"On December 30, 1870, sculptor Martin Milmore was awarded the commission to build the Soldiers and Sailors War Memorial on Flagstaff Hill on Boston Common, winning over fifteen other proposals. The cost was not to exceed $75,000.
"Milmore and his brothers Joseph, Charles and James emigrated from Killmorgan, County Sligo to Boston with their widowed mother in 1851. They apprenticed with local sculptor Thomas Ball and before long their artistic talents were recognized. Martin’s first major piece was the Roxbury Soldiers Memorial (1868) in Forrest Hills Cemetery, followed by the Charlestown Soldiers Memorial (1872) in Winthrop Square.
"But Milmore’s masterpiece was the Soldiers and Sailors monument on the Common. City officials laid the cornerstone in September 1871, and a few months later Milmore moved to Rome, Italy, where he spent the next five years modeling his designs. The shaft of the monument was made of white Maine granite, with pedestals at each of the four corners, upon which stand four bronze figures, representing Peace, History, the Army, and the Navy. At the apex of the monument stood the statue representing America, a woman 'majestically proportioned, clad in a flowing robe, with a crown of thirteen stars upon her head.'
"When it was unveiled in September 1877, 25,000 Civil War veterans marched on a six mile promenade through the city up to Flagstaff Hill on Boston Common.
"The Milmore brothers were part of a robust generation of post-famine Irish immigrants who created some of America's most important Civil War memorials and statues."
For more about Boston's Irish history, read Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish Past, by Michael Quinlin, published by Globe Pequot Press.