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Sacred to the Memory

By Michael W. Panhorst
12/28/2017 • Civil War Times Magazine

Two of the nation’s oldest monuments stand on the Bull Run battlefields.

In June 1865, Union soldiers erected two tall sandstone shafts on the First and Second Bull Run battlefields, at Henry Hill and near the unfinished railroad cut respectively, to com memo rate fallen Union soldiers from those battles. Those memorials are still in place where they were initially built. Lieutenant James McCallum, 16th Massachusetts Light Battery, a stonemason in civilian life, supervised some 100 mechanics and laborers detailed from Colonel George Gallupe’s 5th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, which was then armed as infantry, who built the memorial structures that stand about 27 feet tall. They were constructed from stone quarried at the unfinished railroad cut.

The monuments were built over 17 days in May and June. Tools, equipment and mortar were provided by the Army under the direction of Captain H.C. Lawrence. The artillery projectiles came from the battlefield and the Washington Navy Yard. Text for the inscribed cement plaques on the memorials was provided by Colonel J.H. Taylor, staff officer to General Christopher Augur, who commanded the Military Department of Washington.

On Sunday, June 11, 1865, when the monuments were dedicated, the 5th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery paraded to the site with reversed arms in the funeral drill. The 16th Massachusetts Battery fired a salute from the slope where James Ricketts’ battery of the 1st U.S. Artillery had engaged General Thomas Jackson’s brigade, in the fight that earned the Virginian the sobriquet “Stonewall.” The 8th Illinois Cavalry participated in the dedication ceremonies, as did Generals Samuel P. Heintzelman and Orlando B. Wilcox, both of whom had been wounded during the first battle at Manassas.

Civilians were also present at the dedication ceremonies, which must have been very solemn events. Union troops could celebrate victory in the war, but the nation was still stunned by President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and the full extent of the costly war’s death and destruction was becoming increasingly apparent.

 

Educator and preservation advocate Michael W. Panhorst is working on a book about monuments on Civil War battlefields.

Originally published in the April 2010 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.  

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