Marking The Graves Of Civil War Soldiers
Maspeth Ceremony Remembers Sacrifices Made By Local Residents
During a week in which Americans paused to remember those who sacrificed life and limb to protect the nation through the years, descendants of Civil War veterans paid homage to three Union soldiers buried at Maspeth's Mount Olivet Cemetery last Saturday, Nov. 15.
Members of Oliver Tilden Camp No. 26 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War paid their respects to Privates Patrick Boyle, George Doremus and Thomas Morse, unveiling new tombstones at their previously unmarked spots within the burial grounds.
The deceased soldiers, each of whom survived the war and died near or after the turn of the 20th century, were provided with a ceremony that featured some of the customs of a standard military funeral.
After the graves were blessed by Br. George Munkenbeck and Fr. John O'Halloran, retired pastor of Holy Cross Church, several members dressed in replica Union blue uniforms and carrying period muskets fired a 21-gun salute. A buglist played "Taps" to bid the veterans a safe rest.
The dedication was the latest in a series of similar ceremonies held at the gravesites of Civil War veterans throughout the city, according to George Weinmann, commander of the Oliver Tilden Camp No. 26.
He told the Times Newsweekly that the organization—constituted of members directly descended from soldiers who served in the war between 1861 and 1865—has helped to provide tombstones at locations that are unmarked or whose original headstones were eroded or damaged over the course of time.
More recently, Weinmann said, the camp has assisted Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn with its efforts to identify unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers. The organization also plans a similar headstone dedication ceremony at plots in Lutheran/All Faiths Cemetery.
As for the Mount Olivet gravesites dedicated last Saturday, the camp commander stated that the organization worked closely with the cemetery's superintendent, David Gigler, to locate the graves of Privates Boyle, Doremus and Morse and make the proper arrangements for the installment of the new headstones.
A "tremendous amount of research" was undertaken to determine the identity of the person at each gravesite, Weinmann said, noting that organization members spent many hours combing through various pension and service records, photographs, newspaper clippings and other forms.
According to information provided by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Private Boyle was a Michigan native who fought in the Civil War with regiments from his home state and Illinois between 1862 and 1865.
While in service, Boyle suffered a wounded right leg and hip after being struck by gunfire from a musket, injuries which required him to be hospitalized for six weeks.
Some time after being discharged from duty, Boyle relocated to the town of Flatbush in presentday Brooklyn and died in 1889.
Private Doremus was born in New York and first enlisted with the 36th New York Volunteer Infantry in 1862 while living in Manhattan, as noted in information provided by the camp. He was later transferred to the 65th New York Volunteer Infantry, where he served until the regiment was mustered out in July 1865, three months after the war's conclusion.
A blacksmith by trade who married twice, Doremus lived in many different locations including present day Maspeth and Greenpoint. He died in Manhattan in 1897.
Enlisting at 17 years of age, Private Morse joined the Eighth New York State Militia in April 1861 and was discharged later that year. He would go on to become a church organ builder and was married with one daughter.
For a time, he lived in Corona before relocating to Brooklyn. He died in New York in 1925.
Funding for each of the gravestones was provided in part by State Sen. Serphin Maltese and the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs, Weinmann noted.
Representatives of the state senator were on hand for last Saturday's ceremony along with members of other veterans groups, including Kenneth Rudzewick of the United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth.