Location: Intersection of Depot and Center Streets, Easton
Coordinates: 42°02’09.3″N 71°05’53.3″W
Date dedicated: May 30, 1882
Architect/Sculptor: James G. Batterson’s New England Granite Works, design and manufacturer; Carl Conrads, sculptor
Number of names: 47 lost in the war
[Update, November 2022: I am informed that the long-planned project to move the Easton monument out of the center of this busy intersection has in fact taken place this year. At some point before too long, I will update this post with information on the move and new photographs.]
The Civil War monument in Easton is located at the busy intersection of Depot and Center Streets on an isolated traffic island. As shown in the historical photo below, the location once held more civic importance as it was then the site of the Town Hall. The building has since been razed and the town offices relocated. Of the 334 men from Easton served in the Civil War, 47 died. Their names are inscribed on the pedestal of the granite memorial.
The statue was produced by James G. Batterson, founder and owner of the New England Granite Works of Hartford, one of the largest monument producers in the country. Batterson was an interesting figure–a true renaissance man, successful as a businessman, inventor, sculptor, scientist, and Egyptologist among other things. He had several sculptors working for him on contract over the years. Perhaps the best was Carl Conrads who sculpted Easton’s monument. He also sculpted the colossal “American Volunteer” for the Antietam National Cemetery. Smaller versions of the “American Volunteer” were made for various towns including Braintree and a fine marble version in Lexington. Easton’s is a different sculpture but one can see stylistic similarities to the “American Volunteer.” Copies of Easton’s statue (but clean-shaven) can be found in Taunton and Franklin among other places.
The monument is difficult to access due to the configuration of the traffic island. In September 2014, the Easton Board of Selectmen approved a preliminary plan for the redesign of the entire intersection which is deemed by local officials, according to the Easton Journal (September 25, 2014), to be unsafe. Preliminary proposals called for the monument to be moved out of the center of the intersection to one of the corners. It would then be accessible to pedestrians. The process of securing funds and implementing any such plans was expected to take several years.
Charles R. Ballard, the town librarian, composed a lengthy poem for the dedication in 1882. One verse read, “Safe may it stand, where three ways meet, To catch the traveler’s peering eye, To check betimes his hurrying feet, And prompt him meekly to draw nigh. And read the names recorded here, Of those who once War’s havoc braved. And offer thanks and praise sincere for home and friends and Nation saved.” Such sentiments might once again be realized should the monument be moved.
Click to enlarge images: