Eastham Soldiers’ Monument (Barnstable County). See gallery below for additional images.

Location: Congregational and Soldiers’ Cemetery, corner of Kingbury Beach Road and US-6, Eastham
Coordinates: 41°50’28.2″N 69°58’52.6″W
Date dedicated: 1866
Architect/design: Unknown

Information on the monument in the small Cape town of Eastham is scarce. Thanks to Marc Daley, volunteer at the Eastham Historical Society, and Debra DeJonker-Berry, director of the Eastham Public Library for their efforts to uncover more about the monument. Unfortunately for historians, in many of the smallest Massachusetts towns, these projects were often conducted without much fanfare and went unpublicized and undocumented.

Eastham’s monument stands in the Congregational and Soldiers’ Cemetery on U.S. Route 6 on the site of the town’s old colonial meeting house. In all, 77 men from Eastham served in the war. The monument is dedicated to the seven who died.[1] The primary inscription reads, “We were sacrificed but our country lives.”

A smaller inscription in the corner of the monument indicates that it was presented by the Ladies’ Soldiers’ Aid Society of Eastham. This is therefore another example of women volunteers continuing their work after the war, turning from supply efforts for the soldiers to memorialization.

The identity of the stone carver is unknown, however another corner at the bottom of the obelisk bears the initials MMC. Perhaps a full name with surface at some point.

A blurb in the New Bedford Evening Standard of January 24, 1866, simply noted that “A monument has been erected in Eastham to the memory of its lost soldiers.” The date of dedication (probably in the spring of that year) is not evident. Depending on this date—which is important is signifying the final completion of a monument–Eastham’s may be among the first few in the Commonwealth. Even if dedicated later in 1866, it is still among the oldest.

The first of Eastham’s losses in the war was Private James W. Smith who signed up in November 1861 with the 24th Massachusetts Infantry. He was a 23 year old seaman. The 24th Massachusetts served on the North Carolina coast in the vicinity of New Bern. Private Smith died of disease in a Newbern hospital on April 3, 1862.

[1] Donald G. Trayser, Eastham, Massachusetts, 1651-1951 (Lexington: Hancock Press, 1951), 32.

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