The Friends of the Albany Rural Cemetery will hold a ceremony on Saturday, August 21st to dedicate a military marker for Irish immigrant Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Terrence Begley.
Begley was born in Ireland and raised in Albany. He enlisted as a private in the 7th NY Heavy Artillery regiment, an Albany regiment, on February 11th, 1864.
Less than four months later, Begley was commended for valor at the Battle of Cold Harbor, which occurred near Mechanicsville, Virginia, from May 31 to June 12, 1864. The most significant fighting occurred on June 3, the day his superiors recommended him for the Medal of Honor.
His citation reads: “[Begley] Shot a Confederate color bearer, 26th Virginia Infantry, rushed forward and seized his colors, and although exposed to heavy fire, regained the lines in safety.”
Congress approved the award, but Begley was killed in action during the Battle of Reams Station, VA on August 25th, 1864, before the Medal of Honor reached his regiment in the field.
Private Begley was buried in a mass grave on the battlefield by Confederate soldiers, and his remains were subsequently disinterred and removed to the Poplar Grove Cemetery in Virginia.
His actual remains were unidentifiable and consequently there has not been, nor is there currently, any grave marker for Begley. Because his remains cannot be located, the marker being dedicated is known as a cenotaph.
It will be located in Lot 100, Section 100A, the Grand Army of the Republic plot, which was laid out by the Albany Cemetery Association in 1904 for the burial of veterans of the Civil War. Among those laid to rest in this plot on the Cemetery’s North Ridge are members of various regiments, including the United States Colored Troops.
The ceremony will begin promptly at 11:00 a.m. in Section 100A of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Plot. Participating organizations will include the Col. George L. Willard Camp #154 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, the 125th Regimental Association, the 123rd NY Regimental Association, the 3rd NY Artillery Regiment (Light) Battery H, and the Patriot Guard Riders.
The dedication ceremony is free and open to the public. Please enter through the Main Gate (Broadway in Menands). There will be signage and volunteers to assist with directions and parking.
Photo of Terrence Begley cenotaph provided.