In May 2016 Historic Franklin Preservation Association successfully completed its preservation project to restore the Venango County Civil War Monument.
Originally known as the Venango County Soldiers Monument, this local landmark commemorates 400 of the Venango County soldiers who died during the war. Later that year we erected an interpretive sign to explain the history of this local landmark.
The Civil War Monument requires periodic maintenance to prevent deterioration and preserve it for the future. We have established a fund to maintain the Monument and to add landscaping to the circle surrounding the Monument. Venango County was able to erect one of the first Civil War Monuments in Pennsylvania thanks to citizens who came together to support the soldiers who fought in the Civil War and to honor those who gave their lives to defend the Union. Now you can help ensure that the monument continues to stand as a reminder of their sacrifice for many more years to come. Please consider a donation to our Venango County Civil War Monument Fund.
History of the Monument
During the Civil War more than 500 soldiers from Venango County died in battle or as the result of injuries, disease, or imprisonment after capture by the Confederate Army. These soldiers fought in many battles including Lookout Mountain, Bull Run, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Yorktown, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Antietam. Some were killed in action or died from their wounds. Others died as prisoners of war at Libby, Belle Isle, and Andersonville Prisons.
In June 1864 U.S. Sanitary Commission held a fair Pittsburgh to collect money and much needed supplies for Union soldiers. According to local historian Margo Mong, the marble monument, worth more than $2,000 was a premium, “to be given to the County of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio or Virginia, which shall contribute the largest aggregate in proportion to its population.” to the Soldiers and Sailors Sanitary Fair. Venango County made the greatest effort for the monument and won the marble shaft. South Park in Franklin, the county seat, was chosen for the site. The Civil War Monument was dedicated in September 1866 in a ceremony attended by an estimated crowd of 10,000.
Two famous generals are among those whose names are on the Monument. Prior to the Civil War Major General Jesse L. Reno had earned a reputation as a “soldier’s soldier,” often fighting beside his troops without a sword or any sign of his rank. During the Battle of South Mountain as Reno reconnoitered the Confederate position at Fox’s Gap he was shot in the chest by a Confederate sharpshooter and died soon after. A brave and heroic leader, Brigadier General Alexander Hays fought at the Battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Savage’s Station, and Malvern Hill His leadership enabled his division to break the final charge of Pickett’s men at Gettysburg. He was killed in action at the Battle of the Wilderness. After the long war ended, Venango County erected one of the first monuments to pay tribute to those who fought and gave their lives for the Union.
Preservation of the Monument
Franklin Preservation first began working towards the preservation of the Civil War Monument in 1988 when members noticed that some of the names of the soldiers inscribed on the monument were fading and becoming difficult to read. Working with the City of Franklin and Venango County, we commissioned five bronze plaques containing the names that were inscribed on the Monument. The plaques were installed on the base of the Monument in July 1990 after a dedication ceremony held on Independence Day.
In the fall of 2012 Franklin Preservation embarked on a mission to further preserve this county landmark. In 2013 with a matching grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources via a community partnership program with the Oil Region Alliance, we engaged Conservation Solutions, Inc. to conduct an assessment of the of the Monument to determine what should be done to preserve it.
In the following three years, thanks to many donations from the community, Franklin Preservation raised $40,000 and was awarded a $20,000 Keystone Preservation Construction Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the restoration of the Monument. In May 2016 a team of professional conservators from Conservation Solutions cleaned, repaired and stabilized the Civil War Monument. The goal of the conservation treatments was the least aggressive methods to best preserve the Monument for the future. The conservators applied the following treatments.
- The brownstone and marble surfaces were gently cleaned to remove stains and biological soiling
- All joints in the marble monument and the sandstone base were repointed using mortar, appropriate to the strength of the stone and tinted with alkali stable mineral pigments to color match the original mortar or color of the stone.
- The foundation of the Monument was repaired. The voids between the foundation stones and the base were filled with local replacement rubble stone. Loose and failed mortar was removed from the joints and new mortar was installed to fill the space between the foundation stones and base to seal out water.
- The marble of the eagle at the top of the Monument was found to have the most deterioration and consolidation treatment was applied to the eagle’s talons, beak, and bottom section of the right wing.
On Memorial Day 2016 Franklin Preservation held a re-dedication ceremony for the Civil War Monument to celebrate the restoration and to mark the 150th anniversary of the Venango County Civil Wat Monument.