On July 26, 2023

Progress moves on Hartland Civil War monument

 

By Curt Peterson

Since 1930, the granite Civil War soldier has gazed across the confused intersection at Hartland Three Corners, looking down Route 5 and 12 toward Windsor. On July 20 an  excavator operated by “Reggie” from Nott’s Excavating, dismantled the three-part monument and reset the soldier about twenty feet to the east, still facing Windsor.

The move was required to accommodate a significant construction project intended to improve safety for vehicles and pedestrians.

The intersection is currently being reconfigured into a simple four-way pattern at a cost of $1.5 million, much of which is financed by state grants. The intersection project has been controversial since it was first officially approved in 2014, and moving the monument stirred some angst as well. 

The monument, carved of granite “most likely from Barre and brought by rail”, according to selectman Clyde Jenne, was first erected by Lewis Merritt to commemorate soldiers from Hartland who fought in the Civil War and World War I. Lewis had emigrated from Massachusetts in 1819 and ran a successful grist mill in town.

A World War II inscription was added post-installation: “1941.”

Town officials were noticeably missing from the noon ceremony last Thursday, as a handful of local residents and journalists witnessed the event. 

The statue consists of three parts – base, pedestal and the figure wearing a Union Civil War uniform. An early attempt to prepare it for moving resulted in a premature disassembly – the soldier was left lying on his back in a pile of sand, the pedestal standing under a nearby tree, and the base where it would ultimately lie. So the actual delicate performance was limited to the re-assembly, a feat worth witnessing. 

The excavator operator put the edifice together with precision and gentleness, so that a few crew members had only to adjust it slightly to get it in perfect position.

Jenne told the Mountain Times there are many identical statues in various towns in New England, from an era when Civil War memorials were popular. 

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