A Great Night at the Saugerties Public Library on November 2, 2016

The Veterans in a New Field Returned to the community room of the Saugerties Public Library and performed a set of songs of the Civil War and particularly of the Union Irish Brigade. The spirit of the songs included the patriotic; Columbia Gem of the Ocean, Marching Through Georgia, and the poignant; the hope of prisoners of war to be liberated; Tramp, Tramp, Tramp The Boys Are Marching.

 The abolition of slavery was remembered by the songs Clear the Track! and Lincoln and Liberty. The service of the Union Navy and Marine Corps was honored with The Monitor and the Merrimac. Marching Through Georgia and We are Coming Father Abraham reflect the resolve of the soldiers to restore the Union. The rendition of the Father Abraham was prefaced by a stirring reading from President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address by Gary Whittaker.

The sacrifice of all who served was commemorated by the classic Irish song written, by Thomas Moore;  The Minstrel Boy. The playlist included the comic and whimsical; Army Bean, Goober Peas and Old Abe Lincoln Came Out of the Wilderness.

The audience enjoyed these and other tunes and joined in a the finale; a rousing Battle Hymn of the Republic.

As always, the Veterans in a New Field had an excellent time with our friends at the Saugerties Library and look forward to a return engagement.

Audience Members of All Ages Welcomed The Vets at the Hunter Library on August 19, 2016

The Veterans in a New Field crafted a playlist to please young and old while teaching, through the music of those times, the history of the Civil War, the emancipation of enslaved people and the preservation of the Union. The program had some of the older audience members signing along to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “O Columbia Gem of the Ocean” while the younger folks tapped their toes and even danced to the “The Monitor and the Merrimac” and “Old Abe Lincoln Came Out of the Wilderness”. Our “food medley” that features the meals that Civil War soldiers ate, both tasty and not so much, was well received as always, and even more so with the recent addition of some particular sound effects. The sounds of a 19th Century rail road train also added to the spirit of the abolition song; “Clear the Track!”

A book signing was held after the concert and The Vets wish to thank the Library Board for having us. Special thanks to staff member Regina Johnson and Mr. Johnson for helping us to set up and break down our show and for their invaluable assistance in helping us to lug and tote our stuff in and out. Also a special shout out and thanks to Board member Janet Reale for her support and very kind words to us at the show.

We were particularly happy to have Gary Whittaker and his excellent mandolin playing for his second appearance with us. Welcome aboard Gary!

Parts of our performance can be seen on and liked on our Veterans in a New Field Facebook page.

This represented the 45th program of Civil War and Irish Brigade music we have presented since our first show at the Inquiring Mind Book Store in Saugerties in August of 2010 and we are still going strong! HURRAH! HURRAH! HURRAH! Grrrrrrrr!


Presentation and Booksigning at the Monday Club at the Saugerties Library

At the invitation of Peg Nau, the author spoke, on March 14, 2016, at the Monday Club in the community room of the our hometown library on his inspiration and eventual writing and publishing of The Veteran in a New Field and the Sharpshooter on Picket Duty as well as the soon to be published third book in the Seamus Delaney series; Prisoners from the Front.
The presentation was very well received and Peg, presented the writer with a beautifully, hand-crafted bird feeder. Knowing our interest in both birds and history, she decorated the feeder with paintings and designs in an Early American style. It was a real pleasure meeting the ladies of the Monday Club. The club goes back in Saugerties history for better than a century.

Great Audiences at the Civil War Roundtable and the Windham Music Gathering

The Veterans in a New Field recently enjoyed performing for two great audiences; The Ulster County Civil War Roundtable at the Legislative Chambers in the County Office Building in Kingston, NY on 6/25/15 and in the historic Center Church at the Civil War Heritage Music Gathering & Encampment in Windham, NY on 8/1/15.

At each performance we were rewarded with enthusiastic applause for or efforts which included our unique renditions of the Hutchinson Family Abolition song; “Clear the Tracks”, with Kevin Umhey’s harmonica ‘train whistle’, and Bill’s ‘train bell’ and that family’s campaign song “Lincoln and Liberty” as well as “We’ll Fight for Uncle Sam”, “General Munroe”, the latter with Kevin Karashay’s snare drum accompaniment and well known tunes such as “Kingdom Coming” and “The Battle Cry of Freedom”, and Dale Welwood’s poignant “Annie Laurie”.

Our own signature songs were also represented including RJ and Bill’s adaptation of a traditional Irish song. “The Ulster Recruit” tells the story of a young, immigrant from Ireland who chooses to leave his dangerous job working in a blue stone quarry in Saugerties to join the Union Army.

At the Roundtable we were particularly delighted to have back with us Bob Lusk, one of the founders of the Vets in a New Field, to play with us the song that he and Bill adapted to another traditional Irish tune. “The Men Who Held the Line” is a poem written to commemorate the dedication of the monument to the 120th NY Volunteers Regiment at Gettysburg. Bob and Bill first performed it for Heritage Folk Music at the 1700 Kiersted House in Saugerties and we saw it as a very appropriate song to present before the Ulster County Roundtable in the 120th’s own ‘home town’ in Kingston, county seat of Ulster County, NY.

As always, the Vets thoroughly enjoyed playing at each venue, engaged the respective audiences and were reciprocated with the appreciation of groups of people who have a passion for this music and the history of the critical time in our Nation’s life when ‘the cruel War’ was raging.

Our books and CDs were on sale at both venues and were equally well received.

The Vets are looking forward to performing for our friends at the Roundtable and the Windham Gathering again in the future.


Spirit of St. Patrick’s Day at CD Launch Party

On Saturday night, March 14th, The Veterans in a New Field held a rousing launch party for our new CD; ‘Hurrah for the Union!’ at the Inquiring Mind Bookstore, 65 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY 12477 where our books and CDs are on sale. Our playlist included many songs that would have been sung by the soldiers of the Irish Brigade during the Civil War at their annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and, as well, told their stories. The songs we performed included:


    Reflecting the history of the Irish who in the service of England had fought all over the world and how many of them came to America and served in the Union and Southern armies.


     By H.D. Marsan;,  wherein a poor immigrant goes from a menial task to being a soldier and how the trained Irish combat vets have a warning for England 



    To the tune of the Maid of Fife, the song tells the tale of how the ironclad had New York roots having been launched at Brooklyn, with the armor rolled at Troy and most work done in the Hudson Valley


    That tells the story of the rising of the United Irishmen in 1798, a revolt influenced by both the American and the French revolutions. Bill Payne sang this song and for the first time was accompanied by Kevin Karashay on our new traditional snare drum.


    Many Scots served all over the world for England and many served in our Civil War as well, and they all loved this song. It goes back to 1690s when William Douglas of the Royal Scots  fell in love with Anna, the daughter of the baronet of Maxwellton, who opposed their marriage because Douglas was a Jacobite; favoring Scottish Independance. Dale Welwood delivered this sad, sweet song as one of her signature solos.


    A few years back, RJ and Bill were travelling through County Kildare in Ireland when it occurred to them that we could compose and perform a song about a young Irish immigrant quarry worker here in Saugerties who decides he would rather be a soldier for the Union. The song tells a powerful story to the tune of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’.


      This rollicking song dates from the early 19th century in Dublin and tells the tale of young man’s quest for romance; the results of which could have encouraged to run away and join the Army. 

And we presented a number of other songs well-known and loved by the troops during the War.


   Our debut performance of this crusading song for Emancipation of enslaved people by the Hutchinson family of NH, who toured from 1840s onward and were ardent Abolitionists. Featured was Kevin Umhey on the harmonica replicating the sound of the speeding train of Emancipation.


    In 1862 more troops were needed to support the cause of the Union. This inspiring song was written by Northern Abolitionist Quaker, James Sloan Gibbons. This was another debut performance by the Veterans in a New Field

The evening was rounded out by our performance by our standards, Lincoln and Liberty, to the tune of the old Irish song; Rosin the Beau, Marching through Georgia, Tramp, Tramp, Tramp The Boys are Marching, and the signature song of our new CD; Battle Cry of Freedom.

All had a great night and a great prelude to St. Patrick’s Day. We are planning another free concert in observance of next month’s 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, possibly at the same venue. So, stay tuned for further information. Meanwhile; La le Padraig Siochan! to you and yours.

The Veterans in a New Field.





Christmas at Quarryville United Methodist Church

The Veterans in a New Field were delighted to play a return performance at the 1868 Church of the United Methodist congregation in Quarryville on 12/13/14. Once again we were treated to an outstanding Christmas dinner and the good fellowship and spirit of our friends there. Our performance encouraged the audience to think of what Christmas might have been like for the members of the church who celebrated the season just a few years before the present building was erected while the Civil War still raged and many of their loved ones where at the battle front. The songs we played were old but the fruit of our research provided what may have been news to many of us; that  a lot of our Christmas standards were well known and widely sung and played at the time of the war on both sides of the lines.

We started with Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, The Boys are Marching ; also know as the Prisoners Hope, an anthem of prisoners of war to be liberated and return home, perhaps in time for Christmas. Go Tell it on the Mountain; an African-American spiritual that tells of the Nativity of Christ. The song was documented in an 1865 compilation by John Wesley Work, Jr. Columbia Gem of the Ocean; a patriotic tune from 1843 was sung to keep up the spirits of the people of the Union. O Come All Ye Faithful, sung in both Latin and English, dates back to the mid-1700s with the English translation dating to 1841. Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly; a Welsh melody from the 16th Century was published in English in 1862. It was also covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1994. The Vets sang the older version. Silent Night was sung in English and in German (many Civil War soldiers especially in the Union Army were German born). German was the language in which it was originally written in Oberndorf in the Austrian Alps in 1818. By the time of the Civil War it had spread across Europe and the United States. It had been translated into English in 1863. Finally, a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells was presented, complete with jingle bells ringing. The song dates to 1850 and represents a ‘Civil War’ in itself with both Medford, MA, where James Lord Pierpont lived when he was inspired by the sleigh races there and Savannah, GA, where he later relocated, claiming the honor of being the home of the tune. Pierpont later served in the southern cavalry and both towns have historic plaques claiming Jingle Bells as their own.

As always, the Vets had a great time and all those present sang along with the full spirit of the Season.




Winslow Homer; Our Inspiration and Muse

The titles of some of the works of the great American artist; Winslow Homer, have inspired the titles of my books; The Veteran in a New Field and The Sharpshooter on Picket Duty. Homer, early in his career, was what we might today call an ‘embedded’ illustrator with the Army of the Potomac in the Civil War. He was not a tourist, but shared in the lives, hardships and deaths of the soldiers with whom he camped. As with the hero of my books; Homer experienced the profound realities of war. His mother wrote; “He came home so changed that his best friends did not know him.”

Recently, RJ and I travelled to the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY to view a representative collection of his paintings that was mounted there. An excellent museum and an excellent show.

Possible titles for upcoming books by this author (some of which were in the Arkell show and some not): In Front of the Guard House, Home Sweet Home, Contraband, Prisoners from the Front, Skirmish in the Wilderness 1864, Promenade on the Beach, The Empty Sleeve at Newport.