• Welcome to the New York State Military Museum

    Welcome to the New York State Military Museum

    The mission of the museum and research center is to preserve, interpret and disseminate the story, history and records of New York State’s military forces and veterans.

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  • Sherman Tank Returns!

    Sherman Tank Returns!

    Our Sherman Tank returns to the NYS Military Museum from Fort Drum after a year long restoration, to it's permanent exhibit spot.

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  • CIVIL WAR PAINTINGS | Now on Display

    CIVIL WAR PAINTINGS | Now on Display

    This exhibit will highlight some of the finest Civil War artwork from the collection of the Military Museum on a rotating basis. Click for more details...

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  • A CALL NOT UNHEEDED

    A CALL NOT UNHEEDED

    The exhibit features a dazzling array of militia and National Guard distinctive unit dress uniforms, ballot boxes and decorative bronze trophies that interpret the social organization of the National Guard, original artifacts from the USS Maine, and a carronade captured during the 1857 Dead Rabbits Riot in New York City.

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  • Battleground for Freedom

    Battleground for Freedom

    No less than 120 military engagements occurred on New York soil, more than in any other state, ranging in scale and significance from the decisive Battle of Saratoga to numerous bitter skirmishes and ruthless raids that raged throughout the frontier settlements...

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  • Some Great Past Exhibits

    Some Great Past Exhibits

Welcome to the New York State Military Museum

The mission of Friends is to be a support to the museum, to aid in fund raising for exhibits and displays, as well as assisting in drawing attention to the museum through programs, lectures and events. As the board of trustees, we are the elected board which helps direct the membership to facilitate the support mission of the non profit group.

 

New York's Horse Soldiers, 1840-1940

“New York's Horse Soldiers, 1840-1940”, a new exhibition opening at the New York State Military Museum on July 5, traces the history and evolution of New York State's cavalry units from the militia era in the decades before the Civil War through the beginning of World War II when mechanized vehicles replaced horses.  The exhibition features a variety of uniforms and cavalry equipment including a Squadron A Enlisted Man's Full Dress Coat with Baldric, 1910; a Model 1904 McClellan Saddle, 1918; and a Remington Rolling Block Carbine, New York State Contract, 1873. 

Although New York State’s organized militia included numerous cavalry companies and regiments since at least the 1810's, the cavalry arm lacked sufficient supplies, effective leadership, and professionalism until the late 1880s. When Troop A, Cavalry joined the New York National Guard in 1889, New York’s horse soldiers started to achieve the respect and recognition afforded the traditional foot soldier. Subsequent growth established a new era for the New York horse soldier that would propel New York’s National Guard well into the 20th century. 

In the first half of the 19th century, New York State’s volunteer militia steadily grew as numerous companies and regiments, including cavalry units, formed across the state. Deceivingly, these regiments were largely skeletal units or loosely organized “paper” regiments. Beginning in the mid-1850s infantry regiments were permitted to add two flank companies of cavalry. At the cusp of the Civil War, the New York State Militia included nearly 1600 cavalrymen in over 35 cavalry flank companies plus two New York City-based cavalry regiments. 

During the Civil War, New York State Militia cavalrymen and over two dozen new volunteer cavalry regiments contributed approximately 50,000 horse soldiers to the Union cause. State militia cavalrymen from the 1st Cavalry and 3rd Cavalry served briefly in 1861 and again during the deadly 1863 Draft Riot in New York City. 

Beginning in 1868, New York State’s Adjutant General initiated a systematic restructuring. In 1885 a small group of New York City gentlemen formed a private cavalry organization called the “First New York Hussars” and later the “New York Dragoons.” The group’s popularity and seriousness quickly grew. On April 2, 1889, the organization officially mustered in the New York State National Guard as Troop A, Cavalry.   Fresh from its highly commendable service during the Brooklyn Trolley Strike in 1895, Troop A continued to grow and received a new designation, Squadron A, in February 1895. Squadron A’s popularity and success spurred interested horsemen in neighboring Brooklyn to form a mounted troop, Troop C, Cavalry (officially organized in December 1895.)   

 New York’s cavalry volunteers during the Spanish American War included one troop, designated as Troop A, Cavalry, New York Volunteers, with 105 volunteers and three officers from Squadron A. The second troop, designated as Troop C, Cavalry, New York Volunteers, included volunteers from the Brooklyn-based Troop C, Cavalry. During the brief war, the horse soldiers in Troops A and C, Cavalry, New York Volunteers served in Puerto Rico where Troop C engaged in several skirmishes with Spanish troops. 

After the Spanish American War, in Albany, Troop B, Cavalry organized and mustered into service in January 1902. In Syracuse, Troop D, Cavalry mustered into service in April 1904. In Brooklyn, Troop C, Cavalry expanded into a squadron, Squadron C, to include two troops in December 1904 and another two troops added in 1908. Even Squadron A grew in size with another troop added in May 1907. 

Growth led to consolidation as the 1st Cavalry organized in late December 1911 to merge New York’s Squadron A and Brooklyn’s Squadron C with a new squadron, organized September 11, 1911, known as the Third Squadron. Headquartered in Albany, the Third Squadron included only two troops, Albany’s Troop B and Syracuse’s Troop D.  Additionally, in 1912 six new cavalry troops organized. Four troops joined the 1st Cavalry: Troop L, based in New York City (immediately re-designated as Troop C); Troop M, based in Brooklyn; Troop H, from Rochester; and Troop I, from Buffalo. The remaining two new troops, Troop F, from Staten Island, and Troop G, from Utica, joined a newly created cavalry regiment, the 2nd Cavalry, organized in March 1912, with five troops pulled from the 1st Cavalry.  Ultimately by mid-1914 the New York National Guard included one full cavalry regiment, the 1st Cavalry, plus one squadron, Squadron A, and one Machine Gun Cavalry troop, a company of machine gunners attached to division headquarters in New York City.

 In June 1916, New York National Guard cavalrymen responded to President Woodrow Wilson’s call to arms along the Mexican Border. New York supplied a full division known as the New York Division or, more officially, the 6th Division. The division included over 1200 cavalry troops from the 1st Cavalry (959 officers and men), Squadron A (219), and the Machine Gun Troop, Cavalry (65).  

 When the United States joined World War I in July 1917, the deadly European war had already raged for nearly three years. The tactics and technology witnessed during the war’s first three years, specifically trench warfare and the use of new advanced weaponry like machine guns, heavy artillery, and tanks, rendered traditional horse soldiers obsolete. Consequently, when the New York National Guard’s old New York Division, or 6th Division, mustered into federal service as the 27th Division, the division’s cavalry units dismounted and served in the 104th, 105th, or 106th Machine Gun Battalions or the 102nd Trench Mortar Battery.

 Shortly after World War I, the 27th Division returned home to New York and the former horsemen from the old 1st Cavalry reorganized and reequipped for cavalry duty and consolidated with upstate units to form the 101st Cavalry in December 1920. Squadron A, New York National Guard reformed as the 51st Machine Gun Squadron in December 1921. The machine gunners eventually reorganized as the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry in 1928.  Growth necessitated another cavalry regiment to complement the existing 101st Cavalry and to consolidate the additional cavalry troops then located in Albany, Utica, Syracuse, and Geneseo. The new regiment, designated as the 121st Cavalry in 1928 with Headquarters in Rochester, included these smaller cavalry troops plus personnel from the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry.   

 

In 1940-41, as the United States kept a watchful eye on the raging war in Europe and the Far East, the War Department evaluated the National Guard’s and Army’s preparedness for modern warfare and concluded that traditional horse cavalry was not essential. Consequently, New York’s 101st and 121st Cavalry regiments received new designations and assignments as Mechanized Cavalry, Reconnaissance Squadrons, Antitank Battalions, and as a Coast Artillery regiment. These conversions effectively ended New York State’s short-lived yet important era as home to the nation’s premiere horse soldiers. 

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Horsemen from Troop A, New York National Guard, Brooklyn Trolley Strike, 1895.

Troop A - Cavalry, New York Volunteers, Camp Alger, Virginia, May-July, 1898.

 

Do Your Part! - World War I Poster Art

 a new exhibition opening at the New York State Military Museum on July 5, showcases the variety of patriotic and motivational posters created 100 years ago during the Great War.  After the US entered the conflict in 1917, the federal government effectively created dozens of motivational posters urging its citizens to support the war effort.  Dramatic posters urged citizens to buy war bonds, join the military, save starving European refugees and donate money to charitable groups including the Red Cross, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).  

The exhibition features a variety of personal items worn and used by the US Army servicemen such as a Campaign hat, Overseas cap and ID disks. Also showcased in the exhibition are items sent to the Doughboy including a Red Cross supplied razor and small shaving mirror. 

 

 

 

  • World War I and the New York National Guard

    New York National Guard in World War I  - Centennial News

    NEW YORK -- Before they walked down the gangplank onto French soil in April 1918; 25,000 New York National Guard Soldiers walked down Fifth Avenue in August 1917 so New York City could say goodbye.

    On August 30, 1917, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers lined a five mile route from 110th Street to the Washington Square Arch as the 27th Infantry Division paraded down the street.

    There were so many marching Soldiers, the New York Times reported, that it took five hours for the parade to pass by. After being federalized on July 15, 1917 New York Army National Guard members remained at their armories, being issued equipment, undergoing medical checks, shoeing mules, and beginning to train for war.

    The units also continued final recruiting efforts to bring their companies and regiments up to full strength. Local men were urged to go to war with their friends and neighbors instead of waiting to be drafted or enlisting in the Regular Army.

    In Saratoga Springs, for example, Louis Dominick decided to join the local National Guard company at the last minute instead of enlisting the "depot company" the Army had established for the county. Dominick's decision meant the regular Army recruiters were now one short of their goal of 50 Soldiers for the county, the "Saratogian" newspaper reported. While the Regular Army officers who were orchestrating mobilization wanted the Soldiers to move into field camps quickly, the New York National Guard argued that it made more sense to use its armories for the mobilization process instead.

    "These measures could be taken in a much more efficient manner in the great armories of New York State than they could in open fields, while commands were endeavoring to make camp with ranks augmented by many recruits and without military property adequate for their strength," Major General John F. O'Ryan, the 27th Infantry Division commander, wrote after the war Initially, O'Ryan was told that his division-destined to be known as the 27th Division but still being called the 6th Division by the Army-would be training at Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina and was slated to move in early August.

    With this early August departure date in mind, New York City's movers and shakers began planning for a big farewell parade. Initially the parade was set for Thursday, August 9, 1917. But on August 6, the division learned that Camp Wadsworth wasn't ready yet. The big parade was put off.

    "If we lined the sidewalks of New York with the relatives of the Soldiers –mothers, sisters and so forth, all crying and bidding goodbye to the boys-then the troops remained here for a week, maybe two weeks, the whole big impressive parade would become ridiculous," New York City Mayor John Mitchell, told the New York Times.

    The delay in moving south was probably a good thing, the New York Times also reported, since the Soldiers of the 27th Division were still short of equipment and the units needed to be consolidated. The men of the 71st Infantry Regiment, for example, were spread out in small elements over 700 square miles of upstate New York, the Times reported. It would take 30 hours to concentrate the unit, the paper said.

    On August 23, O'Ryan was informed that the division would move south beginning in early September and the big parade in New York City was back on again. Only now the festivities would include a dinner for 24,000 New York National Guardsmen as well.  Regiments from upstate New York were moved down to Van Cortland Park. Other regiments camped at Pelham Bay Park, Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Three coastal defense regiments – Soldiers trained to man the forts that still protected New York City in 1917-were on duty there.

    On August 28, Mayor Mitchell hosted a dinner at the Hotel Biltmore for O'Ryan, his division staff, and unit commanders. On August 29, a committee of 100 Prominent Women played hostess at the camps around the city as the rest of the New York National Guard troops enjoyed "farewell rallies around feast laden boards," in the words of a New York Times reporter.

    "Only a town like the City of New York could seriously undertake a hospitality of such magnitude," O'Ryan wrote.

    The big parade kicked off at 10 a.m. on August 30. Members of Soldiers families were given a special pass that allowed them access to the west side of Fifth Avenue from 110th Street south to 59th Street. Locations at the Plaza Hotel, the Pulitzer Memorial, and Madison Square were also reserved for Soldiers families. Each Soldier got four passes for his family members. The New York Police Department was geared up to handle an expected two million spectators with 4,000 officers under the command of nine inspectors stationed along the parade route. Chief Inspector James Dillon, the officer in charge of the parade, issued an order forbidding the public from using "boxes, barrels, chairs, campstools or settees of any kind" while watching the parade. The Police Department Band led the parade, which allowed all the regimental bands to march with their parent organization.

    First in line was the 22nd Engineer Regiment. The regiment's A Company had already been ordered to Yaphank on Long Island to build a camp which would eventually be occupied by the newly formed 77th Infantry Division. Its D Company was already in South Carolina helping to finish Camp Wadsworth. The rest of the regiment was due to get on a train after the troops marched past the reviewing stand at the Union League Club, and head south to help finish up construction of the post.

    At the reviewing stand Mayor Mitchell, former President Teddy Roosevelt, and other state and local dignitaries waved and greeted the troops.

    The marching troops remembered cheering crowds, with people waving flags and shouting themselves horse, while "bombarding" the troops with "candy, chewing gum and all kinds of fruits, cigars and cigarettes."

    Most of the troops in the parade finished their march and went back to camp to wait for their turn to go to Spartanburg. The men of the 102nd Ammunition Train, for example, finished up marching in late afternoon and then boarding an elevated train to head back to camp.

    A New York Times writer called the parade: "A thrilling, stirring sight!" "File upon file, hour after hour, of well-set, clear-eyed, determined men, some young and yet to be hardened in training camps, others, and many of them, made fit already by experience to take up their final training in the fields and trenches behind the battle lines in France," the New York Times said. "We have never faced such a war as this, we have never had such an Army as we now have in the making," the Times added.

    For the next couple of weeks, the big parade of August 30 was replicated several more times on a smaller scale as individual regiments left New York for Spartanburg. The 7th Regiment's march to the train station on Sept, 11, 2017, for example, even included a second march past the Union Club for a sendoff by New York City's great and good.

    With the parade and send offs behind them, the Soldiers of the 27th Division adapted to their new home in South Carolina and began to learn the art of soldiering in the 20th Century. There would be much hard fighting in France ahead in 1918.

    During the World War I centennial observance the Division of Military and Naval Affairs will issue press releases noting key dates which impacted New Yorkers based on information provided by the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. More than 400,000 New Yorkers served in the military during World War I, more than any other state.

     

    08.18.2017
    Story by Eric Durr 
    New York National Guard

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Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 581-5100

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