William Campbell Monument, West Haven

UPDATE (Sept. 2010) — The West Haven Historical Society has canceled efforts to sell the Campbell monument site. We’ve revised the post to remove references to a potential sale.

A monument in West Haven honors British adjutant who spared the life of a local minister during the American Revolution.

The William Campbell monument  stands in a small park just north of the Boston Post Road, between Wade and Pruden Streets. The site is owned by the West Haven Historical Society.

The site today features an 1891 monument that, depending on which account you read, marks the approximate location of where William Campbell was killed during the British invasion of New Haven in 1779, or was buried after the battle.

The monument, a large granite block with a polished west face, bears a dedication reading, “Adjutant William Campbell fell during the British invasion of New Haven, July 5, 1779. Blessed are the merciful.”

The site is surrounded by a metal fence, and the monument is decorated with American and British flags.

During the invasion, Campbell (for whom Campbell Avenue is named) spared the life of a local minister who broke a leg while fleeing from British forces with documents. Campbell ordered troops not to kill the civilian, and Campbell was killed later that day.

According to Peter J. Malia’s excellent history of West Haven, Visible Saints, West Haven, Connecticut, 1648 – 1798 (affiliate link), Campbell’s burial site was unmarked until 1831, when a small headstone was placed on a location identified by a witness to the burial 52 years later. The headstone was later stolen by relic hunters and replaced with the 1891 memorial.

A sign at the monument site indicating the monument marks Campbell’s burial site is a bit optimistic, since the original grave has been lost to history. The site has been examined with ground penetrating radar, and no remains were found under the monument.

The site was maintained by the New Haven Colonial Society until 1977, when it was deeded to the West Haven Historical Society.

Armistice Monument, West Haven

The fence surrounding the Armistice Monument on West Haven’s green was decorated with festive lights as we drove past on Christmas Eve, so we pulled over to take a couple of pictures.

The monument was first dedicated in 1928 to honor World War veterans, and additional plaques were added to the base to honor veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. A separate marker at the monument’s base honors a local hero of the current war in Iraq.

Here’s a look at the monument from our visit in March.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, West Haven

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, West HavenThe Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in West Haven’s Oak Grove Cemetery was dedicated in 1890, when West Haven was still part of Orange. (West Haven was split off from Orange in 1921, and was incorporated as a city in 1961.)

The monument sits in a round traffic island near the center of the cemetery. Inscriptions on the front (south) face bear the years of the Civil War, along with a dedication “erected in honor of our loyal soldiers and sailors.”

The obelisk is topped by a polished granite sphere, and a carved stars-and-stripes motif surrounds the monument just below the polished sphere. The front face also features a three-dimensional bronze sculpture of an eagle surrounded by flags, cannons, crossed swords and oak leaves. 

A smaller granite marker at the base of the monument was dedicated in 1964 by a local VFW post. The inscription reads “In grateful tribute to the living and the dead who through their valiant effort and supreme sacrifice have helped to preserve us a free nation.”

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, West HavenThe curbing around the monument bears of the names of several Civil War veterans who were originally buried near the monument, but who were moved in subsequent years. 










Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, West Haven









Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, West Haven










Armistice Monument, West Haven

Armistice Monument, West HavenThe armistice monument on West Haven’s green was dedicated in 1928 to honor local residents who died in World War I. Over the years, the monument and its surroundings have been revamped and rededicated to honor heroes of later conflicts, including the current war in Iraq. 

The monument, on the Main Street (north) side of the green, is topped by an 11-foot bronze statue of a doughboy solider, who stands atop a granite base holding a rifle in one hand and a helmet in the other, outstretched, arm.  (The origins of the term “doughboy” vary, but it apparently referred to infantry troops during the Civil War. During the first world war, U.S. troops adopted it as a nickname for themselves and its meaning expanded to all branches of the service.)

The West Haven doughboy was sculpted by Anton Schaff, who also created a number of war memorials in New York and New Jersey, as well as several Confederate busts at Vicksburg (MS) National Military Park. 

Armistice Monument, West HavenA plaque on the front face of the West Haven’s monument’s base features four military figures (soldiers, an airman and a sailor) gathering with four civilians laborers and a dedication “to the memory of those who gave their lives in the great war 1917-1918.” 

Beneath the dedication is the American’s Creed, a pledge, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, that was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1917. 

The other three faces of the monument’s base bear bronze plaques listing the names of 29 West Haven residents who died in World War I. Over the years, additional plaques were added to honor the residents who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and smaller plaques reading “for those who gave their lives – World War I” were affixed to the bottom of the original plaques. 

Near the base of the monument, a separate granite marker has been dedicated to the memory of Thomas E. Vitagliano, 33, an Army staff sergeant who grew up in West Haven and Orange. Vitagliano and another soldier were killed Jan. 17, 2005 by an improvised vehicle explosive device in Iraq.

West Haven’s firefighters are honored by a bell-topped monument not far from the doughboy statue.  

Armistice Monument, West Haven












Armistice Monument, West Haven












Armistice Monument, West Haven









Firefighters Monument, West Haven

Veterans’ Walk, West Haven

Vietnam Memorial, West HavenOn President’s Day, we’re highlighting West Haven’s Veterans’ Walk, a collection of monuments and tributes at Bradley Point that was dedicated in 2007.

The largest monument in the Veterans’ Walk collection features four black granite slabs that are dedicated to the local residents who served and died in the Vietnam War. Three large, slanted panels list about 282 names of residents who served, including six who were killed in the conflict. In front of the tablets, at the base of three flagpoles, are pillars with the emblems of the country’s military service branches, as well as a larger tablet etched with a map of Vietnam and the inscription “All gave some, some gave all.”

Two matching black granite monuments are located near the Vietnam memorial. One is dedicated to the residents who served in the Korean War. The other is dedicated to William A. Soderman, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for defending an important road junction against German tanks in 1944 with bazooka fire

Vietnam Memorial, West HavenAlso near the monuments are a series of smaller pillars displaying the logos of veterans’  organizations from all of the wars fought by the United States. 

The sidewalks leading visitors through the Veterans’ Walk area are lined with commemorative bricks bearing the names of local veterans. 

Not far from Veteran’s Walk is a monument dedicated to the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as a monument to the veterans from West Haven’s First Avenue who fought in World War II. West Haven has a collection of World War II monuments in several locations that will be featured in a future post. 

Bradley Point, located on the west shore of New Haven harbor, sits next to the Savin Rock area that hosted seaside amusement parks until urban redevelopment efforts were launched in the 1960s. 

William A. Soderman MOH memorial, West HavenBradley Point was also a landing area for British troops who invaded New Haven in 1779. The Defenders’ Monument dedicated to colonists who resisted that invasion was highlighted in a post on January 28, 2009







Korean War Memorial, West Haven









Veterans' Walk, West Haven









Grand Army of the Republic Monument, West Haven