Warren County Historical Society Presents …
May 1, 2014
Life on the Homefront During the Civil War:
Harriet Newall Walton Wing (1815-1887)
Harriet Newall Walton Wing. Photo courtesy Fort Edward Historical Association. All Rights Reserved,Copyrighted.
As the 644 volunteers left the Town of Queensbury for the Civil War, there was a void in the lives
of those left behind. While concern and worry for their safety was paramount, there was also a strong
civilian commitment to support the war and to aid the cause. Local efforts to support soldiers through contributions of clothing, foodstuffs, and letters of support were organized nationwide by the United States Sanitary Commission founded in July of 1861.
In Warren County, Harriet Wing became the Secretary of the Women’s Sanitary Commission chapter.
She devoted her time and energies to the work on the home front, often at a cost to her own personal health, according to her son, Halsey McKie Wing in his Reminiscences. Mrs. Wing was a founding member of the Ladies Patriotic Association in Glens Falls and later promoted the formation of the Ladies Alert Club, an active fundraising group of young women in the community. As the Secretary and later Treasurer of the Patriotic Association she reported frequently to the press keeping the public informed while appealing for garments and edibles for the soldiers.
The Patriotic Association met on a regular basis to sew garments of flannel, to create comfort bags with
black berries and needles and thread, to receive foodstuffs such as dried fruit and pickles, and to collect reading material for convalescent soldiers.
In her Annual Report for September 1863-September 1864 Mrs. Wing reports that $100 was sent to the Ladies Board in NY City and that more than $200 worth of flannel was received to make garments.
Eleven boxes had been sent for distribution along with hospital stores, cash, and materials. The Alert Club had raised $626.42.
In addition, Mrs. Wing notes that the average attendance of association members during the year was six and that she was proud of the work during this year since the calamitous fire in the city of Glens Falls in the early summer had caused the association to be disbanded from May to July. By late 1864, the Patriotic Association had sent Box #38 and the Sanitary Commission was still appealing for sheets, cotton drawers, pillow ticks, towels and handkerchiefs.
Mrs. Wing announced a meeting for January 11, 1863 at the home of Mrs. L. Swan on Park Street. Her announcement carried this poem:
“Come to the Soldiers Aid”
Mother and wife and maid.
There’s a soldier away in the South
Whose lips have been pressed to your mouth,
With mutual kisses and mutual vows,
As father or son, as brother or spouse,
Who, lying now in his blood and shirt
Would weep with joy for a fresh clean shirt,
O, say, shall that brave one fret and grieve
When here is one, only wanting a sleeve,
At the rooms of the Soldier’s Aid”.
The war came to a halt in April of 1865. On December 6th Mrs. Wing sent the following correspondence to Jerome Lapham and other members of the War Committee: ” Gentlemen: The amount left in the Treasury of the ‘Ladies Patriotic Association’ July of 1865 at the termination of our labors in behalf of
the soldiers was one hundred and fifty dollars ($150) which was appropriated at that time by the association as the nucleus of a fund, contemplated to be raised for a suitable monument in our village
Cemetary, in memory of the brave soldiers of our town who have fallen during the late War.
I write this note to enquire if you gentlemen of the War Committee will carry our wishes of the ladies of the Association in attending the matter – provided funds can be raised by – subscripton or otherwise?
Respectfully, Harriet N. Wing, Secretary
Harriet Newall Walton was born in Montpelier, Vermont on January 14, in 1815, the daughter of Ezekiel and Prussia (Persons) Walton. Her father, General E.P. Walton, a Revolutionary soldier, was editor and owner of the Vermont Watchman and Journal and founder of Walton’s Almanac.
Harriet attended schools in Montpelier and finished her education at Emma Willard School, one of the leading schools for girls in the country at that time, in Troy, NY. She came from a strong Whig (Republican) family. On August 31, 1835 she married Halsey Rogers Wing, the great grandson of Abraham Wing, founder of Queensbury, and came to support his Democratic political persuasion. Halsey served on the War Committee in Queensbury during the war.
Harriet’s husband, Halsey R. Wing.
Harriet came to Glens Falls in 1841 where she raised four children: Walton S., Edgar H., George Henry, and Angeline C.
Mrs. Wing gave two sons to the Civil War. Lt. Edgar M. Wing was mortally wounded at the Battle of
Drury’s Bluff. His name is on the Queensbury Soldiers’ Monument in Glens Falls. Her second son, George Henry Wing, died shortly after the war from his sufferings at Andersonville Prison.
Portrait of Harriet Wing in the collection of the Warren County Historical Society. Grant funding is being sought for conservation of this painting. By artist Jesse Atwood, 1867.
Mrs. Wing was an active community minded person. She became interested in the national woman’s effort to purchase Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, and raised several hundred dollars locally for this cause. In addition to her efforts with the Ladies Patriotic Association, she also was an active member of the Presbyterian Church and its mission work.
Three years before her death, Mrs. Wing suffered from a very severe bout of pneumonia. This was treated with extremely hot applications and she recovered. Harriet Wing died on June 21, 1887 at age 72. She is buried in Bay Street Cemetery in Glens Falls with her husband and family members.
© May 1 2014, Warren County Historical Society
Holden, AW. History of Queensbury, New York. Joel Munsell, Albany, NY., 1874.
Reminiscences of Halsey McKie Wing. 1917.
Private papers in Wing folder. Crandall Library, Glens Falls, NY
References to Ladies Patriotic Association in Glens Falls Republican: December 15, 1863,
January 5, February 9, May 10, August 16, and September 27, 1864 and January 10, 1865.
Wing Family Genealogy.
Photo of Harriet Newall Walton Wing by Mathew Brady. Courtesy of Fort Edward Historical
Article courtesy Dr. Marilyn J. Van Dyke