Civil War days, September 1861

Photo Courtesy of Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection. The New Paltz Academy opened on Sept. 16, 1861 with a new principal, Mr. David M. DeWitt and Mrs. Elizabeth Fanning, as his assistant. The former principal, Michael McN. Walsh had been chosen to represent our town in the Ellsworth Regiment NY Volunteers. The following were the rates of tuition for a full eleven week term in 1861: • Primary Department, embracing reading, writing and spelling, elementary arithmetic, geography and grammar $3. • Common English Branches, embracing arithmetic, geography, grammar, with parsing, manual history, first lessons in philosophy, elocution and composition $5. • Higher English and classics, embracing all the mathematics, astronomy, Latin and Greek, chemistry, philosophy, physiology, bookkeeping, rhetoric $7. • Extras, music $10; Music with instruments for practice $12; French $3. • Room and board (including fuel and light), For full week $2.50; for five days $2.


One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, the American Civil War began. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter, a United States military installation located in the harbor of Charleston, SC. During the next four years, more than 620,000 soldiers died and it remains the deadliest war in American history. Many of our readers do not realize the role that our townsmen played in the war and how the war affected our town. All over the country, events to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War will be taking place, including many in and around Ulster County. “Our Town” columnist, Carol Johnson — Coordinator of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz — will be providing us with tidbits of life in our community during the war with a new series of articles called “Civil War Days”. These gleanings will be taken from the original , the first weekly newspaper published in New Paltz.

The Ulster Guard, again mustering in the service of the United States, has established a camp on the parade ground between the villages of Rondout and Kingston, near the brow of Jacob’s Valley. [Where Barman Park is today.] Here is now an excellent opportunity for those who wish to enlist in the service of their country. The Twentieth is rapidly filling up, and is well officered. Capt. Hendricks, of Company G., would like a few more men to fill his Company. He has seen service, and informs us that the tents at the camp have board floors, and that the pay commences as soon as a person is mustered into service. Cannot four or five loyal men in the Town of New Paltz be induced to go? Each volunteer will be supplied with all the outfit of clothing allowed the regular army troops. [Note: By Sept. 18 there were 450 men in “Camp Arthur” named for Gen. Chester A. Arthur, the acting Quartermaster General and future U.S. President. All the soldiers received new uniforms and their “Snappy” appearance accelerated recruiting. Soon 150 more men from all over Ulster County would enlist.]



We understand that the “Ulster Guard” will make a parade on one of the days of the Ulster County Agricultural Society’s Fair.

The three months duty served has been fatal to some of the members of the 20th regiment since their return, and has brought several more down to beds of sickness. The disease which is doing the mischief is called the typhoid fever — by some called the Southern fever. We hear of several deaths about the county from this disease. One Mr. Hyatt, of South Rondout, and David Thomas and William Ostrander Jr. of this village have been very sick of late, their ailments seemingly taking the same form — something akin to the fever named.

M. McN. Walsh has been appointed Captain of Company E., Ellsworth Regiment. Several of our citizens have contributed money for the purchase of necessary side arms for Capt. Walsh, the New Paltz “Zouave.”

A meeting will be held at William Steen’s hotel, on Saturday evening, for the purpose of procuring recruits for the “Clinton Guard.” James G. Graham, Esq. will address the meeting. Sylvanus Bruyn, 1st Lieutenant of said Company, will be in attendance to enroll all who wish to join.

In an advertisement in this paper, it will be seen that the Trustees of the Academy in this village have made arrangements for the opening of that Institution, soon. They have secured the services of competent teachers and it is hoped that the inhabitants of Ulster will give this “home” Institution a liberal support.

An incident occurred at the “charivari” party on Monday evening, occasioned by the marriage of Mr. Bulmer. One J. R. Wood, on being aroused from sleep by the report of a cannon which was fired off near his residence, turned over in bed, and fell out on the floor, nearly breaking his neck. At least we have been informed that several discharges from the “baby-waker” took place before he was aroused to consciousness.


The naval expedition which left Fortress Monroe on Monday last week under Command of Major General Butler and Commodore Stringham has achieved a splendid success. The rebel fortifications at Hatteras Inlet, which were of vast importance in a military point of view, have fallen beneath the attack of our intrepid navy, and the occupants of the forts, among whom there are several distinguished officers, have been taken prisoners. Forty-five rebel officers, 665 non-commissioned officers and privates, 1000 stand of arms, 35 cannon, a large amount of ammunition and stores, and several small vessels, laden with cotton and tobacco, were captured through the bravery of our men. After the surrender, our whole force marched to the fort and the stars and stripes were raised amid great enthusiasm, the band playing Yankee Doodle. On receipt of the doings of Commodore Stringham in our village, flags were raised.

Thursday, the 26th, will be observed as a day of prayer for the safety of our Union and our free institutions. [Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated on a fixed day was in 1863 in an effort by President Abraham Lincoln to foster a sense of American unity between the Northern and Southern states.]

The Modena pole and flag raising which was to have been taken place on the 17th inst., has been adjourned in consequence of the rain to Wednesday 25th inst., or if the weather should prove stormy, on Friday afternoon, Sept. 27th — Thursday, being Thanksgiving day. We perceive from the bills for posting gotten out by the committee and the array of talent positively engaged, that the people of Modena mean to do a “big thing.” They have a “big” pole and they think the “biggest” flag in the county and certainly as “big” an array of speakers as could very well be called out. Notwithstanding the almost incessant rain, some four or five hundred were on the ground, but all seeing that the ladies could not safely and conveniently assemble in the beautiful Locust Grove, well prepared with seats and staging for the occasion, seemed mutually to demand an adjournment be made. Consequently, all who wish to have a splendid treat of eloquence, to see a fine pole and flag and to enjoy an afternoons devotion to their country, beneath its floating insignia, should remember that on Wednesday next, Sept. 25th, they can be gratified.

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