Sunday, May 5, 2013

A riddle wrapped up in an enigma

This monument in Canterbury honors many soldiers from Concord as well as Canterbury. One like it used to stand in a
square in Penacook,a village in the Concord city limits. When was it redone and moved and why? (Dick Stevens photo).
In an earlier entry on one of the local heroes in Our War, I lamented that I didn’t know of any monument that included the name of George W. Ladd on its honor roll. This was true when I wrote it, but it is false now. The story behind the flip-flop may interest you. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it involves a riddle wrapped up in an enigma.

Ladd's cousin was Luther C. Ladd, a native of Alexandria, N.H., and, as a member of the 6th Massachusetts Volunteers, one of the first four men killed in the Civil War. Some accounts say he was the first. He was shot down in the streets of Baltimore on April 19, 1861, at the age of 17.

George Ladd, who lived with his mother and stepfather in West Concord, N.H., joined the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers a short time later. In Our War and in an earlier blog post, I tell the story of George’s romance by mail with Carrie Deppen, a Pennsylvania girl. George wrote of his cousin’s death in his first letter to Carrie: “When I heard news of his death, I told my folks I would go and try and revenge his death.” His brother joined a New York artillery company.
Concord's Civil War arch was dedicated in 1892. 
George was wounded at the second battle of Bull Run and died on Sept. 25, 1862, after an amputation in a Georgetown hospital. He is not named on his hometown Civil War memorial because the Concord monument – the arch on Main Street in front of the New Hampshire State House – lists no names.

Not long ago, at a talk before the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, I met Dick Eastman Stevens, the local chapter’s secretary and chaplain. He told me about a Civil War memorial in the cemetery in Canterbury Center, a town adjacent to Concord. On one bronze panel, he said, were listed soldiers from three wards of Concord – East and West Concord and Fisherville. He speculated that Canterbury might have honored these “neighbors” – the word is on the monument – because of the proximity of Canterbury to the capital’s three northern wards.

George Ladd of Our War is honored here.
Within a day or two, Dick sent me a photograph of the monument. In a way the picture deepened the mystery, but in another it made me smile: Right on the bronze panel labeled “1861 Wards 1, 2 & 3 1865: Comrades in War – Comrades in Peace” was the name “Geo. Ladd.” Like all the men who went to war, Ladd wanted to be remembered for it. And there it was.

Across the top of the granite stone to which the bronze tablets were affixed was this legend: “Erected 1926 by a grateful private of Co. I First Ohio Reg.’t. Art’y, 14th Corps, Army of the Cumberland.”

An Ohio artilleryman buying an elaborate monument for the soldiers of Canterbury and three Concord neighborhoods? What was going on here?

I turned to Augustus Ayling’s Register, which lists basic  facts about the service of thousands of New Hampshire soldiers. Under the section on men who joined out-of-state units, I found one George P. Morrill of Canterbury, the benefactor referred to on the monument's legend. He had entered Co. I. of the Ohio Light Artillery as a 20-year-old private on Aug. 19, 1864, and come home at war’s end.

Morrill was from an old Canterbury family. Born April 21, 1844, on his father’s farm, he was the seventh son of Capt. Davis Morrill and Sally Peverly Morrill. After the war he served as both town moderator and state representative.

Dick Stevens proved to be even more curious about the monument than I was. He identified Morrill through records in the Canterbury town library. In the 1927-28 town report he found a set of photographs showing three war memorials surrounding the soldier statue in Boudreau Square in Penacook (formerly Fisherville). The memorials honored soldiers from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the World War. They are no longer in the square, although the soldier statue is.

The missing monument for the Civil War faced east toward the W.I. Brown post of the Grand Army of the Republic, the chief organization of Civil War veterans. The lettering at its top reads “Gift of Geo. P. Morrill ‘Dilgers Battery,’ one of the twelve, 1st Ohio Reg L.A. 1926-27.” The inscription is not the same as it now reads in Canterbury, according to a note on the photo..

On the basis of this note, it seems likely the Penacook monument was altered and moved to Canterbury. Neither Dick nor I have a clue about what happened to the Spanish-American and First World War monuments that used to adorn Boudreau Square.

Despite a lack of clarity on wheres and wherefores of these monuments, I'm glad George Ladd's name made it onto one of them.  


  1. Mr Pride
    I would like to clear up the matter of the other missing memorial tablets that were once on the square at Penacook. I am a lifelong Penacook resident and several years ago these tablets were removed from the square and now proudly stand in the yard of the American Legion Post #31, on Charles street in Penacook. There was a new dedication ceremony for the unveiling of these tablets at that time. I am estimating that it was between 1995 and 1999.
    Ruth L. Speed
    Penacook, NH

    1. Thank you, Ruth Speed. I pass through Penacook often and will stop and see the memorials next time I do.