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Acushnet

Acushnet Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Bristol County)

Location: In front of Russell Memorial Library, 88 Main Street, Acushnet
Coordinates: 41°40’57.7″N 70°54’45.5″W
Date dedicated: Completed 1930, dedication date unknown
Sculptor/manufacturer: George A. Markey of New Bedford, design and general contractor; Florence Granite Company of Quincy, manufacturer

George Taber Russell of Acushnet bequeathed a large sum to the town upon his death in 1921. In his will, he instructed that a portion of these funds be devoted to the construction of a library as well as a war memorial. Son of a weather real estate dealer, Russell worked for 22 years as a schoolteacher (in Acushnet, Fairhaven, and New Bedford) and then went into banking. He was a long-time associate of the New Bedford Institution for Savings.[1]

George T. Russell, Jr. (1840-1921)

In 1930, the town took action on the bequest and construction began on both projects. The committee decided to place the monument on the grounds on the new library on Main Street.[2] The inscription reads, “In Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors of Acushnet Who Served in the Civil War and other Wars for the Preservation of the Union.” While the inclusion of “other wars” serves to make this a broader memorial, the emphasis on “Civil War” and “Preservation of the Union” clearly indicate the monument’s primary purpose. Indeed, the curious insertion of “others wars” would seem to be an afterthought, perhaps on the part of the monument committee. As the text of Mr. Russell’s will is not readily available, we are left to wonder whether it was his intent that the monument should serve specifically as a Civil War memorial or something more.

A total of 57 men from Acushnet (formerly a part of Fairhaven and incorporated in 1860) served in the war. A large portion, 14 in all, served in the Navy. Six men did not survive the war: Private Andrew A. Cole of the 18th Massachusetts who was wounded during the Battle of Fredericksburg and died at Hammond Hospital, Point Lookout, Maryland; Private Jason S. Peckham of the 38th Massachusetts who died of disease in a hospital in New Orleans; Private William Pittsley of the 38th Massachusetts who also died disease in a hospital in New Orleans; Private Alden Spooner of the 32nd Massachusetts who died of an accidental gunshot wound; Private Lyman Spooner of the 33rd Massachusetts who was killed in action during the Battle of Bethesda Church, Virginia; and Private Howland Taber of the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry who died of disease at Marine General Hospital in New Orleans.[3]

[1] Franklin Howard, A History of the Town of Acushnet, (New Bedford: By the author, 1907), 340.
[2] Town Records and Reports of the Town Officers of Acushnet, Massachusetts for the Year Ending December 31, 1931, (New Bedford: Bradbury Waring, Inc., 1932), 36-37.
[3] Howard, 192-194, and Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War.