Connecticut's Civil War Monuments


Introduction || Connecticut's Monuments: an essay || Study Methodology || Monument Listing
CHS Home || Other CHS Resources

West Haven

view large image


Oak Grove Cemetery
871 Campbell Avenue
West Haven, CT

Dedicated: September 10, 1890
Type: Granite base, shaft, and sphere
Designer: Monument Committee
Fabricator: Smith Granite Company
    Carvers: John Roch and John West
Supplier: Daniel Steele
Height: Approximately 15'

Historical Significance

SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, West Haven, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of West Haven's honor and respect for its men who served in the Civil War. The West Haven community was part of the Town of Orange at the time of the war and at the time the monument was erected. The Town of West Haven was not split off from Orange until 1921; it was incorporated as a city in 1961. Why the monument references sailors as well as soldiers is not known. No naval icons appear on the monument.

The West Haven Veterans Memorial Association played a prominent role in the Dedication Day ceremonies on September 10, 1890. Events featured a parade, followed by a collation with after-dinner speeches by prominent members of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Artistic Significance

SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, West Haven, is significant artistically because it is different from most Connecticut Civil War monuments in several respects. The vertically compressed design includes the usual features of base, die, shaft, and crowning feature, but here is only approximately 15' high. The low total height requires that the die be smaller than usual. The chief decorative feature, the bronze plaque, is unusual. In other monuments where bronze plaques are used, the plaques are for lettering on the dado (see CIVIL WAR MONUMENT, Derby), while trophies on the shaft above are usually carved of stone. Here the plaque displays trophies on the shaft in bronze. The sphere on top is seldom found (but see NON-REPATRIATED SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Forest View Cemetery, Winsted in Winchester).

The siting is thoughtfully detailed. The earth is raised, the granite curb is high, and the shape of the plot carefully asymmetrical. The truncated pyramidal tops of the entrance piers duly correspond in shape with the top of the monument; scars suggest they may originally have had spherical finials corresponding to the monument's crowning sphere.

According to The New Haven Evening Register of September 10, 1890, the committee in charge originated the design for the monument. No mention is made of what quarry supplied the stone or who did the stonecutting, but the monument is fully recorded in Smith Granite Company records which show that the order was booked in December 1889 through Daniel Steele, agent. In addition to John Roch and John West, carvers, other men who worked on the piece included Richard Roediger, lettercutter, and nine stonecutters: John Brines, John Holliday, John Hughes, Daniel Kelliher, Murt McAvoy, Dennis Moore, Rufus Pierce, Joseph Smith, and John Surber.

Contract price was $800; shipment was made on August 12, 1890.


SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, West Haven, is cut from Westerly, Rhode Island, gray Anquilla granite. It consists of a stepped base, small die, tapered shaft with bronze plaque, and spherical finial. It is sited near the center of Oak Grove Cemetery's 27 acres on its own raised plot, surrounded by granite curb and roadways, in honor of those who served in the Civil War.

The vertical surfaces of the stepped plinth and base are quarry-finished; their sloping top surfaces are smooth. The small dado has a raised polished panel on each of the four sides, but only the front face is lettered, as recorded below.

The shape of the shaft's bronze plaque is tapered to conform to the shape of the shaft. The plaque's bas-relief is a vigorous representation of two cannon, an eagle with widespread wings, crossed flags, and crossed swords, bordered at the top by foliate embellishment. Only the front surface of the shaft has a plaque.

The top of the shaft is decorated with a band of alternating vertical segments of polished and unpolished granite under a band of polished stars, on all four sides. A scotia molding above the stars supports the quarry-finished edge of the low truncated pyramid on which rests the polished granite sphere.

The monument's plot, irregular in shape, is gently segmental on the north, straight on the southwest and southeast. The two straight edges almost meet in the center of the south side of the plot at an entrance flanked by two low piers. Scars in the center of the truncated pyramidal tops of the piers suggest that they once had finials.

The names, units, and dates of death of 14 men are recorded in the high granite curb surrounding the plot. The dates of death range from 1888 to 1932. Men once interred near their names on the curb were re-interred elsewhere in the cemetery some years ago.

Interstate 95 adjoins the cemetery to the south. The monument is visible from the highway.


Front (south) face of die, incised caps in polished raised panel:


    Above, at base of shaft:



The Hartford Courant, September 11, 1890, 6:1.

The New Haven Evening Register, September 10, 1890, 1:1, il.

Isaac Gallup Smith, Jr., Smith Granite Company, Record: 214.