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| ||MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES |
20 Ellsworth Avenue
Dedicated: May 30, 1894
Type: Granite pedestal and figure in funerary position
Sculptor: Solon Borglum
Fabricator and supplier: Smith Granite Company
Statuecutter: A. Bottenelli
MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES, Wooster Cemetery, Danbury, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of honor and respect paid to Danbury men who fell in the Civil War and whose burial arrangements are unknown. Such concern over burial appears in several Connecticut Civil War monuments; see NON-REPATRIATED SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Winsted in Winchester, and CANTON MEMORIAL MONUMENT, Collinsville in Canton.
The James E. Moore Post, No. 18, Grand Army of the Republic, raised the monument with the financial assistance of the State of Connecticut. James E. Moore enlisted from Danbury in 1861. He was killed at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. The cornerstone was laid May 30, 1893. One year later the completed monument was dedicated with a parade and gala ceremonies. Factories and schools were closed and business suspended for the day. A salute was fired and the Danbury Band played. Governor Luzon B. Morris was on hand and made a speech, and Augustus Fenn of Winsted delivered the principal address.
Nathan E. Hickok, whose Congressional Medal of Honor is memorialized by a bronze plaque, see below, received the medal for capturing a flag. He served from 1861 until he was captured and disappeared in October 1864.
MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES is significant artistically because it is a skillfully designed memorial that is unusual, perhaps unique in Connecticut, in several respects. The funerary position of figure and rifle, rectangular cross section of the pedestal, and presence of the free-standing cross at the rear of the figure all set this monument apart from others. In addition, the moldings that define the shapes of the base and pediment are emphasized in an artistic and professional manner.
The sculptor was Solon Hannibal Borglum (1868-1922), brother of the famous Gutzon Borglum, renowned for his work at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota. The skill and artistic merit displayed by MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES are attributable to its creator, who was not one of the usual designers of Connecticut Civil War memorials. The artist was mainly known for work in the American Western genre. He won awards at world fairs and had his pieces exhibited in major museums. His work in Wooster Cemetery, Danbury, is specifically mentioned in Mantle Fielding's Dictionary, page 88.
While the granite of the pedestal appears to be blue and that for the figure a clearer neutral tan, records of Smith Granite Company, Westerly, Rhode Island, state simply that the monument is made of blue Westerly granite. Smith received the order from agent A. Swan on March 21, 1893. Shipment was made on May 8, 1894, at the contract price of $2950. In addition to statuecutter A. Bottenelli, the following men also worked on the monument:
Charles Rossi, John Davey
James Duff, Joseph Fraser, Alexander Patterson
Pat Neville, John Gervin, Thomas McCarthy
James Blake, John Holliday, John Dunn, Sam Slocumn, Alexander Beattie, William Foley, Jeremiah D. Craddick
MONUMENT TO SOLDIERS IN UNKNOWN GRAVES faces west on the side of a gentle hill near the Ellsworth Avenue (Osborne Street) gate to the 74-acre Wooster Cemetery. It consists of a figure on pedestal which is unique in Connecticut because the soldier holds his rifle muzzle down in the funerary position. The dedication is to soldiers and sailors who rest in unknown graves.
The monument is rectangular in plan, rather than square as is usual. Its high plinth supports a two-stage base shaped as scotia and cyma reversa moldings. The front and back polished surfaces of the tall die are incised with the lettering recorded below. The lettering is flanked, on both faces, by raised vertical cannon. The sides of the die are polished the same as the front and back, but are without lettering. The top of the dado, over a scotia molding, is a low pediment whose sloping edges are gentle ogee curves. Its front surface is embellished with central raised swords over capstan, anchor, and pulley (signifying the navy). On the back the corresponding trophy consists of swords crossed over the Shield of the United States with wreath (signifying the army).
The figure stands with left foot forward among cherry blossoms (a unique and unexplained feature), wearing overcoat with cape thrown back and waistbelt, the rifle is under his left arm, muzzle down and back. The left forearm and hand are held up and forward to grasp the butt. The right arm is held behind the back, right hand extended at left rear to grasp the rifle barrel, the end of which is broken off. The bayonet is at the left hip. The soldier wears moustache and kepi, while looking straight ahead.
A cross stands at left rear of the figure, somewhat more than knee high. The badge of the Grand Army of the Republic is on its stem and the letters G A R in its points.
West (front) face, vertical section set off in base of dado, raised caps:DANBURY'S MEMORIAL
TO HER SOLDIERS AND SAILORS
WHO REST IN UNKNOWN GRAVES
Above, caps incised in polished surface of face of dado:(2 columns of 18 names each. Names followed by units. Many ditto marks used.)
Above, statue base, raised caps:IN MEMORIAM
East, added bronze plaque, raised caps:NATHAN E. HICKOK
CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR
APRIL 6, 1865
Above, in vertical section of base, raised polished caps:ERECTED BY THE
JAMES E. MOORE
THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Above, dado:(2 columns of 17 names each, with units, and a single name)
Above, on statue base:IN MEMORIAM
On south face of cross at left rear of figure:G A R
James Montgomery Bailey, History of Danbury, Conn., 1684-1896 (New York: Burr Printing House, 1896), pp. 429, 430.
Baruch, p. 9.
Danbury News, May 30, 1894.
Danbury News-Times, The Sunday Magazine, May 30, 1993, pp. 1, 4.
The Hartford Times, May 2, 1894, 1:1, il.
Glenn B. Opitz, ed., Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Apollo Books, 1986), p. 88.
Donald Martin Reynolds, Masters of American Sculpture (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), pp. 204-5, 220, 240, 245.
Isaac Gallup Smith, Jr., Smith Granite Company Record: 603.