West Springfield

West Springfield Soldiers’ Memorial Tablet

Location: Inside the J. Edward Christian Municipal Office Building, 26 Central Street, West Springfield
Coordinates: 42°06’20.6″N 72°37’23.5″W
Date dedicated: March 25, 1874
Architect/design: Unknown

When West Springfield built a new Town Hall building in 1874 (the town’s centennial year), the builders included a marble memorial tablet which adorned inside of the front entry tower. The tablet lists the names of the 21 West Springfield men who died in service during the war. The building and the tablet were dedicated as part of the centennial celebration that was held in the new hall on March 25, 1874.[1]

West Springfield old town hall, original location of the tablet

During these ceremonies, Rev. Edward Noyes Pomeroy, pastor of West Springfield’s First Church, was asked to offer some reflections on the new soldiers’ tablet. He was a veteran, having served as a private in the 156th New York Infantry, and in 1864 as a lieutenant in the 81st U. S. Colored Troops.[2] He attended seminary after the war. He began by pointing out that although he did not know any of the many listed on the tablet (he had recently come to West Springfield as pastor) he nonetheless recognized them as “constituent parts of a mighty force” who “assembled under arms with determination to resist oppression, to suppress rebellion, and to maintain their rights; and who, after accomplishing their object, returned to their homes and quietly resumed their occupations.” He claimed that there was little point in carrying on about their “virtue and valor”…their true memorial was simply the fact that “this Union is preserved; that the foundation of this government is established; that the fetters of the slave are broken.”[3]

Nearly half of the men listed served with the 34th Massachusetts Infantry. They signed up for a three-year term and served in the Shenandoah Valley campaigns and the Siege of Petersburg. The Third Battle of Winchester (part of the Valley campaigns), September 19, 1864, was a fateful day for West Springfield—four of their soldiers were killed in (or died of wounds resulting from) that battle.

In 1970, the town eventually relocated their offices to a larger building—the former headquarters of the Eastern State Farmers Exchange (which merged with other exchanges to become Agway in 1964 and relocated). The old Town Hall was demolished in September 1970. The newer edifice is now known as the J. Edward Christian Municipal Building. When the town offices moved, the Civil War tablet was reinstalled in the new location and today occupies a space in the upper foyer of the building.

[1] Boston Evening Transcript, March 25, 1874, 8.

[2] Edward Noyes Pomeroy obituary, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, March 1919, 299.

[3]J. N. Bagg, Account of the centennial celebration of the town of West Springfield, Mass., Wednesday, March 25th, 1874, etc. (Springfield, MA: C. W. Bryan & Co., 1874), 58.

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