Dedham’s Ultimate Sacrifice: The Civil War Dead

Old Village Cemetery Civil War Memorial

Old Village Cemetery Monument for the 64 men who had died in training at Camp Meigs.

In 1866 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts placed a monument on a large plot that it had purchased in the Old Village Cemetery for the 64 men who had died in training at Camp Meigs. Among these were men from the three African American regiments from the State. Causes of death ranged from drownings to Smallpox and other diseases of the age. While we know that some of the trainees were buried in the plot, we do not know who or how many because many of the men were buried privately by their families, and others were buried initially at Camp Meigs and later moved to the OVC where their wooden crosses were removed and discarded when the State re-graded the plot in 1892.

Brookdale Cemetery Obelisk

In Dedham’s Brookdale Cemetery lie the remains of 14 veterans of the Civil War in a plot maintained by the Grand Army of the Republic Post (Charles W. Carroll Post 144). In 1880, the Post erected a monument of “rough cut” Dedham Granite to the fallen. Upon this obelisk is inscribed, “Erected in 1880 as a monument to the loyal soldiers and sailors of Dedham, who served in the war of the rebellion 1861-1865. Many of whom died, and rest, in unknown graves and dying broke the bondman’s chain and made the slave a man.”

The Tablets

The Tablets are prominently displayed in the new Town Hall; Photo by Nancy Baker, Town Manager

On September 29, 1868, a tableau to Dedham’s 47 Civil War dead was commemorated in the brand-new Memorial Hall, Dedham’s Town Hall for 94 years. The key tablet states, “The Town of Dedham has caused to be inscribed upon these tablets the names of her Sons who fell representing her in defense of the Union in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, and in whose honor she has erected this Hall.” Among the dead was Charles W. Carroll for whom Post 144 is named. When Memorial Hall, which stood on the site of the Dedham Police Station, was demolished in 1962, the tablets were relocated to the Bryant Street Town Hall, and are now prominently displayed outside of the O’Brien Meeting Room on the 3rd floor of the new Town Hall on Washington Street.

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