PERTH AMBOY – The city will kick off its 325th anniversary celebration this weekend with a special Civil War remembrance program in Bayview Park.
On Sunday, Aug. 10, the First Infantry Regular Army Unit – a group of Civil War re-enactors – will stage an encampment, starting at 1 p.m. Visitors can learn about the life of a typical soldier (North or South) – what they ate, how they lived, what medicines and surgeries were available to them – during perhaps the most awful conflict the nation has ever faced. There will be a concert of Civil War-era music, played by the New Jersey Symphonic Band under the direction of Chris Petersen, following the encampment.
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln called upon the state of New Jersey to draft 10,478 men to serve in the war for a period of nine months. The idea of a draft was so distasteful that a major enlistment campaign began and the entire quota was raised by volunteers.
Brave men from Perth Amboy volunteered to fight for the Union and equally brave women, many who became widows, stayed at home caring for the children, the crops and everyday chores.
In Perth Amboy, Company I, 28th Regiment, NJ Volunteers was raised and the newly-elected Mayor Joseph Crowell resigned, enlisted and was made captain. The company was made up of 84 men, 73 from Perth Amboy.
Perhaps the best known of the regiment is J. Gillmore West of Perth Amboy, who kept a diary which Joan Seguine-LeVine shares in her book, “The Diary of a Solider.” One becomes very fond of the young Amboyan whose writings come to an abrupt halt on Dec. 10, 1862 when the brigade went into battle.
On Dec. 13, there is an addition to the diary in another handwriting, telling of young “Gillie’s” death. It describes him lying on the battlefield at Fredricksburg with a shattered leg, slowly dying for several days. On the 13th, he was placed upon a table and had his leg amputated. He never regained consciousness.
The Civil War tore the country apart, affecting every person, every city and every small village. Brothers faced brothers on the battlefield. Yet, as a testimony to the country, the states reunited and became the greatest country in the world.
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