The following press release was prepared by Chautauqua County Historian and Chautauqua County Historical Society Trustee Michelle Henry.
MAYVILLE, N.Y., May 27, 2011 – A valuable piece of Chautauqua County’s Civil War history will be on display at the Bicentennial History Fair in an effort to raise funds for its restoration. The relic, a silk banner from Westfield’s 9th New York Cavalry, is rarely shown because of its fragile condition. Restoration efforts have been led by the 9th New York Cavalry, Company F Living History Group, who have raised about one third of the money needed to stop the banner from further deterioration.
The William P. Jackway VFW Post in Westfield discovered the banner in their attic while remodeling in 1997. The banner was from the first reunion of the 9th New York Cavalry, held in Westfield in 1886 to commemorate 25 years since the formation of the unit. It is six feet high and four feet wide. Two pieces of hand painted silk are bordered with fringe and heavy tassels along the bottom. One side commemorates the Westfield Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, named for William Sackett. The other side reads “Presented to the 9th NY Cavalry on the Occasion of their 25 Anniversary Reunion held at Westfield, NY, October 1st & 2nd, 1886, William Sackett Post, GAR.”
The 9th New York Cavalry was formed in Westfield in 1861 at the start of the Civil War. It was the only cavalry unit from Western New York and men traveled here from across the region to enlist in the unit. Eight companies of 32 or more men assembled and were trained at the Westfield fairgrounds. The State furnished 20 muskets for training. On October 31, uniforms, clothing and canteens arrived for the men, and on November 9 the regiment boarded the 2 PM train for Albany. From Albany the unit was sent to Washington and in the following years fought in some of the bloodiest engagements of the war, including Brandy Station, Trevilian Station, The Wilderness, Gettysburg, and Appomattox Court House.
The Westfield GAR Post was formed in 1883 and named for Colonel William Sackett (View NY Times Obituary), killed at Trevilian Station on June 14, 1864. Union forces were attempting to tear up railroad tracks and destroy a railroad bridge near Trevilian Station, a stop on the Virginia Central Railroad. The 9th New York rode to the front when called, dismounted and formed a line of 220 officers and men facing thick woods. Sackett was in command. Sackett lead his men into the woods with a yell and he with about 40 men fell from heavy gunfire by the Confederates. The rest of his troop drove the enemy out of the woods and back across an open field, taking 80 prisoners.
About July 12, Mrs. Sackett, seeking word of her husband, traveled to General Grant’s headquarters. Under a flag of truce, General Lee was approached on behalf of Mrs. Sackett for permission to go to Trevilian Station to find her husband. Permission was denied, but Lee offered to inform Mrs. Sackett of her husband’s condition. On July 14, Lee’s surgeon reported that Colonel Sackett had died in the evening on June 14 from wounds in the abdomen, and was buried the next day near Mrs. Bibb’s house a few miles from Trevilian Station.
In 1886, Sackett’s widow traveled from Denver Colorado to attend the 25th reunion of the 9th New York. She stayed with Captain Lyman of Randolph, N.Y. According to an article in the Randolph Register published just prior to the reunion, “an elegant banner purchased by Captain Lyman in New York will be presented to William Sackett Post, named in honor of the deceased Colonel.”
Anyone interested in donating to the restoration of the banner can send a donation to:
P.O. Box 170
Mayville, NY 14757.
The Bicentennial History Fair will take place at Chautauqua Suites in Mayville, on Saturday, August 13 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday, August 14 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is free.