This scene may look like it jumped out from a history book, as it is a Civil War Confederate encampment on a grassy knoll, next to a large pond, but it happened within view of this present day scene that was not very far away....
The Green-Wood Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, with the iconic skyscraper skyline of lower Manhattan within view. ( All photos will enlarge if double clicked on)
This past Memorial Day weekend there were many events that took place in historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY, to honor the sacrifice of the war casualties and veterans of the Civil War. This year is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the war. The Civil War resulted in more fatalities in the United Stated than any other conflict,combined.
Through The Civil War Project, Green-Wood Cemetery has identified over 4,600 Civil War veterans graves, third only to Arlington National Cemetery and West Point.
The Union reenactors encampment.
The Union reenactor encampment was located on the outside perimeter of the cemetery. Green-Wood Cemetery dates back to 1838, and it's elaborate Gothic Arch entrance can been seen in the photo above. The cemetery is 478 acres and contains 560,000 permanent residents.
Led by cavalry, reenactors, and musicians, there was a procession through the cemetery on Sunday, May 29 at 7 PM which passed thousands of candlelit graves of Civil War Veterans.
5th New York Volunteer Infantry, known in the Civil War as "Duryée's Zouaves."
Some of the Confederate reenactor marchers joining in. There are 76 identified Confederate veterans buried in the cemetery, including two Confederate Generals. The rest of the 4,600 were Union soldiers.
Almost a thousand people attended this special event. As we all marched in the cemetery we passed many reenactors standing at attention along the cemetery paths to honor the Civil War Veterans.
One personal, and touching moment for my husband occurred earlier in the day while working with fellow volunteers who were placing flags and luminaries on the known Civil War Veteran's graves. They were working from maps that had taken months of prior volunteer work to pinpoint each grave sites of the 4,600 men My husband was working in a section of the cemetery where the headstones were laying horizontally, and as he was trying to locate one last name on the map, he came across the grave of this young man who was killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. He was not yet listed as a Civil War soldier in the cemetery's database, so my husband felt very grateful that this young man's grave had been found and honored, literally by accident, because of this event.
As the sun went down and the parade continued through the cemetery, the luminaries began to glow and light the graves.
Many of the Civil War Veteran's did not even have a gravestone before the Civil War Project project began nine years ago. Through the effort of hundreds of volunteers, doing countless hours of research, they were identified, and stones were ordered from the Veteran's Administration to honor these men who served their country.
As night fell, and the parade was completed, evening ended in Civil War era songs and music. It was a very memorable evening, and one of three special events that went on at the cemetery this Memorial Day weekend
The Green-Wood Cemetery historian, Jeff Richman, curated a beautiful and extensive Civil War memorabilia exhibit called "Honoring Their Sacrifice,"which is located in the chapel inside the cemetery, and which will be open to the public until June 12, 2011.
There are fascinating artifacts on display. This uniform jacket of John Whitson Seaman on exhibit is missing an arm, as he was wounded in battle and the field doctor had to cut off his sleeve to access the wound to save his life. If you could see the actual size of this uniform you would think a child wore it as it is so tiny.
An authentic drummer boy drum. The first casualty of the Civil War for the New York Regiment in 1861 was the 12 year old drummer boy, Clarence McKenzie, killed by friendly fire in Maryland. I've blogged about Clarence on a prior post you can read at this link.
Some of the papers and drawings of Captain Samuel Sim. Sims was in command of the 51st during its attack on Confederate fortifications at the Crater, Petersburg, Virginia, on July 30, 1864. He was killed in battle while heroically leading his men.
Sims was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery on August 17, 1864. He left behind his fiancee, Caroline Eliza (Carrie) Dayton. Carrie Dayton never married and kept a large collection of the letters Sims had sent to her and other mementos he had passed on to her. She died in 1911. Other letters written by Sims to his sister Lucretia during the Civil War, along with his commissions and drawings, were passed down in his family until the family line ended with the last descendant.
In 1993 charities inherited the estate of this last descendant, and Sim's papers were thrown into the garbage! Fortunately, they were rescued from the trash bins outside the California house by a woman who recognized them as antique documents. Many of the documents were purchased by the great nephew of Carrie Dayton, Stuart MacPherson, who had inherited his great aunt's collection of Sim's mementos.
The Green-Wood Historic Fund has acquired the MacPherson collection of Sim's mementos, and they will never again be in danger of being lost or destroyed.
Original photos of Civil War Generals, Captians, and enlisted men.
Just a small portion of the many artifacts to be seen in the Honoring Their Sacrifice exhibit.
This brief New York One News video shows coverage of the event. I found what the woman reenactor said about the role women played in the war very interesting, and I'm sure you will too!
Linking this post to "Outdoor Wednesday" event on Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer. Thanks, Susan! Click the link to see the links to the many blogs participating this week.