Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

July 1, 2019

 

     The following story was found on the North Warren Chamber of Commerce website in 2005 or 06, and it highlights the importance the Town of Horicon played in the history of our country and is perfect for the Fourth of July.  It is presented here with some minor revisions.

 

Horicon Steps Up

 

     In Smith’s History of Warren County (1885), he mentions that the population of Horicon diminished in the years between 1860 and 1868, “due to the  noble effort put forth by the town to aid in crushing the Rebellion.”  It has been said that Horicon, in proportion to her population, furnished more menfor the war than any other town in the State of New York.

     The town paid $3,500 in bounties in one year, when her population did not exceed 1,500.  It is estimated that two hundred volunteers went from Horicon into the various regiments made up in the county, principally the 22nd, 93rd, 118th and 142nd.  Only one man was drafted, although that man’s name remains a mystery.

     Looking at the Town of Horicon in the time period, one can find reasons why the men were enlisting.  The tannery, at the time the largest in the state, had burned to the ground.  Farms in the town could easily be described as “hardscrabble” at best.  Most the the men from the town who enlisted in  1862 were farmers, and making a living from farming was difficult, if not impossible.  Although the men of Horicon were no less patriotic than those towns in the area, economics drove many into the military.

     Many of the men were not young, they had established homes and families.  In one case, Elijah and Ansell Taft – father and son enlisted.  Father Elijah joined the 93rd Infantry while son Ansell enlisted in the 22nd Infantry.  Unfortunately, Ansell was wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run and died in September 1862.  Elijah mustered out with his unit after witnessing the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

     Overall, 35 men who had enlisted through the Town of Horicon were killed or died from wounds in the war.  Sever were lost in the Battle of the Wilderness, four at the second Battle of Bull Run, tow at Drewey’s Bluff and four at Andersonville.  One prisoner was released after spending 11 months there.  Fourteen men form Horicon witnessed the surrender of Richmond and sixteen the surrender of Lee.

 

Statistics:

26 families sent two or more sons.

4 families sent four sons:  Hastings, Hayes, Smith, and Sherman

Almost all of these families lost one, and in some cases two sons.

Many of the men from Horicon served 9-10 months.

Some were away for 34 months.

 

     As the men returned to Horicon, many resumed the lives they had left, going back to their families.  Some became leaders in the community.  One such person was Austin Ross.

     Austin was born in Vermont but was moved to Horicon at the age of 5.  In August of 1864 he answered the call and enlisted in the Union army for the remainder of the war.  He was sent to the front from Plattsburgh with a group of replacement troops who were from St. Lawrence County and formed the 142nd Infantry.  After the war he returned to Horicon and spent the rest of his life farming and lumbering.

     He also had three steamboats which were used to move logs from one end of the lake to the other.  These were the only steamboats on Brant Lake.  From the boats, he earned the title “Captain.”  A man for all seasons, he did building jobs for many of the lake homes, and he kept diaries of his life that show a man who knew no bounds in what he would try, including flying in one of the first airplanes in the area.  He served the town in every elected position.  He was the town supervisor in the 1880s and justice of the peace for 25 years.

     Ross was paid the following tribute after his death:  “This town mourns the death of a grand old man, Captain Austin Ross, eighty-six years old, who passed away to his eternal rest last Thursday morning.  As a soldier we knew him, as a soldier he passed away.  He was always the same- cheerful, quick to respond to a joke, ready to take one; ready to give in time of trouble, ready to help whenever he3 was needed in a big place or a little one.  His memory will live on.”

 

 

Warren County Historical Society // 50 Gurney Lane // Queensbury, NY 12804 // (518) 743-0734

 

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