Press-Republican

May 27, 2013

New Civil War exhibit established

By DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Town of Plattsburgh Historian’s Department has a new exhibit on residents who served in the Civil War.

The display on a wall in the Town Hall on Banker Road includes an alphabetical list of those who served and the unit in which they served. There is also a carousel-type exhibit where the names are listed by unit (engineers, artillery, cavalry, infantry).

RETIREE’S PROJECT

Town Historian Jerry Bates said Melissa Facteau, a retired schoolteacher, volunteered for the project and has done the bulk of the work. 

“She deserves the recognition for this,” he said.

Facteau said the exhibit includes those known to have served from 1861 to 1865 in both the town and what was then the village of Plattsburgh. 

Plattsburgh was founded in 1785 and once also included what are now the towns of Beekmantown, Peru, Saranac and Schuyler Falls.

The area that is now the City of Plattsburgh incorporated as a village in 1815, separate from the town, and became a city in 1902.

The list presently contains more than 3,000 names and is likely to grow. Some names appear more than once because of service in several companies.

RESEARCH

Facteau said she has been working on the display for six months, often 50 to 60 hours per week.

“It’s difficult to find documentation or pictures from the 1860s that are legible or printable,” she said.

The Plattsburgh City Library was one good source of information, as was the Library of Congress website. She said the latter is one of the few free websites from which people are allowed to copy, adding that she noted the source of the information in the exhibit.

Bates said that while such lists have been compiled previously, they were usually incomplete. When Facteau started, she didn’t have information on 142 soldiers, since reduced to 116.

“By going through different town and government records, we have come up with a more accurate list of who served,” Bates said.

The carousel exhibit even has some individual profiles. Facteau was able to get a picture and grave-site photo for John Moffitt, who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service.

She also found battle scenes and casualty lists from the battles at Antietam and Shiloh. There are also copies of local recruiting posters and images of battle flags and soldiers.

PROMOTING HISTORY

Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said the exhibit fits in well with local initiatives to promote the region’s importance in military history. He noted that New York supplied the most manpower to the Union Army of any state.

“Jerry and his volunteers have just done an outstanding job,” Bassett said.

Facteau said she plans to continue work on the project. The goal is to eventually have an online database available to anyone who wants to research the region’s participants in the war.

Anyone with information on someone who served is asked to call the Town Historian’s Office at 562-6887 or email Facteau at ctmccort@yahoo.com.

Email Dan Heath:dheath@pressrepublican.com

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SEE THE EXHIBIT

The Town of Plattsburgh's Civil War exhibit is in the lobby of the Town Hall at 151 Banker Road. 

It will officially open for Museum Weekend on June 1 and 2, with the Town Hall open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days.

 The display will likely remain up for the duration of the month. Civil War films will be shown at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on June 1 and 2.