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Monumental anniversary

Nation marks 150 years since start of Civil?War

February 27, 2011
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

Communities throughout the United States are set to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War this year.

While the anniversary will draw extra attention to the conflict and the men that served in it, monuments - including those in the area - have long stood to remind citizens of the bloody price paid during the war between the states.

In Fonda, there is a monument dedicated to the 115th and 153rd Regiments of N.Y. Volunteers.

Article Photos

Part of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is shown Tuesday at the corner of East State and East Main streets in Johnstown. The monument was created to honor soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil?War.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor

Kelly A. Farquhar, the Montgomery County historian and records management office, said the monument - located on the lawn west of the Old Court House - is dedicated to those two regiments because many men from Montgomery County served in them.

"Those were the two main regiments men from Montgomery County served in, but not the only ones," Farquhar said.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic was given permission in 1930 to put the monument at its current site, according to a resolution from the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors.

According to the website for the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic - - it is the oldest women's hereditary organization in the United States. It sprang from efforts by women during the war to help Union troops, and after the war to help veterans.

"During the years 1861-65 various societies of women formed to aid and support the 'Boys in Blue' as they fought to save our Union. Upon the formation of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1866 many of these women continued their efforts to aid the veterans and their dependant ones," the website said.

Event planning

Farquhar said many people have been asking her if local events are planned to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the Civil War. So far, she said, ideas are still being discussed but nothing is scheduled yet. Next year, the 150th anniversary of the formation of the 115th and 153rd regiments also could be commemorated.

She noted that budgets across the nation are strained, so not as much money has been provided to commemorate the anniversary as people may expect.

In December, it was reported New York state government failed to provide any money to commemorate the conflict it played a major role in winning.

New York state contributed 448,000 troops and $150 million to the Union's cause during the Civil War, not to mention untold tons of supplies, food, guns and munitions. More than 200 New York infantry, cavalry and artillery units served in nearly every campaign of the war, from Gettysburg to Vicksburg.

In addition to providing the most soldiers during the war, New York suffered the most casualties, with 46,000 killed. Monuments and memorials to their sacrifice can be found across the state.

Peter Betz, the Fulton County historian, said one prominent monument erected to honor to men who served in the Civil War is located near the Union Hall Inn in the city of Johnstown.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, at the corner of East?State and East Main streets in Johnstown, started as an idea in the winter of 1908 among members of Fulton?County's McMartin G.A.R. Post 257. Money was raised that spring, Betz noted in a previous column for The Leader-Herald, but finding a site was more difficult.

The owner of the site where the monument sits had to agree to a property swap with the city, which was then approved by voters.

Betz wrote in his column that the three stone figures on the monument represent the artilley, cavalry and the navy. The bronze figure at the top represents "everyman," the nameless thousands of infantry soldiers who did not see home again.

Noel Levee, the city of Johnstown historian, said the monument to soldiers and sailors also certainly would have been meant to honor those who served with the 115th and 153rd regiments. He said many men from Johnstown volunteered to serve with the regiments when they were created in 1862 at what was called Camp Mohawk, just north of Fonda.

Levee said this monument, and numerous other Civil?War monuments in the area, provide a reminder to people about a history they may be connected to.

"You look at the roster [of a regiment], the names are still here," he said.

A war memorial monument also was erected in Northville in 1927. One bronze panel on the granite monument, located near the north property line of the village square, represents the Civil?War

Betz said the anniversary - like any other - helps generate interest among the public to learn about the experiences of those who fought, and those who died, during the Civil?War.

"Hopefully, it will make them cognizant of sacrifices made by past generations," he said.

A committee was formed "at the grass roots level to promote and develop a series of programs, encampments, displays, and exhibits utilizing both an educational theme along with a commemorative blend, honoring the citizens who sacrificed so much during New York's historic involvement in the Civil War," its website - - said.

The website - which can be accessed via the National Parks Service's Civil?War website at - includes a list of events that are happening to celebrate the sesquicentennial around the state.



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