Hardwick Soldiers’ Monument (Worcester County). See gallery below for additional images.

Location: Town Common, Petersham Road and Common Street, Hardwick
Coordinates: 42°20’59.0″N 72°11’56.1″W
Date dedicated: July 4, 1889
Architect/Design/Manufacturer: Monumental Bronze Company

The monument was produced by the Monumental Bronze Company and was cast in “white bronze” or zinc. The material, and the fact that they are hollow, made them an affordable option for smaller towns or out-of-the way cemetery monuments. The company produced many of this design (15 in Massachusetts) which they called, simply, “The Infantryman.” The owners of the company extolled the enduring nature of the medium which would last, they claimed in advertisements, long after granite monuments had crumbled away. Unfortunately, time has shown that white bronze monuments have a tendency to buckle and crack and several in Massachusetts have undergone restoration (see Belchertown, for example).

Hardwick’s monument was the gift of Colonel Louis E. Granger, a native of Hardwick but living in Chicago at the time of the dedication. He was a veteran who enlisted early in the war as a private with the 13th Massachusetts Infantry. By the end of the war he was a captain, commanding a company of the 80th U.S. Colored Troops. After the war he served in the Regular Army for two years. He lost his father and a brother in the war—his father was Brevet Lt. Col. Henry H. Granger of the 10th Massachusetts Battery and the brother was Private Henry G. Granger of the 11th Massachusetts Infantry. Both are among the 18 names listed on the monument.[1] The primary inscription reads, “Dedicated to the heroes who fell, and the patriots who fought, for Union and Liberty 1861-1865, by their comrade, Col. Louis E. Granger, US Volunteers.”

The oration of the day was given by John D. Billings, a veteran of the 10th Massachusetts Infantry, active member of the Grand Army of the Republic after the war, and author of the famous book Hardtack and Coffee, a reflection on the experiences of the common soldier. He spoke of Hardwick’s involvement in the war and gave an emotional tribute to Lt. Col. Granger, under whom he served, referring to him as a father and a leader to many. In addition, Billings devoted, according to one reporter, a significant portion of his remarks to the work done by women during the war. “Ah, veterans!” he said, “We who were at the front know something of the support according to us by the grand home guard of women who did so much to ameliorate the hardships of the war, themselves meanwhile undergoing hardships severe enough to crush ordinary mortals.”[2]

In his 1883 history of the town, Lucius R. Page listed 140 men who served from Hardwick. The largest numbers served with the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry (27 men), a nine-months unit which took part in various operations in Louisiana; the 31st Massachusetts Infantry (19 men), a three-year unit which was converted to mounted infantry and also served in Louisiana; and the 21st Massachusetts Infantry (13 men), a three-year unit which served part of their time with the Army of the Potomac and participated in some of the largest battles of the war.[3]

[1] Worcester Daily Spy, July 5, 1889, 8.

[2] Worcester Daily Spy, July 5, 1889, 8.

[3] Lucius R. Paige, History of Hardwick, Massachusetts: With a Genealogical Register, (Boston: Houghton, 1883).

Leave a Reply