Soldiers’ Monument, Cheshire

Cheshire honors Civil War veterans with an 1866 obelisk that is among the state’s earliest monuments to that war.

The Soldiers’ Monument stands on the Cheshire Green, in front of the town’s 1827 First Congregational Church and across the street from Town Hall.

A dedication on the monument’s front (east) face reads, “Erected to the memory of those who enlisted from the town of Cheshire in the Civil War, 1861-1865.” Below the dedication, 27 names are listed.

The monument’s other faces also bear bronze plaques, each listing 33 names of local Civil War veterans.

The reference to the “Civil War” on the dedication reflects the facts that the plaques were attached to the monument in 1916. Most late 19th century monuments refer to the conflict as the “War of the Rebellion” or describe preserving the Union. The term “civil war” was adopted in the early 20th century.

At its 1866 dedication, the monument originally listed 14 names. As veterans died after the war, their names were incised into the monument. In 1916, the bronze plaques were created and the monument was rededicated.

The base of the monument’s north face is inscribed with “Foote,” a reference to Admiral Andrew Hull Foote, who commanded Navy forces who helped with the capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee, as well as Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River. Foote’s grandfather was a pastor of the Congregational Church, and his father served as a U.S. senator and governor of Connecticut.

The base of the monument’s south face honors Abraham Lincoln with the inscription of his last name.

Cheshire’s Civil War monument was dedicated in July of 1866, making only the 1863 Soldiers’ Monument in Kensington (believed to be the oldest in the country) and the January 1866 Soldiers’ Monument in Bristol (and perhaps the undated Civil War monument in Plymouth) as older. Civil War monuments in Northfield and North Branford were also dedicated later in 1866.

The fact that all of these monuments are obelisks reflects the evolution of war memorials from cemetery monuments.

Across the street from the monument, a 1990 memorial honors Cheshire’s war veterans. The memorial is not far from the town’s World War I monument, which lists local veterans in three columns. A separate section highlights six veterans who were killed in the conflict.

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