Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Goodwin Park and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Goodwin Park is located on the southeast side of Islington Street, east of Cabot Street and across from the intersections of Cornwall and Rockingham Streets with Islington Street.

The park is named for Ichabod Goodwin, the Governor of New Hampshire at the beginning of the Civil War. His home, the Governor Goodwin Mansion, once stood directly across the street from the park and is now the centerpiece of Strawbery Banke Museum.

In 1887, Governor Goodwin's heirs sold the parcel of land to the city for a small fee with the requirement that it be used as a public park. At the same time, Marcellus Eldredge, mayor of Portsmouth and owner of the Eldredge Brewing Company, solicited help from residents to buy a Civil War statue for the new Goodwin Park.

The city unveiled its Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Fourth of July in 1888. The statue is constructed of a zinc alloy that was advertised as “white bronze” by its manufacturer, the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Lady Liberty stands atop the monument. Beneath her, four Civil War battles are listed, with depictions of a Union soldier and sailor.

The North-facing Gettysburg side has the following words:

In honor of the Men
who gave
their services on the
land and on the sea
in the war which
preserved the Union
of the States
this monument is erected
by the grateful citizens,

During the Civil War, approximately 39,000 New Hampshire men served in the armed forces. Their casualties included about 1,900 killed in action and 2,500 deaths from disease. The Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers suffered more battlefield casualties than any other regiment in the Union Army: officially 295 killed and 756 wounded.

The south, Antietam, side lists some of the battles where New Hampshire regiments saw action:
Fair Oaks
Savage Station
White Oak Swamp
Malvern Hill
South Mountain
Cold Harbor
Monitor and Merrimack
New Orleans
Mobile Bay
Morris Island
James Island
Fort Darling
Port Hudson
Red River
Fort Donelson
Peach Tree Creek
Sherman’s March to the Sea

On the west, Fredericksburg, side stands a Union soldier. The east side has a northern sailor and the word Kearsarge. The USS Kearsarge was a Portsmouth-built sloop-of-war powered by steam and by sail that sank the CSS Alabama off the coast of France in June 1864.

The monument is in an ongoing cycle of decay and repair. Lady Liberty originally stood about twenty-five feet above the park. A 15-foot section of the pedestal had to be removed in 1955 when it became too weak to support Lady Liberty. The lower section of the original pedestal (approximately 10 feet high) was restored in the early 2000s.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument has also been vandalized. In one attack, an anchor that the sailor was leaning on was broken apart (you can see the damage in my picture of the east-facing side above). In March 2012, some idiot stole the stack of cannonballs on the south-facing Antietam side hoping to sell them for scrap. These are before-and-after pictures of the damage:

May 29, 2011
March 24, 2012

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