Near & Far

Just about every town and hamlet in New York State was touched in one way or another by the Civil War.  Many claim to have been a part of the underground railroad or way-points on the route to freedom.  Here are assembled some of the famous and near-famous people and events that were a part of the war to preserve the Union.





Town of Marcellus (Hamlet of Cedervale)

George N. Barnard (1819 - 1902) opened his first photographic studio in Oswego, N.Y. in 1846 at the age of 27.  He moved his studio to Syracuse in1854.  By that time, the technology of photography had advanced and daguerreotypes were being replaced by the "wet plate" process.  This allowed for the production of multiple prints.  In 1859, Barnard was hired by Matthew Brady as a portrait photographer.  With the outbreak of the Civil War he became the official photographer of Gen. William T. Sherman's march to the sea.  Perhaps his best know photograph was that of Gen. Sherman during the Atlanta campaign.  Most photographs of that era were posed and Barnard used his subjects to advantage.  Among his stereoview photographs is this classic.  Barnard died at the home of his daughter ( Mary Grace Barnard Gilbert) in 1902 and is buried in the Gibert family plot along Pleasant Valley Rd. in Cedarvale, N.Y.




Mt. McGregor, Wilton, N.Y.  (Grant Cottage)


Ulysses S. Grant (1822 - 1885) spent the last five weeks of his life in this cottage just prior to his death from throat cancer.  The cottage contains several original furnishings and personal items of Grant's time there.  Although in great pain, he was able to complete the second volume of his  personal memoirs while at Mt. McGregor.  A favorite overlook of the upper Hudson Valley brought him some distraction during his final days.  He died in this bed , surrounded by family and friends, on July 23, 1885.    His final resting place, along with that of his wife, ( Julia Dent Grant) is in New York City's Riverside Park. 

"Let Us Have Peace" marker, located just to the front of the cottage.
"Last View" marker, located a short distance from the cottage.




Oswego, N.Y.

Since it creation in 1861, some 3,400 Medals of Honor have been awarded.  Only one has ever been awarded to a woman:  Dr.  Mary Edwards Walker (1832 - 1919). 

Dr. Walker was a center of controversy throughout most of her life.  Early on she was a strong advocate for women's rights and and dress reform.  A proponent of the "bloomer costume", she later resorted to dressing in men's clothing; a practice which got her arrested several times.  Dr. Walker graduated from Central Medical College (Syracuse) and served as the first female surgeon in the U.S. Army during the Civil War.  While serving as an assistant surgeon with the 52nd Ohio Infantry, Mary was captured and, some say, accused of being a spy.  She spent four months as a prisoner at Castle Thunder near Richmond. VA before being exchanged in 1864.  Dr. Walker received her medal in 1866 at the recommendation of Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. After the war she continued to advocate for women's rights, dress reform and temperance through her lecturing and writing. 
Dr. Walker died at her home on  February 21, 1919 in Oswego, N.Y. and is buried in Rural Cemetery, Cemetery Road, Town of Oswego.                       (Statue of Dr. Walker at Oswego Town Hall.  View 1, View 2.)


Skaneateles, N.Y.

For some parents, the cost of the Civil War is not measured in dollars and cents - it is measured in blood and tears.  Such is the case of James G. Porter and Sarah Grosvener Porter of Skaneateles, N.Y.
                                                                                        
Son Benjamin H. Porter (Lt., USN), in command of the flagship USS Malvern, gave his life while leading a ground attack made by the sailors from the fleet on Fort Fisher, N.C.   Porter, then only twenty years old, was killed on January 15, 1865.                                  (USS Malvern officers circa 1865.)

Son Stanley Porter (2nd Lt., NY 21st. Inf. Co. D US Army) was severely wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run, VA and later died on August 30, 1862.  He was twenty years old.  Despite two attempts on the part of his father to retrieve his body,  his remains were never found.

A single headstone honors their service.  Lakeview Cemetery, lot 8-171, Skaneateles, N.Y.


                                                                                                        (Present day Porter House, 10 State St., Skaneateles, N.Y.) 




Homer, N.Y. 

Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1830 - 1900) was born in Homer, N.Y. where he studied portrait painting at the Cortland Academy.  Carpenter wished to immortalize Lincoln's first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet in 1862.  To accomplish this, Carpenter set up his studio in the White House State Dining Room where he worked on the huge ( 9 feet by 14.5 feet) canvas for six months.  His finished painting met with only mild success; however a series of lithographs, based upon Carpenter's painting,  by engraver Alexander H. Ritchie in 1866 became very popular.  It was one of Ritchie's engraving that is on the book jacket of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals1.

In 1866, Carpenter published an account of his six months in the White House2.  Ironically, unlike his painting, the book was a huge  success.  So Carpenter made his impact on history,  by his painting and by his writing.  Carpenter is buried in Homer's Glenwood Cemetery, section 14.  The Carpenter painting today is located in the west staircase of the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol.
1Team of Rivals, Doris Kerns Goodwin, 2005
2The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln (Six Months at the White House), F.B. Carpenter, 1866
 Lincoln's Cabinet members identified in Carpenter's painting.