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August 2012


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Robert Sullivan <[log in to unmask]>
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A LISTSERV list for discussions pertaining to New York State history." <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 16 Aug 2012 10:32:57 -0400
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Events to mark Civil War's 150th

By Heather Nellis, Recorder News Staff

In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a pair of events
will be hosted by local historical groups this weekend that will
highlight Montgomery County's ties to the 19th century war between the
northern Union and southern Confederacy.

First, Old Fort Johnson will host a candlelit event Friday evening
from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., located at the intersection of Routes 5 and 67.

Entitled "Voices of the Civil War," it will feature readings from
letters, military reports and sketches. Visitors will be led through
select rooms in the old fort, where they will stop and listen to
excerpts from the various documents written by people from Montgomery

"The Civil War was the last war where nothing was censored, so a lot
of the letters hold unvarnished truths," said site Manager Scott
Haefner. "It's also rare to hear accounts of the events in first
person, so you really get a feel for the people who participated in
the war."

Selections include the letters of Palatine Bridge native Caroline Frey
Giddings, wife of a U.S. Army officer stationed in New Orleans during
the Civil War, and her husband, Grotius R. Giddings' military report
after the Battle of Gettysburg.

Others include an account by Corporal Frank N. Lane of the 32nd
Regiment, which was sent to and published by the Recorder during the
war, and a letter that Lane took "from a rebel's knapsack."

The guided, candlelight tours will be given regularly between 7 p.m.
to 9 p.m. Reservations are not required. Tours, which cost $5, will be
given on a first come, first served basis. There will also be local
Civil War items on exhibit.

On Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Heritage & Genealogical
Society, in conjunction with the Montgomery County Department of
History & Archives, will hold a "Camp Mohawk Day" at the Old County
Courthouse on Park Street in Fonda.

Camp Mohawk served as the training camp in August and October 1862 for
the 115th and 153rd New York Regiments, both consisting primarily of
men from Montgomery and Fulton counties.

Montgomery County Historian Kelly Farquhar said information is rather
scarce about the camp, noting there is no documentation about how long
the camp lasted, nor when it was disassembled.

But that's not to say there isn't information and artifacts from the
local soldiers who served the state's regiments, including pieces of
Col. Simeon Sammons' uniform and his sword, which will be on display
at Saturday's event.

Sammons commanded the 115th Regiment, which was known as the "Iron
Hearted Regiment." According to the Mohawk Valley Library System's
website, the regiment fought in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida,
in such battles as Harper's Ferry, Cold Harbor and Petersburg.

Author Mark Silo will be on hand Saturday to lecture about the
regiment, and a re-enactor will provide some demonstrations, Farquhar

Other items on display will include pieces from the Civil War outreach
kits the department assembled for local schools, like replica items
that would have been held in soldier's haversacks, and copies of
original documents, like letters and diary entries from soldier
Nicholas Degraff, a native of Tribes Hill who served in the 115th

"His diary talked about the end of the war, and Lincoln's
assassination," said Farquhar. "It was only a couple of sentences, but
it's from a kid who lived right in this area who was talking about
something as it happened. It's pretty amazing."

The event is open to the public and free of charge. Participants can
enjoy period musical entertainment of "Rural Felicity." A bake sale
will be available, and is described as a family-friendly event with
activities and games for kids.

A chicken barbecue will be provided by Texas BBQ. Tickets available
through members of the Heritage Society and at the Department of
History & Archives for $10, or purchase that day for $11.

For more information on any or all of these events, please call Old
Fort Johnson at 518-843-0300 or the Montgomery County Department of
History and Archives at 518-853-8186.

Bob Sullivan
Schenectady Digital History Archive
Schenectady County (NY) Public Library