The Civil War Soldiers’ Monument was given to the city in 1907 by John Hicks, publisher of the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern at a cost of $10.000. This was partly in memory of his father, John Hicks Sr., who enlisted in E. Company of the 32nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and was killed in combat on April 9, 1865, at a skirmish at Binnaker’s Bridge, South Carolina.
Placed in the center of a grass plot in what would now be known as Monument Square, Hicks Soldiers Square or Opera House Square, the “cornerstone of the monument was laid June 6, 1907, during the encampment of the Wisconsin Grand Army.” On Monday, July 8, 1907, with much patriotism and fanfare the statue was “unveiled with dedicatory ceremonies in which the whole city participated, featuring the noted sculptor who created the monument, Chevalier Gaetano Trentanove, of Florence, Italy.” Italy is also where the model was made and cast in bronze. The imposing three bronze figures rests on a base of rare rose granite, inspired to “kindle the fires of patriotism of the future generations and take memory back to the heroic deeds of the day’s of ‘61 to ‘65.”
“It also commemorates the noble deeds of Wisconsin soldiers and sailors in general and will forever stand as typifying the mighty struggle for freedom through which this country passed.”
On the front are the words “To the Memory of the Wisconsin Men Who Fought in the War for the Union, 1861-1865.” “The sentiment of the whole group is bravery, self sacrifice and devotion to the Flag.”
*Public Monuments, Parks and Art Works of the City of Oshkosh.
The Civil War Monument replaced an Ornamental Bandstand that stood on this site. Its construction dated 1892-completed by March of 1895, was built for public band concerts in the summer months by such notable Oshkosh bands as the famous Arion Band, the Crescent and the Columbia. This bandstand replaced an earlier bandstand as reported by the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern, May 14, 1891. J.J. 5/22/15.