Connecticut's Civil War Monuments

 
 

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Torrington

WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Torrington
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  WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT

Coe Memorial Park
South Main Street
Torrington, CT

Dedicated: September 10, 1879
Type: Granite cylindrical pedestal and figure
Designer, fabricator, and supplier: New England Granite Works (James G. Batterson)
    Sculptor: Charles Conrads
Height: 16'

Historical Significance

WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Torrington, is significant historically because it is a symbol of the honor and respect paid by the citizens of the community, then known as Wolcottville, to its men who served in the Civil War.

The Dedication Day story filled five columns in The Wolcottville Register. Seven thousand people were present, the largest gathering ever seen in the village. The streets were decked out in a profuse display of bunting and other patriotic decorations. "The parade which opened the ceremonies at 10:30 in the morning must have been something to see!" (The Torrington Register, retrospective account in undated clipping.) A principal speaker extolled Torrington's devotion to a most noble principle, an everlasting union of the states. Charles B. Andrews, governor of the State of Connecticut, spoke to the assemblage.

The Naugatuck Railroad ran an excursion train to the Dedication Day ceremonies. It had a colorful flier/broadside printed in blue, green, and red to advertise the event.

Initially placed in front of City Hall, WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Torrington, was moved in 1936 when the present City Hall was built. It is now first in a series of well-designed war memorials in Coe Memorial Park. The Torrington Historical Society holds several historic photographs of the monument, including views taken during its move. The monument is scheduled to be moved again, farther back to the south in the park, to accommodate 1995-planned changes in the street intersection.

Artistic Significance

WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Torrington, is significant artistically because it is an example of the standard figure on pedestal in which the pedestal is round, instead of the more usual square or rectangular configuration. The composition was said to be the suggestion of Lyman W. Coe. The light tan granite also is somewhat unusual, especially for monuments produced by James G. Batterson of Hartford, who owned a quarry in Westerly, Rhode Island, that was the source of gray granite. However, a contemporary newspaper account said that the granite came from Westerly. The name New England Granite Works, incised in the plinth, was used by Batterson for his enterprise starting in the l870s. The newspaper account quoted above credits the sculpture to Charles Conrads, who worked for Batterson, and states that it was purposely copied from his figure at Antietam, Maryland.

Description

WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Torrington, is sited at the apex of the triangle formed by Coe Memorial Park, just south of downtown. Located in the park in a well-spaced line behind the monument are the Torrington (World War I) War Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fountain. WOLCOTTVILLE SOLDIER'S MONUMENT is dedicated to all from the community who served in the Civil War.

The monument is in the center of a circular garden bordered by granite coping. The two-stage octagonal plinth supports the round pedestal. The base of the pedestal is separated from the die by an ogee molding. The front of the die is embellished with a raised Seal of Connecticut. The back of the pedestal carries the lettering recorded below. The pedestal's cornice has small gables at the compass points. The gable faces have raised circles with raised polished service emblems: (north) crossed cannon, (west) star with central anchor, (south) crossed sabers, and (east) six-sided hieroglyph of clover, anchor within circle, broadfoot cross, Greek cross, and diamond.

The granite soldier figure stands at rest atop the pedestal with his right foot forward and rifle butt in front of left foot, parallel with the right foot. Both hands are on the barrel, left over right. He wears an overcoat with cape. Acoutrements and bayonet are attached to his waist belt. Looking to his right, he wears a moustache and visored cap.

Lettering

Front of plinth, left side, raised polished caps:

N.E. GRANITE WORKS. / HARTFORD CT.

    Above, base of pedestal, raised polished caps:

1861 TO THE DEFENDERS / OF THE UNION 1865

Back of base of pedestal, raised polished caps on raised panel:

ERECTED / A.D. 1879.

    Above, dado, raised polished panel, incised caps:

GETTYSBURG. / ANTIETAM. / WINCHESTER. / MALVERN HILL. / COLD HARBOR. / PETERSBURG. / CEDAR CREEK.

Sources

Naugatuck Railroad Wolcottville broadside, 1879. Connecticut Historical Society.

John H. Thompson, A History of Torrington, third edition (1940), p. 35.

The Wolcottville Register, September 13, 1879, cited in The Torrington Register, undated clipping. Torrington Historical Society.