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VFW dedicates Medal of Honor marker at Civil War veteran's grave

COEYMAN'S HOLLOW -- VFW Post 9594 dedicated a marker for a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Saturday -- but that wasn't the unusual part.

Peter Van Hoesen, the recipient, signed up for a two-year enlisted in a New York Volunteer Infantry regiment shortly after the start of the war, and was present for the Battle of Bull Run. For unknown reasons, he and eight others deserted about a year later. He returned home, where he was captured in the Albany area, escaped, and went to New York City.

While in New York, he was offered $300 to fight in a Connecticut regiment, in the place and under the name of James Sullivan. He agreed, later volunteering for the Navy and receiving the Medal of Honor for his actions off the coast of South Carolina.

Returning home, he applied for a veteran's pension under his own name, which was denied. When he died and was buried, his service was mentioned, but not the medal.

After being contacted last year by the National Medal of Honor Society, the VFW post took on the mission of marking his grave appropriately.

The act is meant both to confirm the community's commitment to its military members, and to spotlight the number of veterans who, after the stress and trauma of combat, sometimes make bad decisions -- from which most, unlike Van Hoesen, are never able to recover due to their ineligibility to receive veterans' services.

The 30-minute ceremony included a re-enactment of a Civil War military funeral.

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