This past weekend, the Hoosick Township Historical Society celebrated Armed Forces Day with the unveiling of a new historic marker celebrating Civil War hero Harris S. Hawthorne. Hawthorne is credited with the capture of Confederate General George Washington Custis Lee at the battle of Sailor’s Creek, Virginia in the closing days of the war. Lee was the son of General Robert E. Lee and his capture was both a morale booster for the Union and a devastating blow to the Confederacy. Just days later, the elder Lee would surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, bringing an end to America’s bloodiest conflict.
During the Armed Forces Day event, Hawthorne Descendant Wayne DeSorb described Hawthorne’s life and legacy and was present for the installation of the new marker.
Following the war, Hawthorne spent many years living and working in Hoosick Falls as a carpenter for the Walter A. Wood Company. the story of the Hawthorne family in Hoosick Falls and was present for the unveiling of the sign honoring Harris’s service during the Civil War.
Hawthorne’s story was nearly lost to history, with his grave at Maple Grove in Hoosick Falls hidden by overgrowth in a portion of the cemetery rarely frequented by visitors. Discovery of the stone led to research by Joyce Brewer, Director of the Hoosick Township Historical Society, into Hawthorne’s story. Brewer later applied for and was granted the historic marker commemorating Hawthorne through a Pomeroy Foundation Grant last year.