Medford

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Medford Soliders and Sailors Monument (Middlesex County)

Location: Oak Grove Cemetery, 677 Main Street, Medford
Coordinates: 42°26’00.5″N 71°08’02.2″W
Date dedicated: September 6, 1866
Architect/contractor/sculptor: Lyons & Co., Medford
Number of names: 46 men who died in the war

Medford’s monument is among the earliest in the Commonwealth, completed in August 1866 and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on September 6, 1866. The primary inscription on the front panel reads, “In Memory of the Medford Volunteers who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Union. Fallen heroes have fragrant memories.” Roughly 700 men from Medford served. 46 who died in service are listed on this monument.[1] On the day of the dedication, Rev. Charles Brooks gave the oration. A Medford native and a pioneer activist in education, his writings inspired the establishment of early boards of education and teachers’ colleges across the country.

One panel of the monument is dedicated to those of the Lawrence Light Guard who died in the war. This pre-war Medford militia company was named for their benefactor, Daniel Lawrence, Esq. In April 1861 they were the town’s first volunteers and became Company C of the 5th Massachusetts Infantry. When they initially went off to war, they wore the traditional gray uniforms of state militia complete with a leather neck stock and a large shako style hat referred to as a “Boston Bean Pot.” One private wrote that the shako gave him a terrible headache and he soon tossed it over someone’s fence in Virginia.[2] The Guard served a term of 90 days and were heavily engaged in the First Battle of Bull Run shortly before their term was up.

In 1862, the Lawrence Light Guard reenlisted, this time for a three-year term and were assigned to the 39th Massachusetts Infantry. They fought in the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. It was, as one author described, “a family company”…being nearly all from Medford, the men enlisted in family groups, three families sending three brothers, many sending two brothers, and a few sending a father and a son. The company suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of Weldon Railroad in August 1864, not just in killed and wounded. Many were taken as prisoners of war to the notorious Andersonville prison in Georgia. Of the 101 Medford men who left with the Lawrence Light Guard in 1862, only nine were present and able to take part in their final action in 1865.[3]

[1] Boston Journal, Sep 7, 1866, 4.
[2] Helen Tilden Wild, “The Lawrence Light Guard,” The Medford Historical Register, (Medford: Medford Historical Society, 1902), Volume 5, 77.
[3] Wild, 88.

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