West Stockbridge

Location: In Old Town Hall, 9 Main Street, Stockbridge
Coordinates: 42°20’03.2″N 73°22’01.9″W
Date dedicated: 1880
Architect/designer/manufacturer: Monumental Bronze Company, Bridgeport, CT

The following account was kindly written for the project by Bob Salerno, President of the West Stockbridge Historical Society:

Photo courtesy of Bob Salerno, West Stockbridge Historical Society

The West Stockbridge memorial plaque is located on the second-floor auditorium in the Old Town Hall, dedicated to the 23 soldiers who died in the “War for the Union”.

The plaque cost $100 when it was installed in 1880. The Chair of the Select board at the time was a prominent citizen who had raised the local company of the 49th Massachusetts Infantry. Of the 23 soldiers listed, only six were killed in action or died of wounds. The rest died from disease and other illnesses. The town sent over 200 men to fight, a significant portion of the male population. Many of the soldiers were farmers who enlisted to get the additional bonus, an amount more than double a year’s income.

Christopher Pennell was an Amherst graduate, whose father, the local Baptist minister was against his serving. Many of Christopher’s classmates enlisted and, after serving in the 34th Massachusetts Infantry, he was promoted serve as an officer in a black regiment–the 19th U.S. Colored Troops. He was killed in the Battle of the Crater and his body never found.

Robert Robinson was a black soldier whose father was the sexton in the Congregational Church. His unit, the 5th Cavalry, U.S. Colored Troops, had captured a salt works in Virginia. He survived a vicious counterattack in which all of the black soldiers in the field hospital were massacred.

The plaque was relatively unknown for many years, safely covered up by a shelf of plans and drawings in the building inspector’s office when the town offices were located on the second floor. When the Historical Society took over the Old Town Hall and took down the office walls to open up the space, this was a great surprise to all but a few long-time residents who remembered it from their childhood. It was in good condition and is a centerpiece in the building.

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