New Haven honors shipping and railroad investor Cornelius Scranton Bushnell, best known for his contributions to Civil War ironclads, with a monument in Monitor Square.
The 1906 monument near the intersection of Chapel Street and Derby Avenue honors Bushnell, a Madison native who operated a marine supply business, served as president of the New Haven and New London railroad, and opened a Fair Haven shipyard.
During the Civil War, Bushnell’s political and naval connections were instrumental in the development of the USS Monitor, the first Union ironclad warship. Bushnell was one of three private owners of the vessel during its first battle, after which the U.S. government agreed to purchase the ship and use its design for additional ironclads.
The monument’s east face bears a bronze portrait of Bushnell (on your left) and John Ericsson, the Swedish engineers and inventor who designed the Monitor. (Ericsson is honored with a monument in Washington, D.C.)
A dedication reads, “This memorial is erected in honor of Cornelius Scranton Bushnell, a citizen of New Haven to whose faith, persistence and patriotism the country is indebted for the construction of the Monitor from plans by John Ericsson. The Monitor defeated the Merrimac March 9th 1862.”
The monument is topped with large eagle standing on a sphere that bears the United States shield. The sphere is supported by four fish.
The monument was produced by sculptor Herbert Adams, whose other works include bronze doors at the Library of Congress, tablets at the Massachusetts State House and a number of other statues.
After the war, Bushnell was an investor and executive with the Union-Pacific railroad. He died in New York in 1896 and is buried in New Haven’s Evergreen Cemetery.
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