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Wayne Post
  • Historically Speaking — A peek at Palmyra’s past

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  • This will be a combination of Palmyra’s history following the Cornings and then heading to some of the unusual businesses that remain a mystery.
    We are in December and the 33rd regiment is heading to Fredericksburg, Virginia. There has been no rest for these weary soldiers, and it doesn’t help when they make camp and upon completion get orders to break camp and head out. A sudden burst of cold and snow engulfed the 33rd and they are now at White Oak Church. This is just a small Church with no particular history but in the Historical Museum we have pieces of “hard tack” or “hard bread” from the last breakfast there. Lt. Col. Corning made sure to bring it home with him.
    As the soldiers do, they work in the night and this was no different, by now there are three Grand Union Divisions as set up by General Burnside. Burnside thought his troops would meet little resistance. The Rappahannock River had to be crossed and the Union Engineers set out to build float bridges to the other side. On the Rebel side General “Stonewall” Jackson was ordered by Lee to bring his troops and wait several miles south of Port Royal.
    Many of Burnside’s officers were concerned and noted that they could not take the heights of Fredericksburg. Without heeding these warnings the trees were felled and the bridges were underway. The plan was that a Union division would cross and another until they were all on the other side. The Rebels were listening in the still night to the work and talking going on. They were ready for the Union. The Union engineers were to lay four bridges and began their work at midnight. This work was done by 4 a.m. instead of the expected 2 a.m. Unaware the unarmed engineers set their bridges. Burnsides estimate of a small band of Rebels turned to 1,600 of the 18th Mississippi and Floridians. Half complete with the bridges, Confederate General Barksdale’s men opened fire and the engineers were sitting ducks.
    The Yankee troops were at the ready and also opened fire stopping only when the Rebels made no more noises. After the brief battle the Rebels fell silent and those engineers that were left continued building the bridges. Another Rebel attack on the Union engineers ensued and lasted another hour until once again silence. Burnside decided that his artillery would bombard Fredericksburg before the bridges were complete, which they did. The 33rd came from behind and watched the unbelievable damage. These battles and campaigns last much longer then it seems in these synopses. The soldiers are tired, wounded, or dead. The camps go up again, the push over the river results in more dead on both sides as well as destruction to home and buildings of this city. This was the fall and winter of 1862 for the 33rd and many other regiments, divisions, and companies. Let’s end here since the days, weeks, and months remain the same. They are fighting the elements and each other day after day moving to Richmond, again.
    Page 2 of 2 - Here are a couple of interesting things from our fair community that have been a mystery. The internet is an amazing thing and you can find things for sale from your hometown that you have never heard of or seen before. We have three such things and one is Vegetable TRIOLA, The new ideal hair grower. Triola Mfg. Co., Palmyra, N. Y. is making this miracle to the bald head and selling it. The next item is a Granger’s KARBO dry cleaner. It cleans your beaver hat, cotton, wool, or silk with a non-inflammable liquid. The company is Granger and he is called “The Vanilla Man”. Both of these bottles are from the same period circa 1870-1880s using a cork stopper. The next item is a photograph of a horse drawn cart for seating approximately 20 people with four horses in the lead. It is from the Wm. H. Bump Livery at 12 Fayette St. Palmyra, NY. History is everywhere and comes from the strangest places.
    Call the museums at 597-6981 for questions, information and tours.
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