Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
This triangle honors Captain William C. Dermody, a dedicated and outspoken abolitionist who was mortally wounded in the Civil War on May 12, 1864 during the battle of Spotsylvania in Virginia.
Dermody volunteered with the 67th New York Infantry and served in Company K, the first regiment of Long Island volunteers. Organized in Brooklyn on June 24, 1861, the soldiers left the state for Washington D.C. on August 21, 1861. The regiment fought in many battles throughout the war, including the battle of Spotsylvania, and lost a total of 178 men: 5 officers and 96 enlisted were killed, and 2 officers and 75 enlisted died of disease.
The battle at Spotsylvania took place in Fredricksburg, Virginia from May 8 to 21 in 1864. A numerically superior Union force met with a smaller but nonetheless vigorous Confederate force brimming with optimism and anxious to avenge their previous loss at Gettysburg. After the Battle of the Wilderness, which took place on May 7 and 8, the Union Fifth Corps and the Confederate First Corps moved independently of each other towards Spotsylvania Courthouse without specific plans of having a battle.
On May 9, more units arrived on both sides and Union General Ulysses S. Grant decided to attack with the entire federal corps on May 12. The resulting 20-hour battle was called the “Bloody Angle,” which by most accounts was the most ferociously sustained combat of the Civil War. Over 17,000 men were lost in that short period. During the two weeks of the Battle of Spotsylvania, a total of 152,000 men fought (100,000 Union soldiers and 52,000 Confederate soldiers) and 30,000 did not live to see the next battle (18,000 Union casualties and 12,000 Confederate casualties).
In two brief days, May 12 and 13, Grant managed to capture nearly an entire division of General Robert E. Lee’s army and came close to cutting the Confederate army in half. However, the ultimate strategic results of the battle remained inconclusive and General Ulysses S. Grant continued his overland campaign, which lasted from May to June of 1864.
Prior to 1865, this plot of land located on 216th Street and 48th Avenue was the site of the local two-room school house. In 1866, this site was dedicated to the memory of Captain Dermody by a ceremonial meeting of a Union and Confederate veteran, each planting a special tree: a maple to represent the North and a sycamore to represent the South. The trees were to grow together as a symbol of the communal hope for a better union. To this effect, a monument was placed in the square with the inscription “For a Better Union 1861-1865,” which remains there today. Every Memorial Day, the Bayside Historical Society lays a wreath at the park to commemorate Captain Dermody and those who fought in the Civil War.
The Board of Alderman (predecessor of the City Council) officially named this City property for Captain William C. Dermody on March 15, 1937. The name was changed simply to Captain Dermody Triangle on July 29, 1997 by an executive decree from Commissioner Stern. A low stone wall bounds the triangle, which includes Kwanzan cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’), maidenhair (Ginko biloba), and red maple (Acer rubrum) trees.
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