• Welcome to the New York State Military Museum

    Welcome to the New York State Military Museum

    The mission of the museum and research center is to preserve, interpret and disseminate the story, history and records of New York State’s military forces and veterans.

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  • Sherman Tank Returns!

    Sherman Tank Returns!

    Our Sherman Tank returns to the NYS Military Museum from Fort Drum after a year long restoration, to it's permanent exhibit spot.

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  • CIVIL WAR PAINTINGS | Now on Display

    CIVIL WAR PAINTINGS | Now on Display

    This exhibit will highlight some of the finest Civil War artwork from the collection of the Military Museum on a rotating basis. Click for more details...

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  • A CALL NOT UNHEEDED

    A CALL NOT UNHEEDED

    The exhibit features a dazzling array of militia and National Guard distinctive unit dress uniforms, ballot boxes and decorative bronze trophies that interpret the social organization of the National Guard, original artifacts from the USS Maine, and a carronade captured during the 1857 Dead Rabbits Riot in New York City.

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  • Battleground for Freedom

    Battleground for Freedom

    No less than 120 military engagements occurred on New York soil, more than in any other state, ranging in scale and significance from the decisive Battle of Saratoga to numerous bitter skirmishes and ruthless raids that raged throughout the frontier settlements...

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  • Some Great Past Exhibits

    Some Great Past Exhibits

Contact

Major Michael Audette
Trustee

Miscellaneous Information

Serves thru December 2017

  • World War I and the New York National Guard

    New York National Guard in World War I  - Centennial News

    NEW YORK -- Before they walked down the gangplank onto French soil in April 1918; 25,000 New York National Guard Soldiers walked down Fifth Avenue in August 1917 so New York City could say goodbye.

    On August 30, 1917, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lined a five mile route from 110th Street to the Washington Square Arch as the 27th Infantry Division paraded down the street.

    There were so many marching Soldiers, the New York Times reported, that it took five hours for the parade to pass by. After being federalized on July 15, 1917 New York Army National Guard members remained at their armories, being issued equipment, undergoing medical checks, shoeing mules, and beginning to train for war.

    The units also continued final recruiting efforts to bring their companies and regiments up to full strength. Local men were urged to go to war with their friends and neighbors instead of waiting to be drafted or enlisting in the Regular Army.

    In Saratoga Springs, for example, Louis Dominick decided to join the local National Guard company at the last minute instead of enlisting the "depot company" the Army had established for the county. Dominick's decision meant the regular Army recruiters were now one short of their goal of 50 Soldiers for the county, the "Saratogian" newspaper reported. While the Regular Army officers who were orchestrating mobilization wanted the Soldiers to move into field camps quickly, the New York National Guard argued that it made more sense to use its armories for the mobilization process instead.

    "These measures could be taken in a much more efficient manner in the great armories of New York State than they could in open fields, while commands were endeavoring to make camp with ranks augmented by many recruits and without military property adequate for their strength," Major General John F. O'Ryan, the 27th Infantry Division commander, wrote after the war Initially, O'Ryan was told that his division-destined to be known as the 27th Division but still being called the 6th Division by the Army-would be training at Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina and was slated to move in early August.

    With this early August departure date in mind, New York City's movers and shakers began planning for a big farewell parade. Initially the parade was set for Thursday, August 9, 1917. But on August 6, the division learned that Camp Wadsworth wasn't ready yet. The big parade was put off.

    "If we lined the sidewalks of New York with the relatives of the Soldiers –mothers, sisters and so forth, all crying and bidding goodbye to the boys-then the troops remained here for a week, maybe two weeks, the whole big impressive parade would become ridiculous," New York City Mayor John Mitchell, told the New York Times.

    The delay in moving south was probably a good thing, the New York Times also reported, since the Soldiers of the 27th Division were still short of equipment and the units needed to be consolidated. The men of the 71st Infantry Regiment, for example, were spread out in small elements over 700 square miles of upstate New York, the Times reported. It would take 30 hours to concentrate the unit, the paper said.

    On August 23, O'Ryan was informed that the division would move south beginning in early September and the big parade in New York City was back on again. Only now the festivities would include a dinner for 24,000 New York National Guardsmen as well.  Regiments from upstate New York were moved down to Van Cortland Park. Other regiments camped at Pelham Bay Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Three coastal defense regiments – Soldiers trained to man the forts that still protected New York City in 1917-were on duty there.

    On August 28, Mayor Mitchell hosted a dinner at the Hotel Biltmore for O'Ryan, his division staff, and unit commanders. On August 29, a committee of 100 Prominent Women played hostess at the camps around the city as the rest of the New York National Guard troops enjoyed "farewell rallies around feast laden boards," in the words of a New York Times reporter.

    "Only a town like the City of New York could seriously undertake a hospitality of such magnitude," O'Ryan wrote.

    The big parade kicked off at 10 a.m. on August 30. Members of Soldiers families were given a special pass that allowed them access to the west side of Fifth Avenue from 110th Street south to 59th Street. Locations at the Plaza Hotel, the Pulitzer Memorial, and Madison Square were also reserved for Soldiers families. Each Soldier got four passes for his family members. The New York Police Department was geared up to handle an expected two million spectators with 4,000 officers under the command of nine inspectors stationed along the parade route. Chief Inspector James Dillon, the officer in charge of the parade, issued an order forbidding the public from using "boxes, barrels, chairs, campstools or settees of any kind" while watching the parade. The Police Department Band led the parade, which allowed all the regimental bands to march with their parent organization.

    First in line was the 22nd Engineer Regiment. The regiment's A Company had already been ordered to Yaphank on Long Island to build a camp which would eventually be occupied by the newly formed 77th Infantry Division. Its D Company was already in South Carolina helping to finish Camp Wadsworth. The rest of the regiment was due to get on a train after the troops marched past the reviewing stand at the Union League Club, and head south to help finish up construction of the post.

    At the reviewing stand Mayor Mitchell, former President Teddy Roosevelt, and other state and local dignitaries waved and greeted the troops.

    The marching troops remembered cheering crowds, with people waving flags and shouting themselves horse, while "bombarding" the troops with "candy, chewing gum and all kinds of fruits, cigars and cigarettes."

    Most of the troops in the parade finished their march and went back to camp to wait for their turn to go to Spartanburg. The men of the 102nd Ammunition Train, for example, finished up marching in late afternoon and then boarding an elevated train to head back to camp.

    A New York Times writer called the parade: "A thrilling, stirring sight!" "File upon file, hour after hour, of well-set, clear-eyed, determined men, some young and yet to be hardened in training camps, others, and many of them, made fit already by experience to take up their final training in the fields and trenches behind the battle lines in France," the New York Times said. "We have never faced such a war as this, we have never had such an Army as we now have in the making," the Times added.

    For the next couple of weeks, the big parade of August 30 was replicated several more times on a smaller scale as individual regiments left New York for Spartanburg. The 7th Regiment's march to the train station on Sept, 11, 2017, for example, even included a second march past the Union Club for a sendoff by New York City's great and good.

    With the parade and send offs behind them, the Soldiers of the 27th Division adapted to their new home in South Carolina and began to learn the art of soldiering in the 20th Century. There would be much hard fighting in France ahead in 1918.

    During the World War I centennial observance the Division of Military and Naval Affairs will issue press releases noting key dates which impacted New Yorkers based on information provided by the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. More than 400,000 New Yorkers served in the military during World War I, more than any other state.

     

    08.18.2017
    Story by Eric Durr 
    New York National Guard

  • Winter/Spring 2017 Newsletter

  • Ellsworth Civil War Flag

    Just how did a piece of an early Confederate flag get to the Inland Empire in California?

     
    Capt. Elmer Ellsworth (Courtesy photo)
    Capt. Elmer Ellsworth (Courtesy photo) 
     
    This is a 14-foot-by-24-foot Confederate flag, which has been heavily cut by souvenir hunters, that flew over the Marshall House in Alexandria in 1861.   (Image courtesy of the New York State Military Museum, New York State Division of Military and Naval
Affairs.)This is a 14-foot-by-24-foot Confederate flag, which has been heavily cut by souvenir hunters, that flew over the Marshall House in Alexandria in 1861. (Image courtesy of the New York State Military Museum, New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.) 

     

    An odd relic of one of America’s most horrific periods will see the light of day Tuesday for the first time in many years.

    The 5-inch-square piece of blue and white cloth will seem rather ordinary to visitors who see it beginning Tuesday at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands. It was cut from an historic flag whose tapestry tells the unhappy story of some of the first deaths of the Civil War.

    The museum opens a two-month-long exhibition, “Over Here, Over There: In Times of War, showing items in its collections from veterans — mostly local men and women — from their times served in the military.

     

     

    The cloth on display at the museum is related to a few tense moments in May 1861 that claimed the lives of two men in a fight over a Confederate flag. Their deaths left each man a martyr to their respective causes early in the Civil War.

    The fabric was believed cut from what is known as the Marshall House flag, a huge Confederate banner that was raised above the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, by its owner James Jackson. It was a time when the Union was disintegrating as Southern states began seceding after Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

     

     

    The 14-foot-by-24-foot flag — with three horizontal stripes and a circle of seven stars — was the first flag designed for the Confederacy, though it was later replaced by the “Dixie” flag, the more familiar symbol of the Southern cause.

    It was a center of attention when Union soldiers were sent across the Potomac from Washington D.C. to occupy Alexandria on May 24, 1861, the day after Virginia voted to leave the union, according to the New York Military Museum.

    The soldiers were led by Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth, who among other things had been a law clerk for Lincoln in Illinois before entering the Army. Angered because the flag could be seen across the river at the White House, Ellsworth decided to climb onto the hotel roof and haul it down.

     

     

    Angered by his action, Jackson grabbed a shotgun and killed Ellsworth. Moments later, Jackson was shot and killed by Ellsworth’s soldiers.

    The body of Ellsworth, the first Union officer to die in the war, would later lie in state at the White House. It was then taken with the blood-stained flag to his home in Mechanicsville, New York, for burial. News of his death served as a rallying point for recruiting Union soldiers in the early days of the war.

    That much is known about the flag and its bloody history, but there’s mostly a mystery about how the museum’s 155-year-old piece found its way 3,000 miles west to the Inland Empire.

    According to the museum records, there are no specific details as to who donated it or when. It was unearthed among the hundreds of items donated to the museum over the years when preparations began for the veterans exhibit.

    There was some information attached to the cloth in the form of a tag with the heading, “Piece of the First Rebel Flag Captured.”

    Christopher S. Morton, assistant curator of the New York Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, said the tag suggests it was Ephraim Daniel Ellsworth, the slain soldier’s father, who cut off at least some of the pieces of the flag for friends and family. The elder Ellsworth later was commissioned a captain by Lincoln and served throughout the war.

     

    “For E.D. to have a piece of the famous Marshall House flag does not seem far-fetched,” Morton said via email. “The flag had been heavily ‘souvenired’ at the time.”

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    “I do know that fragments are held by the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian), Fort Ward Museum (in Alexandria) and the Lincoln Presidential Library,” he said.

     

     

    The huge flag itself has been in the possession of military museum since the end of the Civil War. It was briefly on public exhibit in New York in 2011-12, for the 150th anniversary of the incident in Alexandria, but it is not presently on display, Morton said.

    The 1861 killings in the hotel in Alexandria over the flag has been largely forgotten. At the time, though, word of Ellsworth’s death was treated in Northern cities as a national tragedy.

    “His murder was fearfully and speedily revenged,” wrote the New York Times, the day after the incident in Alexandria. “His memory will be revered, his name respected and long after the rebellion shall have become a matter of history, his death will be regarded as a martyrdom, and his name will be enrolled upon the list of our country’s patriots.”

     

     

    The San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays at 2024 Orange Tree Lane, just off the 10 Freeway at California Street. Information: 909-798-8608.

  • Summer 2016 Newsletter

  • Spring 2016 Newsletter

Museum Hours

Tuesday - Saturday | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (Closed Sunday & Monday)

Research Center Hours

Appointments are required.
Tuesday – Friday | 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

The museum is closed on
all New York State & Federal Holidays.

61 Lake Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 581-5100

Museum Store
(518) 226-0490

Due to staffing concerns the museum
can no longer accept telephone inquiries.

 


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