Holliston

Holliston Soldiers’ Monument (Middlesex County). See gallery below for additional photos.

Location: In front of Town Hall, 700 Washington Street, Holliston
Coordinates: 42°12’08.1″N 71°25’44.9″W
Date completed: 1867, dedication date unknown
Architect/contractor/sculptor: Churchill, Trask & Co. of Lowell

On March 12, 1866, the town appropriated funds for the construction of the Soldiers’ Monument. Churchill and Trask & Co. of Lowell were engaged as the contractors. Oddly, any mention of a dedication ceremony, which likely took place at some point in 1867 when the monument was completed, is absent from the newspaper records. Perhaps something will turn up in time. The primary inscription reads, “Erected by the Town of Holliston in memory of her soldiers who died in the War for the Union, 1867”. It was cleaned and repaired by the town in 2013 as part of the town’s efforts to restore its Civil War history during the 150th anniversary cycle of the war.

Pvt. William H. Legg of Holliston enlisted with the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry and died of disease on February 9, 1863 at Potomac Creek

A total of 354 men from Holliston served. The first group to enlist began to organize immediately after Lincoln’s first call for troops on April 15, 1861.[1] By April 29, a total of 69 had been recruited and they formed the bulk of what was known as the “Holliston Company” which also included about 30 men from adjacent towns.[2] This company was assigned as Company B of the 16th Massachusetts Infantry, an Army of the Potomac unit which fought in some of the largest battles of the war. In all, 53 of Holliston’s soldiers did not survive the war and their names are inscribed on the monument.

Given that such a large portion of Holliston men served with the 16th Massachusetts, and that the unit was so heavily engaged in numerous large battles, it stands to reason that a significant portion of the town’s casualties came from that unit. All told, of the 69 Holliston men in just that unit, 8 were killed in action, 2 died of disease and 21 were wounded.[3] In fact, the first four men from Holliston to be killed in action were all members of the 16th Massachusetts, three of whom died in the Battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia on June 25, 1862 and one in the Battle of Glendale, Virginia five days later. In Holliston, this must have been a sad and shocking week. They were Albert Hunting, James Speakman, Caleb Waite, Elbridge Whiting. They were all buried in battlefield graves. The first Holliston soldier to be buried at home, also of the 16th Massachusetts, was Sewell Fiske who died of disease in a hospital in Newark, New Jersey on September 13, 1862. He was buried in the Central Burying Ground very near the spot where the soldiers’ monument now stands.[4]

Click to enlarge:

[1] Rev. George Walker, “Holliston,” in History of Middlesex County, ed. Samuel Adams Drake, (Boston: Estes and Lauriat Publishers, 1880) vol 1, 478.
[2] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the War of the Rebellion, vol. 2, 216-227.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “Memories of Men Who Died for the Union–Holliston”, Boston Sunday Globe, May 29, 1892.

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