WESTFIELD – The annual tradition of the 9th NY Cavalry encampment is once again ready to take place in Westfield’s Moore Park, with a very special guest scheduled to make several appearances over the weekend.
Members of the 9th NY Cavalry and invited guests will present “Standing Ground: a Civil War Living History Event in Westfield.” Reenactors will set up camp late afternoon/early evening on Friday, June 7 and offer living history throughout the weekend on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9.
In addition to the regularly scheduled events, President Abraham Lincoln will also be on hand as part of the Lincoln Festival, featuring Lincoln impersonator Ron Carley and his wife Tina as President Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln.
The festival will include a pancake breakfast and lunch with Lincoln. There will also be a beard contest, look-alike contest, and a recreation of the meeting of Grace Bedell and the President during his inauguration trip to Washington DC, which included a stop in Westfield.
President Lincoln will also be touring the village and spending time in Moore Park where the NY 9th Cavalry encampment is taking place. As part of his visit he is expected to be doing a troop inspection.
President Lincoln will also do a speech from the steps of the McClurg Museum prior to the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s annual Gala Fundraiser.
PRESENTATION ON 72nd INFANTRY SLATED FOR SATURDAY AFTERNOON
The encampment will also include a special lecture/presentation by author Rick Barram, who will come to Westfield from his home in California to discuss his research and book on the 72nd New York Infantry regiment, which was formed in Chautauqua County. The lecture will take place Saturday, June 8 at 2 p.m. inside St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, located next to the park.
Barram’s book – “The 72nd New York Infantry in the Civil War: A History and Roster” (McFarland publishing, 2014) – focuses on the men who fought and died in the 72nd New York Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.
“Half the companies within the 72nd came out of Chautauqua County, these were generally well educated men from supportive families, often with a militia background. This contrasted greatly from the New York City men, who were often gutter sweeps who choose military service over prison,” Barram notes.
The 72nd New York was part of Major Gen. Daniel Sickles’ “Excelsior Brigade”, which served in all the major actions associated with the III Corps. The regiment lost one-fourth or more of its members in engagements that included Williamsburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
Drawing on soldier’s letters, diaries, memoirs (many unpublished or obscure) and official reports, Barram’s book follows the men of the 72nd New York from the exciting beginnings of recruitment, the boredom and frustrations of life policing the secessionist countryside of Southern Maryland, through to the eventual disbanding of the regiment in July of 1864.
Barram teaches Social Studies and Theater Arts at Central Valley High School in Northern California. A long-time student of history, he also enjoys Civil War reenacting. His articles have appeared in America’s Civil War magazine, both covering the Excelsior Brigade. He lives in Red Bluff, California.
“It was through my reenacting experience that we choose to portray the 72nd many years ago,” Barram explains. “There were a series of happy circumstances that led us to the 72nd and it was after that, that I began to research this regiment and appreciate its role in the war.”
Attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase a copy of Barram’s book at the event.
Following his lecture, members of the 9th NY Cavalry will continue the annual tradition of reading Civil War letters from local enlisted men. The event is free and open to the public.
GALA FUNDRAISER IS SATURDAY NIGHT
The Chautauqua County Historical Society is also inviting its members and the community to help support the preservation of local history by attending its annual fundraiser and gala on Saturday night.
The Gala will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the historic McClurg Museum in Westfield’s Moore Park – located at the corner of Routes 394 and 20 in the village.
The fundraiser will include complimentary hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting, along with musical entertainment provided by the dynamic folk duo of Russell and Hamels (Doc Hamels and Will Russell).
Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour the McClurg Museum and learn more about the numerous renovations that have taken place during the past several months. A special new exhibit will also be unveiled featuring the local soldiers of Chautauqua County who served in the NY 72nd Infantry regiment during the Civil War.
Because it is a fundraiser, admission for the June 8 Gala is $50 per person. All proceeds go to support operations at the Chautauqua County Historical Society, including the ongoing renovation efforts at the historic McClurg Museum.
For tickets and reservations, call (716) 326-2977 or contact any member of the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s board of trustees.
CIVIL WAR CHURCH SERVICE ON SUNDAY
Also taking place at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 10 will be an authentic “Civil War Service” – with the sermon, selected hymns, and other related activities patterned after what a service would have been like had it taken place at a church when the Civil War was actually underway. The special Civil War Service will begin at 10 a.m. and all members of the public are invited to attend.
In addition to the 9th NY Cavalry, which is hosting the event, other reenactment groups will also be on hand.
The encampment, along with all other related events except for the Gala, is free and open to the public.
President Lincoln’s appearance is made possible by the Historical Society, St. Peters Episcopal Church, Patterson Library, YWCA, Lake Shore Center for the Arts, Westfield Beautification, 9th NY Calvary, and the Westfield Barcelona Chamber of Commerce.