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| || SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL |
133 Main Street
East Haven, CT
Dedicated: September 13, 1911; 1990
Erected: Thomas Phillips & Son Company
Type: Rodman gun on granite base
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL, East Haven, is significant historically because it is evidence of the honor and respect paid by East Haven to "her sons who have by land and sea offered their lives in defense of their country" (from lettering on plaque, see below).
The present location of the cannon is perhaps the third in its long history. According to the Advertiser, when New Haven, which was important in manufacture of war materials, appealed for protection of the city's harbor in 1863, five concrete bunkers were built at Fort Nathan Hale and equipped in 1865, shortly before the war ended, with Rodman guns.
When New Haven feared attack again during the Spanish-American War, the guns were hauled the short distance south to Lighthouse Point, where they were regarded as "The Old Guards." A historical photograph shows four mounts and three guns there. After the Spanish-American War, one of "The Old Guards" came to East Haven, one went to North Haven to become SOLDIERS' MONUMENT there, and the third was sent to Milford, where it succumbed to the World War II scrap drive.
According to an alternative account by Nitchke, the East Haven gun initially was put in place in 1808 on the east coast of New Haven harbor, one of four at what later became Fort Hale. Since SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL is a Rodman gun, of the type developed by T.J. Rodman during the Civil War, it is difficult to reconcile the 1808 date with the artifact.
Ceremonies were held in East Haven on Dedication Day, September 13, 1911. Several committees were active in arranging the festivities. A band led the parade to the Green where Dwight W. Tuttle delivered an address and the orator of the day was H.F. Keyes, Commander of the Admiral Andrew Hull Foote Post, Grand Army of the Republic.
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL, East Haven, while lacking in aesthetic qualities, is significant because it is an example, relatively rare in Connecticut, of a Civil War monument having as its chief feature a gun. (See also SOLDERS' MONUMENT, North Haven; MOTHERS' SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Union; and SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Sharon.)
The gun was erected by Thomas Phillips & Son of New Haven on a base of huge dark gray Quincy granite blocks purchased from the City of New Haven. Phillips also supplied SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Wallingford, and SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, and the 1988 monument nearby at the north end of East Haven Town Green. The Phillips firm went out of business ca.1990.
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL, East Haven, is a cannon mounted on two I beams which are supported by unusually large blocks of quarry-finished granite. The cannon faces west in the center of the Town Green, adjacent to the central business district. It was moved to this location from Lighthouse Point, New Haven. The monument is dedicated to all East Haven men who served in the Civil War.
The rough-finished dark gray granite base is in two tiers. The bottom level of granite consists of a block 15', 3" long x 1', 3" high x 4', 7" wide. An additional piece 1' long by the same cross section is at each end. The upper level is a single block 16', 10" long x 1', 8" high x 4', 4" wide. The top surfaces of both are smooth-finished, and slightly pitched. There are nine pieces of granite in all, set on a slab of marble from the old New Haven Courthouse. Cost of the base was $465.
The cannon is more accurately described as a 32-pounder Rodman rifled gun. Its carriage is equipped with small wheels that fit on the flanges of the two 15"-high I beams, suggesting the possibility of movement. In service Rodman guns did have wheels, but the I beams are not a typical mount, and probably were introduced as part of the support structure in 1911. The gun has a 10" bore, outside diameter of 16" at the muzzle, length of 12', and weight of 10 tons. A small pyramid of cannonballs (or facsimiles), three high, is on a granite slab southeast of the MEMORIAL.
Nearby at the north end of the Green is a "white" (probably Barre) granite shaft with sphere on top, erected by the Phillips firm. It was dedicated to the veterans of all wars on May 30, 1988.
10" x 2', 11" bronze plaque, recessed in stone base, north side, raised caps:THIS TRIBUTE
TO THE WORTH OF HER SONS
WHO HAVE BY LAND AND SEA
OFFERED THEIR LIVES IN DEFENSE OF THEIR COUNTRY
IS ERECTED BY THE CITIZENS OF EAST HAVEN
BY EAST HAVEN HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION
Above, in I beam, raised lettering, repeated three times on each side:UNION / BUFFALO
The [East Haven?] Advertiser, January 7, 1989, p. 16.
Clifford Nitchke, East Haven Historical Society, "Where Did All the Cannons Go?", typescript, 1994.
175th Anniversary, East Haven, Connecticut, 1785-1960, Souvenir Program.
"Order of Exercises for the Dedication of Soldiers Memorial, Saturday, September Thirteenth, Nineteen Eleven, East Haven, Connecticut."