When looking at the Civil War Monument in Harbor Park, have you ever wondered, do they all look alike in Maine?

We know that eight ladies started raising money for Camden’s and many men and women joined them in the 10 years it took to raise $800 for its statue and then they would ask the citizens to pay for its mounting. It cost a total of $1,400. On Memorial Day of 1899, they held the unveiling. It was placed at the intersection of Mountain, High and Central streets, that became known as “Monument Square.” Inscribed on it are 34 names of Camden’s honored dead. Of course they were many more who served in the Civil War.

The statue remained in that location until June 9, 1968, the last time it was hit and hit hard by an automobile. It was repaired and placed in Harbor Park, away from the traffic.

A friend was curious about these monuments in Maine and asked me to research them. It was a great surprise to me to learn they were not all alike. While riding around Maine towns and viewing them, it boggled my mind. My eyes betrayed me as it seemed to be the same statue on various size and type monuments. As I studied them more precisely, they were not the same generic figure. They were done by monument makers, all carved and sculptured.

The Civil War soldier has the butt of the rifle by his right foot, and is holding the barrel in both hands in Appleton, Auburn, Bath, Bethel, Bremen, Camden, Clinton, Ellsworth, Freeport, Gray, Hancock, Lincoln, Litchfield, Madison, Mechanic Falls, Monmouth, Pittsfield, Scarborough, South Berwick, South Portland, Union, Wilton and Winslow.

He has the butt by his left foot in Bar Harbor, Denmark, Canton, Castine, Houlton and Thomaston. Except for the first two places, the barrel is held by only one hand.

The butt is between his feet in Berwick, Winthrop and Waterville. The latter is the only one holding his head down.

In Biddeford, the monument is completely different. It is cast in white bronze and weighs 10,000 pounds.

The soldier is holding a flag, instead of a rifle, in Bridgton and Portland (Evergreen Cemetery). In Brownfield his right hand is raised with no flag or rifle. But in his left hand is his hat. In York his gun is at the right side, but the soldier is without his coat and cape.

Rumford does not have a soldier, but an eagle on top, Bath did have an eagle, but moved it to a larger plot and replaced the eagle with a soldier. In Westbrook, he has his rifle over his left shoulder.

In Sidney and Skowhegan, the monument is topped with a cannon ball. In South Portland there is one of a cannon pointing upward and a cannon ball on top.

In Portland there is a woman called “Our Lady of Victories." In Augusta there is one called “Symbol of Victory.”

Others are various monuments, as in graveyards, such as: Bangor, Belfast, Bowdoin Center, Bowdoinham, Dresden, Eastport, Farmington, Franklin, Freedom, Gardiner, Hallowell, Herman, Howland, Kenduskeag, Leeds, Norway, Paris, Rockland, Searsport, Sherman, Southport, Warren, Wellington, Winterport, Woolwich and Yarmouth.

Bangor was the first monument erected to the Union dead in the United States. The date was June 17, 1864. Lewiston’s was the first public statue erected in Maine.

Now hear about some of the construction. Brighton and Madison were both fashioned by the Hallowell Granite Works. The shaft is granite and the statue is bronze. Denmark’s was carved and sculptured by John Harrigan of Quincy, Mass. Gorham’s was made of Italian marble on a base of granite. Gray’s was constructed by A. H. Cole of Auburn. Hermon’s polished granite came from a quarry in Herman. Houlton’s was constructed by Houlton Granite and Marble Works. Lewiston contracted a local sculptor of national fame to design and make their monument. Its base is granite, the soldier of bronze and a bronze tablet with 112 names of the men who gave their lives in the Civil War. Paris had theirs done by townsmen. J. C. Perry worked the granite and the lettering by Haskell and Keith. Lincolnville granite was used for the Belfast monument. In Pittsfield, the contract was given to C. E. Taylor Granite Works of New York and Hallowell. In Portland, a Maine native, Franklin Simmons, was the sculptor of Bronze and Richard Hunt designed the granite base.

Many were built by money raised publicly by school children, public suppers, donations, town appropriation, GAR and ladies of the Relief Corp. Farmington’s was donated by a private in the Civil War. Leeds was donated by the Howard brothers – two were generals and one a minister.

The Appleton monument was placed within 50 feet of a tomb by William Sumner in memory of his wife. Both William and his wife are in the tomb with the marble door ajar in the summer that visitors may look in. The Civil War soldier monument stands guard forever.

On the old Colby College campus is the first building in the United States erected by any college as a memorial to its sons who died in the Civil War. The cornerstone was laid Aug. 14, 1867. It was built from colored stone from a local quarry.

In Maine the monuments ranged from $300 to $8,000. The number of Maine men in the Civil War numbered 72,945. In the Battle of Bull Run, one quarter of the troops on the union side was from Maine.

Barbara F. Dyer has lived all her life, so far, in Camden and is the official town historian.