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| || SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
24 Church Street
North Haven, CT
Dedicated: October 1905
Type: 32-pounder Rodman rifled gun
Supplier: Base: S.W. Lucas
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Haven, is significant historically because it provides a case study of the dichotomy in a community between those who wished their Civil War tribute to be a monument and those who preferred a building. It is also significant for the use of the term Civil War in its inscription.
A proposal for a monument was launched in 1884 by the Veteran Soldiers' Association. Its proposal was adopted, some funds raised by taxation, and more by private contribution. Others in the community called attention to the need for a town hall and the opportunity while filling that need simultaneously to create a Civil War memorial. At a special town meeting, it was voted to proceed with the town hall. MEMORIAL TOWN HALL, 1886, was the result.
Veterans continued to campaign for a monument, considering the tablet in the town hall to be a superficial token, which was not acceptable. Opportunity to pursue their objective came after the Spanish-American War, when a battery of four Rodman guns that had been mounted on the shore at Lighthouse Point near New Haven as a symbolic measure of defense, needed "to quiet the fears of women and children," became surplus. After negotiations, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers turned over one gun to North Haven on December 30, 1904, without charge. It arrived on February 15, 1905, by sled. The gun carriage, due to regulations, had to be purchased. The purchase was made by the New Haven superintendent of parks, on behalf of North Haven. Necessary funds were raised by the Veteran Soldiers' Association. A third and final step was acquisition of the shells. In October 1905 the veterans finally had their long-sought monument.
The site selection was clouded by the claim on Town Green held by the First Ecclesiastical Society, although the society had, on March 29, 1886, specifically granted permission to raise a monument there. The society later deeded any interest it may have had in the land to the town.
Grand Army of the Republic units were prominent in the dedication ceremonies in October 1905. The exact day in October is the one detail that is missing in the otherwise unusually complete record of the history of the monument. The Dedication Day parade included a band, an Italian-American society, the 2nd Infantry, and Troop A (not otherwise identified) in the line of march. Luncheon was served in Memorial Hall.
The term Civil War is used in the inscription, a departure from the usual practice with Connecticut Civil War monuments. Customarily, the war is referred to as the War of the Rebellion. The late date of 1905 may have something to do with the choice of words, since the term Civil War came into wider use as decades passed. Here the term is combined with use of the standard phrase "preserve the Union."
Principal orator for the dedication ceremony was the Reverend William F. Hilton, chaplain of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Connecticut, who had spent 5 1/2 years in the service. He extolled the superb record of the volunteer soldiers and their "willingness to die." Some years later he delivered much the same message when speaking at the dedication of SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, on July 15, 1916.
Records related to the monument at the North Haven Historical Society are unusually complete and detailed. They include such items as a summary of bids for the stone, under the heading "Proposals Summarized," and the original list of pledges, three pages long, with names crossed out and marked "PD" as the money came in. The man responsible for organizing and keeping the records was Sheldon Thorpe (1838-1924), a North Haven veteran, who wrote and collected North Haven history for decades.
The cannon's duplicate is the principal component of SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL, East Haven. A third gun was sent to Milford; it was contributed to the scrap drive of World War II. What happened to the fourth of the Lighthouse Point guns is unknown.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Haven, is without artistic significance, but is an example, relatively rare in Connecticut, of a Civil War monument having as its chief feature a gun. (See also SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Sharon, and MOTHERS' SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union.)
The base was designed by an unnamed North Haven veteran, who specified dark gray Quincy granite, the die to be of light shade. Five firms quoted on supplying the stone and lettering. Vermont granite was priced as well; Westerly granite was not. Fox-Becker Granite Company (see SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Seymour), Stephen Maslen Corporation, and Thomas Phillips & Son Company (see SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Wallingford) are among the familiar firms that quoted. The order went to the local man, S.W. Lucas, even though his price was not the lowest. The granite was set on September 6, 7, and 8, 1905, by Charles N. David of I.L. Stiles & Sons, the company which earlier had supplied the brick for MEMORIAL TOWN HALL. The base was set on a piece of marble from the Connecticut Statehouse that formerly stood on New Haven Green.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Haven, consists of a 32-pounder Rodman rifled gun mounted on a base of quarry-finished Quincy granite blocks. The cannon faces south in the southwestern corner of Town Green. The memorial is dedicated to all who served in the Civil War.
A flagpole and gazebo are nearby. Also, a stack of 30 facsimile cannonballs is to the northeast of the monument on a 4' x 4' x 1" granite slab. The present 30 round black balls, cemented together, replace the original 20 actual shells, which suffered from vandalism over time. The monument is surrounded by several low evergreen shrubs.
With the three stones at the rear, to provide access to the loading area, the base has a total of 12 blocks of granite. The marble slab rests on a foundation of brick and concrete. The piece is an S.B. Rodman Gun with 10" bore, weighing 10 tons. Muzzle diameter is 16". The top of the gun is 12' above grade.
A copper box containing appropriate documents was placed in the cornerstone when it was laid on May 30, 1905.
East side of base, left front near grade, recessed panel, raised numbers:1905
Recessed polished granite tablet, incised caps:CEDAR MOUNTAIN
FORT GREGG, VA
Capstone, recessed central panel, raised numbers:1861-1865
West side of base, recessed polished granite tablet, incised caps:ERECTED
BY THE TOWN OF
AS A TRIBUTE TO THE
VALOR OF HER SONS
WHO ON LAND AND SEA
FOUGHT IN THE
TO PRESERVE THE UNION
Capstone, recessed central panel, raised numbers:1861-1865
Clifford Nitchke, "Where Did All the Cannons Go?" typescript, 1994. East Haven Historical Society.
Extensive records and files. North Haven Historical Society.
"Souvenir North Haven Memorial, Dedication of the Soldiers' Monument, North Haven, Conn.," (Veteran Soldiers' Association, 1905).