Brimfield

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Brimfield Soldiers’ Monument (Hampden County)

BrimfieldLocation: 1 Sturbridge Road, Brimfield
Coordinates: 42°07’21.0″N 72°11’59.3″W
Date dedicated: July 4, 1866
Architect/sculptor/manufacturer: W. H. Flynt Granite Company of Monson, manufacturer
Number of names: 18 men who died in the war

Brimfield’s monument is one of the earliest in the Commonwealth (in terms of monuments dedicated to all those from a given town who served, it ranks sixth and is tied with Barnstable’s which was dedicated on the same day). An unpretentious obelisk, it is typical of the early war monuments in Massachusetts. The manufacturer, W. H. Flynt, also constructed the monument in nearby Ludlow the following year.

Lincoln, F D
Capt. Francis D. Lincoln

On the day of dedication, Captain Francis D. Lincoln gave the address which was later published in full and is of particular interest. Lincoln was a farmer, an advocate of agricultural education and strongly supported a war against slavery. He had served as captain of a company of Brimfield recruits which became part of the 46th Massachusetts Infantry and led the effort to erect a monument after the war. His address, like other monument dedication orations so soon after the end of the war, was candid, even blunt, when it came to the cause of the war as he perceived it. “Love of slavery,” he said, and “hatred of the right” (as in what was morally right) moved southerners to rebel.

But he also described a great “diversity of opinion” in Brimfield when it came to support of the war. He referred to groups in town who felt sympathy for the South, even some who wanted to take up arms for the southern cause. The initial call to arms in Brimfield, Lincoln said, yielded few volunteers. Clearly, there were complicated politics in Brimfield at the time. Eventually, he said, support for the war grew, and with time “the great majority of the town saw clearly that the war was to be the last desperate struggle of slavery against freedom.”[1] Such strident words in favor of emancipation would become increasingly rare at monument dedications in Massachusetts as the decades passed and rhetoric softened.

The guns surrounding the monument were donated by the U.S. government at a later date and installed in 1882.

[1] F. D. Lincoln, “Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Soldiers’ Monument at Brimfield, July 4, 1866,” (Southbridge: Journal Office, Printed by H. C. Gray, 1866).