Bedford Soldiers’ Monument (Middlesex County)

Location: Shawsheen Cemetery, 21 Shawsheen Road, Bedford
Coordinates: 42°29’07.3″N 71°15’26.8″W
Date dedicated: May 30, 1874
Sculptor/manufacturer: Unknown

The obelisk in Shawsheen Cemetery built in memory of those from Bedford who were lost during the war, was dedicated on Memorial Day 1874. The procession included veterans and militia from Bedford as well as Billerica and Concord. Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of the speakers.[1] Bedford’s monument dedication was one of only two such ceremonies at which the great orator spoke (the other, of course, being Concord’s). The monument is crafted of red “Scotch” granite, according to Bedford’s Town Clerk and local historian in the 1890s, Abram Brown. The material is unusual for a Massachusetts Civil War monument, though another in nearby Arlington also uses red granite. Research has not yet revealed the name of the manufacturer. According to Brown, the funds for its construction were raised by an association of “loyal women of Bedford.”[2] The primary inscription reads, “They gave their lives for us & their country. The ladies of Bedford pay this affectionate tribute to their memory.”

In all, 83 men from Bedford served in the war. The monument lists 14 Bedford men who did not survive (some of these were not residents of Bedford at the time of the war but had been previously). They were: Private Joshua Atwood of the 12th Massachusetts who was killed in action during the Battle of the Wilderness; Private Albert Butler of the 44th Massachusetts who died of wounds received at the Battle of Whitehall, North Carolina; Private John Byron of the 47th Massachusetts who died in hospital in Carrollton, Louisiana; Private Charles Cowdry of the 12th Massachusetts who, after being wounded in battle and later enduring time as a prisoner of war, died in a tragic fire that destroyed the steamship General Lyon which was bringing soldiers home at the end of the war; Private Clark Cutler whose service record is unknown; Private Charles W. Goodwin of the 16th Massachusetts Infantry who died of wounds received during the Second Battle of Bull Run; Navy Surgeon’s Steward William Gragg whose cause of death is unknown; Private Warren C. Holbrook of the 36th Massachusetts who died as a prisoner of war in Salisbury, North Carolina after the Battle of Popular Springs Church, Virginia; Private Henry Hosmer of the 6th Massachusetts Battery who died of disease in New Orleans; Private William A. Houghton of the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery who was killed in action during the Battle of North Anna River; Private Thomas Isaacs of the 16th Massachusetts who died of disease shortly after being discharged at Alexandria, Virginia; Sergeant Charles W. Lunt of the 22nd Massachusetts who received a wound during the Battle of Laurel Hill, Virginia which required the amputation of his leg and subsequently died in an ambulance train en route to Washington; Private James Monroe of the 47th Massachusetts who was furloughed due to disease contracted in service and died at home; Private Charles A. Saunders of the 15th Massachusetts Battery who died of disease in New Orleans; and Corporal Samuel Stearns of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry who was killed in action during the Battle of Bristoe Station, Virginia.[3]

[1] Abram English Brown, History of the Town of Bedford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, (Bedford: Published by the author, 1891), 44.
[2] Alfred S. Roe, Monuments, tablets and other memorials erected in Massachusetts to commemorate the service of her sons in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865, (Boston: Wright and Potter Printers, 1910), 29.
[3] Brown, 68-69; and Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War

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