The Andersonville boy at the Connecticut State Capitol


ANDERSONVILLE BOY
State Capitol Grounds
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT

Dedicated: ca.October 23, 1907
Type: Bronze figure on pink granite base
Architect: R.C. Sturgis
Sculptor: Bela Pratt
Foundry: Henry Bonnard Bronze Company
Height: 6', 11"

Historical Significance

ANDERSONVILLE BOY, State Capitol Grounds, Hartford, is significant historically because it memorializes the many Connecticut prisoners of war who suffered and died at the Andersonville, Georgia, prison/hospital. "Andersonville" is found on many Connecticut Civil War monuments along with battle names. ANDERSONVILLE MEMORIAL GUN, Norwich, was an early (1866) recognition of the suffering and loss that occurred at the prison.

The General Assembly provided $6,000 for a Connecticut monument at the Andersonville National Cemetery. A specific location at Andersonville was chosen in May 1906. Pratt's sculpture was selected, cast in September 1907, and dedicated at Andersonville October 23, 1907, with an official Connecticut delegation present. This second casting was dedicated on the State Capitol grounds at about the same time, for an additional cost of $2,000.

Artistic Significance

ANDERSONVILLE BOY is significant artistically because it is the work of Bela Pratt and a professional architect. Bela Lyon Pratt (1867-1917), born in Norwich, Connecticut, at age 16 entered the Yale School of Fine Arts. Later he studied with Augustus Saint-Gaudens and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He lived in Boston from 1892 to his death. Nationally famous, he is renowned in Connecticut for his statue of Nathan Hale.

ANDERSONVILLE BOY is realistic in mien, rather than idealistic or allegorical, exemplifying the American interpretation of monumental figures as pioneered with great success by Saint-Gaudens. The young man is convincing in appearance, stance, and details. But aside from the lack of equipment and weapons, there seems to be little that identifies his terrible ordeal as a prisoner at Andersonville. No sense of tragedy or suffering is portrayed by the figure. Trinity College's "Hartford's Outdoor Sculpture" quotes, without source, the statement that the young man "portrays a Union soldier with dejected but unconquered mien." Perhaps the effect is in the eyes of the beholder.

R.C. Sturgis of Boston is named but not otherwise identified by the Trinity catalog as the architect of the well-proportioned exedra bench design for which the statue and pedestal are the central vertical element. The design works well, providing a complementary environment for the sculpture without competing with it for interest. Unfortunately, the effect envisioned by the architect has been destroyed by over-large shrubs that obscure the terminal piers of the half circle. It is not known whether R.C. Sturgis was related to Russell Sturgis (1838-1909), editor in chief of the 1901-02 Dictionary of Architecture and Building.

Henry Bonnard Bronze Company was a well-known New York City art foundry.

Description

ANDERSONVILLE BOY is a bronze figure of a soldier, without accoutrements or weapons, which stands on a pink granite pedestal. The pedestal is the central element in an exedra composition of benches and terrace. The monument is located on the grounds southwest of the State Capitol, toward the Legislative Office Building. It is dedicated to Connecticut men who suffered in Confederate military prisons.

A half-round terrace of the pink granite--the color associated with Stony Creek, Connecticut, quarries--is bordered by benches formed of slabs of the same stone, which are supported by low piers. Tall piers that terminate the half circle of the exedra are overwhelmed and visually obliterated by evergreen shrubbery. The central pedestal consists of base, dado, and top. Each section is tapered and the upper two are smaller than the sections below them, accentuating the diminution of the mass as it rises. The Seal of Connecticut is raised above the lettering on the front.

The figure is a young man dressed in what most Union infantrymen wore throughout the conflict: sack coat open at the collar, trousers, brogans, and forage cap (but lacking musket and accoutrements). He stands with his left foot forward, and holds his kepi in his left hand. Clean shaven and wearing a short haircut, he looks straight ahead. The youth of this soldier, who appears to be in his twenties, also is accurate, as contrasted to the greater age of soldiers depicted by many monuments.

Several statues and monuments are located in the grounds of the State Capitol. See PETERSBURG EXPRESS. Others are recorded in the work of Save Outdoor Sculpture! Connecticut at the Connecticut Historical Commission.