Ohio’s American Civil War soldiers and civilians sought to commemorate the troopers’ devotion to and service with the United States by constructing monuments and other memorials.
During the American Civil War, Ohio provided the federal government with 260 regiments of men, including infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. Ohioans also served in several other regiments from other states, most notably from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, as well as in federal units. Almost 330,000 Ohio men, including 5,092 African Americans, served in the Union military during the conflict.
Ohio’s soldiers and civilians sought to commemorate the troopers’ devotion to and service with the United States by constructing monuments and other memorials. Ohioans completed the first of these commemorations during the Civil War, with hundreds more being built after the conflict. Ohioans have built at least 295 monuments to commemorate Civil War veterans, civilians, political leaders, and war-related events in the state. Eighty-six of the state’s eighty-eight counties contain Civil War monuments, with Hamilton County, Lucas County, Lorain County, Brown County, and Franklin County each boasting ten or more memorials each. Only Clinton County and Noble County do not contain Civil War monuments.
In 1891, West Union resident John T. Wilson donated five thousand dollars for the construction of a monument to commemorate the men from Adams County, Ohio who died during the Civil War. Wilson recruited Company E of the 70th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and arose to the rank of captain in the Union military. He died in 1891, before completion of the memorial. The monument was dedicated on June 10, 1893 in a ceremony presided over by John A. Cockerill, one of Wilson's close friends.
At its base, the monument is ten feet four inches square. The memorial is fifty feet five inches tall, including a six-foot tall statue of a soldier at parade rest on the monument's top. The memorial includes a bust of Wilson near the base and includes the following inscription: "In memory of the soldiers of Adams County Ohio who were killed or died during the War of the Late Rebellion. Hon. John T. Wilson's Tribute to the Soldiers 1861 – 1865." Merkle Staniland designed the monument.
The monument was placed in front of the Adams County Children's Home, which Wilson helped establish with a forty-six thousand dollar donation, at the location of today's West Union Town Square at 300 North Wilson Drive. The memorial is in good condition and is owned by and preserved by the Adams County Commissioners.