Thursday, April 14, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial

Tuesday, April 12, marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. A special exhibition commemorating the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States has been assembled at the Hendrick Hudson Chapter House of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The exhibition opens tomorrow night with a gala reception from 6 to 9 p.m. The following is a press release from the DAR about the exhibition.  

The flag of the United States of America is the symbol of our national unity, transcending all internal differences.

Soldiers have planted and waved the Stars and Stripes after victorious battles and at homecomings since Revolutionary times. Military outfits often had their own flags as well. The one-of-a-kind flag of the 128th Regiment, which enlisted men from Columbia and Dutchess counties to fight for the Union cause in the Civil War, is the centerpiece of an exhibit commemorating the sesquicentennial of the war.

ONE Nation . . . opens Friday, April 15 at the Hendrick Hudson Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution’s Chapter House at 113 Warren Street in Hudson. The gala runs from 6 to 9 p.m. The public opening for the exhibit is Saturday, April 16, from 1 to 4 p.m.

The exhibit of weaponry, uniforms, Union and Rebel flags, documents and other items from the DAR’s holdings tell the story of this regiment, from campfires to the frontlines, and describe the heartfelt sentiments from the home front during the Civil War era.

In 1865, the returning 128th Regiment brought home their tales of glory and suffering, but their battle worn flag arrived before them. The silk flag was made by Tiffany & Co. in New York City and was presented to the regiment by the women of Columbia and Dutchess counties. It was returned to the women of Hudson in 1863 by order of Col. James Smith, who was commander of the regiment at the time, and was to be displayed at public occasions to honor the memory of Col. David S. Cowles, who founded the regiment and died in action at the Battle of Port Hudson, LA.

The Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the DAR was given this torn and tattered flag many years ago. Pieces of it remain on the large staff that is also in the Chapter House. As plans progressed to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in 2011 to 2015, the significance of this flag moved front and center, and the Chapter began to raise funds for its restoration by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Bureau of Historic Sites in Peebles Island. Generous grants have been received from the Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation and The Bank of Greene County Foundation but did not cover the entire cost. The Chapter hopes to raise the remainder from the gala, public opening and continued support from the community. All donations are tax-deductible.

The April 15 gala, admission to which is $25 per person, will feature presentations by Civil War artist Mark Maritato and noted sculptor Ron Tunison, whose works are on display in Gettysburg. Walter Smythe of the Civil War Heritage Foundation appears as General Ulysses S. Grant and shares what was discussed with President Abraham Lincoln regarding treatment of the South after the war. The table that Grant and Lincoln sat around aboard the River Queen is in the Chapter’s holdings. The highlight of the evening is the unveiling of the newly restored Regimental flag, which has not been available for public view in almost a decade.

Visitors will be greeted by members in period dress and treated to a host of refreshments, from fresh cheese and vegetables, to wines and punches.

The grand opening on April 16 includes presentations by Smythe and author Richard Copley, and music by the 77th Regimental Balladeers. Docents in period dress will give guided tours. Admission is $5 per person.

The Hendrick Hudson DAR has partnered with Greene County’s Civil War commemorative festivities. Greene’s sesquicentennial kick-off is set for Saturday, May 28 from 11 a.m. to noon on the courthouse steps. Women in period dress will then proceed to the Thompson Street Cemetery to decorate veterans’ graves.

There is a Civil War event at Olana State Historic Site in Greenport the same day.

Tours of the DAR exhibit continue on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. through Columbus Day weekend and by appointment. For more information call 828-9764 and leave a detailed message.

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