Civil War Monuments in Ohio
The Civil War lasted four long years and Ohio played a pivotal role with 310,654 men enrolled in 230 regiments. Nearly all were volunteers as only 8750 were drafted. There were 5092 Black soldiers from Ohio. Over 200 Ohioans reached the rank of general. To insure that future generations would remember Ohio's contributions to the Civil War, Ohioans constructed monuments, statues, plaques and buildings.
Even while war still waged, Ohioans began to build monuments. In 1863, the citizens of Bristolville, Trumbull County, erected a monument to honor thirteen local men who were "Defenders of the Union from Bristol, Ohio." The square-shaped stone monument is topped with a funerary urn and decorated with crossed swords, cannon and rifles. Also in 1863, Cincinnatians contributed funds for a suitable monument. Randolph Rogers received the commission in 1864. His statue of a Union soldier on guard, "The Sentinel," was installed in Spring Grove Cemetery in 1865.
Between the end of the Civil War and 1869, eight Ohio cities and towns erected monuments to their valiant soldiers. Seven of the eight were located in northeast Ohio, the home of Ohio's most vocal and active abolitionists. Seven of these early monuments have eagles as their decorative element-four with wings spread as if in flight and three with wings closed. Howard Brigden carved the marble eagle that tops the 1867 monument in Mesopotamia, Trumbull Co.
Eagles were the dominant design element for Civil War monuments in Ohio in the 1860s when they comprised 70% of the monuments. Although there were an additional seven eagle monuments constructed between 1870 and 1889, they represented only 12% of the 58 monuments dedicated during that time.
By far, the dominant design theme for Civil War monuments in Ohio (and across the country) was the "soldier at parade rest." One historian has given credit to the Antietam National Cemetery Board for its selection of a design by the James G. Batterson firm of Hartford, CT on September 16, 1867. The Board selected a soldier at parade rest design, the first known use of this soldier motif that would become a common sight across the country.
On May 30, 1870, the Union Soldiers Monument of Clark County was dedicated in Memorial Park in Springfield. Henry H. Lovie of Philadelphia cast the bronze statue in 1869. The Clark County monument does not show the soldier at parade rest. Instead the soldier is depicted stand on arms, reversed -- the musket is muzzle down and his hands crossed over the butt-plate. From 1870 until 1931, soldiers were the most popular monument design with the soldier at parade rest figure by far the most common. There are 120 soldier monuments and 89 of these are soldier at parade rest. This number does not include the monument bases in Oregon and Wellston that are missing their soldier at parade rest statues.
Other Monument Designs
One common element of Civil War monuments is that they were erected to honor local citizens who fought to preserve the Union. Following is a sample of inscriptions on Ohio monuments:
"The heroic dead of Youngstown Twp."
"To the memory of the fallen soldiers of Ross Township, Jefferson County."
"In memory of those brave men of Champaign County who died in the war to save the Union."
"In memory of our soldiers of Salem."
"In memory of the soldiers of Hancock County who fought to suppress the Great Rebellion."
"Erected in memory of the soldiers of Washington County, OH."
"Lamented sons and soldier's of Knox Co."
"Erected by the citizens of Nelson to the memory of her soldiers who fell in defense of our country."
Mansfield has a granite monument to Lincoln that evidently perpetuates a hoax. The monument reads: "The first public and official endorsement of Abraham Lincoln as a candidate for President of the United States was given him in Mansfield at a county convention held November 5, 1858. Erected by the Richland County Lincoln Association/Sep. 22, 1925." According to a Mansfield newspaper article from March 10, 1946, there was no county convention held on that date in 1858. The newspaper notice that served as the basis for the monument was the work of pro-Lincoln David Ross Locke, a reporter who gained fame with his satirical letters written using the penname Petroleum V. Nasby.
Several Civil War generals and other important figures are remembered with statues and busts. Cincinnati has busts for Colonel Robert McCook and Friedrich Hecker and statues of Stephen Foster and James A. Garfield. Ohio also has statues of General George Armstrong Custer (New Rumley), John A. Bingham (Cadiz), Edwin M. Stanton (Steubenville), Johnny Clem (Newark), General Giles W. Shurtleff (Oberlin), General James B. Steedman (Toledo), General James B. McPherson (Tiffin) and Rev. Gordon Batelle (Newport). William McKinley has monuments in Canton, Columbus and Niles. General Philip Sheridan has the distinction of the only Civil War equestrian statue in Ohio, located in the center of Somerset, his hometown.
On display on the capitol grounds in Columbus is a large monument called "These are My Jewels," designed by Levi Scofield. The monument has heroic-size figures of William Tecumseh Sherman, U.S. Grant, Salmon P. Chase, James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Edwin Stanton and Phillip Sheridan. The monument was first exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and then installed on the capitol grounds in 1894. Although Ulysses Grant is remembered in other ways in Ohio, the figure of Grant in the "Jewels" monument is the only statue of him.
In the Maple Grove Cemetery in Ravenna, there is a large grave monument to Henry and Rebecca Brantley who escaped from slavery in Tennessee in 1862 and settled in Ravenna where they "lived honest and industrious lives." This monument is inscribed with the word "Emancipation" and the symbol of the hand with a broken manacle.
Akron built a monument to John Brown in 1901. In 1912 Ripley dedicated a monument to "The Men Who Wrought for Liberty." The bronze plaque located on the bank of the Ohio River lists 13 men who "were the leaders of a large host of men who co-operated in the abolition movement."
Two soldier monuments include inscriptions about the abolition of slavery. The 1877 monument in the Mt. Vernon town square states "they laid down their own lives that the life of the Nation might be preserved and shared in the glory of securing to every dweller in the land a heritage of human freedom." There is a 1910 monument for the "Brave boys of Southington" who fought "for the preservation of our national union and the abolition of human slavery."
Women and Children
Few Civil War monuments in Ohio recognize women or children. The large Peace monument on the Capitol grounds in Columbus includes two bronze plaques-one for soldiers and one for those on the home front: "Men win glory in the fierce heat of conflict but the glory of woman is more hardly won. Upon her falls the burden of maintaining the family and the home, nursing the sick and wounded, and restoring the courage of the broken. She endures the suspense of battle without its exaltation. The memorial is erected in grateful tribute to the loyal women of 61-65, without whose help no victory or lasting peace could ever have been won." The monument was dedicated in 1923.
Two soldier monuments include inscriptions that recognize the role of women. The 1897 monument in Wood reads "To the patriotic women of 1861-1865 whose noble virtues and loyal deeds are ably perpetuated by the Ladies Neibling Relief Corps." The 1909 soldier at parade rest monument in Delphos is "Dedicated to our country's defenders and preservers, the men and women of 1861-1865."
The soldier monument in Greenlawn Cemetery in Columbus includes a figure of a boy. Ohio has two drummer boys: a drummer boy on the Hillsboro monument and a statue of Johnny Clem in Newark.
Two firms built many of the soldier monuments in Ohio. The Monumental Bronze Co. of Bridgeport, CT. specialized in a zinc or white bronze monument. Because the material could be stamped, bases could contain elaborate decorations and inscriptions. The monument at Kipton in Lorain County is a good example. The front of the monument includes the Grand Army of the Republic emblem, a profile of Abraham Lincoln, a list of soldiers, "Lincoln" in large letters and a verse from the poem, "Coat of Blue." The other three sides are similarly embellished. The same zinc soldier can be found in Cardington, Defiance, Grafton, New California, Wauseon, and Windsor. The Monumental Bronze Co. also made the Confederate monument at Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in Columbus.
The W. H. Mullins Company of Salem, Ohio produced Civil War monuments that were sold across the country, both North and South. In Ohio, there are at least fourteen Mullins figures. The Mullins Company produced a variety of monuments as shown by the soldier at parade rest monuments in Applecreek, Circleville, Delphos, Pickaway, Washington Court House and Wooster; the skirmisher in Eaton and Elyria; the standard bearer in Salem and Wadsworth; and eagles in Ashtabula and Elyria. Mullins also created statues of Abraham Lincoln (Wooster) and John A. Bingham (Cadiz).
Several monuments are original works created by local artisans or well-known Ohio artists. In addition to "The Sentinel" by Randolph Rogers, other original monuments include the colossal Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Cleveland designed by architect Levi Scofield, the Butler County monument by Roland Hinton Perry and the cavalry officer by Thomas Dow Jones in Urbana.
Other Types of Civil War Memorials
Many Civil War memorials in Ohio are plaques attached to boulders, slabs of granite or interior walls of buildings. There are also inscribed marble plaques. Only two of these plaques were done in the 19th century. In 1885 Antioch College remembered its Civil War dead with a marble plaque. In the courthouse in Upper Sandusky, there is a bronze plaque listing all the soldiers from Wyandot County.
Outside Piqua, there is a stone marker for the 94th and 100th Ohio Volunteer Infantry regiments (1906). Otterbein College recognized its Civil War soldiers in 1915 with a bronze plaque on a granite slab. Meigs County features several plaques: one for the Battle of Buffington Island; one for General Daniel McCook (1933); and two 1999 markers for Union and Confederate forces. In Indian Hill, there is a bronze plaque to recognize Camp Dennison (1932).
Individual Grave Markers
This inventory includes a few individual grave markers-chosen either for the significance of the individual or the elaborate nature of the marker itself. Some, such as the monument for General William Haines Lytle, fit both those criteria. Located in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, the monument to Lytle is a tall granite column with an eagle at the top and a bronze plaque depicting the Battle of Chickamauga where Lytle died. Several Ohioans received the first Congressional Medals of Honor for their valiant efforts to capture the Confederate locomotive, The General. Six of these soldiers are included.
Martin Robison Delany, buried in the Massies Creek Cemetery in Wilberforce, served as a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. He was commissioned a major, the first African American line field officer in the United States Army in March 1865, and given command of 104th US Colored Troops. Clement Vallandigham was a vocal opponent of Lincoln and the war. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Dayton.
Most Civil War monuments in Ohio were constructed between 1865 and 1930. However a couple of dozen have been built since then. The Grand Army of the Republic evidently mounted a campaign to place sundials as memorials in state capitals in the 1930s and 1940s. The same GAR sundial can be found in Baltimore, Maryland (1933), Des Moines, Iowa (1938), Springfield, Illinois (1940), Denver, Colorado (date not known) and Columbus (1941). Ohio has a second GAR sundial in Hamilton, also dedicated in 1941.
Only two monuments were erected in Ohio during the centennial of the Civil War. Ripley erected a monument to Cockerill's Battery F in 1962 and the Methodist Church put a marker on the courthouse in Harrison to honor Bishop Matthew Simpson.
Oberlin added a monument to the Underground Railroad in 1977 and a marker for the Wellington Rescue in 1990. In 2000, Canal Winchester in Fairfield County recognized the heroic act of Private Alfred Cannon. Cannon had been captured in Mississippi and was imprisoned at Andersonville. In an exchange of prisoners determined by lottery, Cannon drew a lucky ticket. Cannon, who was single, gave the ticket to a friend who had a family, saying "Go to your family." Cannon was later transferred to the Confederate Stockade in South Carolina and died of typhoid fever, January 21, 1865.
There are reminders of the Civil War in practically every county in Ohio. Clinton, Noble and Pike Counties are the only Ohio counties not included in the inventory, although Carroll County is here only because of the McCook House and Crawford County's single entry is for Frank, a horse that served in Co. A, 12th Ohio Cavalry Regiment. There are several counties with ten or more monuments and memorials. You might expect numerous monuments in Franklin (10), Hamilton (17) and Lucas (15) counties as they all include large cities. However Brown County boasts 12 monuments and Lorain has 13.
The size and grandeur of the monuments testify to the impact of the Civil War on even small communities. John T. Wilson spent $5000 on the Adams County soldier at parade rest monument in West Union. Dedicated in 1893, the granite monument soars to a height of 50 feet.
Ohio's Civil War monuments are remarkably well maintained. Many have recently been refurbished, cleaned and restored. Some have been relocated to safer spots. We know of one Civil War statue that has been destroyed--a soldier at parade rest statue that resided in the the town square of Lorain. There are probably others.
With 269 physical reminders in 85 of Ohio's 88 counties, Ohioans will not forget the Civil War.
Inventory of War Monuments
Our inventory of Ohio Civil War Monuments now includes 295 items. Search the inventory through our online Ohio Civil War Monuments Database.
Other States have also conducted inventories of their civil war monuments.
Individuals across the state assisted in surveying and photographing Civil War monuments. We extend our thanks and appreciation to the following:
Chris Bedel - Adams
Dick Crews - Cuyahoga
John Fleming - Greene, Montgomery
Jeannette Grosvenor - Geauga
Kathleen Jones - Lucas
Amy and David Laughead - Darke
Jane MacKnight - Brown and Washington
Dave Might - Sandusky
Helen Prill - Van Wert
John Rogers - Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hardin, Hancock, Paulding, Williams, Wood
Emilie Sedziol - Ashland, Crawford, Erie, Huron, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Wyandot
John Sedziol Family - Delaware
Ken Sedziol Family - Athens, Clinton, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Logan, Meigs, Mercer, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Shelby, Union, Vinton, Warren
Polly and Roland Sedziol - Fairfield, Licking, Lorain, Morgan, Muskingum, Perry, Seneca, Wyandot
Ron Sedziol Family - Summit
Bob Vaughn - Lawrence
Pat Williamsen - Franklin
Youngstown State University - Columbiana, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, Trumbull
Several Cincinnati Museum Center staff members worked together to make this inventory available on the web: Linda Bailey, Tina Bamert, Chris Bell Puckett, Laura Chace, Barbara Dawson, Anne Kling, Anne Shepherd and Maggie Yax.
We also thank the librarians, local historians and genealogists who provided information on monuments throughout the state. We could not have done this project without them.