Spirit of Victory, Hartford

Hartford’s Spanish-American War veterans are honored with an allegorical monument in the city’s Bushnell Park.

The Spirit of Victory monument, near the intersection of Elm and Trinity streets, features a winged figure standing atop the bow of a ship with an eagle figurehead that we assume represents the United States.

Victory stands with a torch in her raised right arm, and her left hand holds a shield decorated with the United States flag.

The base of the monument is a large granite base with inscriptions on its front (west) face. The dedication, which is split between the north and south sides of the monument, reads, “To commemorate the valor and patriotism of the Hartford men/Who served their country in the war with Spain 1898.”

The bench is also decorated with two bronze plaques. On the north side, a muscular sailor is loading ammunition, and on the south side, an infantryman kneels with a rifle.

The back of the monument has a small plaque listing its 1927 dedication date, along with the names of two mayors and eight councilmen who served when the monument was planned and dedicated.

The Spirit of Victory was created by noted sculptor Evelyn Beatrice Longman, who is perhaps best known for Electricity and the Spirit of Communication, the “golden boy” statue that served as a symbol of AT&T for many years. Longman also created decorative elements on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, and her Connecticut works include the World War monuments in Naugatuck and Windsor.

Longman’s signature is inscribed atop the bow of the ship, near Victory’s feet.

From the Spirit of Victory, you can see the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch to the northwest and the state capitol building to the west.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch, Hartford

A Bushnell Park archway with two towers and a life-sized frieze honors Hartford’s Civil War veterans.

The 1886 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch features two medieval towers alongside an archway that spans Trinity Street. A dedication on the east tower (the right tower as you stand with your back to the Capitol building) reads, “In honor of the men of Hartford who served, and in memory of those who fell on land and on sea in the war for the Union, their grateful townsmen have raised this memorial.”

The west tower has a dedication plaque reading, “During the Civil War, 1861 – 1865, more than 4,000 men of Hartford bore arms in the national cause, nearly 400 of whom died in the service. Erected 1885.”

The monument is dominated by the frieze depicting a variety of scenes that took place during and after the war. The south frieze, by sculptor Caspar Buberl, illustrates the return of Hartford’s soldiers after the war. On the eastern (your right) side of the frieze, soldiers and sailors are leaving a ship and are being greeted by family members throughout the scene.

The allegorical figure in the center of the scene represents Hartford. At her feet, the arch is inscribed with the city’s Latin motto, post nubila phoebus, which translates as “after clouds, the sun.” The motto also reflects joy and optimism following the dark days of the Civil War.

The north frieze, by sculptor Samuel Kitson, depicts battle scenes from the war. Ulysses S. Grant is depicted on the far right side of the frieze.

Just below the friezes, decorative elements honor the infantry (crossed rifles) and cavalry (crossed swords) on the south side, and the Navy (the admittedly obvious anchor) and the artillery service (crossed cannons) on the north side.

The two turrets are also decorated with six figures representing the variety of occupations Connecticut’s veterans left behind as they ventured south to fight in the Civil War, and are topped with angels providing a musical accompaniment to the return of Hartford’s soldiers.

As you can see in the vintage postcards near the bottom of this post, the monument originally stood at the southern end of a bridge over the Park River. The river was diverted underground during the 1940s, but the bridge parapets can be seen just north of the archway.

The monument underwent an extensive renovation in 1988, during which a plaque was attached to the west tower to honor the contributions of African American soldiers in the Civil War. In addition, the terra cotta angels atop the two towers were replaced with bronze replicas.

The monument was designed by George Keller, a leading memorial architect who also created the Soldiers’ National Monument in Gettysburg as well as the U.S. Soldier Monument at Antietam. After his death in 1935, the cremated remains of Keller and his wife, Mary, were interred in the arch’s east tower.

1st. Conn. Heavy Artillery Monument, Hartford

1st. Conn. Heavy Artillery Monument, HartfordA 13-inch mortar used in the Civil War was mounted on the grounds of the state capitol in 1902.

The mortar, nicknamed the “Petersburg Express” and “the Dictator,” was used in the siege of Petersburg (Va.), a series of trench-fighting skirmishes near Petersburg and Richmond in 1864 and 1865.

The monument was erected in 1902 to honor the service of the 1st Conn. Heavy Artillery unit, which was formed in 1861 and served in the defense of Washington and several engagements in Virginia before the siege of Petersburg.

The mortar has been mounted near the intersection of Capitol Ave. and Trinity Place on a granite base. The south face bears a plaque reading “This 13-inch sea coast mortar was in actual use by the regiment during the campaign in front of Petersburg 1864-1865 and widely known as the ‘Petersburg Express.’”

1st. Conn. Heavy Artillery Monument, HartfordThe west face has a plaque listing the regiment’s service dates, and the east face has information about the monument’s dedication. The north face bears a bronze Connecticut seal.

During the war, the mortar fired 225-pound cannonballs and was mounted on a railroad car for portability. The squat design and thick walls were designed to accommodate the explosion of the 20 pounds of gunpowder used when the mortar was fired.

The black-and-white image of the Dictator is courtesy of the Library of Congress’ American Memory project. We’re not positive it depicts the mortar now mounted in Hartford, but there’s a decent chance that it does. 


1st. Conn. Heavy Artillery Monument, Hartford










1st. Conn. Heavy Artillery Monument, Hartford





















Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-cwpb-03851 DLC 

Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut

Wikipedia: Siege of Petersburg