Stockbridge

Stockbridge Soldiers’ Monument (Berkshire County). See below for additional images.

Stockbridge Soldiers’ Monument
Location: 1 Pine Street, Stockbridge
Coordinates: 42°16’57.3″N 73°18’43.7″W
Date dedicated: October 17, 1866
Architect/sculptor/manufacturer: New England Granite Works, James G. Batterson
Number of names: 27 men who died in the war

A total of 134 men from Stockbridge served in the war. Of these, 27 lost their lives. It is a high death rate as compared to most Massachusetts towns (which was typically about 10%). The primary inscription reads, “To her sons, beloved and honored, who died for their country in the great war of the rebellion, Stockbridge, in grateful remembrance, has erected this monument.” The monument was produced by James G. Batterson’s New England Granite Works of Hartford, Connecticut. It was dedicated on October 17, 1866, making it the first soldiers’ monument completed in Berkshire County and the ninth in Massachusetts dedicated to all those fallen from a given town.

Stockbridge dedication, October 17, 1866, from Leslie’s Illustrated

The dedication ceremonies attracted a crowd of roughly 3,000–the largest gathering in the small town’s history up to that time. Three hundred veterans from six different Massachusetts regiments marched in the procession and formed a square around the monument. The military formation was led by Maj. Gen. William Francis Bartlett of Pittsfield who was not only the youngest general from Massachusetts but also had the most distinguished combat record of any general officer from the Commonwealth. Henry D. Sedgwick, a prominent attorney who divided his time between New York and Stockbridge, gave the dedication oration. He was a distant relative of Gen. John Sedgwick who led the V Corps and a cousin to Major William Sedgwick of Stockbridge who died at Antietam and whose name is inscribed on the monument. Sedgwick gave a long address, recounting the military service of Stockbridge men throughout American history.[1]

Gov. Alexander Bullock also attended and his speech was published in the Boston Journal and elsewhere. It was somewhat rare for governors to attend monument dedications as there were so many and they were often held on the same days each year (Decoration Day or the Fourth of July). However, he suggested in his remarks that it was important to him to be present for this, the first monument dedicated in Berkshire County. He gave a powerful address, hitting hard on the emancipationist interpretation of the war’s purpose and meaning:

Gov. Alexander Bullock

It is proper that on this spot, dedicated today, and to be held as consecrated ground henceforth, we should open our hearts and minds…in the vow that the work shall be done. The voice of our brothers’ blood cries to us from the ground. The whole host of patriot dead exhort us…from every final bed of the soldiers’ rest, there come pale….fingers pointing out the duty and the way, all imploring us…to finish their work and to reestablished the…Union…upon the basis of the acknowledgment and enforcement…of the just and equal rights of every creature of God.[2]

Toward the close of the exercises, General Bartlett gave some brief remarks which received the loudest cheers, particularly from the veterans. His popularity was plain to see and hear.[3]

The original stone eagle atop the shaft was damaged in a 1914 storm and replaced with a fine bronze version given by the Laurel Hill Association (the town’s improvement and beautification society).[4]

Click images to enlarge:

Photograph courtesy of Joshua Hall, Asst. Curator, Stockbridge Library Museum and Archives

Stockbridge Library Tablet
Location: 46 Main Street, Stockbridge
Coordinates: 42°16’54.0″N 73°18’38.4″W
Date installed: March 1867
Manufacturer: “Mr. Fuller” of Stockbridge
Number of names: 134 who served

The Stockbridge Library opened in July 1864, one of only five libraries built in the country during the Civil War.[5] A few months after the soldier’s monument was dedicated (which lists the Stockbridge soldiers lost during the war), a tablet of Italian marble was installed in the library listing all those from Stockbridge who served. It was placed at some point in March 1867. The carver, according to the Pittsfield Sun, was a “Mr. Fuller” from Stockbridge.[6]

The first group of volunteers from Stockbridge to sign up in the weeks after Fort Sumter consisted of about 14 men who joined the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry for a three-year term. This unit was part of the Army of the Potomac and fought in some of the largest and best known battles of the war. A larger group consisting of about 20 men signed up with the 37th Massachusetts Infantry, a unit mostly made up of men from western Massachusetts. This regiment also served with the Army of the Potomac. Nearly half of Stockbridge’s soldiers who died in the war (12 men) served in these two units–an indication of their hard combat service.[7]

[1] Boston Journal, October 18, 1866, 4; Pittsfield Sun, October 25, 1866, 2.
[2] Boston Journal, October 18, 1866, 4.
[3] Pittsfield Sun, October 25, 1866, 2.
[4] Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System, Stockbridge “Soldiers’ Civil War Monument” inventory form
[5] Stockbridge Library, Museum and Archives, “History of the Stockbridge Library,” https://stockbridgelibrary.org/about/history/
[6] Pittsfield Sun, March 21, 1867, 2.
[7] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War

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