COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis179
The "Cowles' Guard," a military company (so named in honor of the lamented Col. David S. Cowles, who fell like a hero in an assault on the rebel fortifications at Port Hudson in 1863), was formed in Hudson in May, 1878, and now numbers eighty-five men. They have adopted a handsome gray uniform with black trimmings and white belts. The company is an exceedingly fine military body, and is now under command of the following officers: Rufus J. Palen, captain; W. R. Elting, first lieutenant; Volkert Whitbeck, Jr., second lieutenant.
POPULAR DEMONSTRATIONS IN HUDSON
The first notable reception of a distinguished public man by the citizens and city government of Hudson was that given to Governor John Jay, on the 4th of July, 1792. He had stopped at Kinderhook, and came thence to Hudson, for the purpose of taking passage by sloop to proceed down the river. He came by way of Claverack, where he was met by a cavalcade of about two hundred Hudsonians, who escorted him to the city. He was received by Mayor Seth Jenkins, on behalf of the city government and the people, and was honored with an elegant entertainment at the public-house of Russell Kellogg. The usual complimentary and patriotic speeches and toasts were given, the principal citizens paid their respects, and on the following morning the distinguished guest moved to the landing and embarked, amid the acclamations of the populace and the thunder of an artillery salute from Captain Frothingham's guns on the Parade hill.
At the death of WASHINGTON the demonstrations of public grief were imposing. At a meeting of the council held Dec.26, 1799, that body took action as follows:
"The Council having received certain accounts of the Death of our illustrious, beloved General WASHINGTON, and being desirous of testifying their sorrow in the most public manner, do Resolve that the citizens be immediately notified to repair to the City Hall to form a procession to the Presbyterian Meeting-House, where suitable prayers will be made by the Rev. Mr. Sampson, and an Eulogy will be spoken by Mr. Gilbert on the solemn occasion."
The procession moved in the following order:
"Capt. Nicholas Hathaway's Company of Infantry, with Arms Reversed and Musick Muffled and Shrouded.
Recorder and Orator.
Common Council, two and two.
The Reverend Clergy.
Officers of the late Revolutionary Army.
Other Officers, Civil and Military
Citizens, two and two."
Minute-guns were fired by the artillery, the bells of the city were tolled, all places of business were closed, and a vast concourse of citizens, wearing badges of morning, assembled at the church to listen, with absorbing interest and deepest grief, to the touching eulogy.
A most remarkable and joyous occasion in Hudson was that of the public reception of the old Marquis LAFAYETTE, in September, 1824. Upon his arrival at New York a deputation from Hudson had waited on him there, tendering him the hospitalities of the city and soliciting the honor of a visit from him, which invitation was politely accepted.
Lafayette left New York and passed up the North river on the steamer "James Kent," commanded by Commodore Samuel Wiswall. After leaving Poughkeepsie he more than once mentioned his desire to meet again his "old friend Livingston" (Colonel Henry B. Livingston, who had served under him in the Revolution), and while the "Kent" was at Staatsburgh the colonel came alongside in a small boat, boarded the steamer, and the two old men, who had been comrades in the times that tried men's souls, rushed to embrace each other, much to the surprise of the lookers-on. Then the party proceeded to the Clermont mansion, where the night was passed in festivity. There the marquis was met by a committee from Hudson, with Generals Jacob Rutsen Van Rensselaer and James Fleming, who, accompanied by the Hudson City Guards, the Scotch Plaids, and the Hudson brass-band, had come down upon a steamer* to escort the illustrious guest to their city. About the middle of the following day the company reached the wharf at Hudson, where the hero entered a carriage drawn by four superb horses, each led by a groom dressed in Turkish costume; and in this manner, escorted by the military and a great procession of citizens, all under direction of Colonel Charles Darling as marshal of the day, he was taken through Warren and other principal streets, which were spanned in various places by arches of ever-green bearing inscriptions and mottoes of welcome. To the great crowds assembled he continually bowed his acknowledgements, and everywhere he was greeted with unbounded enthusiasm, which was redoubled when he alighted from the carriage, limping from the effects of the wound which he received at the Brandywine nearly half a century before. At the court-house he was welcomed by the mayor, and had presented to him a great number of Revolutionary veterans, the officers of the military, and the principal citizens.
Extensive preparations had been made for a dinner at Allen's hotel, where the largest room was most elaborately and beautifully decorated for the purpose. Above the chair of honor, set apart for the quest of they day, hung a flower-boarder inscription in the words:
"We bow not the head,
We bend not the knee,
But our hearts, Lafayette,
We surrender to thee."
But those who planned the dinner festivities were disappointed, for he had already spent much time here, and was compelled to leave after a very short stay at the hotel. So he said adieu to Hudson, and, re-embarking, passed on up the river, while the flocking thousands waved their farewells, and the cannon upon the bluff bade him God-speed.
When the naval hero, William Howard Allen, lost his life in a desperate encounter with pirates off the north coast of Cuba, and his remains were brought for interment to his native city of Hudson, the people were more deeply moved than they had ever been before upon a public occasion. Every possible sign of sorrow was shown. The bells were tolled, all business ceased, the entire population of their city turned out to testify their respect, and thousands followed to the grave, and stood uncovered during the service, the burial, and the firing of the parting volley. An account of these obsequies will be found in a biographical sketch of this distinguished officer, printed in another chapter.
Martin Van Buren, while President of the United States, made a journey from the seat of government to revisit the county and town where he was born. He was everywhere received with great enthusiasm by the people, but especially was this the case in Kinderhook. Hudson, however, was not behind in showing her respect for the chief magistrate by means of flags, salutes, and a general turning out of the citizens. But what was made the subject of severe and bitter criticism by the political friends of the President was that he was not given an official reception by the authorities of the city. But if he had received this courtesy it could hardly have added to the popular enthusiasm which greeted him here. Mr. Van Buren, upon this occasion, did not avail himself of the public means of conveyance, but came and departed in his private carriage.
The capture and incarceration of the anti-rent chief, "Big Thunder," in 1844, is fully mentioned in the general history of the county, as also the threats of incendiarism and rescue made by his partisans, and the intense alarm and excitement which pervaded the city of Hudson, and led to its occupation by the military. One of the papers of that day (the Rural Repository), in mentioning these stirring events, said, "The days of chivalry have returned among us. All are now full of deeds of war and daring. We are surrounded, as in a fortress, with soldiers, swords, pistols, cannon, colonels, etc. These, in old Hudson, have become the order of the day." It was certainly a strange experience for the staid and quiet city to find itself occupied by infantry, cavalry, and artillery, with all their officers and paraphernalia of war; but after the first few days of dread were over, and all fears of the bedizened anti-renters had passed, the stay of the troops became agreeable both to themselves and to the citizens. Balls and entertainments were given to the officers, and the entire forces were reviewed by the mayor, and after a protracted stay and a final interchange of courtesies and compliments, the different commands returned to their homes, probably somewhat improved in discipline, and leaving the city none the worse for their temporary occupation.
During the five years succeeding 1860--a period thickly crowded with great events--the city was often profoundly agitated, sometimes draped and decked with flags and streamers, and too often shrouded in mourning crape. At the receipt of the momentous tidings from Sumter, the departure and return of volunteers, the obsequies of the brave Colonel Cowles, and the announcement of the assassination of the great President,--on these and other scarcely less memorable occasions the citizens of Hudson closed their stores and offices and shops, and collected in great gatherings upon the streets, or marched by thousands in procession; filled with patriotism, fired with indignation, or weighed down by grief and mourning. These were demonstrations such as, in those times, were seen in almost every city and large town in the northern States, and of a sufficiently recent date to be clearly in the recollection of the greater part of the people now living.
*We are in doubt whether this steamer was the "Richmond" or the "Chancellor Livingston." Mr. Henry Hubbel, of Hudson, who well recollects the occasion, is confident that it was the last-named boat.