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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Monuments and Markers

Dustin Park with 1890 Civil War Soldiers Monument, bandstand,
and 20th-century war memorial; Pittsfield, NH. From the collection
of the NH Division of Historical Resources. 
“What more proper and appropriate then than honors paid to the memory of those who dared and died in such a contest. Let them be given, and let their deeds and names be commemorated in the granite shaft and the marble column, and in all the other ways which a generous and a grateful people may suggest, while a nation saved is the great monument to their united deeds. And by the memory of the unnumbered whose lives were given as a sacrifice for our nationality, let us all labor to extend and perpetuate the ideas of free government and the principles of liberty for all for which they fought so well and died so nobly. And among the highest honors we can bestow is to forget not the duties we owe to the living friends they left behind. It is by thus honoring them, we honor ourselves, and make it certain, that if in the coming generation dangers shall beset our country, there will not be wanting among our people willing hearts and strong hands to uphold and protect it.”

        -- Hon. Jacob H. Ela, Representative for the First NH District in Congress; Dedication of a Soldiers' Monument at Claremont, NH, October 19, 1869.

Although no battles were fought within New Hampshire’s boundaries, the impact of the Civil War on the state was widespread and ranged from devastating loss of soldiers’ lives to momentous changes in the lives of those left behind. How did New Hampshire communities remember, reconcile, and commemorate these dramatic impacts? In part, by erecting monuments, memorials, and markers to the people and events that shadowed life in the years and decades after the war ended. While the generations directly impacted by the war are long gone, these places and spaces continue to evoke associations of community identity, commemoration, and loss.

The National Park Service believes that the bronze artilleryman
on the Manchester monument was made from the same
mold as the artilleryman featured on the 4th New York
(Smith’s Battery) Monument on the battlefield in Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania. In 2006, the New York monument was vandalized
and key features, including its head, were removed. In 2011
National Park Service employees came to Manchester, NH to make
rubber molds of the missing elements, which were then used to make
wax molds and pour new bronze features for the 4th New York’s
Gettysburg monument.  

“Soldiers’ Monument [Monument Square], Manchester, N.H.,”
dry plate negative created by the Detroit Publishing Co., ca. 1
910-1920. From the collection of the Library of Congress,,
accessed 5/4/12.

At Home . . .
From Colebrook to Nashua and Cornish to Milton, and in at least 70 other towns and cities throughout the state, New Hampshire communities constructed public spaces and erected monuments and memorial plaques to honor their war veterans. A few were dedicated by and/or to individuals alone, however, most were collective community monuments to all of their men who fought, and died, during the war. Some were dedicated to the number of unknown soldiers who never returned from the war.

The city of Portsmouth’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument was dedicated in 1888 in a small park on Islington Street, donated by the Goodwin family expressly for the purpose of housing the memorial. Constructed of zinc alloy, the “white bronze” monument is one of many across the state and country purchased from the Monumental Bronze Company, which capitalized on a new manufacturing process and the huge post-war market for such memorials. The monument was restored and re-dedicated in 2003. A Civil War Soldiers Monument was dedicated in 1890 in an existing park located prominently in the center of downtown Pittsfield. A bandstand was added to the park, now known as Dustin Park, in the early 20th century, but it would take eighty-five years until another war monument was added to the site to commemorate four wars between 1865 and 1975. The town of Milford’s Civil War memorial took the form of marble tablets installed in the main stair hall of the “new” town hall, constructed in 1869.

. . .  and Away
Monuments were also erected “away” by the State of New Hampshire to commemorate the contributions of her regiments, companies and other units in battles far from home. Five such monuments are located on the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Dedicated between 1886 and 1912, the five monuments of differing design and construction are dedicated to the 2nd, 5th, and 12th New Hampshire Infantry regiments, Companies E, F & G of the 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters regiments, and the 1st New Hampshire Artillery, Battery A. While the monuments of towns and cities are personal and tied to the collective memory of a single community, monuments
at battlefield locations share New Hampshire’s sacrifice with the country,
linking it to the broader Civil War experience.

New Hampshire Historical Highway Marker 156; Fremont.
From the collection of the NH Division of Historical Resources.
Historical Highway Markers
Begun in 1955, the New Hampshire Historical Highway Markers Program commemorates a variety of Civil War-related events, people, and places, among other topics. Included among these are Markers 156 and 170 in Fremont (“John Brown Family Gunsmiths” and “Civil War Riot of 1861,” respectively), Marker 172 in Laconia (“New Hampshire Veterans’ Association” at Weirs Beach), and Marker 223 in Hebron (“Home Site of Nathaniel Berry; Governor 1861-1863”). Find these, and all of New Hampshire’s Highway Markers, at

Reminders in New Hampshire of the Civil War experience are not to be found on battlefields, but they are easy to find on the landscape if one knows where to look for them. Monuments in town commons, memorial plaques in town buildings, and markers along the state’s roadways all contribute to preserving memory of the war and its impact on the state.

This monument, a gift to the town from former Gov. Frederick
Smyth in 1893, bears the names of 22 Candia residents who
died in the Civil War.  The Civil War soldier statue on the
top of the monument was made by the J.L. Mott
Iron Works in New York City at a cost of $865. From

the collection of the NH Division of Historical Resources.

In 2007, the town restored the zinc Civil War soldier statue,
with the help of  conservator Rika Smith McNally & Associates
and with support from the Conservation License Plate (Moose
Plate) Grant  program at the NH Division of Historical Resources
Courtesy of Rika Smith McNally.
 Sources, accessed on April 30, 2012.

Closs, Christopher W. and Roger A. Brevoort, National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form; “Pittsfield Center Historic District.” Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1980.

Dedication of a Soldiers’ Monument at Claremont, N.H., October 19, 1869 Proceedings, speeches, etc. Claremont, NH: Claremont Manufacturing Company, 1869.

Gettysburg National Military Park. 2011. The Lost Artilleryman’s Head. The Gettysburg Quarterly 18 (3) (summer): 3., accessed on April 26, 2012.

Heald, Bruce D. New Hampshire in the Civil War. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2001., accessed on April 27, 2012.

Wyman, Dr. Leonard A. The Union 1861-1865: A Guide to Civil War Monuments in New Hampshire. Keene, NH: Sonaux Publishing Company, 1961.

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