Uxbridge

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Uxbridge Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Worcester County)

Location: Town Common, 10 Court Street, Uxbridge
Coordinates: 42°04’39.4″N 71°37’50.6″W
Date dedicated: September 14, 1898
Architect/sculptor/manufacturer: Prout Brothers of Quincy
Number of names: 207 who served in the war

The primary inscription reads, “In Memory of the Sons of Uxbridge who Served in the War of the Union, 1861-1865.” Judge Arthur A. Putnam was the orator of the day during the dedication. He was veteran, having served as a captain in the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, and was active in the Grand Army of the Republic after the war. His remarks were published in a memorial collections of his addresses. As full transcriptions of dedication addresses are relatively uncommon, it is worth here dwelling a bit on his remarks, particularly because his themes were somewhat unusual for his time. By the turn of the century remarks tended to focus on the reunification of the nation rather than wartime divisions. The topic of slavery was often ignored.Uxbridge

But Putnam praised the fact that the war, “extinguished what was at once the danger and the disgrace of the nation” and that it rid the country both of slavery and disunion, resulting in “the total extinguishment of the iniquity and the complete unity of the war-torn and bleeding country itself!”[1] He did revel a bit in the language of expansionism and empire typical for the period, declaring:

…One all but feels as if the continent itself, conscious and impatient, had been waiting for the day of Appomattox to rise and demonstrate to mankind the wondrous capacity of a country under the benign influences of a flag whose colors should mean all that the Declaration of Independence declared — all that it declared touching the equality of man and man’s inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.[2]

It seems likely that Putnam was antislavery in outlook before the war as he took time to praise the abolitionists of the antebellum era–Beecher, Garrison, Phillips, Douglass and others. He celebrated their courage “for the sake of pure principle and down-trodden humanity.” Interesting comments in a time when abolitionists were being viewed as fringe agitators.

This homage was all especially appropriate as one of the town’s leading men before the war, woolen mill owner Effingham Capron, was also one of New England’s most active abolitionists. Capron, born in Pomfret, Connecticut but raised in Uxbridge and an influential resident there for most of his life, formed one of the state’s largest local antislavery societies. He also ran an effective network of Underground Railroad activity. A fellow abolitionist, George Stebbins, described Capron as “a tall white-haired man of noble aspect, commanding yet gentle, and of a fine courage fit to stand firm for a most unpopular truth.”[4]

During the war, Uxbridge men served with many different units. The two largest groups of Uxbridge volunteers served with the 25th Massachusetts Infantry (26 men) and the 15th Massachusetts Infantry (25 men).[5]

Click images to enlarge:

[1] Arthur A. Putnam, A Selection from the Addresses, Lectures and Papers: With a Biographic Sketch, of Arthur A. Putnam, (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1910), 102.
[2] Putnam,103.
[3] Putnam, 112.
[4] George Stebbins, Upward Steps of Seventy Years, (New York: United States Book Company, 1890), 119.
[5] Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Rebellion.

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