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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 19, 2012

From battlegrounds to grave or home again,
exhibit traces paths of local soldiers
By Tyler Murphy

NEW SCOTLAND –– The fingertips of visitors at the New Scotland Historical Association Museum were able to trace their family lines back to veterans of the Civil War this past Sunday.

While the original New Scotland Civil War registry can be viewed behind protective Plexigass, paper replicas of the list, containing the 213 names of enlisted town residents, can also be found at the recently opened exhibit.

The historical society hosted an opening celebration on April 15 for the year-long Civil War exhibit titled: Town of New Scotland Joins the Civil War, complete with history enthusiasts and performers in period dress.

“What we tried to do was portray the town of New Scotland soldiers that enlisted,” explained exhibit chairwoman Sandy Slingerland.

The museum, located at the Wyman Osterhout Community Center along Old New Salem Road in the hamlet of New Salem, is open every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. Groups wishing to have a tour of the exhibit can call to arrange one in advance by contacting the association at 768-2462.

One historical actor at the opening, Stuart Lehman, portrayed Clarksville soldier; John Lewis Houck, by reading the 66 letters he sent home from the war. The letters, addressed to his wife, tell of Houck’s experiences as a musician in the Union Army, where he was also called upon to be a battlefield litter bearer, a cook, and to perform other miscellaneous jobs.

Two of Houck’s actual letters will be on display at the exhibit while 25 others can be read in regular type; converted from their more difficult-to-read, handwritten cursive, said Slingerland.

“The letters portray the life of an infantryman, although he signed up as a musician. He didn’t carry a gun, he carried a fife,” said Slingerland.

Near the letters is a map of the eastern United States highlighting the major battles of the Civil War. Traced throughout the map and the battles are the recorded paths of the 213 New Scotland soldiers. A number of marks on the map denote soldiers who never returned home and their final resting places.

“It shows the battles they were in and where they were buried. A lot of the men didn’t come home,” said Slingerland.

Besides the map and letters, the exhibit features a replica artillery cannon, a cavalry saddle, and a mock soldier campsite. An original newspaper called; Harper’s Piscatorial History of the Great Rebellion, from 1866, will also be on display.

“This is a time before photographs really, so newspapers are instead filled with artwork,” said Slingerland.

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