The Monumental Circle of Indianapolis: Honoring the Victims of Neglect

At just 2 feet tall and 5 feet wide, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument stands tall in the heart of Indianapolis, Indiana. At 284 and a half feet tall, the monument has become an iconic symbol not only of the city, but of the entire state. It was built to honor those who served in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Border War, and the Spanish-American War. The Indiana World War Memorial and Museum is located just south of the monument and is open Wednesday through Sunday at 9 a.m. The museum showcases a 30,000-square-foot space that displays American military history from the Revolutionary War to the present.

The University Park is also located nearby and is worth visiting. During the Civil War, this land was used as a training camp for Union troops. After the war ended, Indianapolis came together to create a fund to convert it into a park. Camp Morton was another Union military training camp located in what is now known as Herron-Morton Place neighborhood. Before the Civil War, this area served as the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The 36-acre site was bounded by Central Avenue and Talbott, at 19th and 22nd Streets. On February 22, 1862, nearly 3,700 Confederate prisoners began arriving at the camp following the capture of Fort Donelson by the Union and the Battle of Shiloh. Tired of battle, malnourished, poorly dressed during harsh winters, and with infected wounds, disease soon took hold of Camp Morton. The Indianapolis community responded with charity in form of clothing, food, and simple medical care. According to National Park Service records, “Until early 20th century Congress made no effort to establish or identify Confederate burial sites”.

In 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt signed a bill that allocated funds to place headstones on graves of Confederate soldiers buried in cemeteries in North. In 1912 federal government awarded a contract to Van Amringe Granite Company of Boston for construction of 27-foot-tall monument in memory of Confederate soldiers and sailors buried in Greenlawn Cemetery. In 1928 monument was moved to Garfield Park five kilometers south from city center and federal government began process of moving Greenlawn's corpses when city sold plots of land for development. It was also alleged that Governor Updike had signed a contract with leader of Ku Klux Klan C. Stephenson that would allow him to control all federal appointments Updike could obtain. On June 8th monument was removed from its original location. Recognized as one of most outstanding monuments in world structure has come to symbolize both city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is Indiana's official monument to people who served in War of Independence, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Border Wars and Spanish-American War. Semi-cylindrical monuments for Korea and Vietnam which are part of American Legion Mall opened in 1996. The monument is crowned with statue of Victory holding sword in right hand and torch in left hand. For more than century Indianapolis has been known as City of Circle named after Monumental Circle in downtown Indy. So next time you're in downtown Indianapolis try planning visit to Lady Victory to see how monument lights up at night.

Cédric Stimson
Cédric Stimson

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