Soldiers & Sailors Monument

Historic Plaza

The Indiana Soldiers & Sailors Monument, located on Monument Circle in the center of downtown Indianapolis, has come to symbolize both the state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis. Originally designed to honor the memory of Indiana's Civil War veterans, it now commemorates the valor of all Indiana military men and women serving in all wars prior to World War I, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War. Since its dedication in 1902, the monument has stood as a tribute to the past and an inspiration for the future as the only Civil War Monument of its size in America dedicated to the common soldiers and sailors. Although Indiana was geographically a border state during the Civil War, almost seventy-five percent of the state's eligible men served in the Union army, a higher percentage than every other state except Delaware. More than 24,000 Hoosiers gave their lives to preserve the Union.


Closed Friday 11/8-9/2013 -

      Circle of Lights Install

Open Monday 11/11/2013 -

      Veterans Day

       10:30am - 5:30pm

Closed Thursday 11/28/2013 -


Closed Friday 11/29/2013 -

      Lincoln's Birthday



Monument Circle

The circle on which the monument sits was originally laid out for the Governor's Mansion, which was completed in 1827. However, the mansion was never occupied by a Hoosier governor, and was torn down in 1857, at which point the circle became a city park. In 1862, long before the Civil War ended, a letter to the editor in the Indianapolis Daily Journal suggested that the state build a monument to recognize "all from Indiana who fell in defense of the Union." Governor Oliver P. Morton suggested the same in 1867. After the war, Indiana's veterans and their families and friends recognized the need to erect a memorial to their fallen comrades. Finally, in 1887, the state legislature made a grant of $200,000 and appointed a Monument Commission. A competition for architects was held to submit designs for the proposed monument. Of the 70 different designs submitted from all over the world, Bruno Schmitz, an architect from Berlin, Germany, was declared the winner in early 1888. The result of these efforts was the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, the largest and grandest of its type ever built in the United States, which was dedicated on Monument Circle on May 15, 1902.

Monument Exterior

Directly above the south doors is the Roll of Honor commemorating Indiana's contributions to the War for the Union (1861-1865) and the War with Spain (1898). The motto 'To Indiana's Silent Victors' appears just above the roll and below the head of Victory. Flanking the entrance are freestanding figures of a Civil War cavalry scout on the right and an infantryman on the left. Each figure was carved from a single block of limestone. The round stone medallions on either side of the doorway are Corps badges that represent the several corps of the Union Army.

Above the door on the north elevation is a second Roll of Honor commemorating Indiana's contributions to the War with Mexico (1846-1848), the Indian and British War (1811-1812), including the Battle of Tippecanoe, the War of the Revolution, including the capture of Vincennes from the British on February 25, 1779, and the Mexican Border Service of 1916. As on the south elevation, above the tablet is the head of Victory with the motto 'To Indiana's Silent Victors.' The entrance is flanked by figures of a Civil War artilleryman on the left and a sailor on the right, as well as carved stone Corps badges.

The east and west sides of the monument feature large cascading fountains in which over 5,000 gallons of water flow per minute. Directly above the east fountain is The Dying Soldier group, designed by Rudolf Schwarz, who was responsible for all the monument's stone sculptures. Above The Dying Soldier, on the main part of the monument, is the statuary group War, which features a battle scene with cavalry, infantry, and artillery. In the center, the fierce goddess of war urges on the charge, while winged Victory in the background holds the stars and stripes.

Just above the west cascade fountain sits The Return Home sculpture, portraying the happy reunion of a returning soldier with his family. The sculptural group Peace, above The Return Home, represents the homecoming of the victorious troops, the reunion of families, and the implements of peaceful labor. In the center, the figure of Liberty holds the flag with the Shield of Union, while at her feet a freed slave lifts up his broken chains. Winged Victory hovers over the scene holding aloft the wreath of victory and the olive branch of peace.


The crowning figure of the monument is the statue Victory, designed by George W. Brewster of Cleveland, Ohio. This cast bronze triumphant allegorical female figure stands thirty-eight feet tall, including the eight-foot globe on which she stands, and weighs 20,900 pounds. According to the original commissions report, "Her right hand holds a sword, the point of which rests upon the globe, and symbolizes the army to which victory was due, while in her left hand she holds aloft a torch, emblematic of the light of civilization. The young eagle perched lightly upon her brow is typical of the freedom resulting from triumph and light."


Seventy feet above the base of the monument is the Army astragal. This bronze sculpture, designed by Nicolaus Geiger of Germany, represents the carnage of war, with cannons, horses, flags, and fallen soldiers. The Army astragal contains the Seal of the State of Indiana on the north side, and the Shield of the United States of America on the south side. Twelve feet higher is the Navy astragal. The ships' bows at the corners are modeled on the Civil War steam frigate USS Hartford, the Union fleet's flagship on the Mississippi and at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. At the center of the Navy astragal on the south side is a bust of a naval officer, while the north side features a common sailor at its center. The east and west faces of the astragal feature ironclad and monitor warships. George W. Brewster designed both the Navy astragal and the bronze Date astragal 80 feet above. The dates 1861 on the south and east sides and 1865 on the north and west sides commemorate the start and end of the Civil War.

Monument Circle Statues

On the northwest quadrant of Monument Circle stands a bronze statue of General George Rogers Clark, representing Indiana's role in the American Revolution. Clark's capture of Fort Sackville at Vincennes ensured the transfer of the Northwest Territory, containing the future states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to the United States at the end of the Revolutionary War. In the northeast quadrant is a bronze statue of William Henry Harrison, commanding General during the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812, and the first Governor of Indiana Territory. In the southwest quadrant is Franklin Simmons' bronze statue of Oliver P. Morton, Indiana's Great War Governor during the Civil War and a major supporter of building a Civil War Monument. In the southeast quadrant of the monument grounds is a bronze statue of James Whitcomb, Indiana's Governor during the Mexican War.

Monument Interior

In the lower level, accessible by a door on the southwest side of the monument, is the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. The museum portrays Indiana's contributions to the American Civil War from home front to battlefield. Exhibits include aspects of camp life, marching into battle, the battlefield, hospitals and medicine, prisoner of war camp, and the return of soldiers home. In the upper level, accessed by the main door on the south side of the monument, is the Gift Shop, where visitors can purchase gifts and tickets to ride the elevator to the observation level.

Tower and Observation Deck

The observation deck, 231 feet above the balcony level, is enclosed in glass and can be reached by elevator or 330 iron stairs. The view from the top provides a dramatic panorama of the city in all four directions. The stairs and elevator are accessible from the balcony level.


  • locate

    1 Monument Circle,
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

  • hours

    Friday - Sunday
    10:30am - 5:30pm

  • cost

    Free Admission
    Open to Public