On July 9, 1907, more than 100 survivors of the 14th New Jersey Regiment met on a small patch of land near the Monocacy River and B&O Railroad. They were joined by family members, dignitaries, and friends on the battlefield where 43 years earlier they had engaged Confederate troops. They came to dedicate a monument to the men of the 14th New Jersey Regiment. It was the first monument on the battleground. The State of New Jersey commissioned the monument to honor the regiment not just for the Battle of Monocacy but for their heroic sacrifice throughout the Civil War. The banks of the Monocacy River were a fitting site, since the regiment’s very first assignment had been to guard Monocacy Junction during the winter of 1862 and 1863.
The state appointed five commissioners, all veterans of the 14th New Jersey Regiment, to oversee the design, construction, and dedication of the monument. Major John C. Patterson, Adjutant William H. Foster, Captain Jarvis Wanser, Corporal R.A. Clark, and Sergeant John Grover served as the commissioners. The group selected the design by the New Jersey firm of Thomas J. Manson and Sons and 43rd anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy for the dedication ceremony.
The ceremony began with an invocation offered by the son of a Civil War veteran, Rev. Dr. John Handley. The Braddock Heights Band provided patriotic music. Major Patterson provided a history of the regiment and the significance of the Battle of Monocacy. He praised the sacrifice and valor of the men of the 14th New Jersey. "Here on these fields, in the face of such great odds, the brave men of General Wallace's army fought with a courage and resistance rarely paralleled in the annals of war. From eight o'clock in the morning, with the thermometer in the nineties, we fought them until five o'clock of that July day." He recalled the steep price paid by the regiment at Monocacy: "In this battle against such odds we suffered severely. Many of our comrades who had fought at the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, the Bloody Angle, and at Cold Harbor fell here.” Of the 256 men from the 14th New Jersey who fought at Monocacy, only 92 were present for roll call the morning of July 10, 1864.
At the conclusion of his speech, Major Patterson signaled to Miss Alida Patterson and Miss Nettie Foster. When his daughter and her assistant pulled cord securing the flag draping the monument, they revealed a 17-foot tall granite column capped by a 7-foot tall statue of an infantry soldier. The commissioners described the statue as "a departure from the usual form, a solider at parade rest. This statue represents a 'soldier in action;' having just fired his rifle, he reaches with his right hand for another cartridge, while his left hand grasps his rifle to bring it into position to load as he advances." The front of the monument features the emblem of the VI Corps (a Greek cross) and two bronze tablets.
The first bronze plaque reads:
Erected by the State of New Jersey to commemorate the heroic services of the 14th Regiment, New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 6th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, at the Battle of Monocacy, MD.
July 9, 1864.
The 14th Regiment New Jersey Volunteers was organized on the Monmouth Battle Ground, and mustered in the United States service near Freehold, New Jersey August 26th, 1862, and was mustered out June 18th, 1865, near Washington, D.C.
The second plaque reads:
The Union forces commanded by General Lew Wallace on the battlefield so stubbornly opposed the Confederate troops under General Jubal A. Early as to assure the safety of the National Capital.
The commission to erect the monument
Major John C. Patterson, President
Following the unveiling, the commissioners formally presented the monument to the representative of the Governor of New Jersey, the Rev. W.W.Case. After providing a summary of the significance of the Battle of Monocacy, Rev. Case accepted the monument and promptly transferred it to the Trustees of the Reunion Association of the Fourteenth New Jersey Volunteers. The plan from the beginning had been that the state would finance the construction of the monument, but that the veterans and their families would maintain it.
In his acceptance of the monument, Henry C. La Rowe, president of the association, expressed his hope that "May this monument be an inspiration to future generations, and while we, who know the horrors of war, pray earnestly for peace, nevertheless, if the time ever comes demanding the service and sacrifice , our hope is that the sons of New Jersey will spring to the defense of the flag and maintain undimmed the honor and the glory of the grand old commonwealth."
The program continued with music, more speeches, and an original poem written for the dedication. The Mayor of the City of Frederick represented the State of Maryland and spoke last. He closed his remarks by leading the crowd in the Star Spangled Banner. After the speeches, 50 neighborhood girls surprised the commissioners by gathering about the monument and singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.”
14th New Jersey Monument Preservation Project
Last updated: November 10, 2020