Raynham

Raynham Soldiers’ Monument, Bristol County (See gallery below for additional images)

Location: In front of Raynham Public Library, 760 South Main Street, Raynham
Coordinates: 41°55’21.7″N 71°03’10.6″W
Date dedicated: September 18, 1899
Architect/sculptor/manufacturer: John B. Sullivan and Son of Taunton

In 1897, Judge Elliott Sanford donated land to the Town of Raynham and stipulated it was to be used as the site of a town library. Sanford, a Raynham native, moved to New York City and had a distinguished career in law, serving as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Utah Territory in the 1880s. Though he lived in New York most of his life, he kept his ancestral homestead in Raynham as a summer home.[1] It would be 52 years before the town built a library on the site. Long before the library was constructed, the Soldiers’ Monument was built in 1899 as a companion to the future library building.

The monument was funded almost entirely through a gift from Miss Amy Leonard, a Raynham resident who had served as a U.S. Army nurse under Dorothea Dix. This makes Raynham’s monument distinctive as the only Massachusetts Civil War monument to be built through the efforts and financial support of a former Civil War nurse. Aged 42 when the war began, Leonard had worked as a Raynham schoolteacher prior to the war. It’s not clear exactly when she became a nurse or how long she served but her war work was ended when she contracted a fever which nearly took her life. After the war she was active in several charitable causes, particularly the temperance movement.[2] Sadly, she died just months before the completion of the monument.

It was dedicated on September 18, 1899. Curtis Guild, Jr., a journalist, politician and a Brigadier General in the Spanish-American War, gave the oration. The primary inscription reads, “In memory of the soldiers of 1861 – 1865. Erected by Miss Amy Leonard and Friends.”[3]

140 men from Raynham served during the war. Among them was a 19 year-old farm hand named Frederick C. Anderson. He was an orphan and had come to Raynham through an unusual program known as the “Orphan Trains” which transported orphaned children from urban centers to rural communities where foster parents chose their adoptees at train stations. Anderson had been selected by Raynham farmer Stillman Wilber in 1856.[4] In 1861, Anderson enlisted with the 18th Massachusetts Infantry which saw action in some of the largest battles of the war including Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. During the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad on August 21, 1864, the 18th Massachusetts was one of several units which took the brunt of a Confederate attack led by the South Carolina Brigade. As the Union regiments successfully beat back the offensive, Private Anderson of Raynham somehow managed to capture the color-bearer of the 27th South Carolina Infantry along with his colors. For this, he earned the Medal of Honor. The flag Anderson captured is presently displayed in the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier near Peterburg, Virginia.[5]

[1] Joshua Eddy Crane, “Necrology of the Old Colony Historical Society,” Collections of the Old Colony Historical Society, No. 6, (Taunton: Old Colony Historical Society, 1899), 127.
[2] Crane, “Necrology,” 148.
[3] “A Soldiers’ Monument”, Fall River Globe, September 19, 1899, 4.
[4] John Quattrucci, “Raynham’s Forgotten Hero (Part I): Civil War Medal of Honor Winner Frederick C. Anderson,” Wicked Local Raynham, July 20, 2009.
[5] Tim Talbott, “Captured Flag + Captured Flag Bearer = Medal of Honor for Pvt. Frederick C. Anderson, 18th Mass. Inf.,Random Thoughts on History, December 15, 2019.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s