Tag Archives: new York State Military Museum

WWII NY National Guard Records Go Online

When 28,969 New York National Guard Soldiers mobilized in the fall of 1940 as the United States prepared for war, clerks filled out six-by-four inch cards on each man.

Now, thanks to a team of 15 volunteers, those records&#8211listing names, serial number, home, and unit, and later on annotated with hand written notes on whether or not the Soldier was killed or wounded&#8211 are available online from the New York State Military Museum.

&#8220I’ll bet you that we are the only state that has such an item on the web,&#8221 said retired Army Col. John Kennedy, one of the volunteers who turned the index card information into digital data.

Kennedy, a World War II veteran himself, and the other volunteers spent a year keying the information on the cards into Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The digital information is now available on the museum’s website and can be downloaded and searched.

The museum put this information online so it can be used by people researching their family history or the history of World War II and New York’s role in it, said Jim Gandy, the assistant librarian and archivist at the museum.

&#8220Not only can you research a specific individual but you can also research who enlisted from what town- where men in the New York National Guard were born, or how old the average age of the men was. We indexed most data points on the cards including: date, city, state and country of birth- ID number- hometown, unit- rank- as well as enlistment and separation dates&#8221, Gandy explained.

In September 1940-a few months after France was overrun and defeated by the German Army and the British were fighting for survival in the air-the United States had an Army of 269,000 men. The German Army, meanwhile, had 2.5 million.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt convinced Congress to call up the 300,000 men in the National Guard for a year to double the size of the nation’s Army and prepare for any German threat.

On Oct. 15, 1940 the 28,969 members of the New York National Guard, including the entire 27th Division, reported to their armories to begin processing for a year of active duty. This is the data now available from the museum website.

For the 90-year old Kennedy, who keyed in the data on 6,500 Soldiers, the task brought back memories of his own World War II service. A Cohoes native, he joined the Army Reserve in 1940, transferred to the New York National Guard in 1941 and went to war in Europe in 1944 with the 8th Infantry Division.

He recognized the names of many of the 108 Soldiers on the list who cited Cohoes as their hometown because he had grown up with them, Kennedy said.

Kennedy, who now lives in Florida and served in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard until retiring in 1981, volunteered to help with Gandy’s project because he’s made the history of World War II and the role of New York’s units in it his hobby.

Bruce Scott, an Albany resident and another volunteer who keyed in the data, got involved in the project because he wanted to do something from his home that would be useful to others.

Scott, Kennedy and the other volunteers were critical, Gandy said. Without their work this kind of project would be impossible for the museum to carry out.

Eventually the Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Division who were called for training in the fall of 1940 went on to serve in the Pacific, securing Hawaii from a feared Japanese invasion in February 1942, invading Makin Atoll and the Island of Saipan, and eventually fighting on Okinawa. Other New York National Guard Soldiers called up in 1940 served in rear area security duty and fought in Europe.

The museum’s next web project is to create an index of which battles New York’s Civil War Regiments fought in, Gandy said. The data base will make it easier for historians to determine which regiments fought in which battles and the losses that were sustained in each fight. If anyone would like to volunteer, they may contact the museum at 518-581-5100, Gandy said.

The index card database can be found on the museum website.

Photo: A typical index card of a New York Army National Guardsman. Each card was 6 inches wide and 4 inches high.

Civil War Battle Flag Exhibit Opens at Capitol

A new exhibit of Civil War battle flags, &#82201861: Banners for Glory,&#8221 has been unveiled at the State Capitol, featuring eight flags significant in the first year of the war – including the storied Marshall House Flag, which prompted one of the first skirmishes of the war.

&#8220As the nation looks back on the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, I encourage New Yorkers to visit this moving exhibit in the State’s Capitol,&#8221 said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The flags are a physical connection to our nation’s history, and I am tremendously grateful to the private individuals and organizations who have partnered with New York State to make this exhibit possible.&#8221

&#8220The collection of New York’s historic battle flags held by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs on behalf of the citizens of New York is a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of the almost 500,000 New Yorkers who fought in the Civil War,&#8221 said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. &#8220I’m pleased that this exhibit will allow more New Yorkers to share in that history.&#8221

The exhibition will run in the New York State Capitol’s eastern entrance area through June 2012. The exhibit is taking place thanks to a combination of a $30,000 grant from the Coby Foundation, a New York City organization that funds projects in the textile and needle arts, and approximately $13,000 in donations from private citizens.

The exhibit features the massive 14- by 24-foot Marshall House Flag, which Colonel Elmer Ellsworth of the 11th New York Volunteers, attempted to remove from the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria, Virginia – a flag visible across the Potomac in Washington, D.C. With a small party, Ellsworth climbed to the roof and cut down the flag prompting an exchange of gunfire with hotel owner James Jackson, in which both Ellsworth and Jackson were killed.

The Marshall House incident became national news and plunged the entire country into mourning – the North for Ellsworth, the South for Jackson. President Abraham Lincoln, ordered an honor guard to deliver Ellsworth’s body to the White House for a funeral service. Ellsworth, the first Union officer to be killed in the conflict was then laid in state at City Hall in New York City and the State Capitol in Albany respectively before being buried in Mechanicville, New York. The Marshall House flag accompanied Ellsworth’s body home to New York State.

Since 2000, the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project, a collaboration between the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has conserved and properly stored over 500 of the state’s 2,000 flags carried into battle by New York State regiments.

Photo: Marshall House Inn, circa 1861-1869. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Civil War: Remembering the Seventh Regiment

It was a military movement, but it was also a party, on April 19, 1861 as the men of the Seventh Regiment of the New York State Militia (the name change to National Guard came in 1862) set out for the Civil War.

&#8220New Yorkers cheered and applauded as the Silk Stocking Regiment marched through the city. The line of march was a perfect ovation. Thousands upon thousands lined the sidewalks. It will be remembered as long as any of those who witnessed it live to talk of it, and beyond that it will pass into the recorded history of this fearful struggle,&#8221 the author of the Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Military Statistics of the State of New York remembered in 1866. Continue reading

Museum Puts NY Civil War Soldiers Info Online

As the Nation prepares to observe the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the New York State Military History Museum and Veterans Research Center is making capsule histories of 360,000 New York Civil War Soldiers available online.

The entire roster of New Yorkers who served during the Civil War Years, 1861-1865, is now available online, as well as the five annual reports issued by the Bureau of Military Statistics from 1864 to 1868 that chronicle the accomplishments of New Yorkers in battle.

The Civil War began on April 12 1861 when Confederate cannons fired on Union-occupied Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Caroline. On April 19 1861 the New York National Guard’s 7th Regiment was mustered into service and departed for Washington to defend the Capitol.

More than 360,000 Soldiers enlisted in New York regiments to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Capsule histories of those Soldiers military records were recorded from 1893 to 1906 in 17 volumes based on data from the New York Adjutant General’s Office and the War Department, the predecessor to today’s Department of the Army. These records have been posted in PDFformat and are searchable.

The Bureau of Military Statistics was established by the Legislature in 1863 to record the history of New York’s volunteer Soldiers by collecting newspaper clippings, artifacts, and securing the battle flags of returning units. The Bureau published five reports summarizing the information collected and detailing the contributions made by New Yorkers during the Civil War. These records are also in searchable PDF format.

That collection of printed materials, weapons, artifacts and battle flags is maintained by the Military Museum today under the control of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

Visitors to the museum’s website can find out that John Hurley, the assistant surgeon of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment, who enlisted on Nov. 1 1862, was killed accidently in camp on April 15, 1863 near Falmouth, Virginia. Or they can learn that the towns of Onondaga County collected $8.2 million in taxes to pay bonuses to Soldiers enrolling in volunteer regiments in 1862.

The museum staff has also begun scanning in, and making available online most of the thousands of Civil War newspaper clippings that the museum has preserved since the 1860s.

&#8220The Civil War was a critical time in the history of the United States and of New York,&#8221 said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. &#8220I am pleased that the New York State Military Museum has been able to make this fascinating information readily accessible to New Yorkers and all Americans.&#8221

&#8220With the addition of these new online resources, the Military Museum and Veterans Research Center continues to make important historical and genealogical works from its collection more easily available to the public through our website.&#8221 Michael Aikey

&#8220Almost everybody who contacts me is amazed at how much we have been able to put online,&#8221 said museum archivist Jim Gandy. &#8220Without fail they are thankful that it is online because some of the stuff only exists on microfilm so you can’t even get it from the library.&#8221

The process of digitizing these historic documents began almost eight years ago and has relied heavily on volunteers willing to spend time scanning in documents, Gandy said.

The museum’s catalog of its collection of photographs, books, articles, and paintings is also being turned into digital information and is now searchable online, Gandy said.

While the museum holds vast amounts of information about the Civil War and is making that available online, other military data of interest to history and genealogy buffs is also now available online.

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers the names of all 13,025 who served as officers in the New York State Militia, the precursor to the New York National Guard, prior to 1858, have been indexed. Local high school students fulfilling the obligation to spend 20 hours volunteering did much of this work over the last year, Gandy said.

Another volunteer project involved establishing a searchable database of the 23,315 members of the New York National Guard who were awarded the New York State Long and Faithful Service Medal between its inception in 1894 and 1963.

The Military History Museum is also the custodian of New York’s Civil War Battle Flags. More than 800 flags collected when regiments returned from the war are stored. Many of those have been conserved.

Other items now available online at the New York State Military Museum website relate to the New York National Guard’s history in World War I and World War II.

Copies of two publications issued just before and during World War I, the &#8220Rio Grande Rattler&#8221 from 1916 and the &#8220Wadsworth Gas Attack &#8220from 1917 are now available for download from the website.

The Rio Grande Rattler was published when the New York National Guard was mobilized and sent to the Mexican Border in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson following a raid on Columbus New Mexico by the troops of Mexican Revolutionary Poncho Villa. New York National Guardsmen guarded the border with Mexico in 1916 just as they would in 2006.

In 1917, New York’s 27th Division was mobilized for service in World War II and trained at Camp Wadsworth South Carolina.

Twenty-three years later the Guardsmen of the 27th Division were again on federal service, this time at Fort McClellan Maryland following President Franklin Roosevelt’s activation of the National Guard for one year of service following the successful German invasion of France. The yearbook published for the division’s Soldiers that year, which includes photographs of every unit and key officer, as well as pictures of the training, can be downloaded.

Key links on the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center Website:

Roster of New York Volunteers during the Civil War

Annual Reports of the Bureau of Military Statistics, 1864-1868

New York State Militia Officers Prior to 1858

List of Long and Faithful Service Medal Holders


The Wadsworth Gas Attack and Rio Grande Rattler


Photo: The painted silk regimental battle flag carried by the 125th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

PDFformat and are searchable.

The Bureau of Military Statistics was established by the Legislature in 1863 to record the history of New York’s volunteer Soldiers by collecting newspaper clippings, artifacts, and securing the battle flags of returning units. The Bureau published five reports summarizing the information collected and detailing the contributions made by New Yorkers during the Civil War. These records are also in searchable PDF format.

That collection of printed materials, weapons, artifacts and battle flags is maintained by the Military Museum today under the control of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

Visitors to the museum’s website can find out that John Hurley, the assistant surgeon of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment, who enlisted on Nov. 1 1862, was killed accidently in camp on April 15, 1863 near Falmouth, Virginia. Or they can learn that the towns of Onondaga County collected $8.2 million in taxes to pay bonuses to Soldiers enrolling in volunteer regiments in 1862.

The museum staff has also begun scanning in, and making available online most of the thousands of Civil War newspaper clippings that the museum has preserved since the 1860s.

“The Civil War was a critical time in the history of the United States and of New York,” said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. “I am pleased that the New York State Military Museum has been able to make this fascinating information readily accessible to New Yorkers and all Americans.”

“With the addition of these new online resources, the Military Museum and Veterans Research Center continues to make important historical and genealogical works from its collection more easily available to the public through our website.” Michael Aikey

“Almost everybody who contacts me is amazed at how much we have been able to put online,” said museum archivist Jim Gandy. “Without fail they are thankful that it is online because some of the stuff only exists on microfilm so you can’t even get it from the library.”

The process of digitizing these historic documents began almost eight years ago and has relied heavily on volunteers willing to spend time scanning in documents, Gandy said.

The museum’s catalog of its collection of photographs, books, articles, and paintings is also being turned into digital information and is now searchable online, Gandy said.

While the museum holds vast amounts of information about the Civil War and is making that available online, other military data of interest to history and genealogy buffs is also now available online.

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers the names of all 13,025 who served as officers in the New York State Militia, the precursor to the New York National Guard, prior to 1858, have been indexed. Local high school students fulfilling the obligation to spend 20 hours volunteering did much of this work over the last year, Gandy said.

Another volunteer project involved establishing a searchable database of the 23,315 members of the New York National Guard who were awarded the New York State Long and Faithful Service Medal between its inception in 1894 and 1963.

The Military History Museum is also the custodian of New York’s Civil War Battle Flags. More than 800 flags collected when regiments returned from the war are stored. Many of those have been conserved.

Other items now available online at the New York State Military Museum website relate to the New York National Guard’s history in World War I and World War II.

Copies of two publications issued just before and during World War I, the “Rio Grande Rattler” from 1916 and the “Wadsworth Gas Attack “from 1917 are now available for download from the website.

The Rio Grande Rattler was published when the New York National Guard was mobilized and sent to the Mexican Border in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson following a raid on Columbus New Mexico by the troops of Mexican Revolutionary Poncho Villa. New York National Guardsmen guarded the border with Mexico in 1916 just as they would in 2006.

In 1917, New York’s 27th Division was mobilized for service in World War II and trained at Camp Wadsworth South Carolina.

Twenty-three years later the Guardsmen of the 27th Division were again on federal service, this time at Fort McClellan Maryland following President Franklin Roosevelt’s activation of the National Guard for one year of service following the successful German invasion of France. The yearbook published for the division’s Soldiers that year, which includes photographs of every unit and key officer, as well as pictures of the training, can be downloaded.

Key links on the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center Website:

Roster of New York Volunteers during the Civil War[/CATS]

Annual Reports of the Bureau of Military Statistics, 1864-1868[/CATS]

New York State Militia Officers Prior to 1858[/CATS]

List of Long and Faithful Service Medal Holders[/CATS]


The Wadsworth Gas Attack and Rio Grande Rattler[/CATS]

Photo: The painted silk regimental battle flag carried by the 125th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

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