Year in Review: Renowned sculptor proposes Civil War Memorial to Taneytown

He searched for a decade-and-a-half to find a home for the epic project that combined his profession, sculpting, with his passion, history.

And after some 15 years, renowned sculptor Gary Casteel pitched his idea to construct a National Civil War Memorial to the City of Taneytown Mayor and Council.


The sculptor has been steadfast in declaring his project is not a Confederate monument, but rather a commemoration of a pivotal point in U.S. history. “This project is to honor the individuals both North, South, East or West, of a period of our history that needs to be remembered.”

Early signs suggest the 72-year-old may have found his ever-elusive location.

He first presented his idea to the council Oct. 9. Enthused about the idea, which they suspect will provide an economic boon to their city of about 10,000, the mayor, city manager and most council members packed into a pair of SUVs and drove to Casteel’s studio in Gettysburg on Oct. 25.

The visit, during which the lawmakers ooh’d and aah’ed at Casteel’s sculpted portraits, only served to strengthen the interest of Taneytown’s elected officials.

Taneytown Mayor James McCarron has been involved with the city’s government for 35 years, he told the Times after the idea was proposed, and throughout that time “we’ve tried to figure out ways that we can attract people from Gettysburg to Taneytown because of our Civil War heritage and because of our proximity.

“We’ve never really been able to come up with a good plan, or one that produced results.”

Casteel, too, has struggled to find the right place, having walked away from several municipalities because they lacked historical significance, space to accommodate what will be a monument of considerable size, and proximity to the famous battleground and the Mason-Dixon Line, he said.

Taneytown, by Casteel’s account, meets the proximity and historical significance criteria.

The city is about 15 miles south of Gettysburg and where Union Gen. George Gordon Meade set up headquarters before the Battle of Gettysburg. If Meade had his way more than a century-and-a-half ago, the Battle of Gettysburg may have been known as the Battle of Taneytown, a historian from Gettysburg College told The Baltimore Sun in 2013.

Casteel’s proposed monument is circular and would measure 90-feet in diameter, featuring 10-foot-tall granite walls; north, east, south and west entrances; a symbolic representation of the Mason-Dixon Line and the American Flag flying above Union and Confederate flags.

The sculptor sought input from 30 top American historians, tasking them with selecting the 16 most influential military leaders and the 16 most influential civilians from that period. He’s sculpted a portrait of all 32 historian-chosen Civil War icons.

Casteel has served the ball to the lawmakers court.

“You all are on council for a reason,” he urged his late-October visitors. “You are there because you have something you wish to see accomplished … that’s what we’re doing tonight.

“This is a project that could take Taneytown — she’s already on the map, now we can take Taneytown and do it in bold letters.”


Since the visit, mayor and council have been discussing how to move forward with what McCarron said Nov. 7 could become the “biggest thing to ever happen to Taneytown.”

McCarron instructed city staff to brainstorm properties that could accommodate Casteel’s 5-acre minimum proposal. He also proposed creating a committee to address the proposal moving forward.

Will Taneytown be home to the country’s first National Civil War Memorial?

That answer may come in 2019.