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Civil War Statue


In this year of 2011, many events will commemorate the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War. One of the most visible reminders of the Civil War in Grand Forks is a statue of a Union soldier on a small triangle of land beside Belmont Avenue, and it was on this date in 1912, during the FIFTIETH anniversary of the Civil War, that the the City Council in Grand Forks selected the location.

The soldier’s memorial was a gift to Grand Forks from one of its most famous newspapermen – the founder of the Grand Forks Herald, George B. Winship. Winship, born in 1847 in Maine, later came to Minnesota, and after the Civil War began, he enlisted in the Second Minnesota Cavalry. He served from 1863 to the final victory in 1865. After the war, George Winship came to Dakota Territory, and in 1879 he published his first issue of the Herald, a paper he printed for the next thirty years.

After his retirement in 1909, Winship wanted to give something back to the Grand Forks community. So, he hired contractor N.C. Peterson of Minneapolis to design and construct a Civil War memorial.

The memorial is an inspiration of beauty. It’s made of Vermont granite and stands 22 feet, eight inches high with the Union soldier forming the top seven feet, standing at “parade rest.” The soldier’s strong hands hold a Springfield rifle, and his stony face conveys dignity and honor. He wears an overcoat that reaches to his knees and a belt with ammunition pouch attached. His cap and cape complete his solid visage.

Carved on the east side of the granite base are two crossed swords; on the south is an anchor; on the west two cannons and a stack of cannon balls; on the north is a plaque bearing the names of all the Grand Forks members of the Grand Army of the Republic.

When the city accepted the monument in 1912, the speaker, D.C. O’Neal dedicated it to the memory of those in the army who “fought for our hillsides and valleys and plains,” and who “fell in defense of the flag.”

For some years thereafter, Grand Forks held Memorial Day services at the Monument’s triangle park. In 1914, a soloist sang the song “The Boys in Blue are Growing Gray.”

Fittingly, as we remember the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and remember Winship’s Memorial, the Civil War Soldier in Grand Forks faces … North.

Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, History Department, MSU Moorhead.

Sources: City Council approval of memorial site on May 6, 1912 in “Selected The Site For Winship Monument,” Grand Forks Herald, May 7, 1912, p. 1.

“Winship Monument to Old Soldiers,” Grand Forks Herald, June 29, 1913, p. 1.

“Story of An Empty Sleeve,” Grand Forks Herald, May 24, 1914, p. 11.

“Soldiers Monument Is Dedicated Impressively,” Grand Forks Herald, June 22, 1913, p. 1.

“Select Plan For Monument,” Grand Forks Herald, November 30, 1912, p. 8.

“The Winship Monument,” Grand Forks Herald, June 24, 1913, p. 4.

“From 1879 to 1899,” Grand Forks Herald, June 27, 1899, p. 12.