More than 147 years ago, many soldiers from the Civil War came marching home. Many did not. In Waterloo, beginning in 1866, widows and family members visited the graves of the fallen soldiers to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The practice of remembering those who fought for freedom has continued each year in Waterloo, the Birthplace of Memorial Day.
This year, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, Waterloo will host an expanded Living History encampment on Oak Island. The weekend’s events are being coordinated by John Goloski of Potsdam, commander of the 148th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and Caren Cleaveland of Waterloo, Department Jr. Vice Commander, Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.
“We are honored and humbled to gather in Waterloo, Birthplace of Memorial Day, to show people how our forefathers and mothers lived during the War Between the States,” Cleaveland said. “Most of all, we pay tribute to the sacrifices of those who fought and died as well as those who tended the farms and businesses back home.”
Cleaveland said more than 720,000 people died during the four-year long Civil War - more than all the deaths in all the wars fought by the United States combined. “At Antietam, we lost 24,000 soldiers in one day(compared to the 2,961 US casualties to date in Iraq and Afghanistan reported by CNN.com on 4/25/2012). And 55,000 troops perished during the three-day battle at Gettysburg.”
Participating in this year’s Living History reenactments are the 148th New York Volunteer Infantry, the 140th New York Volunteer Infantry, the 28th New York Volunteer Infantry, 7th New York Cavalry, Reynolds Light Artillery, Carolyn Evans as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, Eleanor Sterns as Clara Barton and FritzKlein as President Abraham Lincoln and Gib Young as Teddy Roosevelt..
Activities will include musket cleaning and cannon firing, cooking, children’s games and crafts, musical performances, and a Sunday church service.
Since 1964, the recreated 148th has been educating the publicand paying homage to the original group of men who set off from the Finger Lakes area for the seat of war in the fall of 1862. The original 148th served with distinction in battles at Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Drewry’s Bluff, Chaffin’s Farm, Fair Oaks and numerous other battles and skirmished in the Appomattox Campaign in 1865. It saw five of its members earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, and one of its members, General John A. Murray, was a key figure in establishing a national day of remembrance for all the men who gave their lives during the way.
Citizens of Monroe County, mostly men from Rochester, organized the historical 140th NY in 1862. After a brief stay in fortifications around Washington, DC, the 140th saw action at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville;it met its most severe test at Gettysburg. No sooner had it arrived on the battlefield than the 140th was ordered into action on the slopes of Little Round Top. Although it was successful in defending the hill itwas a costly victory, with 133 men killed, wounded or missing. In the winter camp of 1863-64 the regiment was outfitted as Zouaves, with flamboyant uniforms patterned after elite French army units. When Grant took command of the Federal forces, and began the march to Richmond, the 140th lost 384 of its men in 39 days. The heaviest losses were at the Wilderness and Cold Harbor. By the war’s end, Sgt. Robert Shipley had earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, but only 245 of its original members answered the final muster.
The 140th also has a Civilian unit that shows how civilians participated inn and were affected by the Civil War. Many of the men and women who stayed home to care for farms, businesses, elderly parents or children were eager to do something to assist their local regiment, so they formed Ladies Aid/Soldiers Relief groups that made and collected food and other supplies to send to their boys. The Sanitary Commission and Christian Commission were two larger groups that supported the soldiers. Groups also formed to assist soldiers’ widows and orphans, as well as to promote abolition, temperance and women’s rights. Civilians also were hired by the army to follow the troops and work as laundresses, teamsters and contract surgeons. Newspaper reporters were frequent visitors to the front lines, as were family members who came to tend to their wounded or take bodies’ home.
Each July, the 140th sponsors an event at Genesee Country Museum, in Mumford, NY, to education the public about the role of soldiers and civilians in the war effort.
The 28th New York Volunteer Infantry was founded in 2002 whose members portray soldiers, nurses, housewives, sutlers, craftspeople, washerwomen and newspapermen. Members base their conduct on the values of the Victorian Age – modesty, good manners, detailed clothing designs and strict social decorum, such as politeness, decency, respect and honesty.
Reynolds L Battery Light Artillery fought at Antietam, Gettysburg and many other battles of the war. The Battery has 70 military and civilian members, two 3-inch ordnance rifles, and one of five workable traveling forges in the country. Its medical headquarters includes a special diet kitchen.
The 13h annual Celebrate Commemorate event will be held May 25-30 in Waterloo, the Birthplace of Memorial Day. For more information about the events, go to www.waterloony.com. or follow us on Facebook and twitter.
The 146th consecutive commemoration of Memorial Day will be on Monday, May 30. It will include prayer services, and the official Memorial Day parade, at 6 pm coordinated by the VFW.
Celebrate Commemorate Memorial Day Living History Schedule
May 25-27, 2012
Friday, May 25th
8:30 pm American Civil War Memorial Illumination & Remembrance at the American Civil War Memorial
Saturday, May 26th
Shuttle Service Starting 12:00-6:00PM
Concessions Available 10:00am – 7:00 pm
9:00am Civil War Living History Camp Per Camp Schedule
Oak IslandChildren’s Games & Crafts by148th NYVI Co. E Camp
9:30am Infantry Drill in the Demonstration Area
10:00am Live Cannon Firing Demonstration by Reynolds Battery L Camp
11:00-12:00pmCelebrate Commemorate Annual Parade down Main Street
12:00pm Live Cannon Firing Demonstration by Reynolds Battery L Camp
12:15pm School of the Musician by148th NYVI Co. E Camp
Theodore Roosevelt Meets Clara Barton at Pavilion 2
12:30 Civil War Surgeon/Clara Barton’s Work in the Battlefields at the Surgeon’s Camp
1:00 pm Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad at Pavilion 2
1:15pm President Lincoln Explains his Quotes at American Civil War Memorial
ACW Memorial Tour at American Civil War Memorial
1:20pm Chaplains of the Civil War at Pavilion 2
1:30pm Christian Commission at Reynolds Battery L Camp
1:45pm Dress Parade/Presidential Camp Observation & Inspections in the Demonstration AreaIncluding Cannon Firing
2:30pm Bayonet Drill in the Demonstration Area
Who Are the Daughters of Union Veterans? At the DUVCW Civilian Camp
3:00pm Pres. Lincoln/Harriet Tubman in the Demonstration Area
3:30pm Children’s Games & Crafts at Pavilion 2
4:00pm Military Music, “The Camp Duties” in the Demonstration Area
4:30pm Pictures/Autographs, Memorial Day Press Conference -A. Lincoln, C. Barton, H. Tubman, Teddy Roosevelt at the National Memorial Day Museum
5:00-6:00pm Dinner Hour
6:00pm Harriet Tubman Presentation at Pavilion 2
6:30pm President Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation at Pavilion 2
7:00-9:20pm Rebecca Colleen and the Chore Lads at Oak Island Campfire
7:30 pm Campfire & Dance at Oak Island
9:20pm 2 Live Cannon Firing Demonstration at Reynolds Battery L Camp
Fireworks at Oak Island
Sunday, May 27th
Shuttle Service 9:00am – 3:00 pm
9:15am Civil War Church Service at American Civil War Memorial
9:45am DUV Wreath Laying at American Civil War Memorial
Civil War Living History Camp Per Camp Schedule at Oak Island
10:15am Sojourner Truth Presentation on Slavery at Pavilion 2
10:30am Live Cannon Firing Demonstration by Reynolds Battery L Camp
11:00am Civil War Surgeon at Surgeon’s Camp
Civil War Cooking Demonstration by 148th NYVI Co. E Camp
12:00pm Live Cannon Firing Demonstration by Reynolds Battery L Camp
12:30pm Soldier Camp Games on Oak Island
1:00pm Christian Commission by Reynolds Battery L Camp
Women’s Rights Presentation at M’Clintock House, E. Williams St.
1:30pm Chaplains of the Civil War at Pavilion 2
Children’s Games & Crafts by 148 NYVI Co. E Camp
2:00 Musket Cleaning Demonstration/How does it work?inDemonstration Area
3:00 Live Cannon Firing Demonstration by Reynolds Battery L Camp