| SOLDIERS' MONUMENT
343 Hopmeadow Street
Weatogue in Simsbury, CT
Dedicated: July 4, 1895; July 3, 1995
Type: Tall granite pedestal and figure
Designer, fabricator, supplier: Munson Granite Company
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Weatogue in Simsbury, is significant historically because it is evidence of the honor and respect paid by the community to the memory of those who served in the Civil War. Cost was $3,000.
Dedication Day on July 4, 1895, drew a crowd of 2,000 people despite the rain. On that day thirty years after the event the conflict was still termed the "War of the Rebellion," but remarks of one of the Dedication Day orators reflected a changing attitude. The Reverend Horace Winslow, chaplain of the Joseph R. Toy Post, No. 83, Grand Army of the Republic, spoke of the patriotism of those who did not go to war (apparently referring to the support offered on the home front) and stated that monuments such as Weatogue's were "not for the Northern states alone but to cement and solidify the country.... The monument unveiled told of the heroic purpose to achieve human liberty, of the death of 500,000 men who died during the war." His oratorical stance did not focus exclusively on the patriotic fervor of victory; it also reflected growing recognition of the need to heal old wounds and recognize social progress.
The monument's unusual inclusion of seven names from "Colored Regiments" (see also SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, and SMITH GATEWAY, Niantic in East Lyme) was matched by the speaker's reference to the cause of human liberty (slavery was seldom acknowledged in other Dedication Day ceremonies) and his use of the statistic of half a million men who died, a number seldom mentioned.
Principal orator of the day was George P. McLean of Simsbury, then United States district attorney, later governor of Connecticut and United States Senator. The president of the Connecticut Woman's Relief Corps unveiled the monument.
The memorial was erected on land owned by the Reverend Charles P. Croft, who transferred ownership in 1919 to the Joseph R. Toy Camp 29, Division of Connecticut Volunteers, which is no longer in existence, making present ownership uncertain. The monument's 27' x 29' parcel shows on the town map. The assessor has a field card for the parcel, without owner; the card is marked "exempt" (from taxation). The parameters of the parcel are physically defined by four 17"-high granite piers, one at each corner.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Weatogue in Simsbury, was rededicated on July 3, 1995, its 100th anniversary, with a bronze plaque listing the 37 Simsbury men who died in the Civil War. The plaque is mounted on a low slant marker of light grey granite directly in front of the monument.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Weatogue in Simsbury, is significant artistically because it is an example of a conventional Civil War monument pedestal design carried out in rough-finished dark gray granite of excellent craftsmanship. The stone is more sombre and rugged than most. The roughness is offset by the smooth finish of the scotia molding and the inset panels. The shape of the cut stonework is handsome. The surmounting figure is entirely conventional.
Produced some 30 years after the war, the monument has an overall design concept that nonetheless is in line with that of earlier work, lacking any reference to Neo-Classical Revival trends which were coming into fashion at the turn of the century. It is one of the few Connecticut monuments fabricated by Munson Granite Company of Munson, Massachusetts, about which little is known.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Weatogue in Simsbury, is composed of dark gray rough granite pedestal and conventional figure. It is sited close to the road almost in the front yard of a modest residence. It is dedicated to those who died in the Civil War.
The base of the monument is a substantial piece of granite 8' square with inclined top edge. It is surmounted by three nicely cut handsome stones with curved and inclined edges, which form the base of the tapered shaft. A scotia molding of smooth stone is at the top of the pedestal under a rugged capstone. The rough front edge of the capstone is embellished by a central inset cypher. The top of the capstone rises as a low pyramid to the base of the figure.
The 6' figure stands with his left foot forward, holding the butt of his rifle parallel with the foot. Both hands are on the barrel, left over right. The overcoat with open hood is secured with waist belt, carrying a cartridge box at the rear and bayonet at the left hip. The soldier is clean-shaven and wears a visored soft cap or kepi.
One hundred ninety-four names are recorded on the monument, not without some irregularities. Spelling does not always conform to that of State of Connecticut war records; the surname of father and son is spelled differently; and only three of the top seven officers listed served directly from Simsbury in the war; others were Simsbury natives. Seven names are from "Colored Regiments," a highly unusual citation for Connecticut Civil War monuments.
Northeast (front) face of dado, square smooth recessed panel with curved concave corners, incised caps:ERECTED TO
THE MEMORY OF
IN THE WAR OF
Northwest face, long panel:(double column of many names)
Southwest face:(similar to northwest face)
Southeast face, same sized panel, larger letters:(names of 15 officers)
Baruch, p. 14.
Bonnie Connal, "The Civil War Weatogue Monument," sixth grade paper, October 1974. Simsbury Free Library.
"Civil War Monument 100th Anniversary 1895-1995," rededication ceremony program.Paul Dlubac, letter in Farmington Valley Herald, August 10, 1995.
The Hartford Daily Courant, July 5, 1895, 6:4.
Robert Langen, conversation, December 16, 1993.
Robert Langen, "Simsbury's Civil War Monument," The Simsbury Sign Post (Simsbury Historical Society, April 1990), pp. 6-7.
Mary L. Nason, "The Civil War Monument in Weatogue," April 1, 1995. Flier at Simsbury Historical Society.