PaxtonLocation: Town Common, 697 Pleasant Street, Paxton
Coordinates: 42°18’41.2″N 71°55’39.6″W
Date dedicated: June 17, 1871
Architect/Sculptor/Manufacturer: H.C. Roche Co. of Worcester (manufacturer)
Number of names: 21 died in the war

Paxton was a small town of 725 people at the outbreak of the Civil War. Of her men and boys who went off to war, 21 never returned.

One such man was 41 year-old George R. Hubbard who ran a boot-making shop in town. In January 1864, he enlisted as a private with the 57th Massachusetts Infantry, one of the “veterans’ regiments” made of those who had already fought but whose units had disbanded at the end of their terms of service.

The 57th departed in April of 1864 for the seat of war in northern Virginia, where they joined the Army of the Potomac for the Overland Campaign–the bloodiest running, protracted fight in all the war. The 57th saw action at Spotsylvania, North Anna, and the investment of Petersburg throughout May, June, and July. On the 30th of July, they were one of the first regiments that charged into the infamous Crater and subjected to intense Confederate fire once trapped within. The 57th Massachusetts suffered one of the highest loss rates in the Union army in the whole of the war.

Hubbard never lived to see the disaster at the Crater. On July 24 while serving in the trenches, we was wounded by a ball from a Confederate sharpshooter. He died of his wounds three days later. The Sons of Union Veterans have no registration of his grave site.

Paxton’s monument to the war stands on the corner of Church, Richards, and Pleasant St on a small common. It was dedicated on June 17, 1871. “Bunker Hill Day”, once a state holiday, was a fairly common date for monument dedications in Massachusetts. During the ceremonies, Col. Joseph A. Titus of Paxton gave the oration.[1] He spoke about monuments over the centuries and the ways in which they reflected their governments, whether monarchies, oligarchies, or, like their monument, one based on civil government. “Our statues and monuments,” he said, “are expressions of public recognition of the great and underlying principles of human progress, upon which rest the foundations of human government. They perpetuate not only the names of noble men, but also their opinions and motives. They are teacher of youth and authors of public opinion.” His words are a reminder of the power of monuments to shape public opinion and values.

The monument is flanked on all four sides by cannons sunk into the ground, muzzles down. The placement of these guns in this fashion was a symbol of restored peace–an indication that the guns were no longer needed.

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[1] Massachusetts Spy, June 23, 1871, 5.

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