GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC
SUGAR GROVE CEMETERY
The following was researched by Kay Fisher and Jim Yahle
The Sugar Grove Cemetery Association was organized on May 14, 1857. In 1890, the Morris McMillan Post GAR, Grand Army of the Republic, asked the Sugar Grove Board of Trustees, to have ground be set aside for the burial of war veterans for whom no other accommodations had been made. This triangular plot became known as Soldier’s Point.
A monument for the soldiers who served in the Civil War was dedicated on Sunday, October 16, 1927. This monument was made possible by the efforts of the GAR and the WRC (Women’s Relief Corps). The carved granite monument, ordered from Barra Granite Works, represented a Union soldier in winter uniform on winter time guard. While the monument features a Civil War soldier, the original purpose was to pay tribute to soldiers of all wars and to “honor the dead.”
The dedication included a march through the streets of Wilmington to the cemetery, with Dan Matson, an 85-year-old Civil War veteran, as standard bearer. This march also included: Judge Mathias, Mayor R.B. Monfort, Safety Service Director A.M. West, other representatives from city government, members of the Wilmington Fire Company, GAR and WRC members in automobiles, the Wilson Boy Scouts Band, the Spanish American and World War I veteran representatives, the Jr. OUAM, the Wilmington Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, other patriotic and civic organizations, and more than 100 Wilmington school children.
Judge Edgar S. Matthias, Department Commander of the United Spanish War Veterans Department of Ohio, gave the dedication address.
Cannons were mounted on concrete bases on both sides of the monument. The newspaper noted that these cannons had been “for years on wooden carriages” which had become rotten with age and exposure. The cannons were put in place on October 29, 1927.
The minutes of the Morris McMillan Post GAR reflect that $1,808.75 was paid to W.A. Harsha & Sons for the monument, and $92.00 to James McCarthy for the cannons. Since the newspaper noted that the cannons were already in possession, it is assumed that Mr. McCarthy was paid for the mounting of the cannons on concrete stands.
These army cannons are actually known as “3 inch Ordnance Rifles” or “3 inch Wrought Iron Rifles.” The artillery pieces were found to be more durable, have more velocity and were more accurate than smooth bore cannons. The model 1861 guns had a 3-inch bore, were 73 inches long (length of tube), weighted 816 pounds and had a range of 1,850 yards. They were manufactured by the Phoenix Iron Co. in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The letters “TTSL” stamped on the gun indicates that the inspector of the weapon was Theodore Thaddeus Sobieski Laidley 1842-1882 (which indicates number of years on ordnance duty). There is an alphanumeric stamp which could possibly be the number identifying that particular gun.
As time has passed Civil War memorabilia has increased dramatically in price, with many items being sold to private collectors. It is our personal opinion, that this monument to all Clinton County veterans remain intact.
Kay Fisher, Clinton County Historical Society
Jim Yahle, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War