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| || SOLDIER'S MONUMENT |
14 Old Church Street
Dedicated: June 17, 1874
Type: Quincy granite pedestal with bronze plaques and figure; ordnance
Sculptor: Melzar H. Mosman
Foundry: Ames Foundry
Height: 19', 6"
SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union Park, Middletown, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of the desire of the community of Middletown to honor and commemorate the memory of its citizens who died in Civil War service. Initial discussion of a monument occurred as early as 1865, but not until June 1870 was a Monumental Association formed. Town funds were appropriated on January 3, 1874, and contract entered into with Melzar H. Mosman on January 9, 1874, when he was 28 years old. Mosman was paid $11,000 for the monument.
Dedication Day on Wednesday, June 17, 1874, was a great event with parade and orations. The decoration of public buildings and private residences along the line of march was general, the Constitution reported, and included many fine displays. Nearly all places of business were closed (even though it was a Wednesday) and citizens turned out en masse to do honor to the occasion. The line of march included several bands, contingents representing Grand Army of the Republic posts, firemen, other societies, and police, but no military units.
The first speaker was Mayor C.C. Hubbard, who proclaimed that a lasting peace had been won by those whose names were recorded on the monument. Benjamin Douglas, chairman of the Building Committee, then discussed the history of the project and described the monument. He stated that the monument "will be a reminder to thousands who never look through history's pages of the sufferings, sacrifices, and heroic deeds of our glorious martyrs."
The principal oration was delivered by the Reverend Dr. Joseph Cummings, president of Wesleyan University. He dealt with the question of lingering antagonism between North and South, a subject not often addressed in dedication orations. "We doubt whether bitterness and hatred toward each other," he said, "exist in the hearts of brave men, who have faced each other in battle's dread array." Similarly enlightened remarks were contained in his speech at the dedication of Wesleyan's MEMORIAL CHAPEL.
In addition, Cummings voiced the more conventional wisdom that respect for the dead encourages and cultivates patriotism. He also set forth at some length a standard, from the North's point of view, analysis of the philosophical and social causes of the war, saying:
At the North, republican principles prevailed, and the doctrine of equality and brotherhood of men, of whom God was the common Father. The philosophy of the South was, the gentleman is in the palace, and the laborer in the field with an impassable gulf between. The triumph of the South, would have degraded manhood and brought dishonor on the industrial classes of the North.
The North, by culture, habits and occupations was ill prepared for war. The South prided herself on being a military people, and held in contempt Northern soldiery. But the fiery valor of the South, marvellous as it was, was forced to yield to men, who went to the battlefield, conscious that not only national interests, but personal honor and manhood, and the position of their children were involved in the contest.
Men engaged in industrial pursuits now stand more erect, and have a nobler bearing because of the victory gained for manhood in this war.
Following the ceremonies, a collation was held in the basement room of Mitchell's new block.
SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union Park, Middletown, is significant artistically because it is a variation on the standard composition of figure-on-shaft-on-pedestal, not having the shaft. Also, the proportions of the pedestal are shorter and heavier than usually found in Connecticut. See SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Ansonia, and CIVIL WAR MONUMENT, Derby, for other examples similar to Middletown's.
In addition, the stance of the soldier is a different version of at ease. Here the left foot is forward, as usual, but the musket is held to the right of the right foot, with the butt toward the rear; the right arm is bent at the elbow to permit the right hand to grasp the muzzle.
Images of children, family, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln are all unusual features for a Connecticut Civil War monument.
Melzar H. Mosman (1846-1926) was the son of a foundry worker in the Ames Manufacturing Company, Chicopee, Massachusetts. He became a sculptor, studied abroad, and undertook the design of several Civil War monuments, having the figures cast by Ames. Ames was one of the first foundries in the United States to cast sculpture, using techniques developed in casting cannon. The firm's first statue, of Benjamin Franklin, was placed in front of Boston City Hall in 1853.
For other work in Connecticut by Mosman, see SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Seaside Park, Bridgeport, and Firemen's Monument, Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven. Mosman also supplied Col. Thomas Knowlton, on the Capitol grounds, Hartford (1895).
The identity of the stonecutter, presumably employed by Mosman, is not known.
SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union Park, Middletown, is in the center of a park generally known as South Green, just south of the central business district. About one square block in size, the park is surrounded by churches and structures that formerly were large homes. It was called Union Park at the time of the dedication. The monument honors those who died in Civil War service. (The park's name came from Union Street and Union Mill which were located nearby earlier in the 19th century.)
SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union Park, faces northeast. It consists of base, pedestal, and figure, without the intervening shaft often present in Connecticut Civil War monuments. Horizontal dimensions of the pedestal are large compared to its height, forming a lower and more compact mass than generally is found. On the other hand, the bronze plaque in bas-relief and other details adorning the pedestal are more elaborate than usually occur. The bas-relief scenes on the front face and busts in the gables above give the monument distinction.
The pedestal consists of four solid blocks of Quincy, Massachusetts, granite with black specks: base, plinth of pedestal, dado, and top piece of pedestal, weighing together 12 1/2 tons. The bas-relief scene on the front face depicts a domestic lifetime developing from infancy to manhood in a picture of peace, secured by soldiers. The bust in the north gablet depicts George Washington, that in the south gablet Abraham Lincoln.
The surmounting bronze figure is clothed in regulation uniform with overcoat. His left foot is forward and rifle is held to the right. Only his right hand is on the barrel; left arm and hand are held straight down, in contrast to the pose typical in Connecticut Civil War monuments of rifle held directly in front of the figure by both hands. The 8' figure, one-third larger than life size, stands on a 6" bronze base. It weighs 1605 pounds. Combined height of granite and bronze portions of the monument is 19", 6". Formerly, a 4' Portland brownstone foundation, although covered by earth, was above the surrounding grade. The difference in perceived height perhaps was significant.
The four 12-pounder bronze cannon which point outwards from the corners of the pedestals were captured from the Confederate Army.
Base of figure, left, toward front, incised caps:M.H. MOSMAN
Right, toward front, incised script, u.c. and l,c.:Ames Foundry,/Chicopee (Chicopee not clear)
Front (northeast) face of base of pedestal, raised caps:ERECTED BY THE TOWN OF MIDDLETOWN
TO THE MEMORY OF HER FALLEN SONS1874
Above, recessed plaque, lettering in ribbon:Their heroic valor insured our lasting peace
Above, recessed in gable, surrounded by wreath, raised caps:HONOR / TO THE / BRAVE.
Northwest face of dado, recessed 24" x 30" bronze plaque, molded surround, incised caps:DIED IN SERVICE
(over 45 names listing unit, date, and place of death)
Gable:(bust of George Washington in profile, no wreath)
Southwest:DIED OF WOUNDS (15 names, with unit, date, and place)
DIED IN MILITARY PRISONS (9 names)
DIED SINCE MUSTERED OUT (5 names, dates 1861-1867)
Recessed wreath:WE / CHERISH / THEIR / MEMORY
Southeast:KILLED IN ACTION
(1 major general [see GENERAL MANSFIELD MONUMENT, Middletown], 2 captains, 1 lieutenant, and 32 men, with unit, date, and place)
Gable:(bust of Abraham Lincoln in profile, no wreath)
About 20' west of the monument there is a bronze bust of Henry Clay Work by Louisa Gudebrod. The bust is supported by a rough-hewn granite stele which has a bronze plaque reading, in raised caps:IN MEMORY OF HENRY CLAY WORK
MARCHING THROUGH GEORGIA
BORN IN MIDDLETOWN NEAR
THIS SITE OCTOBER 1 1832
Base, left side, incised caps:LOUISA GUDEBROD
Autograph Contributions to the Monumental Fund, 1874. Middletown Public Library.
The [Middletown] Daily Constitution, June 17, 1574, 2:1. (3 1/2 columns).
History of Middlesex County, Connecticut (New York: J.B. Beers & Co., 1884), pp. 95 and 96.
"Programme of Ceremonies, Wednesday, June 17, 1874, for the Unveiling of the Statue and Dedication of Monument, Erected by the Town of Middletown, in Memory of Her Sons Who Fell in the Late War for the Union, 1861-1865."
David F. Ransom, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Ames Manufacturing Company, Chicopee, Massachusetts (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1980).