POMEROY — It was 143 years ago this month that the Civil War monument, built on the lawn adjacent to the Meigs County Court House, was dedicated as a memorial to the 506 Meigs Countians who died in that war.
The construction of the monument came about when families and friends of those who died in battle called for some recognition “lest their loved ones be forgotten.”
Sometimes as we move through our daily lives we fail to hesitate and appreciate the significance of that which we see every day.
Let this 143rd anniversary of the dedication of the Civil War Monument be a call to remember and reflect “lest we forget.”
It was in March of 1870 in response to a petition from the public that the Meigs Board of County Commissioners dedicated the area between the Courthouse and Mulberry Avenue to “the sacred purpose of erecting a monument to the memory of the soldiers who died in service to their country during the great rebellion.”
Sculptor T.S. Jones of Cincinnati was contracted for the project of designing the Civil War memorial monument. His proposal accepted by the commissioners was for a monument “embodying sentiment and expression commensurate to the occasion.”
The proposal: “The statue of a western soldier, 10 feet four inches high including his hat, resting on the angle of an embrasure of a fort just taken from the enemy. The breech of a broken cannon under his right foot, a fit emblem of the exploding idea of a Southern Confederacy, dressed in a blouse and armed with all the necessary equipment of a western soldier- Earfield rifle, cartridge box, bayonet, cap box and canteen.”
The design called for the the statue to sit on a tall pedestal and on that pedestal for the names of the 506 Meigs Countians who died in the Civil War to be engraved.
The corner stone was laid on May 30, 1870. A newspaper of that time “The Telegraph” reported that hundreds of people gathered at the site where the corner stone laying was marked with speeches, a parade and music, and where at 11 a.m. the Masonic Fraternity all dressed in dark clothes wearing white gloves and aprons placed the corner stone.
On Oct. 17, the unveiling of the monument occurred before a crowd estimated by the newspaper to be more than 2,500. According to that newspaper’s account of the event, “there were speeches, prayers and patriotic music to mark the occasion as the crowd gazed upon the monument in silent admiration.”
It was the first such war memorial built by the county and today remains its primary monument, fittingly so since more Meigs Countians sustained casualties during the war between the states than in any other conflict.
Many more than the 506 who died fought in that war. According to noted historian Edgar Ervin and recorded in his Pioneer History of Meigs County, the Civil War affected Meigs County “more strongly and more definitely than all other wars.”
Records show that from 1861 to 1863 when the battle of Buffington Island was fought, a total of 1,750 Meigs Countians had volunteered. Ervin noted that nearly every family in Meigs County had someone who volunteered to serve.
The Meigs County Historical Society in Pomeroy has a listing of the names of those who died and whose names are engraved on the monument, along with other information and numerous artifacts pertaining to the Civil War and specifically the Battle of Buffington Island which occurred at Portland in Meigs County.
The artifacts will remain on display at the Museum for the remainder of this year which marks 150 years since the Battle of Buffington Island — the only Civil War battle to occur on Ohio soil — took place.