Written by Joseph D. Parriott.
In the simpler life of a century ago, our veterans received prolonged public acclaim for their service to our country. With few diversions in their lives, Civil War Union Army Veterans organized the G. A. R. (Grand Army of the Republic) with many local posts that scheduled regular meetings. They held statewide encampments, where for many years they lived in Army-style tents during the encampment.
These encampments permitted the members to relive experiences, renew friendships, remind the public of their sacrifices, and promote government benefits for their well-being. They received good, free press and were held in high esteem by the general public.
Consequently, when the G. A. R. requested Marshall County government to erect a monument to their memory, the Commissioners quickly acquiesced and authorized an expenditure of $5,000.00 for a suitable memorial. A local monument firm was the low bidder for the project, but probably did little other than to act as the manager. The gray granite was quarried and shipped at Barre, Vermont and R. J. McFadden, a local construction contractor, apparently assembled the pieces weighing up to fourteen tons each.
Local Congressman, W. P. Hubbard, submitted a bill to Congress to authorize and direct the Secretary of War to donate to the County Court of Marshall County, West Virginia two condemned brass or bronze cannons with suitable outfit of unneeded cannon balls, the same to be placed about a monument to honor the soldiers from Marshall County who served in the Civil War, etc.
One of the cannons supplied was cast in Nashville during the Civil War and captured by Union forces at the Battle of Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. The other cannon was cast at Springfield, Missouri in 1844, and used in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. It has been necessary to replace the wood under the carriage on two occasions because they are displayed outdoors.
The statue of a soldier dressed in a Union Army uniform is atop the monument and is cast of bronze. It is assumed that both the statue and granite base were a stock design that has been duplicated and sold numerous times.
A great celebration was held on Saturday, May 29, 1909, when the monument was dedicated and unveiled 44 years after the end of the war. The Moundsville Post of the G. A. R., 150 strong including a martial band, marched from the Courthouse to the train station at 10:00 a.m. to great large delegations from Morgantown, Fairmont, Parkersburg, and other communities.
A parade was formed, led by 32 G. A. R. members from the Cameron Post, the Glen Easton Coronet Band, 40 G. A. R. members from Glen Easton, and and 150 of the aforementioned group from Moundsville. These were followed by detachments from other G. A. R. Posts, and finally, 30 carriages and buggies carried G. A. R. members who were too inform to march the mile or so on the parade route. Homes and businesses were decorated with flags and bunting, and sidewalks at many points were full of flag-waving people.
At the dedication, politicians orated, preachers prayed, and the Simpson Methodist Church choir sang the Star Spangled Banner. At the unveiling, the front of the monument was inscribed with crossed sabres and the words "Erected to the Memory of the Soldiers of Marshall County, W. Va. 1861-1865." Also on the front of the monument were not the names of the of those who had fallen in battle, but rather the names of those who had authorized the public expenditure. The names of the G. A. R. monument committee are on one side of the monument, and the name of the firm that was awarded the contract is on the rear side. All Civil War Veterans were given a free meal at the nearby Methodist Church following the dedication ceremony.
This article was researched and prepared for the Marshall County Historical Society by Joseph D. Parriott and it was published in the Moundsville Echo. He also submitted it to this website.