130th anniversary of Civil War memorial to kick off ChambersFest

July 12, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- For 130 years, the statue of a Union soldier has been facing south on Memorial Square as if on guard against another invasion by the Confederates who three times passed through town during the Civil War.

The 130th anniversary of the dedication of the memorial to those from Franklin County who served in the Civil War will be held a day late this Friday, kicking off ChambersFest 2008, the annual celebration of the borough's rebuilding after the raid by Confederate Gen. John McCausland on July 30, 1864.

McCausland's raid, a reprisal for the burning of homes in the Shenandoah Valley, left much of Chambersburg in ashes. The fires set by the Confederates after the town refused to pay a ransom of $100,000 in gold or $500,000 in Union greenbacks destroyed 573 buildings, resulting in losses of real estate and personal property exceeding $1.6 million.

The ceremony marking the fountain's 130th anniversary will be Friday at 11:45 a.m. Guest speakers will be Mayor Peter Lagiovane and Janet Pollard, director of tourism for the Franklin County Visitors Bureau, according to the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors ChambersFest.


Because it is in the middle of a major intersection -- the crossroads of U.S. 30 and U.S. 11 -- it is not easy to get a close look at the monument, which has plaques around the base telling how many men and women served in the nation's wars, including the approximately 5,000 who fought for the Union.

Following an extensive renovation of both the fountain and statue completed in 1994, the late Raymond Depuy, president of Franklin County Heritage Inc., wrote a brief history of the monument for the rededication ceremony.

In 1868, women of the community founded the Franklin County Monumental Association to raise money for a monument to the county men who lost their lives in the war, Depuy wrote. Their concept of the monument, however, was in conflict with area veterans, who wanted a more traditional military monument.

The J.W. Fiske Co. of New York resolved the situation by offering the town a cast-iron fountain for $1,700 with the Union soldier statue thrown into the bargain, Depuy wrote.

An estimated 15,000 people attended a two-hour parade and dedication ceremony for the monument on July 17, 1878, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

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