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The Civil War Monument in New Zebedee, Michigan, is a marker commemorating the men from the community who fought in the American Civil War.  It was located "at one end of Main Street" and “shaped like an artist’s easel. Each of the joints and corners of the easel had a soldier or sailor standing on it, threatening the rebel army with a musket or a sword or a cannon swabber or a harpoon." Along the flat, front part of the easel were the names of Capharnaum County residents who had died in the American Civil War (The House with a Clock in its Walls, 23-4).  Lewis Barnavelt finds his great-grandfather’s name chiseled on the monument (House, 24).

The small stone arch near this monument was called the Civil War Monument Annex, containing the names the stone carvers could not fit on the larger monument (House, 24).

The grandfather of Lewis's uncle, Jonathan, fought in the war (House, 24) and Lewis had seen his relative's name on the memorial (The Figure in the Shadows, 19).

Inspiration

Civil War Monument (New Zebedee)

A copy of the lithograph of the Civil War easel-monument available for purchase in the late 19th Century.

While many items in New Zebedee have some sort of real-world inspiration, this easel-shaped monument doesn’t exist anywhere. The origins of the monument can be traced to a marketing campaign aimed at Civil War veterans who were offered the chance to purchase plaques commemorating their service record.

The most common product was a lithograph depicting an easel-shaped monument with the veteran’s service record on the central panel. Proceeds from sales of the lithograph presumably were intended to fund the construction of the monument itself - an ornate and allegorical artistic monstrosity that was never built, and most likely was just a come-on to get veterans to purchase the lithograph and an accompanying book[1].

Marshall historian Richard Carver believed the monument was never intended for Marshall or Gettysburg and the gentlemen absconded with the money. "Anyone who donated money to the cause was given the glorified discharge document. Several of the certificates have survived and are on display in the local museum. The scam artists even sold one to the local Grand Army of the Republic Hall as it contains a list of the members. One weekend when I was showing people through our museum a visitor exclaimed, 'That’s it, that’s the monument in John Bellairs’s book, where is it located? It was difficult to convince her that there was no monument in Marshall.[2]"

Reference

  1. Brothers One and All: Esprit de Corps in a Civil War Regiment; Mark Dunkelman (2006).
  2. Correspondence with Richard Carter.

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