Civil War Veterans of Mount Moor
The little plot of land lies just north of Old Nyack Turnpike now Route 59—a patch of green hillside nestled in the looming shadow of the second-largest shopping mall in the country. Thousands of cars drive by, and I wonder how many realize they’re passing sacred ground. The small plot of land is a cemetery. The historical marker at its entrance reads:
This burying ground for Colored People was deeded on July 7, 1849 by James and Jane Benson to William H. Moor, Stephen Samuels and Isaac Williams trustees.
Mount Moor cemetery has since proved a final resting place for African-Americans of the Nyack area including a number of veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, both World Wars and the Korean War.
In my column of November, 2008, I recalled a story of the Nyack men who went off to fight in a war to save our union. A few days after that column appeared a friend asked me if there were any Civil War veterans buried at Mount Moor. I didn’t know the answer, so I set off reading and researching in local history books only to find those journals listed only white soldiers. It really doesn’t surprise me that African-American men were omitted from our local history books, so this is my feeble attempt to rectify a gross error, and to record the names of Civil War veterans interred at Mount Moor.
My research found twenty-one Civil War veterans and four others from later wars. Serving in the Civil War were: Henry Adams, Andrew Gasan, Samuel Gulfield, Sam Johnson, Lafayette Logan, Charles Mayo, Thomas Mayo, John N. Miller, Solomon E. Miller, Benjamin and his brother William Samuels,(sons of founding trustee Stephen Samuels) Samuel T. Simmons, Richard Sisco, John Smith, Thomas Stewart, John Tallman and his brothers John, Samuel, Samuel II, and Thomas Thompson and Wilson Wyett.
All of these men survived the war. Thirteen of them served in the 26th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops; one of three regiments of African-American troops from New York. The 26th was formed on April 13, 1864 under the command of Colonel William C. Silliman. The regiment was active in the battles of Johns and James Island, Honey Hill and Beaufort, in South Carolina. James Island is located on the north side of Charleston, and was the location of a huge battle for control of the fort defending the city’s harbor. This battle was made famous in the movie Glory, the story of the black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. While the 54th led the initial charge against the fort, the 26th USCT was the second regiment in line in the charge. Lafayette Logan was a soldier in Company F of the 54th. I wonder if he came to Nyack to be with a friend he met in the fighting on James Island.
I was able to find information about some of the veterans of Mount Moor. Henry Abrams served in the 26th. He lived on Catherine Street and worked as a teamster. He was the grandfather of Elliot Sisco Sr. Samuel Gulfield lived on Marion Street with his wife, Christina. Charles Mayo worked for years as a rag dealer in the village and lived on Midland Ave. John Miller was a shoemaker and worked at the Metropolitan Shoe Company on Cedar Hill. Benjamin Samuels lived on Brookside Ave and was a teamster. William Samuels was a laborer and lived on Catherine Street. Richard Sisco and his wife, Maria lived on Piermont Ave. Thomas Stewart and his wife, Rebecca lived in Central Nyack on Waldron Ave., John Tallman was a carpenter and lived on the corner of Broadway and High Avenue. Samuel II Thompson was in the US Navy. After the war he worked as a laborer and lived on Piermont Ave. His brother Thomas was in the 26th and later lived on Main Street opposite Summit Street. Each of these men was also a member of Grand Army of the Republic William C. Silliman Post #172.
The first Black Veterans GAR Post in New York was formed in July 1885.
I also researched to see if any African-American soldiers from Nyack in the 26th were killed or died during the war. Charles Hawkins lived in Nyack and enlisted at the age of 24. He served in Company I of the 26th and died while training. He is interred in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. Charles Jackson was a soldier in Company E of the 26th. He was killed on June 26, 1865 and is buried in the national cemetery at Beaufort, South Carolina. I will see that these two names are added to Nyack’s Honor Roll.
The Nyack Villager thanks Jim Leiner for helping us all ‘Remember the Days .’