Pembroke

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Pembroke monument (Plymouth County)

Location: On Town Green at the junction of Center Street and Curve Street
Coordinates: 42°04’17.2″N 70°48’35.4″W
Date dedicated: June 12, 1889
Architect/Sculptor/Manufacturer: Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, CT (manufacturer)
Number of names: 136 who served (20 died in service, 21 died since the war, 95 then living)

Located in front of the First Church and across from the Town Hall, 100 Center Street, this monument is unusual in that it records the names of all those who served from Pembroke. The primary inscription reads, “Erected by the Citizens of Pembroke to Commemorate the Brave Deeds of Their Loyal Sons in the War for the Preservation of the Union, 1861-1865.” The base of the pedestal is made of Hallowell granite and the pedestal and statue of zinc or “white bronze” which is cast hollow and therefore significantly less expensive. It was constructed at a cost of $1,056. The Ladies Sanitary Aid Society of Pembroke, who worked throughout the war to aid soldiers, contributed the balance of their treasury to build the monument.

The contractor was the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut one of the largest manufacturers of Civil War monuments in the country at that time. The statue, known as the “Infantryman,” appears in many a town square both North and South (the only alteration for southern versions was a “CS” on the belt buckle instead of “US”). During the Pembroke ceremony, the company was represented by Brainard Cushing, Esq. of Rockland who extolled the enduring nature of the medium which would last, he said, long after granite monuments had crumbled away. He also mentioned that the “parade rest” stance of the soldier was symbolic–the soldier’s work is done, but he still stands ready.[1] This symbolism may explain the great number of sculptures sharing this pose.

The key speaker of the day was Hon. Harvey N. Shepard of Boston, Assisstant Attorney General for the Commonwealth and active in many Massachusetts organizations. During his address, he spoke to the heroism of those who served and the tragedy of their loss. But the bulk of his speech was given over to politics of the day, as was often (and still is) typical of such memorial addresses. A Democrat, Shepard launched into a polite but firm criticism of monopolies and insisted on the need for labor reform. A brief excerpt:

“New campaigns invite us, and the bugle calls loudly for a charge on new battle-fields; not fields swept by the leaden hail nor plowed by fierce artillery, but fields where social and political battles shall be fought, on which most important issues hang…There are many…who see in these things the advent of an industrial change, the most important of any which have come to man for a thousand years. They recognize the danger to our liberties in the present tendency to concentrate all kinds of business in few and constantly fewer hands, and that to preserve itself from an overwhelming oligarchy of aggregated wealth the Nation will take charge for itself of all industries…”[2]

Plymouth County, like most of Massachusetts, had voted mostly Republican in the election of 1888, therefore Shepard’s political message may have seemed a bit bold to his Pembroke audience.

[1] The Record of the Procession and of the Exercises at the Dedication of the Monument Wednesday, June 12th, A.D., 1889, (1890). pp. 3-6, 14
[2] Ibid., pp. 32 and 39

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