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Wheeling to move 25-ton Civil War statue

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Heather Ziegler A Union sailor is depicted on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Wheeling Park.
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo by Heather Ziegler
A Union sailor is depicted on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Wheeling Park.

WHEELING, W.Va. — The Union soldier and sailor are coming home.

The 25-ton Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Monument, currently situated atop the hill overlooking the Wheeling Park playground, will be moved to the grassy area at West Virginia Independence Hall at 16th and Market streets. That is just blocks from its original 1883 home in front of the old county courthouse on Chapline Street.

The towering sandstone monument weighs about 25 tons and is owned by the city of Wheeling. It is the largest Civil War monument in the Mountain State, according to local historian Margaret Brennan.

It also is the second-oldest such monument to the war in the state. The oldest is a Confederate monument located in a cemetery in Romney, W.Va.

The Wheeling monument was erected by the Soldiers Aid Society of Wheeling in dedication to the Union soldiers who died serving their country during the Civil War.

From the county courthouse location it was moved to The Linsly School – then known as the Linsly Military Institute – in 1926, and in 1958, it was relocated to Wheeling Park.

In 2002, Courtney Micker, then a senior at Linsly, headed an effort to refurbish the monument.

Today, the monument is again showing some wear and tear and it will be a huge task to have it moved, officials said.

Financing the move is still up in the air.

Vice Mayor Eugene Fahey announced the impending monument move during this week’s Wheeling City Council meeting.

He said the Wheeling Park Commission and the city have given the OK to have the monument moved to Independence Hall, recognized as the birthplace of West Virginia.

“I’m pleased to announce that the Wheeling Park Commission and everyone involved has given approval to relocate the Soldiers and Sailors Monument from Wheeling Park to West Virginia Independence Hall,” Fahey said.

Fahey noted that when the monument was placed at Wheeling Park from its second temporary home on the Linsly property, the soldier and sailor depicted on either side of the towering female Liberty form, were placed on the wrong sides of the monument. That is expected to be corrected at its new home.

In addition to the figures on the monument, there is the image from the West Virginia state seal and its accompanying phrase of “Montani Semper Liberi.” To the right of the female Liberty statue is an infantryman sitting in his military attire.

On the side sits a sailor 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.”

A committee tasked with erecting the Governor Francis Pierpont statue at Independence Hall also has been the driving force to have the Soldiers and Sailors Monument moved to the more accessible and appropriate location in downtown Wheeling.

Travis Henline, site manager at Independence Hall, and Rebekah Karelis with the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. are among those working on the project. They could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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