I always admired the Statue of the Civil War Soldier at Oakwood Cemetery in my hometown of Saginaw. I always thought it was a statue of James N. Penoyer since his name is so prominently displayed on the plinth. As I went around Michigan taking photos and finding other Civil War statues I noticed something familiar about them. I started comparing photos and realized that they were all identical statues.
If the statue that I thought was James N. Penoyer was not really a statue of him then who was it. A search on google reveals there are a plethora of statues of the same soldier around the country and I wondered where they all came from.
I think the statues are based off the U.S. Soldier Monument at Antietam National Cemetery called The American Volunteer . The monument is also known as the Private Soldier Monument. The monument was designed by sculptor Carl Conrads and architect George Keller, both of the New England Granite Works of Hartford, Connecticut started by James G. Batterson. The statue,
described as “the largest work of its kind in the country,” was prominently exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was transported to Sharpsburg, installed atop the monument, and dedicated at the National Cemetery in 1880. The total cost of the monument was over US$32,000. The statue’s nickname is “Old Simon.”
I am thinking with the popularity of Old Simon the New England Granite Works began producing replica statures and monuments for towns across America to honor the Civil War soldiers. I have seen the statue referred to “Soldier At Parade Rest”. I am not sure how many statures were carved, but I find it fascinating looking at photographs of the different statues, how identical they are, considering the technology at the time, they must have carved them by hand.
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