The 34th N.Y. Comes Home. Reception in Little Falls, June 13, 1863
“By sunup on Saturday morning, the roads leading into Little Falls were jammed with people. Delegations from throughout Herkimer County came into town, aboard heavy farm wagons, in elegant carriages, on horseback and on foot. Well-wishers from communities east and west of the village crammed special trains stopping at the depot. Every stable and hitching post in town was appropriated as the crowd swelled to an estimated ten thousand people. The 34th New York and a contingent of escorts from Herkimer County left Albany for Little Falls aboard an early train. Arriving in Little Falls at 11 a.m., the regiment was greeted by a deafening roar from the huge crowd that had gathered at the depot. Cheer after cheer rent the air as the soldiers emerged from the cars. The 34th’s officers tried their best to get their men into line, but the surge of the crowd made any formation impossible. After a semblance of order was restored, Little Falls village president, M.W. Priest, formally welcomed the troops.
Following Priest’s address, a procession, headed by a squad of Little Falls police, formed on John Street. The procession then headed east along John Street, up William Street and back westerly along Main Street. Along the parade route, wreaths, banners and other decorations were hung on every storefront and residence.
Reaching Ward’s Square, the procession divided, forming ranks on both sides of the park, with only the men of the 34th being admitted to the center. On an elevated platform in the middle of the green, thirty-four young ladies dressed in white were arranged in a ‘pyramid of beauty.’ The crowd quieted as the girls, students of Miss Wright’s school, recited their welcoming tribute to the boys of the 34th. As the speech concluded each girl came forward and threw a bouquet of fresh spring flowers to the men of the 34th.
Afterwards the soldiers were conducted to a thousand-foot-long table, heaped with food. The ‘eatables’ spread before them included: eight hundred pounds of meat, two hundred loaves of bread, one hundred and fifty pies, two hundred cakes, one hundred pounds of sugar, one hundred pounds of cheese, forty pounds of butter, pork and beans, pickles, radishes, oranges and tarts. Over one hundred ladies waited on the soldiers, making sure that none of the men left the table hungry.
Wandering through the park after their meal, the men of the 34th were objects of the crowd’s adoration. Men vigorously shook the soldiers’ hands, women kissed them and on many a cheek flowed tears of affection. At five o’clock those members of the regiment that had not drawn furloughs marched back to the train depot and loaded onto cars bound for Albany. As the train departed, the crowd gave the men one last loud cheer.”
The National Colors and Regimental Flag of the 34th N.Y.
Note: The 34th N.Y. was a two year regiment. During its time in service 162 men died either from wounds or illness. The regiment numbered 1100 men when it was mustered in on June 15, 1861. On June 30, 1863 it mustered out only 496 men.