On September 7, 1864, William Whitlock, aged thirty-five, left his wife and four children in Allegany, New York, to join the Union army in battle. More than 100 years later, his unpublished letters to his wife were found in the attic of a family home.
These letters serve as the foundation for Allegany to Appomattox: The Life and Letters of Private William Whitlock of the 188th New York Volunteers, by Valgene Dunham (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2013), which gives readers a vivid glimpse into the environment and political atmosphere that surrounded the Civil War from the perspective of a northern farmer and lumberman. Continue reading
George Chahoon, a man who lived in the North Country for 60 years, mostly in Ausable Forks, was the focus of two of the most remarkable incidents in the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War.
When the South seceded, it had named Richmond, Virginia, as its capital city. During the post-war years, appointees chosen by the military were placed in power to guide the recovery. Then in 1868 George Chahoon, a native of Chenango County, but a Virginia resident for most of his 28 years, was installed as mayor of Richmond, replacing a popular leader who had served in the position for 15 years. Continue reading
Before 1913, when the Seventeenth Amendment requiring the direct election of U.S. Senators went into effect, the state legislature elected them. In the pre-Seventeenth Amendment era, 150 years ago, one of the most tangled and acrimonious U.S. Senate elections took place.
The term of the incumbent Republican U.S. Senator, Preston King of Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, was set to expire on March 3, 1863. King sought reelection but powerful forces within the Republican Party led by the aging party boss Thurlow Weed and former U.S. Senator William H. Seward opposed King, as did the Democratic Party. King’s political fate would be decided by the newly elected 1863 legislature after it organized itself for business on January 6, 1863. Continue reading
On November 8 and 9, 2013, Cayuga Community College in Auburn, NY will host “Harriet Tubman: No Longer Underground,” a two-day symposium marking the centennial of the death of Harriet Tubman in 1913.
Co-Sponsored by the Harriet Tubman Boosters Club, the Seward House Museum, and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, the symposium will celebrate the life and work of the heroic African American woman who escaped slavery, conducted other slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad, served the Union Army during the Civil War, and worked as a humanitarian and advocate for women’s rights throughout the 50 years she lived in Auburn. Continue reading
Nationally acclaimed folk musicians Jay Ungar and Molly Mason along with Kim and Reggie Harris will present a free concert at the Clark Auditorium of the New York State Museum in Albany at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday, September 21st. The concert features Civil War music and highlights a weekend celebration of the Museum’s award-winning exhibition “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.” Continue reading
A newly minted bronze statue of celebrated abolitionist and human rights advocate Sojourner Truth as a child slave at work will be installed in Port Ewen, in the Town of Esopus, Ulster County on September 21. The statue and an interpretive sign will be installed on a plaza on the corner of 9W and Salem Street.
Sojourner Truth was born in into slavery in Swartekill, just north of present-day Rifton in Esopus. Her parents had been enslaved in Africa and purchased by Col. Johannes Hardenbergh. She was born as Isabella Baumfree in about 1797, and lived the first 30 years of her life in Ulster County, taking the name Sojourner Truth in the 1840s. She is best known today for her speech “Ain’t I A Woman?’, which she delivered off-hand at the 1851 Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. She died in Michigan in 1883. Continue reading
In late August, the Sons of Veterans Commemoration of Civil War veteran George Ehle was held at the Trumansburg Cemetery (Tompkins County). It was attended by a number of the Sons of Union Veterans, a Boy Scout Troop, at least a half dozen descendants of Ehle, and a few spectators. Tompkins County Civil War Commissioners in attendance were Danny Wheeler, Ray Wheaton, Ralph Jones. George Boyer, Marcia Lynch and Michael Lane, co-chair of the Commission. Danny Wheeler led the program and Michael Lane spoke briefly for the Commission. Continue reading
The Civil War comes alive as never before in an extraordinary collection of colorized photographs from the era in The Civil War in Color (Sterling Books, November 2012) by John C. Guntzelman.
Not only does it feature portraits of famous leaders and ordinary soldiers but also vignettes of American life during the conflict: scenes from urban and plantation life; destroyed cities; contested battlefields. The 200+ photographs, from the Library of Congress’s archives, include both well-known and rarely seen images. Also inside–a fine art ready-to-frame photographic print of a stunning colorized Civil War photograph. Continue reading
The American Civil War represents the first time that a staggering number of women, from both the North and the South, disguised themselves as soldiers to fight for their country. Lisa Potocar present a program about these women and their motivations at Schenectady County Historical Society September 12th.
Lisa Potocar was born and raised in Upstate New York. Potocar’s historical novel about female Civil War soldiers, Sweet Glory, won First Place in the Young Adult category of the 2009 Maryland Writers’ Association’s and SouthWest Writers’ Novel Contests. It also advanced as a semi-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough (YA) Novel Awards. Continue reading
A new exhibit of Civil War battle flags, “1863: Loyal Till Death,” is on display at the State Capitol, featuring ten flags carried upon the distant battlefields in the third year of the war, including those from the war’s most decisive stage, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
This exhibition includes special flags procured and presented to regiments by local patrons and politicians, unique personalized flags, and battle-damaged colors that, like the regiments they represented, were mere fragments of their once pristine and whole existence. Continue reading
Why don’t Americans decorate with battle streamers from the War of 1812 or re-enact battles from the Spanish-American war? Why is the Civil War still so compelling to Americans that many of us care passionately about its symbols, moments and legacies? From veterans’ organizations to battlefield re-enactments, Americans engage with the Civil War in varied ways, assigning multiple meanings to this divisive moment in America’s past.
On Saturday, July 27, a free talk at the New York State Museum explores these diverse meanings, questions why this particular moment in American history continues to fascinate and enrage Americans and uses the Civil War’s Sesquicentennial to examine the complicated relationship between history, memory and culture in America. Continue reading
The Adirondack History Center Museum is offering the third lecture in the Elizabeth HW Lawrence Summer Lecture Series tonight, Tuesday, July 23 at 7pm. The lecture features author and historian, Morris Glenn, presenting On the Trail of the USS Monitor about the Crown Point iron mining industry and its role in the Civil War.
On Tuesday evenings the museum remains open until 7pm and all are invited to view The Human Face of the Adirondacks in the Civil War exhibit, the Worked/Wild exhibit, and the updated Fire Tower exhibit. Admission to the exhibits is free with the purchase of a lecture ticket. Continue reading
Slavery nearly destroyed this country. We now mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which many consider to have been a battle over slavery. But in the big picture, the battle over slavery has been ongoing since this nation was formed. In our infancy, it was outlawed in some states but not in others. With great gall and to our utter embarrassment, we called ourselves the Land of the Free. In fact, when Francis Scott Key wrote those words in 1814, about half of the states allowed slavery.
There were still plenty of lynchings 150 years later when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. That time is now 50 years past, yet there’s still plenty of bigotry and racism to go around. Judging by where we stand today, it’s shameful to suggest that we’ve come far. More than two centuries, and this is the best we can do? Continue reading
The New York State Museum, a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education, has received an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) for its exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.
The 7,000 square-foot exhibit, which opened on September 22, 2012 in Exhibition Hall, is now extended through March 23, 2014. Continue reading
The sights and sounds of the Civil War will fill the air at the 12th annual Civil War Reenactment Weekend Saturday and Sunday July 27-28, at Robert Moses State Park, in Massena.
The event is part of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s (SLCHA) commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which began in 1861. Continue reading
When what has been described as “the second most destructive draft riot in the nation” broke out in Troy on July 15, 1863, worried city residents, especially African-Americans, wondered if the Dean of the Roman Catholic churches in Troy, Father Peter Havermans, would, or could, do anything to calm the rioters and curb anticipated violence.
The bulk of the two to three thousand angry protestors in the streets were Catholics who worked in the city’s mills, factories and iron works. Continue reading
While reviewing some Civil War materials, I encountered mention of the New York City Draft Riots, which reminded me of my own experience with the draft back in the late 1960s. Whether there was a war or not, I had no interest in joining the military, but it was out of my hands. Vietnam was getting worse instead of better, and more troops were being sent. When I became eligible to go, America switched to the draft lottery.
While I was still in high school, my number (based on birthdays) came up in the 200s, so I didn’t have to go unless I enlisted. That wasn’t the case for men aged 18–45 during the Civil War. They had options, and not being drafted was one of them.
Few people realize that a draft of sorts was used even in the 1700s, a century before the Civil War, and that it was very similar in nature. The call for troops emanated from a central authority, whether it was the Continental Congress, or later, the President (or the Secretary of War). Continue reading
The New York State Museum has added two important artifacts to its current exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.
The artifacts include the notes taken by two physicians who attended President Lincoln on his death bed and the only existing oil painting of Dred Scott, the African American slave whose 1858 Supreme Court trial pushed the nation to the brink of Civil War.
It’s guaranteed that you’re going to enjoy this, another unique North Country link to the Civil War. It sounds like something culled from the pages of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and begs the question: what the heck are the odds of that happening?
Though I can’t answer the question, I do recall that in my former employment, it was notable when three men all having the same first name worked in the same department. So what can you say about “The One-Legged Jims,” a group of three Civil War veterans? Continue reading