After the American Revolution each area continued to maintain a local militia, comprised of able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 44 years old, led by local officers approved by the State of New York. Yearly "general training" and encampments were a source of entertainment and excitement for all local residents, as well as keeping men on their toes to defend against any danger. Over the years, across the state, companies were disbanded or consolidated with other regiments in the county or region, and company names, numbers, and yearly encampment locations and activities changed. In 1858 affiliation with the 54th Regiment of Monroe County was public discussed.
The Wayne County Office of the County Historian has many folders on specialized topics, filled with information taken from surviving old newspapers. Below we present pre-Civil War newspaper items and letters to the editor about the Lyons Light Guard, from the newspaper The Lyons Republican. Approximately 75 years after the Revolution, the fierce pride in national independence and vigilance hadn't waivered - the members of the Lyons Light Guard were ready to protect their county, country and ideals at all costs, whether here or abroad. As members, they had their fun, but the time would soon come to defend their more serious interests - the Civil War was declared a few short years after the accounts below. The first Memorial Day began in the next largest village to the south of Lyons, in Waterloo, N.Y., several years after the Civil War.
We understand that Commissions have been issued to the officers of the Infantry Company formed in this village last month.
We hear with regret that some members of the company, actuated by an unexplained motive, are disposed to "sell out" to Rochester. The public interested, and especially those who contemplated organizing themselves into companies in Lyons, Clyde, Newark, Palmyra, etc., should understand that only one company can be formed in this county, if the county should be attached to the Monroe or 54th Regimental District, as that Regiment lacks only one company of a full complement.
It is well enough for our citizens to understand why the Rochester military have so much love for Wayne county just at this time. Monroe county is deficient in their military fund to the amount of about $1000. Wayne county has about $3000 in the treasury. Last summer a Rochester man, belonging to one of the military companies, remarked, in one of the public houses in this village, that they were going to have a "high time" in Rochester, and the money in the Wayne county treasury should pay for it - Rochester wants our money? Shall it go there? Let our citizens, in all parts of the county, answer.
LIGHT GUARD FESTIVAL
The Festival of the Lyons Light Guard this evening, (we may say this evening, as we issue the paper on Thursday) will be a fine affair, and we advise such as love to trip the "light, fantastic toe," to attend.
The second Assembly of the series is to be given at the Guard's New Armory, on Tuesday evening next, the 13th instant. It will undoubtedly be a fine affair, and those who attend may safely calculate upon having a good time.
The Annual Parade for Inspection and Review of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment was to take place yesterday afternoon, at Rochester. The Lyons Light Guard went to the city on the nine o'clock train.
LIGHT GUARD ASSEMBLIES
The First of a series of Social Assemblies, to be given by the Lyons Light Guard during the winter, was held at the Armory, on Thursday evening of last week. A previous engagement prevented our being present, but we have been informed by several of those who were more fortunate in this respect, that it was a very pleasant affair, and quite numerously attended. The next Assembly will be held on Tuesday evening, the 13th instant.
Arrangements have been made with Wm. Payne, proprietor of the Exchange Hotel, of this village, to mess the Lyons Light Guard, during the Encampment, next week.
The Lyons Light Guard received forty muskets from Government on Monday.
From the Lyons Republican
THE LYONS LIGHT GUARD
One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name. Anonymous
Do not cavil at our sentiment. It is essentially the soldier's motto. With it he learns to suffer and achieve. Enthusiasm is wedded to courage, and glory coupled with victory. This sentiment is neither vain, fanatical nor limited. It is grand, patriotic and sublime. Purified from all selfishness, it sustained WASHINGTON amid the weighty responsibilities of his great office. It persuaded our heroic ancestors to declare themselves independent, and to hazard an unequal contest. It induced LA FAYETTE to step "from the unequalled vivacities of the saloon" and a court unrivalled in magnificense, to encounter the hardships of the camp and the uncertainties of the battle-field. It will ever lend impulsive energy to the soldier's arm, and grandeur to his heroic deeds, so long as oppressed nationalities shall demand redress, or civil and religious liberty require protection. It is a source of profound congratulation that this idea of the true mission of glory is intensely American; that it realized the highest development yet seen in our own Revolution; that thus Americanized it is likely to disseminate its conservative spirit and its cheering results through the whole civilized world. "The right of resistance," says GUIZOT, "is a terrible and anti-social right isasmuch as its only appeal is to brute force - to war - which is the destruction of society itself; a right, however, which ought never to be entirely erased from the mind of man, because by its abolition he puts on the fetters of servitude."
To the citizens of Lyons the last few days have been unusually patriotic. No one who has the smnallest spark of heroic fire in his breat, or whose heart is capable of being kindled with grateful or generous emotions, can be cold and passive when the strains of martial music fall on the ear, or "the white cockade and the waving plume". "Catch the soft airs and wanton in the breese."
We realized fully, Mr. Editor, the pleasures afforded by both sight and sound, on Thursday preceding the 4th. The Lyons Light Guard was out on that day, on parade, in view of the then approaching anniversary of our national independence. The "Guard" was to us emphatically a corps de reserve. We saw it for the first time. In marching order the Guard moves as one mass. There is something emblematic of power in this. We are reminded of the sentiment of that bold Arctic navigator DR. KANE, "that both civilized and savage races are more influenced by a sense of power than a sense of pity." May the joints of each member of the "Guard" be ever pliant, and his movements harmonious, as he passes on with his comrades in arms. May his sinews be rigid and his knees ever firm even in peace, and should the necessity arise for serious and active effort, may his heroic cry ever be, "the Guard dies; it never surrenders!" May his soul never "Grow hard and stiffened with adversity."
May his heart be ever free, save only when enthralled by that magic power which ACHILLES was not able to resist. We have heard it said that some of the Guard are young. The appearance of the corps is not destined to suffer in view of this fact. Nor is it calculated to militate against its substantial qualities. It is admitted, we believe, by military critics that youth in conjunction with spirit and intelligence, although it may not endure protracted campaigning, like the hardy veteran inured to service, may safely be relied upon whenever strategic science suggests a bold and impetuous charge, when the rallying cry for the moment is "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!"
Young soldiers have already distinguished themselves in the present "Italian war." It will also be remembered that EUGENE BEAUHARNAIS; during the FIRST NAPOLEON'S campaign in Italy, took an Austrian Colonel prisoner; was highly complimented by his General and sent the Colonel's scarf to JOSEPHINE as a trophy. EUGENE was then seventeen years old; and NAPOLEON himself only twenty six. It is well known that at this period, NAPOLEON'S figure seemed delicate and fragile, his appearance extremely youthful, and his air distingue, pensive and abstracted.
In respect to the Lyons Light Guard, it is noticeable that there exists among its members quite a uniformity of size; and that all disparity is remedied by a judicious arrangement when in line of march. The physique of the Guard will compare favorably with other corps in the State. We have the pleasure of being personally acquainted with Capt. WELLING and a number of the Guard. If they are a type of the whole, then the Guard is composed of a choice lot of "glorious good fellows." With a Band to "discourse sweet music," and an efficient Fire Department ever ready and alive to baffle the incendiary, our citizens may rest assured that "credit" is due somebody for these organizations.
To the Lyons Light
Guard we say "goodnight!" We give you for a parting sentiment BURNS'S extempore lines. (He was always too earnest in the cause of freedom to speak profanely:) "here's the grand fabric, our free Constitution. As guilt on the base of the great Revolution: And longer with Politics not to be cramm'd, Be Anarchy curs'd and be Tyranny damn'd; And who would to Liberty e'er prove disloyal, May his son be a hangman, and he his first trial!"
Yours, &c., B.
An impression has gone abroad, for some reason, that there will be no encampment here next week. We are authorized by Capt. Welling to announce that the Encampment will certainly take place as advertised. The only disagreement has been upon some of the details of the programme, and will not in any way effect the Camp. We republish a portion of the General Orders as follows:
The discipline of this Camp will be as near as possible in conformity with the regulations adopted for the government of the United States Army.
The daily routine of duty will be, unless otherwise ordered, as follows:
Reveille at sunrise, when Companies will fall in for roll-call, without arms, under the First Sergeants, superintended by a Commissioned Officer.
Breakfast at 7 o'clock, A.M.
Guard Mounting at 9 o'clock, A.M.
Morning Parade at 10 1-2 o'clock, A.M.
Dinner at 1 o'clock, P.M.
Parade and Review at 3 1-2 o'clock, P.M.
Evening Parade following the Review.
Supper at 7 o'clock, P.M.
Tattoo at 10 1/2 o'clock, P.M.
Taps at 11 o'clock, P.M., at which time all lights in the Camps will be extinguished, except at Company Officers' tents, and the men retire.
A signal will be sounded by the Band at 8 o'clock A.M., when all who desire may attend service in front of head-quarters.
Visitors will be permitted to pass the Guard at the Guard Tent at all hours between 6 o'clock A.M. and 9 o'clock P.M.
The Camp will be full organized Tuesday morning, by eight o'clock. It is expected that several Companies out of the Regiment will unite in the Encampment. The Lyons Light Guard will turn out on Monday, and be in readiness to go into line on the arrival of the troops at Lyons. The Tents will be "struck" on Friday afternoon.
A handsome flag, which is being made by the ladies of our village for the Light Guard, will be presented during the Encampment. The presentation exercises will be very interesting.
There will be, as we understand, a Military Ball in Floral Hall, on Thursday evening. It will be given under the auspices of the Lyons Light Guard, which is a sufficient guaranty that it will be conducted in an orderly and becoming manner.
The Twenty-Fifth Regiment, as will be seen by the following paragraph from the Albany Statesman, intend charging an admission fee to their Encampment:
"The 25th Regiment will pitch their tents, Monday, and remain two days in Camp. As the admission fee is only two shillings, we hope every one will quarter among the 25th."
What will the immaculate military of Rochester say to this? They should send the Twenty-Fifth a remonstrance against "making a show of themselves."
The original newspaper articles are on file at the Office of the County Historian, Lyons, NY.
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