• 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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    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.


Collection of World War II index cards-New York Soldiers federalized


On September 25, 1940, a full year before Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8551 which Ordered Certain Units and Members of the National Guard of the United States Into the Active Military Service of the United States. This included men of the 27th Division, the New York Division. These men reported for duty less than three weeks later when they assembled at their various armories around the state on October 15, 1940.

One collection in the New York State Military Museum is a collection of index cards with the name of every soldier who was called to active duty in the fall of 1940. This collection has 28,969 cards. 

This is what a typical card looked like:


No photo description available.

  • Museum receives donation from Stewarts Shops Holiday Match

    Our thanks go out today to Stewarts Shops for their financial support to us in their Holiday Match program this year, 2021.
    Stewarts Shops financial support will assist us in bringing forward new exhibits at the military museum and supporting our efforts in bringing to the public interesting speakers and presentations for 2021 and 2022.
    Thank you Stewarts Shops! Your support in the past and again this year has given us the opportunity to better showcase the important story of our veterans from New York State and their sacrifices from the Revolutionary War to the present day.
  • The Harlem Hellfighters are now officially the Harlem Hellfighters.

    100 years after the New York National Guard’s 369th Infantry Regiment earned the nickname in World War I, the Army has recognized the right of 369th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers to call themselves Hellfighters.

    The Army Center of Military History, which approved the official designation on Sept. 21, 2020, also made it clear that Hellfighters is one word and not two.

    The 369th joins 717 other Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve units—some of which are no longer around- which have official special designations. These range from the 3rd Infantry Division’s “Marne Division” nickname earned in World War I, to the 179th Aviation Company of the Vietnam War which called itself “Shrimp Boats.”

    The 369th’s nickname was recognized as a traditional, historical designation for the unit; much like the 42nd Infantry Division’s “Rainbow” name, or the Regular Army’s 3nd Cavalry Regiment “Brave Rifles” nickname. The special designation program is run by the Force Structure and Unit History Branch of the US Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair as part of the Army’s organizational history program. This is the same entity that provides the lineage and honors for Army units. Units can also request special designations without any historical basis, by written request and if no other unit is using it, according to center officials.

    The 369th’s quest to make their long-time nickname official began in 2019 when New York State Military Museum Director Courtney Burns was looking at the Army’s list of unit special designations. He had been working on a 369th history display at the newly renovated Harlem Armory, and went looking for the certificate noting the official designation of the 369th as the Harlem Hellfighters. He was shocked to find that a unit as famous as the 369th was not on the list. “That was such a glaring error,” he said.

    Because the military history program is a unit commander’s program, Burns contacted Seth Morgulas, the commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade to let him know that the long-treasured nickname was not officially recognized. “I said, “That is crazy, how does it not have it, ’Morgulas recalled.

    The New York State Department of Transportation had even ceremonially renamed Harlem River Drive, which runs by the Armory on Manhattan’s west side, the Harlem Hellfighters Drive, he pointed out. Morgulas tasked his personnel officer to work with Burns to put the right documents together and fix the issue. The entire process took about a year, he said.

    The 369th Infantry began as the 15th Infantry Regiment headquartered in Harlem. It was a New York National Guard unit for African-Americans in a segregated Army and National Guard. When the United States went to war in 1917, Black Americans traveled to New York City to enlist in the 15th Infantry Regiment. The regiment’s commander, Col. William Hayward, lobbied hard for his Soldiers to be part of the American Expeditionary Force and they shipped out in 1917.

    At first they worked unloading supply ships. But in March 1918 they were reorganized as the 369th Infantry and loaned to the French Army. The men of the 369th fought in combat for 191 days. The unit took 1500 killed and wounded, while receiving only 900 replacements. In one offensive, the 369th outpaced French units on either side by seven miles. They were the first unit of the French, British or American Armies to reach the Rhine River at the end of the war. The unit earned 11 French citations and a unit Croix de Guerre and 170 Soldiers were awarded the French Croix de Guerre.

    The Soldiers of the 369th called themselves the “Black Rattlers” and the unit crest still features a rattlesnake coiled to strike. The French called them “Hommes de Bronze” or Men of Bronze. But it was their German adversaries who gave them the name that stuck. The Germans called the Black Americans “Hollenkampfer”: German for Hellfighters.

    “They are devils,” a Prussian officer captured during the Meuse-Argonne offensive told his American captors about the 369th. “They smile while they kill and they won’t be taken alive.” When the men of the 369th paraded through New York City in 1919, the New York Times headline read: “New York’s Hell-Fighters March up the Avenue.”

    The 369th Sustainment Brigade staff put together historical references to the unit name, filled in the paperwork, and sent it to the National Guard Bureau historian. That office, in turn, sent it to Joseph Seymour, a historian with 20 years of experience, at the Army Center of Military History in Fort McNair. Seymour is the historian at the Center who deals with Army National Guard history.

    When a unit needs its lineage and honors updated, or they want to add information, Seymour is the person who checks the information and make sure it is accurate. “If a unit feels they are entitled to a distinctive designation, we research the merits of the claim,” Seymour said. “The case of the Harlem Hellfighters is a particularly interesting claim,” Seymour said. “It was not what they called themselves. It is what the enemy called them. That is a particular distinction.” Documenting the 369th’s claim to their historic name was not hard to do, Seymour said. There were plenty of books and articles linking the name Hellfighters to the 369th.

    “They are a very famous unit. It is one of those things that everybody knew about. But because everybody knew about it they never submitted a request for a distinctive designation,” Seymour said. “It was a surprise,” he added. For a National Guard unit to request that their traditional nickname be noted as an official Army Distinctive Designation, a request in writing has to go the National Guard Bureau, Seymour explained. Battalions and brigades seeking to make a traditional designation official must show that the designation has been used for at least 30 years, Seymour explained.

    But because National Guard units are often reorganized and realigned, it is possible for a company of a battalion to have a different historical lineage and have their own traditional nickname, he said. In that case a company has to prove the nickname has been around for 50 years, Seymour said. These designations can be changed.

    The 283rd Army Band, for example, used to be the “United States Army Infantry Center Band” but changed the name to the “United States Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Band” when the Infantry and Armor school merged. There are 13 New York Army National Guard units with Army Special Designations. Some of them are well known; like the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry’s “Fighting Sixty-Ninth; and the 42nd Infantry Division’s “Rainbow”. Others aren’t heard about too much.

    The 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, for example, is entitled to call itself Empire, because New York is known as the Empire State, and that was the nickname picked by the 27th Armored Division in the 1950s.

    The 501st Ordnance Battalion owns the lineage of the 105th Infantry, so it also owns their designation of “Apple Knockers”; a term for upstate New York residents in the early 20th Century. And although it is now headquartered in Kingston, the official nickname for the 104th Military Police Battalion is Poughkeepsie Invincibles.  The battalion gets that name because it traces its history back to a Poughkeepsie militia company organized in 1775 by Captain Jacobus Frear called the Poughkeepsie Invincibles.

    “Some of these nicknames are so old and obscure that nobody knows what or why they are,” Burns said. 

Museum Hours

Tuesday - Saturday | 10:00 am - 4:00 pm (Closed Sunday & Monday)

Research Center Hours

Appointments are required.
Tuesday – Friday | 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

The museum is closed on
all New York State & Federal Holidays.

61 Lake Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 581-5100

Museum Store
(518) 226-0490

Due to staffing concerns the museum
can no longer accept telephone inquiries.


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