Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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.

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.

Union reenactors marchers from the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, known in the Civil War as "DuryƩe's Zouaves."

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.

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Donnie said...

What a special way for them to honor the fallen. My son was a reenactor in 1990 and really enjoyed it but life got in the way and he had to give it up. You took some really great photos.

Ginny Hartzler said...

You got so many very good pictures! And their uniforms all look very new and clean. The luminaries are pretty, and even prettier on the video. Not right that the women had to try and get the men's bodies back. Actually, there were many children in the war, I was just looking at pictures of therm in the paper. They had on their uniforms and were holding their bayonets. We have many Civil War battle sites here and also reenactments.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Oh Pat, What a wonderful way to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend. We never need to forget those men and women who fought and are fighting for our freedom.

I enjoy Reenactments... We've seen several through the years since hubby is a Civil War buff.... The one at Green-Wood Cemetery looks fabulous.. It's great that you got to attend.

Thanks for sharing.

Barbara F. said...

I love this Pat. A great way to spend Memorial Day. I think it was not a coincidence that Vinny found that grave. xo,

Michelle said...

A wonderful event for Memorial Day. We attended a re-enactment at Perryville, KY, several years ago. They did the whole charge up a hill, battle, and all. I have to admit it was something to witness.

Vee said...

It was interesting, but only local women would have had that kind of access. When I was teaching high school history classes, one of my favorite lessons on the Civil War involved a walk through local cemeteries where we soon discovered that there were almost no soldiers brought home for burial. There were veterans who had died at home some years later, but very few death dates from 1861–1865.

Vinny really must have had a huge sense of accomplishment setting the information straight on the grave he found. I bet he had tingles going up and down his arms and legs. Amazing!

You made me laugh as I imagined you reading my blog today and praying that I wasn't going to enlist your help to find Hezekiah. Ha! I feel such a sense of closure knowing where he is and knowing how hard we tried to find him. I asked the Lord to tell my mother and Nan and then laughed at how silly that was. They've probably already met.

Thank you for another great post!

The French Hutch said...

What a wonderful tribute to those honored, and how beautiful it must have been with all the luminaries lit. This was a wonderful way to spend Memorial Day weekend. Thanks for sharing your photos through this post. I'll be your newest follower.

The French Hutch

La said...

I doubt these soldiers ever thought they would be honored so many years later. Thank you for sharing a fascinating glance at this memorial tribute.

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

Such a somber and fitting tribute. Thank you for sharing.

PS: I adore the "my grandsons" photo in your sidebar!

PSS: My daughter was induced this afternoon and I should have grandson #2 by morning! :o) (Keeping it quiet tho, so as to not jinx anything.)

podso said...

A moving post and wonderful tribute. It's so good to remember.

Sarah said...

Pat, this must be an amazing event. I'd love to attend some time. As always, you photos give one the sense of being there. Thank you! How wonderful that your husband discovered the grave. ~ Sarah

Yvette said...

Oh this is wonderful, Pat. What a great day of rememberance. And such wonderful pictures! I'm going to post a link on my Facebook page. As usual, you did a great job.

I was talking about your blog on Monday at Julianna's birthday party. Just singing your blog's praises. :)

GailO said...

What a perfectly wonderful way to spend Memorial Day! The Civil War enactors must have a lot of fun!

Light and Voices said...

Great Historical Pictures! See you next week.
Joyce M

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

This is such a fantastic post! Isn't wonderful that your husband was able to have a forgotten soldier added to the list!

I love reading about women in the Civil War, they played a very important part, in the North and South.

Your photos of all the exhibits a amazing. Thankfully all those important documents were rescued.

Have a wonderful week!


A Bit of the Blarney said...

A bit late but a grand post nonetheless!!! I have linked your post to today's Adventure Tour Express! Cathy

Lynn said...

The reenactments are always so touching! Thanks for sharing Pat:@)

Regina said...

Wonderful tribute and post!
" Regina "

Shellbelle said...

Beautiful Pat and so moving, thank you so much for posting about this event.

How right it was for another soldier's grave to be discovered as they were being honored and by someone who knew how to recognize what he was seeing. Kudos to your hubby!

So interesting how the women had to claim the bodies of their loved ones; makes you think of all those who were left behind because their families were not there to do the same.

I went back and read the full story of the drummer boy, again it took a woman to make sure he was also honored for his sacrifice.

That exhibit must be amazing, I know there is the Blue and Gray Museum in Fitzgerald; I'm hoping to share a post and photos later this year.

Thank you again for sharing such an important event with us today.

Kathleen said...

What a sad time in our history. So many killed.
They used to do reinactments in Huntington in the Village Green.
That is good of your dh to place flags.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful post for this week-end goings on. We had those here too but due to all the heat and aging aspect creeping up we did not go. Did attend a family picnic but I forgot my camera. Can't believe that.
Great post Pat.

Carol said...

Greta post, Pat, so many fantastic pictures. I love the luminaries at night, great shot, such a nice tribute. Amazing that the Sims papers were saved, like right out of a movie.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Thank you for taking us on a tour of this event. Your pictures are so good, and the story of finding the tombstone of yet another soldier buried here went straight to my heart. This cemetary is such a special place not only in Brooklyn, but in all of New York State.

Donna said...

Wow, quite an event, Pat. I enjoyed all the photos.


Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - I am nearly in tears reading about these veterans and the volunteer efforts that have gone on to honor them. Your husband sounds as nice as you are, which is not surprising. Such a somber but important post to remember the struggles and losses that took place so long ago. You really commemmorated Memorial Day in the true spirit of the day.

Betty said...

That was so interesting. What a wonderful place to visit this past weekend.

Linda said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate Memorial Day and honor the fallen soldiers. I'll never forget our trip to Gettesberg when I was young...the history there in the east is incredible.

Atticmag said...

I always enjoy seeing what's going on in Brooklyn Pat. Had no idea they were doing a reenactment this weekend even though I'm just across the river. Thanks so much for that post and for stopping by to see our roses. Jane

Jillian's Bella Rosa Antiques said...

Hi Pat, this was fascinating! Loved it. I am sad to say my Great Great Grandfather, Charles Stone, is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetary in Brooklyn AND DOES NOT HAVE A GRAVE STONE! Terrible. He served in the NY 38th Infantry in the Civil war. My Dad and I wanted to buy him a marker but heard we could get some help from the govt. I wrote to them and never heard back.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Please do not give up on getting a grave marker, Jillian.

Write to this address for further information:

Monument Service
Department of Memorial Affairs
Veterans Administration
941 N. Capital St., N.E.
Room 9320
Washington, D.C. 20420

The VA government web site to check for information is:


Form to fill in is here:


You will have to contact the cemetery your great great grandfather is in an get documentation from them that he is buried there and that her has no headstone. They will also have to accept delivery and may ask you to provide a fee for placing the stone. Check the web site for all info and regulations, and so on.

It may take up to two years to get a stone.

Good luck!

Old Kitty said...

Awwww how fascinating and utterly brilliant in bringing the human cost of the war to contemporary audiences! And it feels like a healthy community participating and getting involved! Yay for you and your hubby for being fab volunteers in keeping this very historically important place in great order for future generations.

Yay for women demanding that the powers that be help them find and retrieve the bodies of their men! Good for them!

Thanks for sharing this wonderful Memorial event, Pat!! Lovely pics as always! Take care

Arlene Delloro said...

What a wonderful post, Pat. You take amazing photos. I feel as if I attended this event.

Judy said...

What a memorable way to mark the 150th anniversary of the war. Very touching!

Starz723 said...

Pat, your pictures are wonderful.. Thank you for taking a picture of me singing with the chorus. It was a wonderful experience. I love that story about Vinny finding that soldier. It was as if he was guided there by his spirit. Amazing!
Marge Raymond

diane b said...

It looked like a very memorable event. having reenactors really makes the history come alive. So do your photos and information.

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

How cool is that??!! Wow!!

no spring chicken said...

Wow. What a perfect way to spend Memorial day. It looks beautiful, and moving...

The exhibit too is fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

Blessings, Debbie

nanny said...

What a touching ceremony.....
And gorgeous background!
I've been shut out of blogger for over a week and missing the contact with everyone.....I still can't comment on some blogs.

Lovella ♥ said...

Do you think it is possible to be a little American even if you were born bread and lived in Canada your whole life? I feel always quite proud of our American neighbors and feel like we are certainly kinfolk. I love so many of you. .maybe that is why.
The colors and the photos make for a good memorial day post.

Jeni said...

Thank you so much for posting these pics... it brought tears to my eyes. My dad (who is in heaven now) was a huge civil war re-enactor... as a kid we were all around this! I have so many pictures - I'm going to scan and make a blogpost for Father's day - thanks for the idea - xoxox

Annesphamily said...

My son is a history major at college and he loves this stuff! I am honored to know so many died for my freedom. It is hard to comprehend as times. You have a kind heart giving Jill that info. It will be nice to follow the progress and I am hopeful they will get that grave marker. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Anne