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Re-Enactors Take Westchester Back to the Civil War

OSSINING, N.Y. – A group of area history buffs are doing their best to honor the Ossining men who fought in America’s bloodiest war.

Members of the 124th New York State Volunteers infantry regiment donned their overcoats and brought their muskets Saturday, turning a small field in Ossining’s Historic CampWoods Grounds into a Civil War campsite.

Miguel Hernandez, executive director of the Ossining Historical Society, said the inaugural event, “A Remembrance of the Village of Sing Sing During the Civil War,” was meant to reflect what society looked like in the 1860s and commemorate the history of Ossining’s soldiers.

“We wanted to give the community a little bit of a flavor of what life was like here in the city,” Hernandez said. “And we want people to remember the sacrifice of these men.”

More than 1,000 residents of Sing Sing fought in the Civil War as members of the Union Army, Hernandez told the small crowd gathered to watch the ceremonial raising of the flag. Of those, about 100 died. But while those men were off fighting the war, many residents back in Sing Sing were hosting picnics and plays to raise money for Union Army supplies.

“The important thing was that supporting the troops was not simply a sticker on your car or a flag lapel on your jacket,” Hernandez said. “It was real support by hosting activities and raising funds.”

On Saturday, visitors were given a glimpse into life in Ossining in the 1860s as they watched a custom dance and heard a musical presentation from the period. They also toured a replica campground as it would have been during the war, with blankets and supplies scattered underneath cloth tents.

124th Volunteers member Christopher Gjersvik joined the group five years ago after watching a re-enactment. Passing out replica Union Army recruiting fliers, the Ardsley native and former teacher said he has long had an interest in the Civil War.

“I have a love of history and a respect for the men who served in the Civil War,” he said.

Ossining resident David Kreiger said he, too, is a history buff and wanted to see the re-enactments up close.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “There is a lot of accuracy in their outfits, and they are more than happy to explain what they are doing.”

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