Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Old Simon" The Private Soldiers Monument, Antietam National Cemetery

A colossal granite figure rising 44' 7" high, and weighing 250 tons stands guard over the graves in Antietam National Cemetery.  The statue nicknamed "Old Simon" but officially known as the Private Soldiers Monument looks northward and honors the 4,776 Union soldiers interred in the National Cemetery who gave their lives for their country.

The design of the monument which stands in the center of the cemetery was approved by the Antietam Cemetery Board at a meeting held in Baltimore, MD., on September 16, 1867.  The corner stone was placed on September 17, 1867.  The monument was erected in 1880 at a cost of $32,000 and was dedicated September 17, 1880 the 18th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. When erected it  was the largest monument of its kind in the country.

            The Private Soldiers Monument (Library of Congress Photo)

The soldier itself which is 21.5" tall and weights 30 tons is made of 2 pieces of granite joined at the waist.   The figure stands at the military position of "in place rest".  The monument was designed by James Batterson and sculpted by James Pollette.

Close-up "Old Simon"

The base of the monument is inscribed with the words "Not for themselves but for their country ".

The beautiful monument is a fitting tribute to the valor and courage of the private soldiers of the Union Army who laid their lives on the alter of their country.