MECHANICSBURG – Mechanicsburg acquired its first Civil War monument shortly after the war when Company B of the 32nd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry donated the modest commemoration of their participation in the July 4, 1863 victory in Vicksburg.
This monument still stands in front of the shelter house in Goshen Memorial Park.
It consists of two cannon balls and an artillery shell which I assume the regiment had on hand when they made the donation. It has recently been refurbished although the blue paint on the artillery shell tip is again starting to wear.
The second Mechanicsburg Civil War monument is a much grander affair. A Mrs. J.S. Moore noticed a large Confederate monument in the central plaza of St. Augustine, Florida when she visited there in 1879. She decided that “Our Boys” deserved a monument in Mechanicsburg at least as grand as the one erected by the defeated Confederates. She obtained the funding to build said monument by enlisting her friends and selling chicken dinners for 11 years at the Central Ohio Fair. This precursor event to the eventual Ohio State Fair was held for many years in the beautiful spot now known as the Goshen Memorial Park.
The monument foundation cost $112, and $30 of rock was donated. The monument itself was crafted by a Mr. Merkle from Dayton, Ohio, and it cost $3,100 in 1900. That works out to $96,000 in today’s dollars.
The unveiling of the new monument took place on Memorial Day, 1901 and was witnessed by 5,000 people. It is an impressive tribute to the sons of Champaign County who had given so much to achieve the Union victory.
In an ironic turn of events, the St. Augustine Confederate Monument was shipped down stream to the Trout Creek Fish Farm in September 2020 after a summer of Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The sum of $234,000 was spent to fund this relocation with some unhappiness evidenced in the local Florida media. Our monument stands serene at the top of the hill in beautiful Maple Grove. One wonders what Mrs. J.S. Moore would have to say about that.
Charles J. Hickey, MD
President, Mechanicsburg Village Council