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Pro- and Anti-Civil War Activities in Bergen County

Copperhead CartoonOn April 22, 1861, shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, a large pro-Union rally was held in Ho-Ho-Kus on April 22. In Background of Ho-Ho-Kus History (Woman’s Club of Ho-Ho-Kus, 1953), Sue Hudson quotes the local historian Albert Terhune’s account of the rally:

The manufacturing firms of White, Rosencrantz, Zabriskie, Terhune and Marinus, located along the Hohokus Creek had a great number of male employees who worked in their factories. All who were able to carry a torch, chopping ax, beatle and wedge, and a twelve foot chestnut rail on his right shoulder were considered eligible to be drafted into the service of parading. . . . [A] great outpouring of the people from far and near . . . came to view the unique display. Those from the surrounding country came by train, in horse-drawn vehicles, on horseback and on shank mares.

Terhune further recounted that on the morning after the attack on Fort Sumter, the Reverend E. T. Corwin, then the pastor of the Paramus Dutch Reformed Church,

fastened a flag of the United States to a pole and thrust it out of the belfry of the old church. When the congregation came to church the following Sunday, they found “Old Glory” waving in the breeze above them. Some of the members objected, telling the pastor it was not right to have the flag inasmuch as there was a division of opinion among them. They insisted that the flag must come down. Two other members, William Ranlett and John Jacob Zabriskie of Ho-Ho-Kus, approved the pastor’s action and declared that they would protect him in keeping the flag on the steeple. During the week a committee of the objectors called on Mr. Corwin and demanded the removal of the flag before the next Sunday’s service. Mr Ranlett on the other hand immediately armed and equipped twenty-five men at his own expense.

On the following Sunday morning, after the congregation had assembled on the church grounds, the committee approached the pastor and informed him that, as they had stated before, the flag must come down and come down at once. As they started toward the belfry, Mr. Corwin halted them and said, “I told you our flag should wave above us until the war is over. I have twenty-five men here to help me protect it. The first man who touches that flag to tear it down will be shot.” In the midst of the excitement the committee and their sympathizers gathered their families and left the scene, many never to return to worship again at the Paramus Church. The flag lasted a year and a half, and was replaced by others until the close of the war.

On July 22, 1861, the U.S. Congress approved the formation of the 22nd Regiment from Bergen County. In September 1862, the regiment, with 939 men, left for nine months of service. They did not see battlefield action, but twenty-four died as noncombatants. There was great rejoicing when the Bergen County soldiers returned home.

While some Bergen County residents strongly supported the war, however, Southern sympathies remained strong, and Bergen County as a whole repeatedly sent Copperhead candidates to the State Legislature from 1861 until the end of the war. At a Copperhead meeting in Paramus in November 1863, strong attacks were made on Lincoln and on Democrats who supported the war. And because of the political difference with Reverend Corwin, Elijah Rosencrantz left the Paramus church and helped to establish the new Episcopal Christ Church congregation in Ridgewood. [Tell me more about the formation of Christ Church in Ridgewood.]

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