Location: Meeting House Green
Coordinates: 42°40’50.8″N 70°50’12.4″W
Date dedicated: March 13, 1871
Number of names: 54 men who died in the war
The primary inscription reads, “Erected by the Town of Ipswich in Memory of her Brave and Lamented Sons Who Gave their Lives to their Country in the War for Union and Liberty.”
375 men from Ipswich served during the war. Two of them earned the Congressional Medal of Honor: Capt. Thomas Ellsworth of the 55th Massachusetts Infantry who carried his commanding officer from the field under heavy fire and Private Joseph Stockwell Manning of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry for his actions during the Battle of Fort Sanders. Private Manning’s gave an extensive account of his actions for the 1907 publication Deeds of Valor.
The 29th Massachusetts was one of several regiments holding Fort Sanders outside Knoxville, a position of vital importance to the entire Union presence in eastern Tennessee. On November 29, 1863 Confederates under Gen. James Longstreet assaulted Fort Sanders. According to Manning’s account, after repelling a particularly fierce Confederate charge which reached, but failed to overtake, the parapets of the fort, his company and one other was ordered to clear out the Confederates taking cover in the ditches at the base of the works. But Manning missed the moment and while his company flanked around one side of the works, he decided to catch up by going over the parapet and dropping right down the rampart into the ditches. As he described,
Waiting until I thought [Union troops] had entered the ditch, I jumped upon the parapet, slid down the outside of the fort and landed among the rebels. I was the only Yankee in sight. Hearing the detail from my regiment cheering to the left, I demanded the surrender of those about me, and they threw down their guns. I pushed towards a color-bearer who was attempting to hide his colors and with my bayonet at his breast, I demanded his surrender. He handed over the colors, which were those of the Sixteenth Georgia, and I took him prisoner. Our detail arrived just then, and turning my prisoner over to them, he was marched back along with some 200 others, through the ditch into the works.
Private Manning earned compliments from Gen. Ambrose Burnside (in command of Union troops in eastern Tennessee) and a year later received the Medal of Honor.