Indiana County erects monument to area Civil War veterans

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 11:01 a.m.

INDIANA – After a century and a half, a wish of area Civil War Union veterans — and now their families — has been fulfilled.

Their desire to erect some kind of memorial in town — to honor the more than 2,800 Union soldiers from Indiana County who fought in the Civil War — has became a reality.

On Friday morning, a cast bronze statue of a Union soldier, titled “Rest on Arms,” was placed in front of the Silas M. Clark House, home of the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County.

The memorial is significant to many beyond the town's boundaries because Union soldiers from neighboring townships and boroughs in Armstrong County fought alongside soldiers from Indiana, said Tim Nupp, chairman of the Indiana County Civil War Memorial Committee.

The committee is made up of members from the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, the Indiana County Tourist Bureau and the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, John T. Crawford Camp 43, of Armstrong County.

Committee member Walt Marr had tears in his eyes as the life-size bronze statue was lowered into place.

“This is a long-awaited day,” he said.

The statue, created by Indiana County artist John McCombie, depicts a weary Union soldier wearing accurately detailed regalia and resting his hands on the stock of his rifle.

“He looks battle-worn,” said McCombie, who served in the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division in the Vietnam War.

“I felt very privileged (to create the memorial statue),” he said. “It was an honor to do it.”

McCombie said he used the lost-wax method during the creation of the statue — a process that moves from clay to wax to bronze. It was cast in Lancaster, and McCombie recalled the long line of traffic snaking behind the trailer as he drove the bronze soldier home.

On Friday, the 5-foot, 10-inch statue, weighing 345 pounds, was lowered onto a base made up of multiple barn stones. The stones were chosen to signify the many farmers who fought for the Union, a committee member said.

The placement of the statue in front of the Silas M. Clark House at 200 S. Sixth St. is significant because it was the meeting place for Indiana's original Grand Army of the Republic Civil War veterans, Post 28.

Nupp said it took a little more than three years to raise the $85,000 needed for the statue.

“We participated in living history events and solicited donations,” he said, adding that most donations came from individuals. “We did not receive any grants or government money,” he said.

As a small crowd of committee members gathered to admire the completed work, Nupp recalled an 1892 newspaper article quoting area Union veterans.

“They wanted a memorial, and they couldn't get it to happen,” said Nupp, adding that there had been attempts to create a memorial in 1866, 1889 and about 1900.

“This honors their passion,” Nupp said. “Everything has come full circle.”

A dedication service for the statue will take place at the site on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at about 12:15 p.m. following the parade.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer forTrib Total Media.

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