Southampton Soldiers’ Monument (Hampshire County). See below for additional photos.

Location: Center Cemetery, High Street, Southampton
Coordinates: 42°14’04.4″N 72°43’35.8″W
Date dedicated: Construction began September 1866, date of dedication unknown
Architect/design: O. M. Clapp, stonecutter and manufacturer

The primary inscription reads, “Erected by the Town and Hon. S. C. Pomeroy in grateful remembrance of the patriotic and brave volunteers of Southampton, whose lives were sacrificed in defense of Liberty and Union during the great rebellion.” Pomeroy, a native of Southampton and a major donor to the monument project, had an interesting career. A schoolteacher and an ardent abolitionist, he moved to Kansas in 1854 to take part in the fighting between antislavery and proslavery forces in what came to be known as “Bleeding Kansas.” After Kansas was admitted as a state, he became one of its first senators and fought for radical causes including the abolition of slavery and the promotion of women’s suffrage.[1]

The dilemma of placement tends to surface again and again as a common theme with Civil War monuments. The question was not just a matter of aesthetics. This wave of monument building was the first time that communities across the country had to deal with the question of the appropriate place and customs for mourning their war dead and demonstrating appreciation for their sacrifice.

An article in the Hampshire Gazette in May 1866 informs us that Southampton was not only having trouble with the contractor in getting the monument delivered, but also that disagreement had surfaced regarding location. The writer felt that a central location on the grounds of the Congregational Church would be ideal rather than “hiding it among the pines in our ancient cemetery.”[2] There were, in virtually every town, those who felt that a monument in a central town square would be overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of everyday life and should be placed in a more sacrosanct location.

In Southampton’s case, the latter group won out. This despite the fact that Dr. Alvan Chapman, another native of Southampton, donated funds to prepare a park for the monument on the church grounds. By September 1866, stonecutter O. M. Clapp had set up a temporary shelter in the cemetery as a workshop where he cut and prepared the raw material rather than incurring the expense of transporting a finished monument.[3] This unusual system has not been encountered before in researching other towns.

At present, evidence is lacking as to the date of completion and dedication. Hopefully something will turn up and this post will be updated.

During the war, 131 men were credited to Southampton (as was common, some of these were non-residents recruited from other towns). Of these, 28 died in the war.[4] The first significant group of Southampton volunteers to enlist consisted of 10 men who signed up with the 27th Massachusetts Infantry, a three-year regiment recruited in Springfield in September 1861 which served primarily in North Carolina. A group of 13 enlisted with the 31st Massachusetts in November 1861. This unit, formed in Pittsfield, was converted to mounted infantry (the only such Massachusetts regiment) and served in Louisiana campaigns. And another group of 13 signed up with the 37th Massachusetts Infantry, another western Massachusetts unit, which served with the Army of the Potomac.[5]

Click photos to enlarge:

[1] U.S. Senate, “Samuel C. Pomery: A Featured Biography

[2] Hampshire Gazette, May 22, 1866, 2.

[3] Hampshire Gazette, September 11, 1866, 3.

[4] Richard Frary, “Soldiers of the Civil War from/or attributed to Southampton,” Edwards Public Library website

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

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