Dudley

Dudley Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Worcester County). See gallery below for additional images.

Location: In front of 135 Center Road, Dudley
Coordinates: 42°02’44.4″N 71°55’48.8″W
Date dedicated: July 5, 1909
Sculptor/manufacturer: John A. Wilson, designer and sculptor

The soldiers’ monument in Dudley memorializes the town’s fallen in multiple wars. Such monuments became common after World War I and the practice of erecting monuments strictly dedicated to Civil War dead gradually fell out of practice. Dudley’s, being prior to World War I, is one of the earliest examples of this type of monument in the Commonwealth. Although not, strictly speaking, a Civil War monument, it certainly serves to memorialize those from the town lost in the Civil War and so will be included here.

The monument was designed and sculpted by John A. Wilson, an accomplished sculptor of the time who specialized in Civil War monuments. Born in Canada, Wilson came to Boston at age nineteen to study at the Museum of Fine Arts under Bela Pratt. He eventually established a prestigious studio in Chestnut Hill. His most famous work is the Confederate Student Memorial at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, later dubbed “Silent Sam.” This statue became the center of controversy starting in the 1960s and was pulled down by protesters in 2018. Its future is still uncertain. Wilson also sculpted the “Pennsylvania Volunteer” in Philadelphia (which was widely considered his best work), the Massachusetts Civil War Memorial in the Baton Rouge National Cemetery, and the Firemen’s Memorial in Forest Hills Cemetery, Boston, among others.

The Dudley monument was dedicated on July 5, 1909 during Dudley’s “Old Home Week.” During the ceremonies, U.S. Representative Charles G. Washburn of Worcester gave the oration. The primary inscription reads, “To the memory of Dudley’s heroes of 1776 who bore arms to found an independent nation, Her patriots of 1861-1865 who offered their lives to preserve the Union, Her soldiers in the Spanish and Philippine Wars 1898, This monument is erected by Sons and Citizens of Dudley, July 5, 1909.”[1]

2nd Lt. Jacob Murray Baker, a 22 year old student from Dudley, served with the 51st Massachusetts

A total of 149 men from Dudley served in numerous different regiments during the war. The largest group (23 men) joined up with the 51st Massachusetts Infantry. The regiment was organized in Worcester during October 1862 and became part of the Department of North Carolina. They served relatively light duty, mostly garrisoning the city of New Berne. They did see action during the Goldsboro Expedition in December 1862 without any casualties. The second largest group of men from Dudley served with the 14th Massachusetts Infantry which was soon reorganized as a the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment in the defenses of Washington, DC. They eventually took the field in the role of infantry (though still retaining their heavy artillery designation) during the brutal Overland Campaign of 1864. The unit suffered terrible casualties during the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 19, 1864 and the assault on Petersburg on June 16, 1864. Three Dudley members of the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery were killed during these engagements.[2]

[1] Boston Herald, July 6, 1909, 13. [2] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War

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