Descendants of Civil War regiment members to reunite

Descendants of members of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry, a Civil War regiment raised in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, will hold their 28th annual reunion on Saturday at the Chautauqua Institution on Route 394 in Chautauqua.

The 154th New York – known as the Hardtack Regiment – was raised in the summer of 1862 and participated in many of the great campaigns and battles of the war, including Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chatta-nooga, the Atlanta campaign, and Gen. William T. Sherman’s marches through Georgia and the Carolinas. Mark H. Dunkelman of Providence, R.I., the author of five books (“The Hardtack Regiment,” “Gettysburg’s Unknown Soldier,” “Brothers One and All,” “War’s Relentless Hand,” and “Marching with Sherman”) and dozens of articles on various aspects of the 154th’s history, will preside at the reunion, as he has every year since its inception in 1986.

Dunkelman is the great-grandson of John Langhans of Ellicottville, who served as a Corporal in Company H of the 154th. Stories and relics of his ancestor inspired Dunkelman’s interest and led to his life’s work as regimental historian. To date, he has connected with 1,193 fellow descendants of members of the 154th scattered across this continent and abroad.

Reunion attendees will gather from noon to 12:30 p.m. at the Hall of Philosophy, at which time Dunkelman will give the presentation “The Hardtack Regiment at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg,” followed by the roll call of the descendants.

From 2 to 2:45 p.m. the band Thursday Morning Brass will present a Civil War music concert at the Hall of Christ. Attendees will have to purchase afternoon gate passes for $13 valid from noon to 8 p.m. Parking is $8 for the day. Tickets can be purchased in person the day of the reunion, or in advance by calling the ticket office at 357-6250 (mention code 154th when purchasing tickets).

This year marks the sesquicentennial of the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, the 154th’s first two combats. At Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863, the 154th suffered the fourth highest regimental casualty count in the Army of the Potomac. Of the 590 soldiers present, 240 were killed or died – a 40 percent loss. At Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, the regiment lost 205 out of 265 engaged – a 77 percent casualty rate. Many of the descendants who attend the reunion will be related to soldiers killed, wounded, or captured in the two battles. In his talk, Dunkelman will describe the circumstances that led to such heavy losses.

Anyone descended from a member of the 154th is encouraged to attend the reunion. Descendants are asked to bring photographs and relics of their soldier ancestors to be copied and added to the regimental archives.

The public is also invited to attend. Each attendee will receive a souvenir ribbon.

For more information about the reunion, contact Mark Dunkelman by phone at 401-369-0637 or by email at nyvi154th@aol.com. More information about his work can be found at his website, www.hardtackregiment.com. Information about the Chautauqua Institution can be found at www.ciweb.org/.