The 140-year-old Civil War Sentry Monument at Cedar Hill Cemetery is in need of a facelift. 

Battered by the forces of Mother Nature and the passage of Father Time, the Union soldier that overlooks Fredericksburg is weathered and needs a new support system at its base. 

“It’s been there for 140 years, is starting to show signs of wear and it needs to be restored,” said John Klahr, president of Cedar Hill Cemetery Association. “We feel it is important to remember those who served the Union in the Civil War and that is why we’re doing this project.”

The nonprofit cemetery association seeks the community’s assistance to make this project a reality. The total price tag for the restoration project is $120,000.  

“I think that will be the biggest challenge,” said Klahr about fund-raising efforts. “We have some people who have committed to do the form work for the concrete preparation, skilled people who will do that. We also have a local concrete company that said they will donate some concrete for it as well. There are local artisans who have volunteered to help us, so that is a big deal. The challenge is to raise the money to have the work done.”

The lion’s share of the cost will be disassembling the statue into five sections, shipping it via a semi-tractor trailer and restoring it at McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory in Oberlin, Ohio, which is nearly six hours and 400 miles from Lebanon County. Klahr said the cemetery association plans to have the work performed late fall/early winter. 

“This is skilled work,” added Klahr. “You can’t just take this thing down and have it taken to a local machine shop to do. It’s not that easy.”

All soldiers of the Civil War era, who hail from Bethel Township, are honored at the monument located in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Fredericksburg, including this sailor who would have guarded the East Coast during the war. (James Mentzer)

Klahr said there are cracks in the pedestal that will be fixed and a stainless steel frame will be constructed to put inside the hollow cast zinc structure to bear the weight of the 22-foot statue. While the statue is away being repaired, other on-site work will occur.  

“While that (steel frame) is being made, the local cemetery association will be putting a new concrete base down, that’s a reinforced concrete base to their specifications, so that when they come back and set the monument back up, it will be on concrete,” said Klahr about the statue that was erected in 1884. “Right now, it is basically sitting on bricks that people used in their homes as a foundation. So it will have a much more solid base.”

Another renovation is the straightening of the sentry since the statue is currently leaning backwards due to its foot plate having shifted over time.  

“It needs quite an overhaul, so that is everything that they are going to do,” added Klahr who noted that graffiti etched into the statue will be removed while it’s in Ohio.

A picture of Union Gen. Philip Sheridan is depicted on the Cedar Hill Cemetery’s sentry statue. (James Mentzer)

A news article from June 2, 1884, in the Lebanon Daily Times sheds some light on the statue’s significance. 

The article states that the white bronze statue, which was dedicated on May 30, 1884, and paid for by local business magnate and Fredericksburg native Col. John H. Lick, was built to honor “the dead soldiers of Bethel Township” and is “a splendid work of art.” 

“We call it the Sentry Monument because it is a sentry standing on post,” said Klahr. “It’s a lone soldier standing his post and looking out over the village of Fredericksburg. While everybody else sleeps, he’s in the rain, he’s in the weather. He’s the lone soldier that marched while everyone else that was famous rode on a horse or in a wagon. He was the one who walked into battle, he faced it. It is the everyday common soldier, or sailor or marine of the time.” 

Cemetery association treasurer Rita Christ said Cedar Hill was created in 1869 and the first person interred in 1870. After the statue was added in 1884, families were given the option to re-inter their loved ones who were veterans in the cemetery near the statue or throughout the cemetery. 

The symbol of the Grand Army of the Republic adorns the 140-year-old Sentry Monument at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Fredericksburg. (James Mentzer)

Thirteen graves that lie in proximity to the monument are posted with GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) or Soldier and Sailor markers, and the seven currently occupied acres contain the remains of 56 Civil War veterans, according to Christ.

“If you study the history of Fredericksburg, you’ll find that people were more than willing to fight for their rights,” said Christ. “Families were approached and asked if graves could be moved so that there could be a memorial area, and some of them agreed to it.” 

The headstone in memory of Civil War veteran John K. Darkes, which sits near the sentry statue, says the 33-year-old lost his left leg from a cannonball during the Battle of Weldon Railroad. Darkes passed away on Feb. 15, 1877, and as noted on his headstone he lived to be “aged 43 years, six months and 19 days.”  

An internet search reveals that the Battle of the Weldon Railroad (or Globe Tavern) was fought Aug. 18-21, 1864, and provided the key element of Union General-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant’s fourth offensive during the Petersburg Campaign of the American Civil War. 

The Cedar Hill Cemetery Association’s fundraising logo shows where tax deductible gifts can be sent to support the $120,000 restoration project. (Submitted photo)

It’s evident when viewing the statue that much thought was put into what would be inscribed on it.

Two separate sides contain the names of battles local residents fought during the Civil War, including Antietam, Wilderness, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Winchester, Petersburg, Five Forks, Atlanta, Vicksburg, New Orleans, Hampton Roads, Island No. 10, Charlestown, Mobile and Savannah. The front of the statue, near the bottom, has the singular word “Gettysburg” inscribed in large, bold letters.

Christ said that two individuals buried in the cemetery lost their lives at Gettysburg. Considered by historians to be the bloodiest battle on American soil, up to 10,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died there and another 30,000 were wounded. 

Other prominent markings feature a side portrait of President Abraham Lincoln, a sailor and an anchor to honor those who served offshore during the war, and Gen. Philip Sheridan on horseback (the latter is identified in the 1884 newspaper article). Another marking depicts the GAR’s symbol, which features an eagle atop two crossed cannon barrels and cannonballs that are above a 13-star Union flag, which sits over the GAR star.

Two of the more notable symbols on the statue are an inscription that reads: “To the brave defenders of the Union, 1861-1865, by John H. Lick and a poem that pays tribute to those who served their nation.”

“No more the bugle calls the weary one; Rest noble spirit, in the grave unknown. We will find you, we will know you among the good and true. When the robe of white is given for the faded coat of blue.”   

The poem that’s etched into the sentry monument honors those who served the Union forces during the Civil War. (James Mentzer)

Individuals interested in sending a tax deductible gift for this project can mail a check or money order to: Cedar Hill Cemetery Association, P.O. Box 246, Fredericksburg, PA 17026. Please include “Sentry Restoration Project” in the memo line of your check or money order. 

Save the Date: There will also be a fundraiser event to benefit the restoration project on May 1 at the Eagle Hotel in Fredericksburg.

Ten percent of all proceeds from sales at the restaurant between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. that day will be donated to the monument fund. This is the second such event to be held at the restaurant. Christ said the first event raised about $400 of the $120,000 project goal.

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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