ATTLEBORO — The flag-bearer atop the city’s Civil War monument was restored nearly to his original glory by the end of day on Monday.
Restoration experts from Skylight Studios of Woburn worked through 90-degree heat and high humidity on the first day of what could be a three-week project, and former city councilor and chairman of the committee in charge of the effort, Frank Cook couldn’t have been happier with the result.
“It’s down to the original material,” he said of the Union soldier immortalized in bronze. “You can actually see the stars on the flag.”
Instead of the pitted, green patina it acquired over years of neglect, the bronze flag-bearer is now back to his original dark brown luster and stood shining in the summer sun.
Once the project is done, it will look even better, Cook said.
For Cook, the effort to get the 110-year-old monument restored began around 2005 and has finally ended 13 years later, a span three times the length of the Civil War.
“I’ve been waiting a long time for this. I’m glad to see it underway,” Cook said.
The Civil War bathed the nation in the blood of more than 600,000 dead soldiers, North and South, during its four years of carnage from 1861 to 1865.
Another 400,000 were wounded bringing military casualties to more than 1 million in the war which eradicated the ugly, brutal and bloody institution of slavery pushing the nation closer to its ideal expressed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”
Approximately 400 men from Attleboro were called to arms during the Civil War. Of that number, at least 45 died in service.
The 35-foot-high granite and bronze monument, which was built at a cost of $8,490 in 1908, was originally erected in what is now Gilbert-Perry Square and was moved to Capron Park in 1929.
The restoration will cost the city $44,169.
The cash was appropriated by the city council earlier this year.
Over the years, the 110-year-old monument has been eroded by acid rain and damaged by vandals who stole bronze cannon balls and a bronze sword.
The granite is stained and worn.
When the work is complete, all bronze figures will be restored to their original dark brown color and a protective sealant will be applied.
Missing pieces will be replaced.
The first day of work on the monument took place on the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, a battle which raged from July 1-3, 1863 in Gettysburg, Penn.
Union forces won the three-day battle and turned back the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Robert E. Lee which was bent on wrecking havoc on Northern soil.
Seeing restoration work finally underway is especially gratifying for Cook whose great-grandfather, John Edward Cook, a native of Pennsylvania, took part in the battle at Gettysburg.
Cook’s great-grandfather served in the Union cavalry under Gen. John Buford, whose soldiers were the first to come in contact with Confederate soldiers on July 1, 1863.
Buford won the high ground that day, which was critical to the Union army’s eventual victory in a engagement that, coupled with the victory of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Vicksburg, Miss., on July 4, is often said to have turned the tide of the war.
Almost 50,000 were killed or wounded at Gettysburg. Massachusetts men, including some from Attleboro fought in the battle.
Cook’s great-grandfather, a private, went on to serve as an orderly for Grant and was with him when Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, Cook said.