1882 Civil War Monument
On West Park Avenue, opposite the Niles Post Office and in the
southwest corner of the McKinley Memorial grounds stands a tall
stately Quincy granite monument honoring Major-General James
Birdseye McPherson, one of the real heroes of the Battle
of Atlanta, July 22, 1864.
Today residents of Niles pass their Civil War monument probably
not fully aware of its presence, for as long as anyone can remember,
it has always been there. General McPherson, was the highest ranking
soldier from Ohio killed in the war. General Sherman noted General
McPherson’s heroic qualities in the eulogy.
On December 24, 1878 the McPherson post #16 of the Ohio Department
of the Grand Army of the Republic was organized in Niles with
30 charter members. Josiah Robbins served as their first commander.
The post grew to 150 members, although there were some 250 veterans
from the community who saw service during the Civil War.
The purpose of this group was to instill in the minds of others
the importance of a patriotic devotion to the ideals for which
these veterans fought and to revere the names of those who made
the supreme sacrifice. Regular meetings were held and civic affairs
were always discussed.
Members of the McPherson Post #16
became interested in erecting a monument in honor of Major-General
McPherson. The idea of raising funds for such a monument was presented
to the voters of Weathersfield Township in March 1882.The issue
passed almost unanimously. The monument was selected, a gray granite
shaft surmounted by an eagle. The main shaft bears the inscription:
“Erected to the memory of our fallen heroes
in the war of 1862- 1865.
By McPherson Post #16, Department of Ohio GAR
and the Citizens of Weathersfield Township,
General McPherson Killed July 22, 1864.”
Also on each side of the main shaft,
just below the war emblems, are listed one of the following four
battles: Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Look Out Mountain, and Shiloh.
On Saturday, October 21, 1882 the monument was
dedicated, starting off with the cannon being fired. A parade
was formed and marched downtown, arriving at the speaker’s
stand which was erected in front of the Town Hall. At that time
the Town Hall was located on what is now known as North Arlington
Street ,just west of where the McKinley Memorial now stands.
Speakers of the day were the Honorable E.
B. Taylor of Warren and Honorable William McKinley
from Niles. They both paid inspiring tribute to the patriotism
of the private soldier as a power behind the famous generals of
the army. They pointed it out that our nation owed it to her soldiers
to deal generously with them, as they will never be overpaid for
their sacrifices upon the battle field.
"From time to time after that,
other Union soldiers joined the organization, which in 1890 reached
a peak membership of 121. Slowly but surely in the years to come
Father Time sounded taps to send veteran after veteran along to
join their comrades of the great Grand Army of The Republic until
now, in the year 1950, they have faded into history, gone but
never to be forgotten.
These men built their homes and
raised their families in our city. They became our merchants,
our professional men and our manufacturing heads. By their active
participation in the political and social affairs of our city,
state and nation, they laid the foundation for the spirit and
enterprise which has made Niles the hustling and thriving city
it now is.
The post kept its organization alive
and took an active part in all the social and civic activities
of our city, but, in 1925, upon the death of their then commander,
L. L. Holloway, and due to the physical condition of
the few remaining members, they felt it their duty to advise Williams
S. Matthews, then Assistant Adjutant of the Department of
Ohio, that they wished to surrender their charter, but with the
stipulation that it should remain here and be placed in the McKinley
This was allowed by the Ohio Department.
However, the Sons and Daughters of the Union Veterans of The Civil
War addressed a letter to McPherson Post No.16 under date of January
3, 1926, asking them to reconsider their decision and still continue
to function, which they did and carried on until the last surviving
member was no more.
They did not hold regular sessions,
passing along to the American Legion and other patriotic societies,
including the McPherson's Women's Relief Corps the task of handling
the Memorial Day services, the placing of flags and decorating
the graves of the deceased soldiers with flowers.
As of the date 1940 there were 44
soldiers of all wars buried in the St. Stephens Cemetery, including
four Spanish American war veterans. One hundred sixty-five were
listed in the Union Cemetery, which includes 10 veterans of the
War of 1812 as well as four Spanish American veterans.
Since that time many more have passed
away. It may be safe to assume that upwards of 2,000 veterans
of all wars are buried in Niles and surrounding cemeteries".
Text in quotes
was written by Ray Gilbert, published in Niles Daily
Times, March 3, 1950.