They’re nearly ubiquitous across the north: Civil War soldiers standing vigil in the town square or the city cemetery. I came across this one, with the autumn amber splayed across the sky behind him, in Allegany, NY, the small college town where I teach.
The pedestal features a bas-relief ribbon of the Grand Army of the Republic and an inscription that says, simply, “Monument in Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War 1861-1865.” A cannon that sits next to the monument bears inscriptions on each wheel: “Ira Thurber Post 584 G.A.R. Allegany, N.Y. A gun of the Civil War 1861-1865″
The 188th New York Volunteers came from this neck of the woods. I just started reading the memoirs of a member of that company, From Allegany to Appomattox: The Life and Letters of Private William Whitlock…. The 154th New York had guys from this county, too.
I see these statues everywhere (a New England statue manufacturer was responsible for most of them), but maybe because they seem so common, we forget to really see them. That’s my challenge this fall: in the midst of the riot of autumn color, I want to see these statues and remember the men they honor.