Nathan Hale Bust and Schoolhouse, East Haddam

Nathan Hale’s brief tenure as an East Haddam schoolmaster is honored with a local monument as well as the schoolhouse in which he taught.

The Nathan Hale bust, dedicated in 1905, stands in the original location of the schoolhouse in what is now a small triangular park at the intersection of Main Street (Route 149) and Norwich Road (Route 82) in East Haddam.

The bust stands atop a granite column that bears a plaque reading, “On this site stood the schoolhouse in which Nathan Hale first taught during the winter of 1773-4. Erected by the Nathan Hale Memorial Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, East Haddam, Conn., 1905.” The plaque also bears an image of the schoolhouse.

The bust was created by sculptor Enoch Smith Woods, who also produced a statue of Hale that stands outside the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, as well as a statue of American Revolution hero Thomas Knowlton on the state capitol grounds.

The restored schoolhouse in which Hale taught stands less than a quarter mile north of the bust, on a hilltop overlooking Main Street’s River View Cemetery. The schoolhouse was moved to its current location and rededicated in June of 1900 as part of ceremonies honoring the bicentennial of East Haddam’s separation from Haddam.

The building operated as a school from its 1750 construction until 1799, when it was moved and converted into a private residence. In 1899, it was moved again to its present location and rededicated as a museum.

Hale’s assignment in East Haddam was his first job after graduating from Yale. Five months after arriving in East Haddam, he left to begin teaching in New London, where he is honored with a statue and a preserved schoolhouse that also moved several times before reaching its current downtown location.

The schoolhouse site, maintained by the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, also features a monument to Maj. Gen. Joseph Spencer, who commanded Continental troops fighting in Rhode Island during the early stages of the revolution.

The monument, a granite column topped by a bronze eagle, features a bronze portrait of Spencer on its northern face. The monument’s southern face includes a dedication reading, “Erected by the state of Connecticut in memory of the honorable Joseph Spencer, Esq., Major Gen. of the Army of the United States of America; elected counselor of the state of Connecticut 1766, and died in office January 13, 1789, in the 75th year of his age.”

The monument was dedicated in 1904. After the dedication, the bodies (and headstones) of Spencer and his wife were removed from their original location and reinterred near the monument.

Putnam Memorial State Park, Redding

A large obelisk in Putnam Memorial State Park honors American Revolution soldiers who established winter quarters in Redding.

Units under Gen. Israel Putnam spent the winter of 1778-79 at the site, which was chosen to allow the deployment of troops to defend towns in coastal Connecticut, New York City or the Hudson River valley.

The troops who wintered at the site, which was later nicknamed “Connecticut’s Valley Forge,” are honored with a granite obelisk, dedicated in 1888, that stands near the park’s main entrance at the intersection of Routes 58 and 107.

A dedication on the monument’s west face reads, “Erected to commemorate the winter quarters of Putnam’s division of the Continental Army, Nov. 7th 1778 – May 25th 1779.”

The monument’s south face lists the commanding officers of the winter encampment. Along with Putnam, the monument lists the surnames of Alexander McDougall, Enoch Poor, Samuel H. Parsons and Samuel Huntington.

The inscription on the east face reads, “The men of ’76 who suffered here. To preserve forever their memory, the state of Connecticut has erected this monument. A.D. 1888.”

The north face bears an inscription from Putnam reading, “The world is full of their praises, posterity stands astonished at their deeds.”

The site and surrounding park are decorated with a number of Civil War cannons. The cannon immediately in front of the obelisk was originally flanked with cannonball pyramids.

Putnam Memorial State Park, Connecticut’s first state park, was established in 1887 to honor Putnam and the troops who wintered there.

The park also features stone pits marking the location of the troops’ huts, a replica guardhouse and a series of wayside markers explaining park features.

A statue by sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington depicts Israel Putnam riding a horse down a staircase to escape from British forces in Greenwich.

Liberty Rock, Milford

A large boulder in the Devon section of Milford once served as a lookout station during the American Revolution.

Liberty Rock, the highest point in its neighborhood, was used during the revolution to observe nearby Long Island Sound as well as the Boston Post Road.

The large boulder, originally known as Hog Rock, was renamed Liberty Rock in 1897. A brief dedication was carved into the rock’s southern face.

The rock once had a plaque under the carved dedication, but the plaque was removed at some point over the year.

The boulder is now the central feature of a small park that was restored in 2006.

During the restoration, a marker explaining the site’s history was added, as were pathways, a flagpole and stone benches. A series of small markers atop wooden stanchions added at the time have mostly been removed by vandals.

The site stands on the Post Road, alongside the on/off ramp to Interstate 95’s Exit 34.

Old North Bridge, Concord, Mass.

Monuments on both sides of the Old North Bridge in Concord, Mass., mark the site of the first militia victory in the American Revolution.

The famous “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired on April 19, 1775, by a member of a militia raised from Concord and nearby towns including Acton, Bedford and Lincoln.

The troops, nicknamed “minutemen,” repulsed British troops that had marched from Boston to Concord to search for weapons and ammunition being stored at a Concord farm.

The west, or “American” side of the bridge features the Minute Man, a famous statue created by sculptor Daniel Chester French. The statue depicts a farmer who is walking away from his plow, rifle in hand, to fight for what would become a new nation.

The Minute Man, dedicated in 1885 to mark the 100th anniversary of the skirmish, features an inscription from an Emerson’s “Concord Hymn” reading, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard ‘round the world.”

On the east (“British) side of the river, the first monument commemorating the fighting at North Bridge was dedicated in 1836. The obelisk features an inscription on its east face reading, “Here on the 19 of April 1775 was made the first forcible resistance to British aggression. On the opposite bank stood the American Militia. Here stood the Invading Army and on this spot the first of the Enemy fell in the War of that Revolution which gave Independence to these United States. In gratitude to God and in the love of Freedom this Monument was dedicated. AD 1836.”

As you face the 1836 monument, to your left is a gravesite for two British troops killed in the skirmish (a third was buried in Concord Center).

The Minute Man was the first major monument for French, who would later sculpt the statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington’s Lincoln Memorial. The Minute Man image serves as the logo for the U.S. National Guard, appears on savings bonds, and was on the back of the 2000 quarter honoring Massachusetts.

The statue was cast from former Civil War cannons (which was common for monuments created in that era).

Today’s version of Old North Bridge, which stands over the Concord River, was built in 1956 and restored in 2005. The bridge is the fifth to stand on that location, which is vulnerable to flooding that has claimed several bridges over the years.

About a quarter-mile away from the bridge, a former homestead has been converted into the North Bridge Visitor’s Center. In front of the center, a monument honors Major John Buttrick, a local farmer and militia leader who led the minutemen down the hillside toward North Bridge.

Bunker Hill Monument, Boston

The first major battle of the American Revolution is commemorated with a large granite obelisk in the Charlestown section of Boston.

The 221-foot obelisk was dedicated in 1843 to honor the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought on June 17, 1775, on Breed’s Hill (more about the hills later).

Inside the monument, 294 steps lead to observation windows just below the monument’s peak. The monument was closed at the time of our visit, sparing us the decision about whether to attempt the climb.

The battle was the first major engagement for Continental troops, who were defending a hastily constructed fort against British forces. The Continental troops repelled the attackers twice before an ammunition shortage prompted their retreat.

Although the Continental forces lost the battle, their strong showing and the large number of British casualties (nearly half of the 2,200 troops) demonstrated the viability of the Continental troops and provided a strong moral victory.

The granite building at the monument’s east base was completed in 1903 to display battlefield artifacts.

Four gateways leading to the monument site have been named after nearby states, and feature granite markers honoring a local hero. The stairways are being refurbished with federal stimulus money.

To the immediate west of the monument’s base, an 1881 statue  honors Massachusetts native Colonel William Prescott. Prescott, who commanded the Continental troops along with Connecticut’s Israel Putnam and Colonel John Stark, is most commonly cited as the officer who gave the legendary command  “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” (Different accounts attribute the quote to Putnam or Stark, or dispute whether anyone said it.)

The Prescott statue was created by sculptor William Wetmore Story, a Boston native who gave up a promising law career to pursue sculpture. A number of his classical female figures are displayed in U.S. museums.

Efforts to honor the battle began with a wooden monument erected in 1794 by local Masons to honor Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed during the battle.

A movement began to erect a more prominent monument, and the obelisk’s cornerstone was laid in 1825 during ceremonies marking the battle’s 50th anniversary.

Funding challenges stalled construction over the years, and the committee raised funds for the monument by selling a good chunk of the battlefield for real estate development.

Confusion about the battle’s name and location started before the first shot had been fired. Prescott had been ordered to fortify nearby Bunker Hill, but the Continental commanders decided Breed’s Hill would be more suitable. A British cartographer mapping the battlefield reversed the names of the two hills, and Breed’s Hill was consigned to the historical shadow of its more famous neighbor.

The Bunker Hill site was administered by a private association until it was turned over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1919. In 1976, the site was transferred to the National Park Service and added to Boston’s Freedom Trail.

Soldiers’ Monument, Southington

Southington’s Civil War veterans are honored with an 1880 monument in the center of the town green.

The granite Soldiers’ Monument depicts a clean-shaven Civil War soldier standing with a rifle. A relatively simple dedication on the front (east) face reads, “The defenders of our Union. 1861-1865.”

The east face also features an intricate carving of the Connecticut and United States shields and a raised ribbon with the state motto. The monument’s other faces do not bear any inscriptions.

While the monument has comparatively little lettering, it has a number of decorative elements not commonly seen on Civil War monuments, such as the four blue granite columns at each corner and the ornamental gables just below the soldier’s feet.

The monument was created by Charles Conrads, the principal sculptor for James Batterson’s New England Granite Works. Batterson’s firm supplied many Civil War monuments in Connecticut.

North of the green, which was laid out in 1876, a memorial flagpole dedicated after World War I honors veterans of that and the nation’s earlier wars. On the east and north faces of the flagpole’s base, bronze tablets list veterans of World War I (in four columns on each tablet).

On the west side, a tablet has four columns listing Southington’s Civil War veterans. On the south side, veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War are honored.

South of the Civil War monument, a collection of memorials honors veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the ongoing fight against terrorism. The central granite tablet bears a dedication inscribed below a carved eagle. The left two memorials feature bronze tablets listing World War II veterans in 10 long columns of names, and honoring 33 residents who were killed in the conflict.

The two memorials on the right honor veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The Korean War memorial list veterans in six columns and honors one who was killed. The Vietnam memorial also has six columns of names and honors 10 who were killed.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Milford

During a break in the wet snow blanketing southern Connecticut today, we again visited the 1888 Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument honoring Milford’s Civil War veterans.

Unlike the tulips and holiday lights we saw on earlier visits to the monument, wet snow clung to much of the monument, including the eagle on the front (east) face and the infantry figure atop the monument.

A bit west of the Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Monument, the bronze figures on Milford’s Korea and Vietnam War Monument were also covered with snow.

Pork Hollow Monument, Ansonia

Ansonia honors the hiding of provisions from invading British troops with a monument in its Pork Hollow neighborhood.

The monument, near the corner of Wakelee Avenue and Pork Hollow Street, was dedicated in 1901 to  commemorate an 1777 incident during which military supplies and food were hidden from British troops.

The provisions, stored in a riverfront warehouse near today’s downtown Derby, were destined for Continental troops fighting in New York City. When British General William Tryon attempted to seize the supplies, they were removed from the warehouse and hidden in the woods.

A granite marker erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution summarizes the incident with a dedication on its front (west) face reading, “Pork Hollow. Near this spot where hidden military stores belonging to the army of the Revolution during Tryon’s raid through Connecticut. Erected by the Elizabeth Clarke Hull chapter D.A.R. 1901.”

Elizabeth Clarke Hull was a grandmother of Commodore Isaac Hull, a Derby native who commanded the battleship U.S.S. Constitution during the War of 1812.

We thank Marietta for suggesting the Pork Hollow site.

Sources: Electronic Valley: Derby History Quiz

Report of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume 10

Liberty and Peace Monument, Newtown

Liberty and Peace Monument, NewtownA tall monument topped by an allegorical standard-bearer honors Newtown’s soldiers and sailors.

The monument features three pillars rising from a base dominated by benches. A dedication on the west face of the monument’s base reads, “Newtown remembers with grateful prayers and solemn vows her sacred dead [and] her honored living who ventured all unto death that we might live a republic with independence, a nation with union forever, a world with righteousness and peace for all.”

The monument is surrounded by a series of Honor Roll plaques listing local residents who have served in the nation’s wars. The front of the monument features a plaque honoring veterans of the Civil War and the World War, and another plaque  lists veterans of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War (in the 1840s), the Spanish-American War, and the Mexican Border War (in 1915-16).

Moving counter-clockwise around the base of the monument, plaques list veterans of the Persian Gulf War (1990-91); Vietnam; Korea; and World War II.

Liberty and Peace Monument, NewtownThe helmeted allegorical figure atop the monument, representing Peace, stands with a flag, a laurel branch and a chain tucked in her arms.

The monument was designed by Franklin L. Naylor, who was also responsible for a war memorial in Jersey City, N.J.

The monument was erected in 1931 on the site of a former schoolhouse that was later moved and turned into a private home. The monument’s formal dedication took place in 1939.

The monument is more commonly known as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, but according to the Newtown Historical Society, the artist’s original blueprints list the name as the Liberty and Peace Monument. The society’s newsletter advocated a return to the original name, so we’re doing our small part in promoting the change.

Sources: Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut

Newtown Historical Society

Liberty and Peace Monument, Newtown

Liberty and Peace Monument, Newtown

Liberty and Peace Monument, Newtown

Liberty and Peace Monument, Newtown


Soldiers’ Memorials, East Haven

Soldiers’ Memorial, East HavenA large cannon honoring Civil War and American Revolution veterans is one of several war memorials on the East Haven green.

The cannon, a Civil War Rodman Gun, was dedicated in 1911. A plaque on the western face of its base reads, “This tribute to the worth of her sons, who have by land and sea offered their lives in defense of their country, is erected by the citizens of East Haven.”

The western face of the cannon also features a plaque, dedicated in 2002,  listing the names of 16 residents who died in the American Revolution.

The eastern face has a similar plaque listing 15 men killed during the Civil War, including two who died in the Confederate prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, Georgia.

Soldiers’ Memorial, East HavenThe cannon was one of three originally installed at Fort Nathan Hale in New Haven near the end of the Civil War. During the Spanish-American War, the cannons were moved to Lighthouse Point to help protect New Haven harbor.

After the Spanish-American War, the cannons were donated to East Haven, North Haven and Milford for use as war memorials. The East Haven and North Haven cannon survive, but the Milford Rodman Gun was donated to a World War II scrap metal drive.

The cannon is one of several monuments on East Haven’s green. The northwest corner features a 1988 granite pillar, topped with a globe, that is dedicated to all of East Haven’s veterans.

Soldiers’ Memorial, East HavenHeroes lost in the two World Wars are listed on plaques mounted on pinkish monuments. The World War I plaque lists five names, while the World War II plaque lists 24 names.

A monument in the southwest corner of the green honors the service of local firefighters.

Source: Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut

Soldiers’ Memorial, East Haven

World War Memorial, East Haven

World War II Memorial, East Haven

Firefighters’ Memorial, East Haven