The monument, featuring an infantryman standing with a rifle in his hands, was completed in two stages that were dedicated 10 years apart. The base, made of pink granite quarried locally, was dedicated in 1877. The soldier, made of gray granite and supplied from a Massachusetts firm, was dedicated in 1887.
Such a delay in the construction of Civil War monuments, while not common, was not unique to Guilford. The figure atop the Soldiers’ Monument on the Derby Green, for instance, was dedicated six years after the base.
The dedication on the front (south) face of the Guilford monument reads: “In memory of the men of Guilford who fell and in honor of those who served in the war for the Union, the grateful town erects this monument, that their example may speak to coming generations.” The south face also lists the battle of Antietam, as well as the names and regimental affiliations of 14 residents killed in the war.
The east face lists Gettysburg and an additional 14 names. The north face, which is harder to read, lists Fredericksburg (Va.) and an estimated 15 names. The west face lists Port Royal (S.C.) and 14 names. The first name listed on the west face is Douglas Fowler, a Guilford native who was commanding the 17th Conn. Volunteer Regiment when he was killed in Gettysburg on the first day of the battle (July 1, 1863).
The gray infantry figure, like many Hollywood starlets, appears to have undergone repairs to his nose at some point during the 121 years he has stood in Guilford.
On the southwest corner of the green, a boulder bears a bronze plaque dedicated “in honor of our men and women who served in the World War 1917 1918.” The monument also lists the names of about 97 residents who served, as well as four names of residents who gave their lives in the conflict.
The town’s World War II monument, on the southeast corner of the green, features three blocks of pink granite (that also may have been quarried locally). The central block, the largest of the three, honors 16 residents who died in the war by listing their names, ranks and service affiliations. The blocks to the east and west bear bronze plaques describing Guilford’s contributions to the war, including the fact that 500 men and women served in the military as well as the efforts of local farms and businesses.
The Vietnam war sacrifice of three residents is honored by a 1984 monument on the northwest corner of the green. That granite monument bears the dedication “Each peaceful dawn in this place we are reminded of these men who died for their country.”