Friday, October 21, 2016

"This Hand for our Country" - the Ulster Guard Monument to the 20th New York State Militia at Gettysburg


The 20th Regiment of the New York State Militia (Ulster Guard) volunteered for service at the start of the American Civil War, and was soon re-named the 80th New York Volunteer Infantry. 375 of its men fought at Gettysburg, where the monuments shown here stand today. Around the Hand is the motto "This hand for our country". So the men of Ulster County must have had some understanding of the emblem of the place on the other side of the Atlantic from which their home county took its name.

The regiment was founded by Zadock Pratt, who became a Colonel. His house is a museum today, in the town of Prattsville. Unfortunate name! His ancestors were English, arriving in the USA in the 1630s near Connecticut. He was born in 1790 and served two terms as a US Congressman, and built what was then the world's largest tannery with apparently 30,000 employees. His son George W Pratt also served in the regiment. Grandson George Pratt Ingersoll was a diplomat and became US Ambassador to Siam in 1917.

At their annual reunion in 1912, which was also the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, veterans of the regiment gathered at the Kingston Hotel, the walls of which were bedecked with American flags, a large painting of the Battle of Gettysburg, a photo of the association's previous meeting, and according to the Kingston Daily Freeman newspaper, 'Under these was a shield bearing a hand and the motto, "this hand for our country"'.

• A huge 1879 volume about the Ulster Guard is on here.

• Pratt Rock is a pretty remarkable memorial

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