Westborough Soldiers’ Monument commemorates those who died in the Civil War

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By Kate Tobiasson

History Columnist

Westborough Soldiers’ Monument commemorates those who died in the Civil War
The Westborough Soldiers’ Monument has been a gathering place at the conclusion of parades in town since its dedication in 1869. (Courtesy/Phil Kittridge)

WESTBOROUGH – When the Civil War erupted in the spring of 1861, Westborough residents were quick to answer President Lincoln’s call to arms. A thriving town with a number of burgeoning industries, Westborough residents voted “That the town appropriate five thousand dollars to be expended in the purchase of uniforms, the pay of men while drilling and for pay in addition to the amount paid by the Government, when called into active service.” The Westborough Rifle Company enlisted 101 recruits in April of 1861. Fifty-six of the men were from Westborough, with the remainder of the company joining from neighboring towns. Throughout the coming years, 337 men from Westborough served in the Civil War effort.

Women in town worked to contribute to the war effort, outfitting each Westborough soldier with a uniform, fatigue suit, havelock, thread bag, towels, handkerchiefs, soap and a comb. Throughout the Civil War, the local Soldier’s Sewing Society made hundreds of mittens, socks, towels, handkerchiefs and bandages to continue to support the soldiers while they served.

The conclusion of the Civil War in 1865 left Westborough with 62 wounded soldiers, 25 lost in battle, 14 who passed from wounds, three from disease and eight from neglect in the Southern prisons. Sadly, only five of those who died were returned to the town. Residents again came together, and in 1866, the town voted to erect the Soldiers’ Monument across from the town hall bandstand, in Memorial Cemetery.

Westborough Soldiers’ Monument commemorates those who died in the Civil War
View from Memorial Cemetery of the Westborough Soldiers’ Monument, early 20th century. (Courtesy/Westborough Digital Repository)

The obelisk design was utilized in many communities throughout America at the time, and is made from granite mined in Concord, New Hampshire. The front of the monument reads, “Pro Patria Mortui Sunt” which translates to “They died for their country.” Inscribed with the names of the fallen soldiers, The Westborough Soldiers’ Monument was dedicated on June 17, 1869. Reverend Charles Flanders gave the dedication address, and was quoted by the June 25, 1869, edition of the Massachusetts Spy newspaper as having spoken on the importance of monuments, ranging from the pyramids of Egypt to the Westborough Soldiers’ Monument. He closed his address by stating, “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.”

Today, the Soldiers’ Monument still stands at the center of Memorial Cemetery; the fountain and surrounding garden beds are maintained by the Westborough Garden Club. Residents gather at the feet of the monument at the conclusion of holiday parades while commemorative addresses are given. In the summer, children laugh and play around the fountain, and the monument stands proudly at the center of community events. Much of the collaborative spirit displayed by residents during the Civil War continues to fuel Westborough community organizations’ focus. Westborough is a town that believes in standing for one another.

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