On a little triangular piece of ground near the track of the Southern railroad, in Oakland City, there stands a modest appearing shaft which attracts the attention of people passing by on the train. If these passing people are interested enough and inquisitive enough to ask someone what this modest shaft represents, the information will probably be that this is a monument erected by the surviving members of Company F, Forty-second Indiana Regiment, as a loving tribute to the memory of their comrades who gave up their lives in defense of the flag during the Civil war.
The monument was erected during the summer of 1893 and was dedicated in September of that year. The initial steps were taken at a reunion of the company a year prior to that time, when a committee was appointed to raise the necessary funds. This committee was composed of Col. W. M. Cockrum, John W. Corder, James T. Bell, John P. Simpson and Washington Strickland. Dr. George C. Mason acted as an advisory member and gave much financial and advisory aid which was greatly appreciated by the company. Col. W. M. Cockrum executed a deed to Gibson county for the lot on which the monument stands.
The contract for the monument was awarded to William Kelley of Oakland City at a cost of near one thousand dollars. The material used was oolitic limestone. The monument stands on a base seven feet square and is twenty-eight feet in height. On the top is the figure of a soldier carved in stone. On the several sides of the dies are the names of all the original members of the company and the recruits, one hundred and forty-three in number.
On a panel for that purpose are the names of the original field and staff officers of the regiment. On another side of the shaft there is a scroll in which is inscribed, "Starved to Death at Andersonville," and underneath are the names of eleven members of the company who gave this supreme test of their devotion to their country. Following are the names: Chesterfield P. Dill, Alford Farmer, J. M. Hunter, H. H. Hunter, John H. Martin, Adam Canon, William A. Reavis, W. W. Oliver, A. H. Mariner, Jacob Strickland and A. C. Coleman. These all were taken prisoners at the battle of Chickamauga and died at Andersonville.
In appropriate places on the shaft appear the names of battles in which the company participated. There are as follows: Perryville, Stone's River, Stevenson, Flint River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Mission Ridge, Ringgold, Buzzard Roost, Big Shanty, Snake Creek Gap, Chattahoochie River, Bentonville.
As stated, this monument was dedicated in September, 1893. At the dedication there was a large assemblage of the surviving members of the company and regiment, soldiers from other regiments, citizens and friends. These all gathered around the monument where an appropriate address was delivered by Capt. A. J. McCutchan, of Company A, Forty-second Regiment. It was a proud day for the veterans of this company when they could look upon the completion of this Monument as the crowning triumph of the cause for which they fought, even though this rejoicing was mingled with tears in memory of those whose names were inscribed on the monument who had given up their lives for that cause.
"For their cause was the
cause of the races,
That languished in slavery's night,
And the death that was pale on their faces,
Has filled the whole world with its light."
One afternoon, in September of 1893 (Actually October 13, 1894) members of the Grand Army of the
Republic gathered on the corner of Clay & Oak Sts. in Oakland City for the
dedication of a monument to Co. "F", 42nd Regiment, Indiana
The now weather-worn monument stands today, almost forgotten even by those whose grandfathers names appear thereon.
The $1,000 limestone monument has recorded on its shaft, the history of the regiment.
The Oakland City area company entered the service on October 7, 1861, and was discharged on July 21, 1865, compiling a string of battles which reads like a list of the bloodiest campaigns of the Civil War; Bentonville, Chattahoochie River, Lookout Mountain, Perryville, Stone's River, Big Shanty, Chickamauga and many others.
When the company entered the battle of Chickamauga, 11 men were destined to have their names carved on the monument under the heading of "Died at Andersonville." The men, Wm. Cannon, A.G. Coleman, C.P. Dill, A. Farmer, H.H. Hunter, J.M. Hunter, J.H. Martin, A.H. Marrimer, W.W. Oliver, W.A. Reavis and J.A.G. Strickland were captured by the confederate forces during the battle and later starved to death at the infamous Andersonville prison camp. According to existing records, these men were the only prisoners ever taken from the 143 men of the 42nd (the writer must mean from Co. F only).
Worn, but still visible, are the names of all the men of the regiment. Many from one family joined the company, with three McGregors, Skeltons, and Stricklands being carved on the monument.
The monument grew out of a company reunion in 1892, when the surviving members of the 42nd were beginning to dwindle. The committee headed by Col. W.M. Cockrum, who deeded the triangular strip of land, contracted William Kelley of Oakland City to construct the monument.
Miller, an Oakland City stone mason, carved the gray limestone soldier atop the monument. Miller's mastery of carving is witnessed today by the clarity and perfection of the rifle the stone on which the soldier stands, his inspection perfect uniform and even facial features.
The book "A History of Gibson County" states, "It was a proud day for the veterans of this company when they could look upon the completion of the monument as the crowning triumph of the cause for which they fought, even though this rejoicing was mingled with tears in memory of those whose names were inscribed on the monument who had given up their lives for that cause."
CO. F, 42ND IND. MONUMENT
Dedicated with Appropriate Exercises Last Saturday
The beautiful monument erected in this city by the members of Co. F, 42nd Ind. Vol. Infantry was dedicated last Saturday afternoon in the presence of a large audience of comrades and friends of the company. The ceremony consisted of patriotic music by the Oakland City band, calling the roll of the company, to which about 25 answered the “present,” and the remainder were accounted for either as “dead” or residing in some remote part of the country. John W. Corder, president of the monument association then stepped forward and in a neat little speech stated that the monument was completed and fully paid for at a cost of about $410 and thanked the people for their kind assistance in building it. He then turned the monument over to Capt. A. J. McCutchan of Evansville, to be dedicated to the memory of the dead heroes whose names were inscribed upon it. Capt. McCutchan was greeted with a round of applause when he mounted the platform and delivered a most excellent and touching oration that pleased everybody present. The Capt. Was a member of the 42nd, belonging to a company that touched elbows with Co. F, where he was in a position to see and be with the men and was personally acquainted with most of them, which made his talk all the more interesting.
Hugh Carlisle, editor of the Princeton Leader, was next introduced and made a very pleasing short address, and when he had concluded the audience was dismissed.
The monument is an elegant structure located on a triangular lot at the corner of Oak and Clay streets, near the Columbia Mill. It is constructed of Green river limestone which is bleached almost white and is very pretty. The monument stands 25 ½ feet high and is surmounted by the statue of a soldier uniformed and equipped with all of the accoutrements of war, standing at “parade rest.” There are in all about 160 names engraved on the monument, including the original field and staff officers, the company officers and the privates, together with the name of every engagement in which Co. F participated with the names of those killed in each engagement.
On the front of the shaft is a scroll on which is inscribed “died at Andersonville,” and underneath this are the names of the brave men that were starved to death in that foulest of prisons.
The monument is one that reflects credit upon the company that built it and is quite a distinction for Oakland City, being the only company monument in the state, and every citizen should be proud that our city has been favored by being the chosen site for such a structure.
Among the distinguished visitors present were Jas. L. Orr, quartermaster of the regiment and whose name occupies a position upon the monument. Mrs. J. M. Shanklin and George Shanklin, editor of the Evansville Courier. The last two mentioned are the wife and brother of Maj. J. M. Shanklin, one of the original officers of the regiment and whose name is inscribed on the monument. All of the above are of Evansville. The G.A.R. post of Princeton came over in a body on a special train, about 40 members in all. There were also many visitors from other points.
The monument of Company F. Forty-Second Indiana Volunteers will be dedicated at Oakland City tomorrow, Capt. A. J. McCutchan delivering the oration on the occasion.