Daily Archives: December 3, 2012

When Lincoln Inspired Van Orden

On February 19, 1861, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln was on a train headed towards Washington D.C. for his inaugural. The train stopped at the Peekskill Depot in Westchester County, NY, to lay on cordwood for the burners and water for the boilers in order to continue the journey.

Townspeople turned out by the thousands for a glimpse of the great man. Among the audience was Archibald Van Orden. The words young Archie heard in the brief remarks made by Lincoln touched his heart and enflamed his courage:

“In regard to the difficulties which lie before me and our beloved country, if I can only be as generously and unanimously sustained as the demonstrations I have witnessed indicate I shall be, I shall not fail. But without your sustaining hands, I am sure that neither I nor any other man can hope to surmount these difficulties. I trust that in the course I shall pursue, I shall be sustained not only by the party that elected me, but by the patriotic people of the whole country.”

Lincoln in Peekskill

Cavalryman Archibald Stark Van Orden

Enlisted October 18, 1863 at Greenburgh, NY in the 16th Cavalry, also known as the “Sprague Light Cavalry.” The term “light” meant their regiment did not use horse-drawn artillery, but was intended instead for reconnaissance and raids.

At that time, Archie could legally enlist at age 18. His face, while still beardless, indicates his readiness for battle after his previous infantry service. Perhaps we also see an expression of confidence in a young man who survived war wounds.

Cavalryman Archibald Van Orden

Private Archibald Stark Van Orden

Enlisted January 27, 1862 at  New York City in Company D of 12th Infantry Regiment. Archie was only 16 when he joined the Union Army. That was two years younger than the legal age. His reasons and methods of enlisting will be revealed in my book. Meanwhile, his beardless face speaks to his youth, while his expression shows seriousness of intent, with perhaps a hint of fear in his eyes.

Private Archibald Van Orden