A Soldier Falls . . .

Winds topple 1869 Civil War Monument

by Nancy Rollings Saul


The elements of nature were not kind to the Civil War Monument during the years from 1869 to 2008. This photo
documents the deterioration suffered by the statue during that time.  When a severe winter storm hit the
courthouse square on December 27, 2008, the statue was unable to withstand the force of the winds.


Both photos by Bill Donath, the latter on December 28, 2008


A soldier falls - Winds topple 1869 Civil War Monument

by Nancy Rollings Saul

A historic Civil War statue, erected in 1869 to honor the Logan County men who died as a result of their service in the Civil War, was among the casualties of raging winds that blew across the county last Saturday. – Only the torso of the figure remained at the foot of the column on the northwest corner of the Logan County Courthouse lawn, Friday afternoon. The head, which was broken from the body when the statue landed, has been retrieved and taken to a county building for safekeeping. The legs are shattered. – The statue and the column, which had become severely weather-worn over the past 140 years, have been the recent subject of much discussion. – Former Logan County Board member Clifford “Sonny” Sullivan began an investigation more than a year ago to find out what the cost would be to restore the weathered statue. At the time, sculptor David Seagraves suggested keeping the original Civil War statue in a sheltered location where it would not continue to weather and replacing it with a new statue. – Seagraves restored the Indian Maiden statue that stands on the south side of the courthouse. – Segraves said the veteran figure, which was made of white marble, had layers, and stratifications that made it susceptible to the weather. He said so much of the original sculpture had worn away – to the point he didn’t think it could be repaired. – More recently, Logan County Historian Paul Gleason began putting together a committee of the Logan County Abraham Lincoln Heritage Committee to attend to the deteriorating statue. – Gleason said the group did not plan to use tax money for the project. – “I’m surprised after all of the storms that have passed through that the one on Saturday afternoon flattened it,” Gleason said. “We’re going to try to save all the pieces – not to put it back together, but to at least give somebody in the future an idea of what it looked like.” – Gleason said Bill Donath of the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society had put together a list of names of Logan County Civil War casualties to add to those already posted on tablets at the base of the statue. – Although the final appearance of the replacement is still to be decided, Gleason estimated the cost to be around $15,000. – There are not that many sculptures any more, he observed. – A. O. Baldwin of Lincoln designed the original monument, which was built by F. C. Bushway at a cost of nearly $6,000. – The Logan County Board of Supervisors contributed $4,000, the city of Lincoln gave $1,000 and interested citizens gave the remainder. – The monument was dedicated on Jun. 10, 1869, and Richard J. Oglesby gave the dedication address, according to Gleason’s book, “Lincoln: A Pictorial History.” – When the courthouse grounds were reorganized in 1903 during construction of the present building, the monument was moved to the current location. – “Logan County lost more than 400 soldiers in the Civil War, said Paul Beaver XE "Beaver, Paul”. “When they put that up, there were many widows and orphans in the audience. It was like putting up a stone in the cemetery. – “There was a great deal of hurting in the county. I think there was a great deal of emotion involved.” – Beaver said many of the veterans who died in the war were buried in trenches in places like Shiloh and Vicksburg. – Hardly any of them were brought back, he said, so this monument was like their tombstone. – Beaver said although he knows replacing the statue won’t be cheap, he thinks it should be replaced as a sign of respect to those deceased veterans’ descendants – In June, the statue was named as one of The Courier’s five most endangered historic sites in Logan County.

(The Courier, Jan. 3, 2009)