The idea of erecting a monument to commemorate the valor and patriotism of the Union Soldiers and Sailors of Cuyahoga County, State of Ohio, in the War of the Rebellion, from 1861 to 1865, was first proposed by Comrade William J. Gleason at a meeting of Camp Barnett, Soldiers' and Sailors' Society, held in Cleveland, Ohio, on the evening of October 22nd, 1879.
The project was unanimously and enthusiastically approved, whereupon President Charles C. Dewstoe appointed Comrades William J. Gleason, Edward H. Bohm and Joseph B. Molyneaux as the committee.
At a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Soldiers' and Sailors' Union, held at Bedford, June 17, 1886, it was determined that the time had arrived to commence the undertaking, which had for many years been contemplated by that body, of erecting the Memorial that had been authorized by Legislative enactment, accordingly a vote was taken as to the character and style of the structure, and the result was about an equal division as to the desirability of a shaft or a Memorial Hall. Capt. J. B. Molyneaux suggested the happy idea of combining the two plans, by having for a central feature a shaft or column and at the base a Memorial or relic room, which was afterward changed to a tablet room. This suggestion was enthusiastically adopted and the committee was instructed to proceed with the work of preparing plans and construction. Captain Molyneaux introduced a resolution inviting Captain Levi T. Scofield, to prepare plans and designs for the Monument. Captain Scofield declined to accept employment and, later on, the appointment of Chairman of the Committee on Plans: but finally consented to act with the Committee on Plans on condition that the entire Monument Committee would aid in preparing the designs, he agreeing to put their ideas in shape, when furnished, providing they would accept such services without compensation. This was agreed to, and the Committee at once commenced the task. An Act was passed May 5, 1888, appointing a commission of twelve members, to act independently of the County Commissioners. The new Board was unanimously in favor of departing from the stereotyped Soldiers' Monument design, and instead prepared one that would be historical and educational as pertaining to events of the war for the preservation of the Union. The principal features of the exterior of the Monument are four realistic groups of bronze statuary, representing in heroic size the four principal branches of the service: Infantry, Artillery, Cavalry and the Navy; not in the stiff and inartistic attitudes of dress parade, but in fierce conflict, with worn garments to accord, and the supple action of men whose muscles are trained by rushing through brush and swamps to capture breastworks. With this in view it was deemed inappropriate to have for a background to such scenes a building in classical Gothic, Romanesque or other popular style of architecture, but instead to a style made up entirely of military and naval emblems.