The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch is a notable memorial to the American Civil War located in Hartford, Connecticut. It was the first permanent triumphal arch in America, and honors the 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in the war, and the 400 who died for the Union.
The arch's first conception dates from October 21, 1879, when a committee was formed, with a competition sponsored in 1881. Commission was eventually given to architect George Keller. It was dedicated on September 17, 1886. The tower statues (completed 1894) were carved by Swiss-born sculptor Albert Entress (1846-1926). Total cost was about $60,000. When the arch was rehabilitated in 1986–1988, its original terra cotta finial angels were replaced by the current bronze angels.
The arch is made of brownstone from Portland, Connecticut, in Gothic Revival style, and composed of two medieval towers joined by a classical frieze. The north frieze, by Samuel James Kitson, tells the story of war, with on the right, a figure of General Ulysses S. Grant surveying his troops and on the left, marines jumping from a boat to rush the Confederates. The south frieze, by Caspar Buberl, tells the story of peace, with a central female allegorical figure representing the City of Hartford, surrounded by her citizens welcoming soldiers home. Both were fabricated by the Boston Terra Cotta Company.
Spandrel symbols identify the four military services: the anchor for the Navy, the crossed cannon for the Artillery, crossed sabers for the Cavalry, and crossed rifles for the Infantry. Six sculptural figures, each 8 feet tall, adorn the towers - a farmer, blacksmith, mason, student, carpenter, and African-American male breaking bondage's chains. Each tower is topped by a bronze angel, one playing a trumpet, the other cymbals. The ashes of architect Keller and his wife Mary are interred in the tower.
A tablet on the southeast tower reads:
OF THE MEN OF HARTFORD
AND IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FELL
ON LAND AND ON SEA
IN THE WAR FOR THE UNION
THEIR GRATEFUL TOWNSMEN
HAVE RAISED THIS MEMORIAL
The southwest tablet reads:
DURING THE CIVIL WAR
MORE THAN 4,000 MEN OF HARTFORD
BORE ARMS IN THE NATIONAL CAUSE
NEARLY 400 OF WHOM
DIED IN THE SERVICE
GEORGE KELLER, ARCHITECT
CASPER BUBERL & SAMUEL KITSON SCULPTORS
TERRA COTTA CO