CRANBURY: Town mayors attend Civil War monument dedication

By David Kilby, The Packet Group
   CRANBURY — Several dozen people, including descendents of Civil War soldiers, a few local mayors and Civil War re-enactors, gathered at Memorial Park on Main Street Saturday for the dedication of New Jersey’s newest Civil War Monument.
   Donated to Cranbury by the New Jersey Civil War History Association Inc. in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the monument also brought a few historians to Cranbury to share the significance of the war.
   Present for the ceremony were Hightstown Mayor Steve Kirson, East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov, Plainsboro Mayor Peter Cantu, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo and Sen. Linda Greenstein.
   The association chose Cranbury for the monument because of the township’s large role in the war. Several soldiers from the 14th Regiment New Jersey Volunteer Infantry as well as a few from the 28th Regiment came from Cranbury.
   ”This historic milestone represents an occasion to again remind ourselves how important it is to learn and to remember our history for all that it teaches and inspires us,” said Mayor Mironov in an e-mail statement to the Herald Wednesday. “As a result of the civil war, we all share a great history, treasured values and freedoms, great opportunities and a future of endless promise — this together as one nation united, in our United States. It was an honor to be able to join with Cranbury in this celebration.”
   The granite monument, made by AL Duryee & Sons, of Hightstown, has hand-chiseled on it the names of the local soldiers who died fighting in the war and the words, “In memory of those who gave their last full measure of devotion,” quoting President Abraham Lincoln.
   ”Nobody thought that war would last more than a few months,” said Roger Muessig, president of the New Jersey Civil War History Association at the dedication.
   But he said that in the summer of 1862, President Lincoln had to ask for 300,000 volunteers from the states.
   David Martin, a member of the New Jersey Civil War Heritage Association and author of more than 20 books on the Civil War and Revolution, spoke at the ceremony.
   He said if it were not for the Civil War, not only the Southern states but also states such as Texas, Oklahoma and California, which had just been admitted into the Union, might have receded.
   ”The issue of slavery was a partial cause of the war,” he said, “but not as large as other issues.”
   He said the Union was fighting for “all minorities.”
   ”This is what has helped keep our country great,” he added.
   ”New Jersey troops volunteered early and in large numbers,” he said, adding they began volunteering as soon as the war began in 1861.
   He said most of the volunteers were “naive and innocent” and not aware of how large the war would become.
   Bernard Olsen also spoke at the ceremony. He is the author of “Upon the Tented Fields,” a collection of letters by and to members of the 14th Regiment New Jersey.
   Quoting President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Mr. Olsen said the brave men who fought in the war have consecrated the ground more than anyone else can.
   He said the number of troops who died in the North and South in the Civil War was more than 600,000.
   Cranbury Committeeman Jay Taylor read a township resolution declaring June 11 “14th New Jersey Day” in Cranbury.
   Sen. Greenstein said she wasn’t sure if it was a coincidence the 14th Regiment of New Jersey was raised in Cranbury, and Cranbury is in the 14th New Jersey legislative district.
   ”If it’s like other villages were over 100 years ago, Cranbury has certainly maintained that feel as other towns have lost it,” she said.
   ”We all share a great history and a promising future,” Mayor Mironov said and thanked Cranbury for letting East Windsor be part of the ceremony.
   While impersonating Charles Olden, governor of New Jersey during the Civil War, Bruce Sirak read the speech Gov. Olden read during the dedication of the first Civil War monument in New Jersey, dedicated in 1866 and located in Cranbury.
   ”It is primarily the soldiers who earned the victory,” he said. “We can never do enough for them. Though dead, they still speak.”
   Speaking of the old monument, he said, “If it should fall, let an even greater one stand in its place.”
   He said the monument will stand not only as a memorial to the dead and the principles they died for, but as a testimony to the living.
   Father David Moreno, the chaplain re-enactor for the 2nd New Jersey Brigade living history organization, blessed the monument.
   ”We have not come here to glorify war,” he said, adding those who died in the Civil War and all wars paid the greatest sacrifice for peace.
   ”They fought valiantly,” he said. “They made New Jersey proud.”
   The monument was unveiled by Bob Bisaccio, past president and trustee of the association, and Jerry Pevahouse, a member of the Cranbury Historic Society.
   After the monument was unveiled, the names chiseled upon it were spoken, and as they were spoken, descendents of the soldiers came forward.
   The descendents of the 14th Regiment present at the ceremony were Paul L. Hommedeu and family, who are descendents of Ruderick Bradley, a musician in Company H; Douglas Mount, descendent of Private David Mount; George Sullivan and family, descendents of David Sullivan, of Company D; Richard Nicholas Schrum, descendent of Nicholas Schrum, of Company K; Steven Jamison and family; descendent of Sgt. Ellison Jamison of Company F; Carol Haszto and family; descendent of Kasimer Kenze, of Company H; Bruce Smith; descendent of Private Peter Layton, of Company A; Bob Breyling and Cranbury Committeeman Dan Mulligan and family, descendents of Lt. Marcus Stults; and Charles Paul II, a descendent of Gen. Philip Kearney.
   Descendents of troops from Company B, 28th Regiment, of New Jersey present at the ceremony were Karl Menschna and family, descendent of Private William Mount; and Kevin and Jesica Marshall, descendent of Noah Hart.
   Walter Olden Wright, a descendent of Gov. Olden, also was present.
   ”My mother had a lot of things relating to the Stults family,” said Mr. Breyling, descendent of Lt. Marcus Stults, adding his mother, Frida Rogers, had original pictures of Lt. Stults. His mother’s grandmother was Lt. Stults’ sister.
   ”It’s nice that we’re remembering the Civil War and what the causes were,” Mr. Breyling said. “As one of the speakers said, it wasn’t just slavery. It was state rights, not too dissimilar with what’s going on today and has been going on for the past 250 years.”
   At the Cranbury Township Committee meeting the following Monday, June 13, Mr. Taylor read a letter written by Gov. Chris Christie specifically for the ceremony.
   ”I am honored to join you in recognizing the 14th Regiment New Jersey Volunteer Infantry for their bravery,” Gov. Christie wrote. “This monument is a fitting tribute to the sacrifice they made to preserve the Union. If not for their efforts, the United States we cherish so dearly may not have survived.”
   Following the ceremony, the Cranbury Fire Department served lunch, and the Cranbury History and Preservation Society offered walking historic tours of Cranbury.
   There also was the opening of the Cranbury museum exhibit, “Cranbury and the Civil War,” at the museum on Park Place.