History and Government Faculty Publications
Forging a Ritual: Constructing the Indianapolis Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and its Meaning, 1889-1902
Indiana Magazine of History
Recent scholarship on Civil War memory in the late nineteenth-century United States emphasizes conflicting interpretations of sectional struggle deployed by different groups in society. Stanley Schwartz offers a cultural history that relies on the concept of ritual to unravel a wider range of localized influences that shaped one manifestation of Civil War memory: the Indiana State Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Indianapolis. Tracing the monument's rise reveals veterans and community leaders confronted with pluralistic debate over the meaning of the obelisk and its surrounding statuary. The attempt to produce a lasting, shared knowledge of the Civil War rooted in soldiers' sacrificial valor required compromises and reevaluations. Using the monument commission's design instructions, reports, and internal notes, Schwartz analyzes how the monument's symbolism developed in relation to quotidian construction decisions. Newspapers and secondary works provide key interpretive links to Indiana's culture. Battles over the monument's construction and ritual demonstrated tensions around Civil War memory linked to the monument's meaning in Gilded Age Indiana.
Civil War, Indiana, monument, symbolism, statue
Schwartz, Stanley, "Forging a Ritual: Constructing the Indianapolis Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument and its Meaning, 1889-1902" (2022). History and Government Faculty Publications. 354.