Mattapoisett Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Plymouth County). See gallery below for additional images.

Location: At Mattapoisett Library, 7 Barstow Street, Mattapoisett
Coordinates: 41°39’31.9″N 70°48’46.1″W
Date dedicated: October 22, 1904
Architect/design/manufacturer: Unknown

Mattapoisett’s granite monument was the gift of George Purrington, Jr. who also funded the library adjacent to the monument. He was a wealthy manufacturer who served two terms in the Massachusetts legislature. A local organization known as the Army and Navy Memorial Association (including men and women) oversaw the construction of the monument. On the day of the dedication, Rev. George H. Bates, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church in New Bedford and a veteran, gave the oration.[1] The primary inscription on the monument reads, “Mattapoisett honors her soldiers and sailors who fought to save our country.”

Though sources differ somewhat, a roster assembled by the town for a local history published in 1907 lists 139 Mattapoisett men who served in the war.[2] There were likely additional non-residents who were recruited to fill the town’s quota and were credited to the town (this was the case in virtually every town). Of these residents, 14 died while in service. Mattapoisett was very much involved in the whaling industry at the time of the war. Consequently, a large number of Mattapoisett’s recruits enlisted in the Navy—about 65 or roughly 45%. This is an unusually high number of enlistments in that branch of the service, even for a coastal town.

As for Army enlistments, the first significant group of Mattapoisett men to sign up were 20 who were a part of the 3rd Massachusetts Militia, a prewar militia regiment comprised of men from southeastern Massachusetts. They were among the Massachusetts regiments sent south during the first days of the war and served an uneventful term of 90 days. Sixteen signed up with the 18th Massachusetts Infantry, an Army of the Potomac unit which saw heavy combat in many of the largest battles of the war.[3]

Several of the town’s whaling vessels were taken by Confederate cruisers during the war including the Ocean Rover which was taken by the CSS Alabama (probably the Confederacy’s most infamous and successful cruiser). The town suffered a considerable economic slump after the war due to the loss of vessels and the general decline of the whaling industry.[4]

[1] Boston Globe, October 19, 1904, 14.

[2] Town of Mattapoisett, Mattapoisett and Old Rochester, Massachusetts, (New York: Grafton Press, 1907), 307-312.

[3] Massachusetts Adjutant General’s Office, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1931), vol 2.

[4] Town of Mattapoisett, 306.

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