Sunday, April 20, 2014

Civil War Sunday - The Northern Confederates

We just got back from a trip to South and North Carolina, two states that seceded from the United States at the beginning of the Civil War.  We think of my native New York State as a solidly Union State but you may be surprised at how many Confederate sympathizers lived in New York City - and, yes, even in upstate New York.

It may interest you that, prior to the Civil War, both Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee served at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn, in New York City, and that Abner Doubleday, who fired the first defensive shot at Ft. Sumter (the first battle of the Civil War), was the fort commander of Ft. Hamilton in 1861. (Contrary to popular legend, Doubleday did not invent the game of baseball, but that's a story for another time.)

I still haven't gotten to the Civil War museum I blog about below, but will try my best for this year.

This is a rerun of an earlier post from last year, which I think you will enjoy.

The Confederates of Upstate New York

It's funny how life works, because when you are busy traveling hundreds of miles to learn about Civil War history, you can sometimes find it in your own home state of New York.

It's even more fascinating when the history involves a New Yorker who served the Confederacy.  This isn't the only time New York and the Confederacy have been linked - there is the fascinating story of the hamlet of Town Line New York that appears to have seceded from the Union and did not rejoin the Union officially until 1946.

There are a number of fascinating articles online about whether this secession actually happened. (All I can say is that, despite statements that their fire department logo still includes a Confederate flag - their current patch has an American Flag and Flag of the State of New York.)

And then there was Jedediah Hotchkiss.

I had not heard of Hotchkiss when, in March of 2012, I was browsing the wonderful Civil War bookstore located in the National Park at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  I found a book "Civil War Battles The Maps of Jedediah Hotchkiss". by Chester G. Hearn and Mike Marino.  I quickly found that the book was not a biography of Jedediah Hotchkiss, a schoolteacher and geologist before the Civil War, who ended up becoming the mapmaker for Stonewall Jackson.  (We are coming up on the 150th anniversary of this famous Confederate general's death, and I will be blogging more about him next Sunday.)

Still, I found value in a book that contained some of Hotchkiss' maps, and Civil War era photographs, and I bought it. 

Later last year, my spouse found that one of his co-workers is interested in the Civil War, and this person told him "You've got to go to the Old Stone House Museum in Windsor!"  I work with a couple of people who live in Windsor, (which is a rural village a few miles from here) and it turns out one of them knows the person who runs that museum - she offered to set up a visit for us and her sister, who also loves the study of the Civil War - but we were never able to make the connection.

So, a second time, I ran into Jedediah Hotchkiss. He was born, and grew up in, Windsor, on property where this museum is now located. He later moved to Virginia, which is how he ended up on the side of the Confederacy, making maps for Confederate generals.

So, object lesson here - don't ignore treasures in your backyard.

And now, it will also be time to hunt for other New York Confederates.  None of us should be surprised - few of us today realize just how this war split our nation (and still does, to some extent) and how fighting it made the United States the country it is today.

Do you have a nice regional museum that mainly locals know about?


  1. In Savanna, IL there is a newly-opened Civil War museum started by my former 8th grade history teacher. He's a lifelong Civil War 'student' and collected a number of nice things that are now on display for the public to see.

    1. There are some really fascinating small town museums - thank you for telling me about this. It's wonderful when someone shares their collection with the public. He must be a wonderful history teacher.

  2. Once again, your post reminds me of how war causes devastation.
    But you're right about looking in your own back yard to find the four leafed clover, or history or any other thing that interests you. We have so many historical sites around us here in England.

    1. We have a small county museum a few miles west of where we live, which has a Brady photo of Abraham Lincoln and a uniform coat which is said to have bloodstains of Lincoln from his assassination. You never know what you will find in a historic site!

  3. I had no idea there were Northern Confederates, especially in New York. I grew up in Rochester and I remember learning about the fight to preserve the Union, the Quakers and the Underground Railroad. Never was there one mention of course of Confederates. As a New Yorker, I'm looking forward to reading your follow-up about the Confederates in New York. Thanks for the share. Oh, and one of my favorite museums to visit growing up was the Susan B. Anthony House Museum in Rochester.

    1. I've been to a couple of museums in Rochester but not the Susan B. Anthony House. I will have to visit this "one day". Rochester is only about 2 1/2 hour drive from where I live but somehow we've not been there in many years. As for my follow up I'm hoping to get into the museum I talked about this weekend if the owner is opening it up. It isn't always open.

  4. Love this post. I had heard about the town w/ the fire department patch. But,alas, they do not have the Confederate flag on it you say.

    1. You may be interested in this blog post, which includes an article on Town Line, NY rejoining the Union in 1946 - as reported by the Greensboro, North Carolina Daily News. And you are right, the flag on the patch is not a true Confederate flag but rather the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, but so many people consider it as a "Confederate flag", including me...
      As best as I can tell, the fire department no longer has that flag on their patch. I found this patch on several websites including eBay I also found it on an informative article on Town Line Isn't history fun?


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