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| || THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
228 Washington Street (oppos.)
Dedicated: April 23, 1875
Type: Granite octagonal die supporting 12' granite figure
Designer, fabricator, and supplier: Batterson, Canfield & Company (James G. Batterson)
Sculptor: Charles Conrads
Height: 27', 6"
THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Norwich, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of honor and respect paid by the Norwich community to its sons who died in the war. Proposals for a monument were put forward as early as June 14, 1869, when, at a public meeting, William A. Buckingham of Norwich, wartime governor of Connecticut and then United States senator, took a leading position in the matter. At a town meeting October 3, 1870, Buckingham introduced a resolution calling for an appropriation. The first location selected was Yantic Cemetery (see ANDERSONVILLE MEMORIAL GUN, Norwich), but this was changed to "the north end of the Great Plain," as Chelsea Parade was then known. (See also 26th REGT. CONN. VOLS. MONUMENT, Norwich.)
Cost came to $16,278.94, of which $2,278 was for the bronze plaques. Both the plaques and the fence were added after initial erection of the monument. The sequence of events is not clear. According to newspaper reports, the soldier figure was placed on the pedestal April 14, 1873, while Dedication Day was April 23, 1875. Cause of delay is not known.
Contemporary illustrations are captioned THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, use of the word "THE" being unusual.
THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Norwich, is significant artistically because of the size of the figure. Twelve feet in height, it probably is the largest soldier figure among Connecticut Civil War monuments. Its sculptor was Charles Conrads, who worked a lifetime in the employ of James G. Batterson. For a period of years, Batterson's company that sold monuments was called Batterson, Canfield & Co., the name that is incised here. For greater detail on Batterson and Conrads, see essay.
The tall octagonal dado also is unusual, although Smith Granite Company used a low octagonal base in BROADWAY CIVIL WAR MONUMENT, New Haven. The bronze plaques on the dado were cast in Germany. Batterson used German foundries for his Hartford monuments to Samuel Colt, Cedar Hill Cemetery, and Thomas Church Brownell, Trinity College. A chief difference is that in the German plaques the letters are incised rather than raised.
The fence is fine, and is in excellent condition, as is the monument as a whole. The overall composition of elaborate fence, octagonal die, German bronze plaques, and oversized figure constitute, in comparison with others, one of the most ornate, almost lavish examples of Civil War monuments in the state.
THE SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Norwich, is sited at the north end of a 3.4-acre park or town green known as Chelsea Parade. The monument consists of a square base, octagonal die, and an unusually large 12' figure, all of Westerly granite, surrounded by an iron fence on granite curb. It is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the war.
The monument is elevated on a low mound of earth. The substantial granite curbing supports a wrought-iron picket spear fence that runs between square granite corner piers. The outside faces of the piers are embellished with raised Seals of the United States in which the stars and stripes are polished. Raised rounded ridge lines on the tops of the piers terminate in gablets having incised trefoils.
The square pedestal/plinth supports the octagonal die. Transition from the base of the die to its dado is accomplished by scotia, cyma, and torus moldings. Bronze plaques cover alternate surfaces of the dado. The dado's cornice is plain, above a wide frieze, and supports an unusually tall (approximately 2 1/2') octagonal base for the statue. The Seal of Connecticut is raised on the front surface of the base.
The soldier stands with his left foot forward, the toe extending over the edge of the base. The rifle butt, at right angles to the direction of the feet, also extends over the edge. The overcoat's cape falls to the elbows, while accoutrements and bayonet are suspended from the waist belt. Left hand is over right near the rifle muzzle. The soldier wears moustache and kepi, his head turned to the left and tilted down slightly.
A separate small area that terminates the park across a roadway to the north is the site of a granite tablet to all wars and a granite stele with bronze plaques listing names from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and those who were POW-MIA.
(According to Dana, p. 384, the front of the monument was to carry the following inscription. Whether this was executed is not known. It is not now in place:Erected by the Town of
In Memory of her Brave Sons who voluntarily entered
the Military Service of the United States
and lost their lives in defense of the
National Government during
Front of plinth, top of eastern end, incised caps:BATTERSON, CANFIELD & CO. / HARTFORD, CT.
Front (south) side of die, bronze plaque, incised caps:(list of 40 names, with units, officers above enlisted men)
In the ground in front of the monument, between the monument and the fence, there is a small granite marker incised with caps reading:TIME CAPSULE / 1659 NORWICH 1959 / TERCENTENARY / TO BE OPENED 2059
Baruch, p. 18.
Historic Resource Consultants, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Chelsea Parade Historic District, Norwich, Connecticut (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1988).
Malcolm McG. Dana, The Annals of Norwich in the Great Rebellion of 1861-65 (Norwich: J.H. Jewett and Company, 1873), pp. 375-387.
Norwich Bulletin, August 4, 1958 and May 14, 1968.