Rutland

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

Location: In front of Town Hall, 250 Main Street, Rutland
Coordinates: 42°22’35.1″N 71°57’18.6″W
Date dedicated: July 3, 1880
Architect/designer/manufacturer: Boston Marble Works

Construction on the the Rutland Soldiers’ Monument commenced in late 1879 and it was completed and dedicated in 1880. At that time the grand Muschopauge House, an imposing Victorian hotel, stood directly behind the monument. That building was torn down and replaced by the much more modest Town Hall that stands today.[1] The monument was carved and constructed by Messrs. Murphy and Magone of Boston Marble Works in Worcester. The column is made of marble from Pittsford, Vermont. The funds were raised by a monument association and the local Grand Army of the Republic post.

A total of 82 Rutland men served in the war. The monument lists all those who served. Of these, 22 did not survive. Rutland men served in many different regiments but the largest group (22 men) signed up with the 51st Massachusetts Infantry. This was a nine-months regiment which served in North Carolina. With so many local boys in this unit, residents must have kept a close eye on the papers for any news of the 51st Massachusetts. Fortunately, they saw only light combat and the single death from this group was Charles E. Parker, a 33 year-old farmer who died of disease on the transport home.[2]

On the day of the dedication, ominous clouds loomed–a fact which, according to one report, kept numerous invited organizations away. Nonetheless, members of eight different GAR posts, 217 veterans in all, participated in the procession with local marching bands and other groups. Rutland’s ceremonies included an unusual aspect not typically seen in other communities–a theatrical performance featuring 38 women in costume representing the states of the Union and reenacting, in allegorical fashion, the reunification of the country. A woman dressed as the “Goddess of Liberty” made appeals to the various regions, particularly the “chastened” South, until harmony was restored. This, according to a Worcester paper, was a “beautiful feature” of the day’s program and a “very fine affair.” The various monologs (which were printed in the newspaper account) made no mention of slavery but rather stressed themes of “Manifest Destiny” now that the Union has been made whole again.[3]

Rev. Joseph Lovering

The oration of the day was given by Rev. Joseph Lovering of Worcester, chaplain-in-chief of the GAR. The theme of his remarks were very much in keeping with the theatrical. He concluded by saying, “With this hope, speaking from yonder statue…I look with courage into the future. I see villages cluster on the hillsides and distant prairies. I see lakes and rivers and seas populous with the freightage of states and nations. I see railroads multiplied…and of all such progress there is no conceivable end.”[4] Such sentiments were typical of monument dedications of the 1880s and later. Whereas speeches immediately after the war typically emphasized conflict and reflected on the eradication of slavery, later orations tended to sweep such topics aside, focusing on unity, reconciliation and the growing role of the U.S. on the world stage.

The Great New England Hurricane of 1938 which caused havoc throughout so much of central and western Massachusetts did not spare the Rutland soldiers monument. The statue atop the monument, according to a local publication, was “destroyed.”[5] It seems more likely that the statue was toppled and perhaps damaged but returned intact to its column as the extant sculpture appears to be the original. At present it’s not clear when this repair work was done.

Click images to enlarge:

[1] Bernice May Anderson, Rutland, Images of America Series, (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2000),
[2] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War, volume 4.
[3] “Gala Day in Rutland,” Worcester Daily Spy, July 5, 1880, 2.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Rutland Massachusetts: Celebration souvenir booklet: 250th anniversary of the town’s incorporation, (Rutland: Souvenir Booklet Committee, 1972), 30.

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