The charming little village of Rensselaerville is tucked into the southwest corner of Albany County, one of several "hilltowns" on top of the Heldeberg escarpment. Though it was first settled in 1629 as part of the Rensselarwyck patroonage (large tracts of land given out during the Dutch Colonial period), few made their homes in the hills until after the Revolution, when land was given rent-free to settlers for their first seven years. That a number of veterans of the recent war took up the offer is evident in the cemetery, where worn stones marked with DAR flag holders show the resting place of Revolutionary soldiers.
That military heritage may have influenced the local men when the Civil War broke out. Though the population of the village barely topped 3,000 in 1860, the recruiters had no problem finding volunteers. When the surrender arrived, 29 of the men who had left to fight did not return, felled by wounds and disease while in service to the Union. The community did not want these fallen soldiers forgotten. Money was raised and on July 4th, 1867 a monument was dedicated on the highest point of the cemetery. Featuring a stack of rifles and two caps, the stone has carved into the names of 29 soldiers and the epitaph "They died in the defence of their country."