| Madison |
view large image
| || WILCOX SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
408 Boston Post Road/US 1
Dedicated: July 4, 1896
Type: Bronze figure on granite pedestal
Sculptor: Heinrich (Henry) Manger
Donor: Colonel Vincent M. Wilcox
WILCOX SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, West Cemetery, Madison, is significant historically because of its pivotal role in the division of community opinion on the question of whether to commemmorate the Civil War by monument or memorial hall, and because it was the gift of a single individual.
Initial action toward a Civil War memorial in Madison came as early as October 2, 1865, when the town appropriated $1,000 for a Soldiers' Monument. A committee was appointed, but the matter proceeded no further.
On July 4, 1894, as part of an Old Home Day celebration, 400 current and former residents of Madison gathered to consider again the question of a war memorial. A marked difference of opinion arose between those who wanted to erect a large monument on the Green and those who thought a hall was more fitting. The proposal for a hall was adopted and $5,000 was provided toward construction costs for SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL HALL.
One of those who preferred a monument was Colonel Vincent M. Wilcox. After contributing generously to the fund for the hall, he independently raised the monument at West Cemetery in 1896, one year before completion of the hall. Thus, Madison joins North Haven as a community harboring a difference of opinion on the question of hall vs. monument, but in the end erecting both.
Colonel Wilcox died in May 1896, shortly before the monument was completed. The Reverend John E. Bushnell, pastor of Phillips Presbyterian Church, New York City, presided at the dedication on July 4, 1896. (The Reverend Bushnell may have been related to Cornelius Scranton Bushnell, native of Madison, famed for his support of John Ericisson, who designed the Monitor, an iron-clad ship of the Civil War.) Colonel Wilcox's prepared speech was read at the ceremonies by his brother, Captain Charles M. Wilcox. He praised the heroic deeds of valor of Madison volunteers who "risked their lives that the nation might live." After reminiscing about growing up in Madison and about his war experiences, he charged his audience with the responsibility of teaching patriotism to their children.
WILCOX SOLDIERS' MONUMENT is significant artistically because its design is different from most Civil War memorials. The two-tiered dado, instead of dado and shaft, is not customary. Also, the overcoat details are different from the usual, but are the same as in the figure of SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Putnam. This figure and the Putnam figure, cast by Gorham Company, appear to be quite similar.
Little is known of the sculptor, Heinrich (Henry) Manger, other than that he was born in 1833 and was active in Philadelphia, ca.1862 to ca.1871. He exhibited a bust of Lincoln at the Pennsylvania Academy, 1865-67. The identities of the foundry and stonecutter are not known. It is tempting to attribute the casting to Gorham because of the similarity to the Putnam figure, but Gorham customarily signed its work.
WILCOX SOLDIERS' MONUMENT is made up of a plinth of light gray granite, a two-tiered dado of polished dark gray granite, and a surmounting bronze figure. It is sited on a fieldstone ashlar base at the top of a rise toward the rear of 16-acre West Cemetery. It is dedicated to all Madison men who served in the Civil War.
The face of the top stage of the plinth, or perhaps the base of the pedestal, is in the form of an elongated cyma reversa molding. Each face carries a bronze Shield of the United States, on the front with crossed rifles, on the east with crossed swords, on the north crossed cannon, and on the west an anchor.
The pedestal is unusual in that it consists of two stages of dies, which together take the place of the usual shaft. The dies are polished surfaces. The upper level is set back 1 1/2", recessed by two courses of small cyma moldings. A band of raised stars runs around the monument near the top of the upper die. The edges of the band are incised. The lettering in the polished surfaces is difficult to read, as is all incised lettering in polished granite, a fact recognized by the fabricator who colored the incised letters in gold (paint, not leaf), now partially worn away.
The soldier stands with his left foot forward. Rifle butt is at right angles to the direction of the feet. Both hands are on the barrel, left over right. Left corner of the overcoat is turned back and the cape covers both forearms. Accoutrements at right and rear and bayonet at left are suspended from the waist belt. Wearing moustache and kepi, the soldier is looking slightly to his left.
Except for the black surface of the bronze, both the stonework and the casting appear to be in good condition, a strong testimonial to careful workmanship.
Base of figure, left, bottom front:H. MANGER
Front (south) face of lower die, incised caps and u.c. and l.c.:TO THE MEMORY OF THE SOLDIERS OF MADISON
VINCENT MEIGS WILCOX
NEW YORK CITY
Col. 132d Regt. Pa. Vols.
Born in Madison
October 17, 1828
East, lower die:1861 - 1865 / Col. Vincent M. Wilcox / (names of 7 captains) / (and 158 others)
North (rear), lower die:1812 - 1814 / LT. [sic] Benjamin Bradley / " [ditto] Timothy Dudley / (and 32 others)
West, lower die:1775 - 1783 / Capt. Timothy Field / " Dan'l Hand / " Jehiel Meigs / (and 65 others)
Glenn P. Opitz, ed., Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers (Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo Books, 1986), p. 567.
Bernard Christian Steiner, History of Guilford and Madison, Connecticut (Guilford: Guilford Free Library, l975), reprint of 1897 edition, pp. 461 and 462.
Madison Bicentennial Pages, n.d., reprinted from The [Guilford] Shore Line Times, pp. 5 and 33, (facsimile of Exercises, July 4, 1896).
Philip S. Platt, ed., Madison's Heritage (Madison: Madison Historical Society, 1964), pp. 39 and 41.
The [Guilford] Shore Line Times, July 3, 1896, 1:2.