Descendants of members of the 154th New York Volunteer Infantry, a Civil War regiment raised in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, are set to hold their 34th annual reunion from 2 to 5 pm on Saturday, July 20, at the Bemus Point United Methodist Church at 4954 Bemus-Ellery Road in Bemus Pont, Chautauqua County.
The 154th New York — known as the Hardtack Regiment — was raised in the summer of 1862 and participated in many of the important campaigns and battles of the war, including Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Chattanooga, the Atlanta Campaign, and Gen. William T. Sherman’s marches through Georgia and the Carolinas.
Mark H. Dunkelman of Providence, R.I., will preside at the reunion, as he has every year since their inception in 1986. He 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 a lifelong work as regimental historian. He is the author of six books and dozens of articles on various aspects of the 154th’s history, and creator of the mural next to the regiment’s Gettysburg monument. To date he has connected with more than 1,300 fellow descendants of members of the 154th.
The reunion program will focus on “The Captains,” the 25 men who were commissioned and mustered in at that rank. They ran the gamut from heroes to scamps, from beloved by their subordinates to disliked, from the unscathed to the killed, wounded, and captured.
In addition to Dunkelman six relatives of the regimental captains will take part in the program. They are Clark Casler of Jamestown; James Harbeck of Toronto, Ontario; Holly Ray of Brookfield, OH; J. Brian Gallagher of The Woodlands, TX; Olin Hotchkiss of Strongsville, OH; and Tom Cheney of Fayetteville, NY.
Anyone descended from a member of the 154th New York is encouraged to attend the reunion, which is free and open to the public. Descendants are asked to bring photographs and relics of their soldier ancestors to be copied and added to the regimental archives. Each attendee will receive a souvenir ribbon.
For more information about the reunion, contact Mark Dunkelman by phone at (401) 369-0637, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about his work, including summaries of previous reunions, can be found on his website.
Portrait of Matthew Cheney provided.