruitsWe will celebrate Presidents’ Day next month, on February 20. But we don’t celebrate Governors’ Day or anything similar. If we did, we might note the contributions of New York’s three Civil War governors — Edwin Morgan (R, 1859-1863) Horatio Seymour (D, 1863-1865) and Reuben Fenton (R, 1865-1869). All three were nationally known leaders at the time. Seymour was a critic of the wartime draft and other Lincoln administration domestic policies. Morgan and Fenton both went on to become United States Senators from our state, where they also played leadership roles. Seymour ran for president in 1868, losing to Ulysses S. Grant. Continue reading

New Book: Northern Men with Southern Loyalties


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northern-men-with-southern-loyaltiesIn the decade before the Civil War, Northern Democrats, although they represented antislavery and free-state constituencies, made possible the passage of such pro-slavery legislation as the Compromise of 1850 and Fugitive Slave Law of the same year, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, and the Lecompton Constitution of 1858.

In Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis (Cornell University Press, 2016) author Michael Todd Landis contends that a full understanding of the Civil War and its causes is impossible without a careful examination of Northern Democrats and their proslavery sentiments and activities. Continue reading

William Bastin: Pre-Teen North Country Civil War Soldier


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p1youngsoldierlocRecently in this column appeared the story of Selden Clobridge, a teenage Civil War soldier from Turin, New York, whose battlefield career ended at the grand old age of 18 after multiple wounds that included limb loss. About 85 miles northeast of Turin, an even younger soldier took it to the extreme, receiving his discharge from the army before he became a teenager.

William R. Bastin was born in December in the town of Lawrence, near the St. Lawrence County line, east of Potsdam. A headstone gives his birth year as 1852, which corresponds with his age in three of six census records and his obituary. Other census records disagree by a year, suggesting he was born in 1851—but by any measure, he was far too young to become a soldier.

When William enlisted at Malone on September 14, 1864, he gave his age as 16. But by most indications, including interviews as an adult, he was actually three months shy of twelve years old when he joined the army, purportedly as a drummer boy. Things didn’t work out as expected, though, and he instead became a child soldier. Continue reading