In 1886, 23 years after the 16th Regiment was mustered out of the Army of the Union, 170 survivors of the "Straw Hat Men of History" met at Potsdam for a reunion.
The entire town took part in the gala celebration, which was held Tuesday and Wednesday, August 31 and September 1.
The men of the 16th were quartered in tents at the Potsdam Fair Grounds. On Tuesday evening, the first big meeting was held with the soldiers escorted to the Town Hall by members of Marsh Post GAR.
Music at the meeting was provided by soloists Mrs. W. J. Bentley of Albany and Miss Julia Ettie Crane of Potsdam, by the Potsdam band, and by a Glee Club which included George Hand, L. Ginn, Charles Sisson, E. A. Merritt Jr.,. and Fred Baum.
Seated on the rostrum were General Curtis, Captain F. C. Tapley, Rev. W. R. Helms W. W. Thompson, Hon. B. Usher, Hon. O. O. Tappan, General Davies, Hon. D. A. Moore, Principal H. H. Cook, Hon. Jonah Sanford, Hon. V. P. Abbott, Major Frank Palmer, Colonel W. H. Walling, editors Fay and Parker, and Captain George Eastman, secretary of Marsh Post GAR.
There was also an historical address by W. W. Thompson of Albany, a private of Company B, who was the author of "Historical Sketch of the 16th Regiment, N.Y.S. Volunteer Infantry First Reunion" which was published at that time.
This was the first and biggest reunion of the 16th Regiment. The Village of Potsdam did itself proud in its reception to these men, now famous as the "Straw Hat Men of History".