| Manchester |
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| ||SOLDIERS MONUMENT |
Intersection of Main and West Middle Streets
Dedicated: September 17, 1877
Type: Short granite rock-faced pedestal and bronze figure
Supplier: James G. Batterson
Sculptor: Charles Conrads
Foundry: George Fischer & Brother
Height: Approximately 15 1/2'
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Manchester, is significant historically because it is a symbol of the honor and respect paid by the community to its members who died in the Civil War.
The Colonel Albert Drake Post, Grand Army of the Republic, started the campaign for the town to erect the monument in 1867. Albert Drake, colonel in the 10th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, died June 5, 1862. The post raised several hundred dollars for the purpose. The town appropriated $3,000. The anniversary of the battle of Antietam, Maryland, was selected as the day for dedication. (Conrads, artist of the Manchester soldier, had sculpted the figure for the monument raised on the Antietam battlefield.) Flags were flying for the dedication, and citizens turned out in full force. Visitors came to town; the mills closed for the afternoon. A crowd of 2,000/3,000 gathered in front of Cheney Hall, where the parade started. It was led by the Cheney Band and included in its line of march the St. James Drums Corps, Company G, lst Regiment, Connecticut National Guard, several G.A.R. contingents, the Rockville Drums Corps, veterans of the 10th Connecticut Volunteers, and 130 members of the 16th Connecticut Volunteers.
The dignitaries, Governor Richard D. Hubbard and General Joseph R. Hawley among them, rode in carriages. In his speech General Hawley declared that the raising of monuments was a duty to the dead, but told the crowd that monuments are also for "yourselves." "Is there anything higher or nobler," he rhetorically asked, "than devotion to country, to be willing to die if death lies in the path of duty?" He characterized the 1861-1865 conflict with the words, "It was a holy war."
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Manchester, is significant artistically because it is an example of the work of the sculptor Charles Conrads and the entrepreneur James G. Batterson. Charles [aka Carl] Conrads (1839-1920) came to the United States from his native Germany. He soon became employed by James G. Batterson (1823-1901), who operated a monument and stone business in Hartford, with quarry in Westerly, Rhode Island. Batterson was a major supplier of Connecticut's Civil War monuments; Conrads was his chief sculptor, for a lifetime. The Manchester monument is unusual for its rugged stone finish, which, combined with the raised smooth-finished seals on the die, makes it an example of work such as is seldom found elsewhere.
Since Batterson owned quarries, he primarily supplied stone figures, but from time to time used bronze figures, presumably to satisfy specific customer demand. See his Samuel Colt Monument, Hartford, and Thomas Church Brownell, Hartford. Most of Conrads' soldier figures at parade rest are in stone; see, for example, SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Southington. The contemporary newspaper account credits Conrads with the Manchester figure (it is clearly signed) and states that the stone came from Batterson's Westerly quarries without specifically saying that Batterson's New England Granite Company was the contractor.
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Manchester, stands in the southeast corner of Center Park, facing at an angle southeast towards the town's important central intersection of Main and West Middle Streets. The monument consists of a short bulky rock-faced pedestal and bronze figure. It is dedicated to those who died in the war.
The pedestal is made of three pieces of stone only, plinth, base, and die. All have an exceptionally rough quarry-faced finish, with tooled margins. The front face of the base is polished, to receive the incised lettering recorded below. The front face of the die features overlapping Seals of Connecticut and the United States, in polished surfaces.
The soldier figure stands with his left foot forward. Rifle butt is parallel with the direction of the feet, held to his right in front of the right foot. Hands are on the barrel, right over left. Overcoat is folded back at the left knee. Accoutrements are suspended on the waist belt at right hip and in the back. Bayonet is at the left hip. Cape is thrown back over his right shoulder. The soldier is clean-shaven, wears a kepi, and looks to his left.
A bronze tablet listing the names of the dead, some 40/50 men, was planned for attachment to the die, but was never executed.
Base of statue, left, rear, incised u.c. and l.c.:C. Conrads, 1876
Base of statue, right, rear, incised caps:GEO. FISCHER & BRO. / BRONZE FOUNDRY, N.Y.
Polished front (southeast) face of pedestal base, incised caps:IN MEMORY OF
THE SOLDIERS OF MANCHESTER,
WHO DIED IN THE WAR OF THE REBELLION.
1861 - 1865.
DEDICATED SEPTEMBER 17, 1877
William E. Buckley, A New England Pattern (Chester, Connecticut: Pequot Press, 1973), p. 137.
The Hartford Courant, July 18, 1986, A2:1.
The Hartford Daily Courant, September 18, 1877, 3:6.
Manchester Evening Herald, October 23, 1973, p. 1, il.