Westborough

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Westborough Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Worcester County)

Location: Memorial Cemetery, 35 West Main Street, Westborough
Coordinates: 42°16’07.4″N 71°36’51.4″W
Date dedicated: June 17, 1869
Architect/sculptor/manufacturer: Tateum & Horgan of Westborough, design and manufacturer
Number of names: 25 men who died in the war

While the committee agreed very quickly on an obelisk design (typical of the years immediately following the war), there was a prolonged disagreement over location, some preferring the town square and others the old cemetery across from the Town Hall.[1] Similar disagreements took place in many towns and these debates tell us something about the way people thought about the role of remembrance and how it fit into everyday life.

In Westborough’s case, the distance between the two proposed sites was only about 500 feet. But the context of the sites was all-important. Should memorialization be placed at the very center of our community’s daily business where it might be eventually overwhelmed or diminished? Or should it be located in a more sequestered, consecrated space where those remembering might do so in quiet contemplation? The dilemma was poignantly worded by a Waltham resident concerned about the proposed placement of their monument on the city common (see Waltham for more detail). He wondered how anyone on the Common could be merry in the shadow of a reminder of “sorrow and sacrifice.” “Let the sacred memento be located in the midst of quiet and seclusion,” he wrote.[2] Westborough residents apparently agreed with such thinking. They built their monument in the old cemetery. Many other towns did the same.

The dedication address was to be given by Dr. George B. Loring of Salem, a U.S. Representative, former Surgeon of the 7th Massachusetts Infantry, and perhaps the most popular speaker in Massachusetts for such occasions. Due to an invitation to speak at the dedication in Plymouth, Dr. Loring arrived rather late. Instead, Rev. Charles W. Flanders, minister of the Baptist Church in Westborough, gave the dedicatory address. He spoke on the history and meaning of monuments, according to the Massachusetts Spy, from the pyramids the one dedicated that day. The paper only briefly summarized his address but provided the following paraphrased conclusion, “We come to dedicate this monument to a cause which was God’s cause, to the memory of those faithful young men whose forms we knew, whose valor we admired, those who were inexpressibly dear to friends who forget them not.”[3]

The local militia company, known as the “Westborough Rifles,” was active immediately after Fort Sumter and its members attempted to enlist under the call for 90-days volunteers. That quota being filled, a portion of the company (56 men from Westborough) formed the bulk of Company K of the 13th Massachusetts. This regiment eventually became part of the Army of the Potomac and participated in some of the largest battles of the war. Another large group (22 men) enlisted in July 1862 with the 34th Massachusetts Infantry.[4]

The monument itself, of Concord, NH granite and constructed by Tateum & Horgan of Westborough, is the same design as the one in Shrewsbury.

 

[1] Heman Packard De Forest and Edward Craig Bates, The History of Westborough, Massachusetts, (Westborough: By the Town, 1891), 330.
[2] Waltham Sentinel, March 21, 1867, 2.
[3] “Dedication of a Soldiers’ Monument in Westboro,” Massachusetts Spy, June 25, 1869, 1.
[4] De Forest and Bates, 250, 260.