Civil War Remembrance Day

Donlon Park (photo by Will Dendis)

It lasted four long years. The toll was horrendous; over 750,000 Americans died in combat and of disease, more Americans than were lost in all other wars combined. Of the fallen, 88 were from Saugerties. On Sunday, Sept. 16 the American Legion Lamouree-Hackett Post 72 will sponsor a Civil War Remembrance Day at Donlon Park on Partition Street to commemorate the men who gave their lives to preserve the Union.

In addition to the Legion Post, the day is also sponsored by the Saugerties Historical Society, the Veterans in a New Field musical group, and Heritage Folk Music.

William Payne, a member of the Legion Post and the Veterans in a New Field, said the day was chosen because it is the Sunday before Sept. 17, the date of the Battle of Antietam. Fought near Antietam Creek just outside Sharpsburg, Maryland, it was the first major battle in the North, and with 23,000 casualties on both sides, it remains to this day the bloodiest single day in American history.

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The Irish Brigade, many of whom were from Saugerties and Ulster County, suffered heavy losses during the battle, which, Payne said, showed Britain that the North could not only defend itself but also win a significant battle, thereby keeping Britain out of the war. At that time, Britain was considering backing the South, chiefly for economic reasons; its textile mills were heavily dependent on southern cotton.

The victory also spurred President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, which not only freed the slaves, but also allowed them to sign up for the Union army.

In addition to serving in the Irish Brigade, Saugertesians also served in the 120th New York, which formed in 1862 in Kingston, and included men from throughout Ulster and Greene counties.

The event begins at noon with period music from the Veterans in a New Field and bagpiper Peigi Mulligan in Donlon Park on Partition Street, behind the VFW. At 12:30 p.m. the names of those who fell in the Civil War, which are inscribed on a statue in the park, will be read. A salute will be fired by Civil War re-enactors, followed by the playing of Taps. According to Payne, this past July marked the 150th anniversary of the writing of the song. The group will also sing the words to it, which most folks have probably never heard, Payne said. Following this, there will be tours of the Legion museum’s collection of Civil War artifacts. The Saugerties Historical Society will also display its collection of items. The program will conclude at 2 p.m.

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