Soldiers and Sailors Monument - Wheeling, West Virginia
Backstory and Context
Dedicated to Union soldiers who died in service of their country, the Soldiers Aid Society of Wheeling erected the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in 1880. Originally, the monument was located on the corner of 16th and Chapline Streets upon the grounds of the old county courthouse that is no longer there today. When the courthouse was demolished in April of 1926, it was moved to Leatherwood Cloverleaf. However, the monument was never assembled at this location because of controversy associated with the location itself. For 30 years, the monument was left unassembled while it remained at the Leatherwood Cloverleaf. In June of 1956, the monument was moved to Linly Military Institute, which was located at Thebdah Place. Just over two years later, the monument was again moved and this time reassembled at Wheeling Park on October 30, 1958. Over the years, the monument became quite worn and vandalized with graffiti. Thanks to the efforts of Courtney Micker, a senior at the Linsly School, the monument was refurbished beginning in 2002 with the permission of Ken Morgan of the Wheeling Park Commission.
At the top of the monument, Liberty in female form stands poised. She wears a crown that circles her head along with a Roman Toga, cloth garment, and metal breastplate. On her left arm, she carries a shield, and in her right hand, she bears a sword. Directly beneath her in the center of the monument, the image from the West Virginia State Seal and its accompanying phrase of “Montani Semper Liberi” lie proudly. To Liberty’s proper right and beside the West Virginia State Seal, an infantryman sits in his military attire. Oppositely, a sailor sits on Liberty’s proper left in his full attire. Inscribed on the back of the monument is the dedication, which includes a quote that reads, “To the defenders of the Union 1861 – 1865. They counted their lives not dear unto them.”