Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brown University Memorials - Two Wars

University Hall at Brown University
University Hall.  Plaque is located at lower left.
In two buildings adjacent to each other on the Brown University campus are memorials to Brown students, alumni, and faculty who participated in the American Revolution and the Civil War.

The Revolutionary War plaque hangs on the back wall of University Hall and reads as follows:

The Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution commemorates by this tablet the occupation of this building by the patriot forces, and their French allies, during the Revolutionary War.  For six years all academic exercises in this university were suspended.  Faculty, students, and graduates, almost to a man, were engaged in the service of their country.  May all who read this inscription be stimulated by their example to respond as loyally to their country's call.::::::::::::::::::::::"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Erected 1897

Revolutionary War Plaque on University Hall
The Latin quote is from Horace, and can be translated as:  "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country."

I was most impressed by the idea that Brown, which had only been founded in 1764, shut down during the War because most of the students and faculty (and the alumni, who were all still under 30) were otherwise engaged.  Hard to imagine this happening today!

Worth noting that the architect for University Hall was a member of the Brown family--Joseph Brown.  He also designed the John Brown House, the Joseph Brown House, the First Baptist Church, and Market House by the river.

Manning Hall at Brown University
Manning Hall; University Hall is to the right.

Civil War Tablet in Manning Hall
Civil War tablet.
The Civil War tablet hangs inside the back entry at Manning Hall, a beautiful Greek Revival building completed in 1834.  It was paid for by another member of the Brown family, Nicholas Brown, and is an exact model (though 2X the size) of the Temple of Diana-Propylea in Eleusis.  At Nicholas Brown's request, it was named for Brown's first president, James Manning, who was president before, during, and after the Revolution.

The tablet contains a Latin inscription which, loosely translated, means that it was dedicated by Brown students to their brothers who sacrificed their lives on behalf of liberty and the union of the Republic in the Civil War.

Among the alumni and students memorialized here are:

  • Major Sullivan Ballou '52, whose letter to his wife before the First Battle of Bull Run (in which he died) was famously read in Ken Burns' Civil War documentary.  Major Ballou is buried at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence; click here to read my previous post on this topic.
  • Commander Thomas Poynton Ives '54, a grandson of Nicholas Brown. Ives died of pulmonary disease in November, 1865, only a month after he was married, while on leave from the military.  Commander Ives had been captain of The Picket, General Burnside's flagship, during the capture of Roanoke in February, 1862; also on board was Rush Hawkins then a Colonel (click here to read my post about Rush Hawkins and his wife, Annmary Brown)
  • Private Eugene Sanger '64 who served with the 38th Massachusetts volunteers, and died of wounds received in action at Fort Bisland, Louisiana, April 12, 1863.
  • Lieutenant James Peck Brown '67, who had spent only a few months of his freshman year at Brown before taking a commission in the Army, and who died of "congestive chills" in August, 1865, while still on duty in Louisiana.

Illustration Credits and References

Photo of Manning Chapel from Wikipedia Commons, by Chen Si Yuan.

All other photos by author.