The Minnesota Monument, located in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and dedicated to the Civil War soldiers of Minnesota who died in Arkansas, was the first monument erected in Arkansas whose commissioning came from a government outside the state of Arkansas. The monument, also known as “Taps,” is located in the Little Rock National Cemetery at 2523 Springer Boulevard.
During the Civil War, several Minnesota regiments saw service in Arkansas, the Third Minnesota Infantry being one of the first regiments to enter the fallen capital city of Little Rock in 1863. Approximately 162 of those Minnesota soldiers died while serving in Arkansas. Of those, thirty-six are buried in the Little Rock National Cemetery.
In 1913, the Minnesota state legislature established the Minnesota Monument Commission with the mission to construct memorials to their native sons who were buried in southern state national cemeteries. Two years later, funding was appropriated by the legislature to construct monuments in Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee. The monuments in those three states are identical in design.
Award-winning Norwegian-born sculptor John R. Daniels, who immigrated to Minnesota as a young boy, was commissioned to create the monument. The bronze statue itself stands about seven feet tall. The entire monument, Minnesota granite base included, reaches almost sixteen feet tall. The bronze sculpture depicts a lone, bare-headed Union soldier wearing an overcoat and facing east. With a slightly bowed head, he holds his cap in his right hand against his left shoulder, next to his heart. His left hand rests on the butt of his inverted rifle. Below the soldier’s feet, carved on the granite base, are two crossed palm leaves. Below these leaves is an inscription, “Erected A. D. 1916 By The / State of Minnesota / In Memory Of Her Soldiers / Here Buried Who Lost Their Lives / In The Service Of The United States / In The War For The Preservation Of The Union / A. D. 1861–1865.”
The monument was dedicated on the morning of September 22, 1916, during a ceremony that was attended by approximately 100 people. Dignitaries in attendance included Governor George Hays of Arkansas, Governor Joseph Burnquist of Minnesota, four members of the Minnesota Monument Commission, Little Rock mayor Charles Taylor, members of the MacPherson Post No. 1 of the Grand Army of the Republic, and members of the United Confederate Veterans. Among the speeches delivered was one by General Christopher Andrews, one of the officers who commanded Minnesota troops serving in Arkansas during the war.
The monument rests on the grounds of the well-kept national cemetery surrounded by more than 7,000 graves. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 3, 1996.
For additional information:
Fitzharris, Joseph C. The Hardest of Men: The Third Minnesota Infantry in the Civil War. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2019.
Logan, Charles. “Something So Dim It Must Be Holy” Civil War Commemorative Sculpture in Arkansas, 1886–1934. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1997. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed June 26, 2017).
“Minnesota Honors Civil War Heroes.” Arkansas Gazette, September 23, 1916, p. 1.
“Minnesota Monument.” National Register of Historic places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PU5270S.nr.pdf (accessed June 26, 2017).
CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Last Updated: 06/26/2017