In the tiny town of Saranac, sometimes referred to as Saranac Hollow, stands a monument to the town’s Civil War veterans. What makes it unique is that, during the war, the townspeople sent over three and a half times its draft quota to the Union Army. With a population of 3,600 people, 416 veterans are honored on the monument.
Walking around an Adirondack cemetery may seem like something straight out of horror films or reserved for a spooky Halloween night, but standing tall in Independence Cemetery is a war memorial that far exceeds any school lessons covering the United States Civil War.
According to the Town of Saranac’s historian Jan Couture it is the only Civil War memorial in Clinton County and the first war memorial of any kind in the county. To first look at it, it seems quite simple but the power is in reading the dedications and recognizing names we assume to be related to these brave lost soldiers.
The monument stands 40’ tall with its unique white zinc (white bronze) castings with the “Saranac Soldier” standing on top, high above the other headstones. Each of the four sides are dedicated to major Civil War battles: Drury’s Bluff, Gettysburg, Antietam and Fredericksburg.
First dedicated in 1888, the granite-based monument was erected to honor the Civil War veterans. Five of Lincoln’s Avengers, part of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry which aided in the capture of John Wilkes Booth, were also honored.
“Five men from Saranac participated in the capture at the farm where Booth was captured,” says Couture. “ All five men came back and settled around here. Three of them were at the dedication on Memorial Day in 1888.”
“There have been war memorials erected in the county since this one, especially regarding the War of 1812, but this memorial is the first of its kind here,” says Couture. “In 2001 I noticed that the base was really starting to deteriorate. As the town historian it was important for me to preserve the monument. There was talk about just lowering the monument and taking out the section that was cracking, but I really wanted to keep it historically accurate.”
Through generous donations and fundraising the Town of Saranac was able to raise the necessary funds and rededicate the monument on Memorial Day in 2006. As a teacher at the nearby Saranac Elementary School, Couture has taken students on field trips through the cemetery to visit the Civil War monument.
“One side of the monument displays the names of the men that died from disease,” says Couture. “ Children don’t realize that most people died that way back then. Having this monument here is a wonderful way for children to connect with the past.”
Located off of Rt. 3. in Saranac, the monument can be visited during open hours at the Independence Cemetery on McCutcheon Ln.
Photo of the Saranac Soldier Civil War Monument used with the permission of Diane Chase, AdirondackFamilyTime.com.