Stroudsburg cannons dedicated to Civil War dead

Pocono Record Writer

STROUDSBURG — For 112 years, the cannons in Courthouse Square stood without any marker or plaque to show why they were placed there.

On Monday, county officials changed that by dedicating the cannons to the local veterans of the Civil War during a Memorial Day celebration before hundreds of onlookers.

"No longer will the cannons of Monroe County Courthouse Square be a mystery," said Jim Werkheiser, a historian with the Monroe County Historical Society.

"Finally, after 112 years of just sitting there, all will know the cannons to be memorials to the hundreds of Monroe County boys in blue who served and especially the 33 who gave their last full measure of devotion in the epic civil war of 1861 to 1865," he said.

After the Civil War, as most communities readied monuments to their soldiers, Monroe County remained memorial-free, Werkheiser said. The black naval cannons were installed in 1897 to honor Civil War soldiers but historians have found no evidence that a dedication ceremony ever took place and no marker on the cannons was ever installed, even as communities around the country memorialized their fallen soldiers.

"I would say that Monroe and Pike are the only counties in the entire union, north of the Mason-Dixon line, that don't have memorials," Werkheiser said.

"The reason was simply politics. This was a haven for deserters. In 1863 Lincoln went to the draft and you had people coming here. There was a really strong anti-war sentiment."

Pike County had memorial cannons until World War II, when they were given to the government and melted down for the war effort, Werkheiser said. Monroe County's cannons stood, unmarked from their installation to Memorial Day 2009.

Now, a plaque on one of the cannons declares that they "commemorate Monroe County's involvement in the American Civil War."

Monroe County Commissioners Suzanne McCool, Theresa Merli and Donna Asure were on hand during the ceremony. The newly installed plaque was financed by the commissioners.

"The county commissioners, Donna (Asure), Theresa (Merli) and I were very much in agreement with finally fixing this situation," McCool said.

The ceremony was held in Courthouse Square during the annual Memorial Day parade. Bright sun, warm weather and blue skies greeted the parade and the dedication ceremony. Roads were lined with people as marching bands, veterans groups and community organizations marched from East Stroudsburg to Stroudsburg to honor soldiers who have served and died fighting in the U.S. military.

"I'm sure that many of you have either served in the military or have family members and friends who have," said State Rep. John Siptroth, D-189, during the ceremony. "This personal experience certainly gives some perspective on the sacrifice of our military," he said.

"Our service members' sacrifices are numerous. American soldiers answer the call of duty knowing that it means they may miss holidays, birthdays and family milestones."

Known Civil War dead from Monroe County

Historians believe hundreds of soldiers from Monroe County served in some capacity during the Civil War. There are 36 local soldiers who are known to have died in the war:

From the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment: William Christman, William Siglin, Simon Siglin, Henry Collier, Percy Stem, Henry Kemmerling, John Bloom, Levi Correll, Franklin Altemus, Peter Sobers

From the 142nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment: John Nupp, Jonas Miller, Joseph Cramer, George Schwab, Edward Brands, Theodore Fenner, James Ferguson, James Ney, Charles Bensley, Amos Bellis, Elmer DeLong, William Devitt, James Frable, Amos Garris, Benjamin Hull, Linford LaBar, Charles Nauman, Thomas Smiley, Charles White, Jacob Woolbert

From the 132nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment: Emanuel Miller, Edward Melick

From the 90th Pennsylvania Regiment: Chaplain Horatio Howell

Source: "History of Monroe County 1725-1976" by Dr. John Appel

From the 8th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops: Edward Haines, Amos Huff.

From the 22nd U.S. Colored Troops: Jacob Boyd.

Source: National Archives

By James Werkheiser
Monroe County Historical Society History Committee

Indifference, ignorance, or apathy? Undoubtedly, it was a combination of all three that would explain why the citizenry of Monroe County allowed the cannons on the courthouse square to sit for 112 years, unidentified, undedicated, and unknown.

Finally, during the Memorial Day ceremony on May 25, 2009, a dedicatory plaque was unveiled. This plaque gave belated credit to the Capt. Warnick Camp #77, Sons of Veterans, its parent organization, The Grand Army of the Republic Wadsworth Post #150 of Stroudsburg, and more importantly, the hundreds of county “boys in blue” who served during the 1861-1865 Civil War including the dozens who “gave their last full measure of devotion.”

The plaque was dedicated by the Monroe County Historical Association and financed by the Monroe County Commissioners. It was installed by the Truman Burnett Memorial Company.

For years, I had anguished that Monroe County was the only county in the entire Union with no monument or recognition of the Civil War. With the support of MCHA, my fellow members of the History Committee, and financial support from the county commissioners, research began.

Information relating to Monroe County’s involvement in the Civil War was found in a variety of resources. Published works
History of Monroe County, 1726 to 1976, a Bicentennial Project by Dr. John Appel, and Monroe County During the Civil War by Dr. LeRoy Koehler were invaluable. Information was also found at the Pike County Courthouse, the Monroe County Historical Association, and most importantly, the news articles of our local newspapers during the 1890s, the Jeffersonian-Republican and the Stroudsburg DailyTimes (which are preserved on microfilm and available
at the Stroud Mansion.)

This project was a fulfilling labor of love, but with one disappointment: the near-impossibility of accurately listing all the Monroe County “boys in blue” who perished, in action or by illness, during that terrible - conflict.

This, perhaps, is fuel for a future project?

Wording on new plaque:
Both cannons installed in 1897 by the Sons of
Veterans, Wadsworth GAP Post #150, of
Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to commemorate Monroe
County’s involvement in the American Civil War,
1861-65, and to honor the hundreds of County men
who served in the military and, especially, the dozens
who “gave their last full measure of devotion.”
Plaque financed by the County Commissioners Suzanne
McCool, Theresa Merli, Donna Asure and dedicated
by the Monroe County Historical Association
on Memorial Day of the year 2009.