Boylston Soldiers’ Memorial Tablet

Location: Boylston Historic Town Hall, 7 Center Street, Boylston
Coordinates: 42°21’13.1″N 71°44’01.7″W
Date dedicated: August 18, 1886
Manufacturer/design: Unknown

This tablet hangs in the old Town Hall, now occupied by the Boylston Historical Society and operated as a museum. It was gifted by George A. Cotting, a native of Boylston, as part of the town’s centennial celebration.[1] The inscription reads, “Erected on the One Hundredth Anniversary of Boylston by George A. Cotting, in commemoration of the valor of its citizens who died in the great Civil war of 1861 to preserve the unity of our country.” In addition to the nine Boylston men lost in the Civil War, the plaque also includes one casualty of the Mexican War.

The anniversary celebration included a cannon salute and bell ringing at sunrise, field sports, a historical address and a noon dinner on the Common.[2] Before the festivities on the Common, there was a procession to Town Hall where the memorial tablet was presented. George Cotting gave a brief speech in offering the memorial to the town. During his remarks, he recounted the service record of each of the town’s war dead and shared his own brief recollections of them. The town’s first volunteer, he noted, was also the first to fall—a sad coincidence. John R. Roberts, who had recently come to the town seeking work as a farm laborer, enlisted with the 2nd Massachusetts and was killed during the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia, on August 9, 1862. Cotting made a point to acknowledge the specific family members of the fallen who were present at the time—a poignant reminder that these monuments were not vague abstractions when placed.[3]

Lyman S. Walker spoke for the Grand Army of the Republic, accepting the memorial on behalf of veterans. His observations were candid and without flowery metaphors when he spoke of his comrades. “They had their vices,” he said, “also their virtues; let him that is perfect cast the first stone.” He praised the donor for providing a memorial before which “the widow whose husband died that the nation might live may point her fatherless boy to his father’s name” that he might be inspired by it.[4]

According to the Boylston Historical Society, 86 men were credited to the town during the war. Some of them were from neighboring towns and were recruited to fill the town’s quota, as was common elsewhere.[5]

Hillside Park Civil War Memorial
Location: Hillside Park, 215 Main Street, Boylston
Coordinates: 42°19’44.6″N 71°45’17.2″W
Date dedicated: October 19, 2003
Manufacturer/design: Unknown

A more recent Civil War memorial was placed by the town on Hillside Park, adjacent to the current municipal buildings. The memorial highlights the service of Private John W. Partridge but also lists the names of the other eight men who fell in the war. It was dedicated as part of the Hillside Restoration Project with a special event featuring an encampment of Civil War reenactors in October 2003.

[1] Alfred S. Roe, Monuments, tablets and other memorials erected in Massachusetts to commemorate the service of her sons in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865 (Boston: Wright and Potter Printers, 1910), 33.

[2] Evening Bulletin (Providence, RI), August 18, 1886, 4.

[3] Centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Town of Boylston Massachusetts, August 18, 1886 (Worcester: Press of Sanford & Davis, 1887), 10-15.

[4] Centennial Celebration, 15.

[5] Boylston Historical Society, “Boylston Memorials.”

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