How the Hudson Valley Changed the Civil War

In the Civil War, the Hudson Valley — and all of New York State — led the way in keeping the United States united



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The Civil War officially began 150 years ago this month, with the attack on Ft. Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861. The first casualty of the war occurred two days later, after the Union troops surrendered. As a condition of the withdrawal, the Union soldiers were permitted to fire a 100-gun salute to the U.S. flag before it was lowered. A spark from the salute accidentally blew up a pile of ammunition, instantly killing a private named Daniel Hough.

Hough, the first of an estimated 620,000 soldiers to die in the conflict, was from New York State.

And that’s fitting, really. Even though no blood was ever shed on New York soil, the Empire State had perhaps the greatest influence on the war. Indeed, as the Union’s wealthiest and most populous state at the time, and arguably the intellectual center of the war’s major issues — abolition and secession — New York shouldered the biggest share of the burden. Many of the war’s most important figures, including William Seward, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Fredrick Douglass, and Ulysses S. Grant, all lived in New York. The first state troops, the New York National Guard’s 7th Regiment, left New York City and entered the war just five days after Ft. Sumter fell. More than 200 New York infantry, cavalry, and artillery units soon followed. New York sent more soldiers, raised more money, and produced more supplies than any other state. And the state also suffered the most casualties: about 50,000 soldiers killed, countless injured.

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