Dear Dr. Scribblerstatue:
I am wondering who carved the three soldiers and the sailor statues that are part of the Civil War memorial at Penn Square. Boothbay Harbor, Maine, has a very similar, if not identical, statue of the infantryman. As I stand at protests at Penn Square, I often wonder what he would be thinking if he was alive. He is quite the dour fellow.
I also wonder how many communities across the country have this statue, who got theirs first, and how he was produced. Is there any way to know who the man was that modeled for the original artist?
Darrell E. Yoder
The Boothbay Harbor infantryman and hundreds of Civil War infantrymen elsewhere, North and South, are similar to Lancaster’s soldier. They were a kind of Everysoldier.
Many single soldiers and other elements of major monuments were ordered from catalogs and mass produced, according to Kirk Savage, author of “Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Centry America.”
This is obvious to anyone who travels around the country looking at Civil War monuments. Single standing infantrymen (or other soldiers, for that matter) are young. They look forward. They hold rifles. Except for minor modifications to denote Union or Confederate soldiers, they are generic.
There seems to be no record of who drew the models that appear in catalogs. It’s probable that no one man served as a model for the original sculpture.
The Scribbler decided to look a bit farther by examining what we know about the construction of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Penn Square.
In 1871, six years following the Civil War, the Lancaster County Monumental Association proposed that Batterson, Canfield and Co., a granite supplier in Hartford, Connecticut, and Lewis Haldy, a monument “designer” in Lancaster, place a war memorial in the center of Lancaster city.
The monument’s Greek Revival design, with granite infantry, navy, artillery and cavalry men standing around a base and a “Genius of Liberty”' standing with drawn sword at the top of a tall shaft is similar to major monuments in Allentown, Pottsville, Easton and Towanda in Pennsylvania, and probably many other places, North and South.
Details differ because these towns chose individual elements from catalogs. For example, our Genius of Liberty often is replaced by yet another soldier atop the monument shaft
Granite companies, many in New England, some in East Tennessee and other parts of the South, chiseled monument parts and provided them to the towns. The Scribbler wondered if these companies have records.
The Babcock-Smith House Museum, appropriately located on Granite Street in Westerly, Rhode Island, maintains records of the Smith Granite Co. and other large 19th-century granite companies, including Batterson.
The museum’s collection includes a hand-drawn image of the Lancaster monument from a Batterson order book. But the museum’s granite historian, Linda Chaffee, says names of the men who worked on the monument are unknown. So that’s a dead end.
After the monument’s features were carved in New England, Lewis Haldy set them into a rock-solid base in Penn Square. Haldy Keener Memorials, the Haldy family business on Willow Street Pike south of Lancaster, has no records from 1874, according to Haldy manager Dotty Houser. So that’s another dead end.
But is our infantryman dour, Darrell? Well, sure. It was a long, hard war.
Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at firstname.lastname@example.org.