Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Old Guns" (the movie?) of New York

The Westchester Historian: Vol. 34 (p. 52)
April, May, June, 1958 Number 2
Letters Received
10 Chester Ave. White Plains, NY
September 11th, 1957

My dear Mr. Albee:

An item for THE HISTORIAN if you approve. Many years ago there lives in Croton Falls a young girl who was called the "Swamp Angel." She became the wife of General Sickles. In no biography of the General is she married and I have read three. The most readable of these is called "Dan Sickles" by a man whose name begins with P.----. The White Plains Library has it. It would be needed for atmosphere. It is short, and I wager you, if you begin it you will never put it down. General Sickles shot on sight, in front of the White House and killed the Attorney General of the United States, a son of Francis Scott Key. Sickles had just learned he, Key, was his wife's lover, S. was tried for murder but acquitted. Sickles afterwards said it was his fault as he had neglected his wife shamefully while running for President. He took his wife back and was sent to Coventry for so doing. The general lived in White Plains once. I used to see him on the New York trains.

Julia Crosby

NOTE: Gen. Daniel Edgar Sickles, a member of Congress, shot Philip Barton Key, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, on Feb. 27, 1859. The name "Swamp Angel" was given by Federal soldiers to an 8-inch Parrott gun used during the siege of Charleston, S.C., in 1863. The book Miss Crosby refers to is titled DAN SICKLES, HERO OF GETTYSBURG AND YANKEE KING OF SPAIN, by Edgcumb Pinchon, 1945. -ED.

Old stereo photos, available in the West Point Foundry School Museum, Cold Spring, NY of the gun testing platform there, excavated under the remains of the 500 foot long "Bridge Shop" by Grossman, et al. for the EPA prior to remediation, show many other guns including Rodmans.

Interestingly: (Ibid.) Vol 34 July, August, September, 1958 No. 3. (now No. for number) "With emphasis on past events in the southern area of our County..."

(Note: Westchester was one of the original settlements in today's Bronx County, where the current US Capital Dome was cast in iron in the South Bronx, transported and assembled in Washington, DC for $1 million towards the end of the Civil War by Janes and Kirtland, Inc. - in an article by the former Bronx County Historian, who also published a book on it's "frontier days".)

" the theme of our Annual Fall Pilgrimage, a few facts about Fort Slocum, Westchester's only remaining active fort are of interest. First acquired from the Siwanoy Indians by the Dutch West India Company in 1640, the 60 acre island is reached by way of a 10 minute ferry ride from Neptune Park in New Rochelle (home of Thomas Paine - me). Its long and varied history which included plans for a large hotel abandoned before the Civil War began and ownership by John Bouteiller, "merchant of Martinique," made a visit worth while. First known as the DeCamp general hospital for Civil War wounded in 1861, permanent Government ownership began in 1867. The name Fort Slocum came into use in 1896 when the island was so named in honor of the Civil War Major General Henry W. Slocum. An interesting memento preserved as a tribute to the 19th century military establishment is the 34,000 lb. Rodman gun which hurled a 450 lb. missile 4 miles using a 100 lb. black powder charge. Today a Nike control base, Battery D of the 1st Missile Battalion of the 55th Artillery Group occupies the island." p 65.

Currently called "David's Island" Donald Trump once had plans for it though a bridge to it was considered out of the realm of development possibilities. I think Berger, Inc. did the EIS, a matter of public record. Interesting, also, is that the production of batteries for Nike missiles in Cold Spring, NY (across the Hudson River from West Point Military Academy, to the northeast) led to the excavation of the R.P. Parrott prototype gun platform that became the "Swamp Angel" (still not found). There was cadmium from battery production for NIKE missiles, the major pollutant in the Constitution Marsh (Foundry Cove) currently held by Scenic Hudson, Inc., NY State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, (formerly by the Audubon Society) and Constitution Island, by the West Point Military Academy. The polluted marsh was hauled out from behind a built earthen dam, mixed with concrete, hauled out on railroad, and currently, the marsh in Foundry Cove, is in "restoration".

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