Northern Civil War monuments included very few human female figures. Selected monuments or statues commemorate nurses, but most female forms that appear on monuments erected in the North during this period are allegorical figures, enrobed Classical Aryan figures. These female figures are strong—appearing more muscular and more dominant than the sentinel soldiers--and are often clothed in togas, with symbols of victory and peace: laurel wreaths, olive branches, trumpets or swords pointed earthward. Such idealization of war’s end, harking back to the Classical period, casts the lofty achievements of peace, victory, and reconciliation as timeless.
Augusta’s Victory-topped column was erected at the intersection of Grove and State Streets, until 1879 the site of the Augusta Mall, the mustering point for the Kennebec Valley Civil War troops. The park is now known as Monument Park, home to memorials for World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In the early 1900’s, the Civil War Soldiers’ Monument was an important landmark for tourists passing through Central Maine on their way to the resort areas of Rangeley, Moosehead Lake, the Belgrade Lakes, and the Mid-Coast.
Grove & State Streets
Of Portland’s four Civil War monuments, “Our Lady of Victories” (also known as the Maine Soldiers and Sailors Monument) in Monument Square is the most well known. It is one of several allegorical statues in Maine, based in classical Greco-Roman tradition, commemorating the Mainers who served in the Civil War, although individual names are not listed, owing to the difficulty in verifying their service in the War. On its base are two bronze groupings: one of 3 soldiers, the other of 3 sailors. Though the largest Civil War monument in Maine, it is modest in comparison to other grand city monuments, erected as civic centerpieces to proclaim victory and Northern superiority. Portland’s other monuments are located in Eastern Cemetery, Evergreen Cemetery, and Fort Allen Park.
This monument, titled “Victory Crowning the Returned Soldier,” is unique in Maine. While most monuments to the Civil War are simple, understated and somber, this one incorporates many motifs of remembrance in a celebration of victory. The goddess Victory lays a laurel wreath on the soldier’s head. He, with hat in hand and head held high, kneels before the eagle-topped flag pole, holding his rifle. On the pedestal base are a shield with stars and stripes, and a relief of crossed swords with rope & tassel, and bow. The inscription, however, is very simple: “Erected to the memory of the country’s defenders, 1775-1865. Including the Revolutionary War linked the two as “just” and “honorable” wars.
Main, Elm, and North Streets