Thursday, February 6, 2014

There's a Yankee on our Memorial!

The soldier's attire on top of the Civil War monument has raised many questions about whether he was a Union or Confederate soldier. The monument is located in the center of York, Maine. 
KINGSTREE, SC — Around the turn of the 20th century, as veterans of the Civil War began dying off at a frightful rate, there was a burst of activity, both in South and North, to erect monuments to honor their dead and their veterans.

Williamsburg County was no exception, and May 10, 1910 was the great day of the unveiling of the Confederate soldier’s statue by the Courthouse in Kingstree. The statue was a result of much effort by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who had raised the funds by holding many ice cream socials and strawberry festivals, and hired a noted Italian sculptor to create the monument.

According to local historian Bessie Swann Britton, there was a gasp of astonishment as the statue was unveiled and the crowd realized that it was the image of a Yankee soldier.


As it turns out, the sculptor had mass produced many statues for towns all across the country, and he had switched the Kingstree statue with one intended for a Union memorial in York, Maine.

In York, the error was discovered before the unveiling ceremony, but the frugal New Englanders refused to pay for a second statue, and they went ahead to erect the Confederate statue in the center of town.

At the time, neither town knew where their intended statue had gone. Today, both statues remain in place, perhaps due to the cost of rectification, or maybe as a symbol that it’s time to let bygones be bygones.

The story is told, perhaps apocryphal, of a Confederate veteran who was present at the Kingstree unveiling, but had been imbibing freely ahead of time. When the statue was uncovered and he saw a Yankee soldier on the pedestal, he raised his arms into the air and cried, “Grant, I surrender!” before pitching forward into a ‘shine’ induced slumber.


  1. You don't suppose we left any up there???

    1. Sure looks like a a Confederate soldier at the top.

    2. Hi Brock,

      I tried to answer you Free North Carolina blog concerning "There's a Yankee on our Memorial" but kept getting a "URL contains illegal characters" message. So, I am going to do it this more conventional way. Perhaps you could put it on your blog or instruct me how?

      While I have no knowledge concerning the statue in beautiful Kingstree, SC, I do know about the statue in the middle of my Southern Maine town of York.

      The York Maine Soldiers Monument Committee got exactly the statue they ordered in late 1905 from the Fred Barnicoat company in Quinsy, Mass. It was decided at that time to have the soldier dressed the current US Army uniform. Fighting from the Spanish American War, the Philippine Insurrection and China Expedition (Boxer Rebellion)1898 - 1902 had only just ceased. So, the committee named York's monument "The Soldier's Monument" and dressed the soldier in Spanish American War attire. A letter from the US Army Quartermaster Museum Ft Lee VA. states that "...the soldier on the monument is dressed in Spanish-American (SPAN-AM) war veteran Canvas leggings with bloused trousers, five button shirt-coat, SPAN-AM campaign hat and SPAN-AM bed roll. The current uniform from last US war."

      The town of Littleton, New Hampshire has the exact same monument which means York's and Littleton's monuments was part of Fred Barnicoat's catalog of granite monuments and not custom made. I suspect there are many more like it around the country. It was carved from Quinsy, Massachusetts and Westerly Rhode Island Granite.

      All of this information was gleaned from historic records held in the Old York Historic library. I want all of you good folks south of us to know that the same kinds of incorrect information has been part of the history of York's Soldier's Monument for literally generations and those old tales are a bear to get rid of. I hope this helps clear up at least part of Kingtree's monument mystery.

      Hope this helps and thank you for your service.

      Michael Dow

    3. Thank you and excellent information.