Rockland, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Only a few were aware of 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville. May 3, 1863 was the second bloodiest day of the American Civil War. Major General Hiram Berry, the highest ranking Maine soldier killed during the war, met his end on that day.
His demise afforded an opportunity for a Maine man he never met. Franklin Simmons was chosen to do a life-sized sculpture of Berry. It stands today at Berry's grave in the Acorn Cemetery in Rockland.
Berry was a Rockland contractor, legislator and mayor. He went to war as the Colonel of the famed 4th Maine Regiment. They were made up of mid-coast men from the greater Rockland area and they called themselves the 'Fighting Tigers."
They fought with distinction at 1st Bull Run. Berry was promoted to brigade command and given a Brigadier General's star. At the Battle of Williamsburg, the 4th found itself in a bad situation. Berry's brigade came out of the woods just in time to save the day and the 4th.
Hooker noted Berry's abilities. Berry was promoted to Major General, a second star and given command of Hooker's old Division.
At Chancellorsville, Berry was killed by a sharpshooter at about 7:30 in the morning of May 3rd.
A Portland lawyer, John Neal, who was considered America's first art critic, recommended to the Berry family that they cho0se the young Berry to sculpt a statue of the General.
It was the first major work for the young Bates graduate. He moved to Washington where he did a number of major pieces including Civil War leaders Lincoln, Grant and Sherman.
He spent the rest of his life in Rome where he died in 1913. He is buried at the Protestant Cemetery of Rome.
Maine State Historian Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr. will speak on the life of Franklin Simmons this Wednesday night at the Maine State Archives in Augusta. That even is scheduled for 6:30.