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A Militia Company on Parade

A militia company stands along a roadway in Angelica, N.Y., while curious townspeople inspect them. Armed with muskets and wearing pompon-topped shakos and cross-belts, they appear ready for parade. According to an historian in Allegany County, where Angelica is situated, the image dates to about 1859, when the house behind them was built. (It stands today at 82 Olean Street.)

Quarter-plate ambrotype by an unidentified photographer. Scott Hilts Collection.
Quarter-plate ambrotype by an unidentified photographer. Scott Hilts Collection.

In August 1859, a weeklong “Grand Militia Encampment” held in Angelica drew crowds and distinguished persons, including Republican Gov. Edwin D. Morgan. Participating companies included the Angelica Guards of the 64th New York State Militia. Might the men pictured here be the Angelica Guards? Whatever their affiliation, a local historian suggests they likely went on to become part of Company E of the 85th New York Infantry. The 85th served in Virginia, fighting in the Peninsula Campaign, and in coastal North Carolina, where the regiment was surrendered at Plymouth in April 1864. Confederate captors sent the prisoners to Southern camps, where 222 perished.

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