Then & Now

Photo by Karen Zautyk

Photo by Karen Zautyk

 

Last time, ‘Then & Now’ featured the Old Soldiers Home on Belgrove Drive in Kearny. This week, we focus on the statue of the Civil War infantryman that graced the property in front of the home’s canteen from 1888 until 1933. The Union Army soldier now stands on the opposite side of Belgrove, between the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts. But it’s a duplicate. The original, composed of zinc and white metal, disappeared after the Soldiers’ Home closed in ‘33. Historian Bill Styple found it in 1997, stored in the National Guard Armory in West Orange. As reported in Civil War News, ‘It was brittle and cracked and was missing such pieces as the left hand, part of an arm, musket and accoutrements.’ The Gen. Phil Kearny Memorial Committee raised $35,000 to create a bronze replica. ‘Molds were made of the remaining pieces and were created for missing parts,’ Civil War News said, noting that ‘Styple’s hand, his 1863 Springfield and other items stood in for the originals.’ The new statue was erected, with great ceremony (including Civil War cannons firing from Veterans Field), on Sept. 29, 2007. Today, the soldier views the vista from atop a 7-ton boulder from Gettysburg. 

-Karen Zautyk 

The Observer Staff