The Stovall Monument

5 04 2014

For more on the Stovall monument here. And even more coming eventually, including a familial connection to a fella on the other side.





Stone Bridge with Monument

31 10 2013





Battle Monument Then & Now

29 09 2013





Ulysses S. Grant Memorial

7 02 2012

The setting at the foot of Capitol Hill is magnificent. Up close, the triptych in memory of U. S. Grant (the mounted sculpture of him alone is the second largest equestrian statue in the world) is massive, but set in Union Square between the Capitol and the reflecting pool it shrinks and is strangely isolated – not the impression intended by the Senate Park Commission’s 1902 plan. Sculpted by Henry Merwin Shrady and dedicated in 1922 (the same year as the Lincoln Memorial on the opposite end of the Mall), the bronze work consists of Grant and two tableaux depicting artillery and cavalry, 13 horses in all. It is recognized as the world’s preeminent equestrian sculpture.

You can spend days photographing it.

The content is stark. Not so much symbolism, as in the Meade Memorial, so not much interpretation is needed. War is men and equipment and movement. Movement, terror, and tension abound in the faces and bodies of the animals, troopers and artillerists as they move quickly, desperately, to some unnamed point. And amidst – in fact, above - all the action sits the steady, determined figure of Grant. While the movement is toward the general, his gaze is inexorably fixed on a far off, larger objective. There’s a whole lot to see, but to see all one need do is look. You don’t need a weather vane to know which way the wind blows.

For more on the story of the memorial, I once again refer you to Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, DC, by K. A. Jacob. Below are some shots I took, unfortunately in low resolution, back in June 2011. Here are a few of the longer shots – click on the thumbs for larger images:

     

Next, the central figure:

            

Now let’s take a look at the “left” group (when facing the front of the monument), the Cavalry. I can only suspect that cavalry made a more interesting artistic subject than infantry, given the minimal contribution of the former arm to the outcome of the war – there, the bait is set:

     

And last, the King of Battle:

        

A must see for anyone visiting the capital. Well worth minor pedestrian/car traffic inconvenience.





George Meade Memorial, Washington, DC

1 02 2012

Back in June 2011, I had a chance to do a little sight-seeing in our nation’s capital. While on my way to the Capitol, I came across the memorial to Major General George Gordon Meade between 3rd & 4th Sts. NW on Pennsylvania Ave. OK, I didn’t just happen upon it, I was seeking it out. Meade is a favorite of mine – I think he gets the short end of the stick, memory-wise. But his statue is as glorious as it is touching (click for a larger image):

Here’s the message in the pavement:

There was a trio of young adults from somewhere south of the border who asked me to take their photo in front of the statue. I suspect they just thought it was a cool sculpture - and it is - but who knows? Maybe they knew exactly who Meade was.

Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, DC, by K. A. Jacob is a wonderfully written and illustrated book that I highly recommend for anyone touring the city. It tells me that the Meade memorial was sculpted by Charles Grafly out of marble and was dedicated in 1927, after 12 years of bickering over the design. Meade and seven other figures circle the memorial. Loyalty and Chivalry lift the mantle of war from Meade’s shoulders, “as he strides confidently toward the future.” In the rear of the memorial, which I did not photograph for some reason which I photographed 7/22/2013, the winged figure of War stands with his back to the General, glaring into the past. You can see the wings framing the symbol of the Army of the Potomac above Meade’s head in my photo. Making up the rest of the total of eight figures are Energy, Fame, Progress and Military Courage. War strikes a less imposing figure now than he did in 1927: his smallish nose is a replacement for a more brutal one that broke off years ago.

557652_10200467468391515_2137418982_n

Meade was originally installed in front of and to the north of the massive U. S. Grant memorial at the base of the Capitol. In 1969, it was dismantled to allow for construction under the mall, and was stored away for 14 years before being reassembled in 1983 in its current location to the northwest. Ms. Jacob describes the significance of the new site’s perspective:

Meade looks out onto Pennsylvania Avenue to the spot that marked one of his proudest days. At nine o’clock on the morning of May 23, 1865, Meade rode down the avenue on his garlanded horse at the head of the Army of the Potomac as the leader of the Grand Review of troops. As he passed, the enormous throng picked up the chant of the Pennsylvanians in the crowd, “Gettysburg, Gettysburg, Gettysburg!”





Matthews Hill Trail and a Bonus

15 07 2008

Craig over at To the Sound of the Guns has posted a great photo tour of the Matthews Hill Trail at Manassas Battlefield Park.  Check it out.  Thanks, Craig, for all the fine work you do.  But as often happens with thread pulling, this three sentence post has turned into something different.  (Follow the links please; this ain’t yer gandpa’s blog.)

Craig’s photo essay includes a shot of the George T. Stovall monument (see below, courtesy of Craig – notice that WordPress has prettied up our photos, but they’ve added some glitches to the image posting process).  I found this interesting tidbit, which sheds some light on how life continued on for those left behind.  George’s sister Louisa petitioned the court to appoint her husband trustee of railroad stock and four slaves in the wake of the death of the former trustee (George) and of her father who had originally bequeathed the duty to George.  It’s most interesting I think in light of the fact that the petition was granted on May 4, 1865!  Remember that Jefferson Davis was not captured until six days later, on May 10, near Irwinville, GA.  At least until then, it appears to have been business as usual in the courts of Georgia.

George T. Stovall Marker Detail

George T. Stovall Marker Detail

 

 





Manassas National Battlefield Park Photos April 2004

7 06 2008

 

I shot these in April 2004 with a very cheap camera - cannons are representative (click on the thumbs for larger image):

One of Ricketts’ Guns – Henry House Hill

One of Ricketts\' Guns

Battle Monument – Henry House Hill

Battle Monument

Jackson’s Artillery Line – Henry House Hill

Jackson\'s Artillery Line

Jackson Monument – Henry House Hill

Jackson Monument I

Jackson Monument II

Jackson Monument II

Griffin’s Guns – Henry House Hill, 2nd Position

Griffin\'s Guns

Original Sudley Road Trace South of Visitor’s Center

Sudley Road Trace

Stone Bridge over Bull Run

Stone Bridge





The Battle Monument

9 02 2007

br1monu.JPG

I took this photo of the First Bull Run monument in April 2005.  This monument sits hard by the reconstructed Henry house.  Here’s how close – click on the thumbnail to view the full size image:

004-henry-house.JPG

According to Harper’s Weekly for July 1, 1865:

The battle of Bull Run was the first great battle of the war.  It was proper that upon the field where it was fought should be erected the first monuments.  The movement to erect such monuments on the field was quite impromptu.  The idea was conceived by Lieutenant Callum, of the Sixteenth Massachusetts Light Battery, and under his superintendence the structures were erected in four days, being completed June 10.  The next day, the 11th, was chosen for the observance of appropriate dedicatory ceremonies.  The party engaging in the performance of these services set out from Washington on an early train.  In the President’s car were several distinguished officers, among whom were Generals Heintzelman, Meigs, Wilcox [sic], and Benham.  One who accompanied the expedition gives the following account of the proceedings of the day:

“Arrived at Fairfax Station, about fifty ambulances and a large number of army wagons, tastefully shaded by evergreens, were found to have been placed in readiness by General Gamble, in command of that post, to convey the party to the battle-field.  The morning was lowery, the air rather chilly, and the prospect of a pleasant trip rather unfavorable; but at ten o’clock the sun had dispelled the sombre clouds, and gave to nature a bright and cheerful aspect.

“The ride from the station to Fairfax Courthouse, and thence to the battle-field, was delightful; and as the long procession moved over the hills and through the valleys of this once fertile now desolate region, all appeared to be deeply impressed with the interesting scene and the solemn occasion.

“Passing Centreville at about ten o’clock, we arrived at Bull Run bridge but a few minutes before eleven.  About three-fourths of a mile beyond the bridge, on the hill, is the site of the first monument.  Arrived at the spot we found Colonel Gallup, with his regiment of the Fifth Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, dismounted, a squadron of the Eight Illinois Cavalry, and Captain Scott’s battery of the Sixteenth Massachusetts Light Artillery drawn up in line near the monument, with a fine brass band at their head.  Soon afterward the band struck up a solemn dirge, and the troops, with reversed arms, marched up to the monument.  A most impressive prayer and the solemn burial-service of the Episcopal Church was then read by Rev. Dr. McMurdy, specially invited to officiate on the occasion.  A hymn, written for the occasion by the poet Pierpont, was sung, a salvo fired by the artillery, and addresses by Judge Olin, Generals Wilcox [sic], Farnsworth, and Heintzelman, closed the exercises.”

Below is the engraving that accompanied the story, and also two LOC photos from the event.  (Click on the thumbnails to view the full size pictures.)  You can see how both photos were used as a basis for the engraving.  In the center of the middle photo, the short officer in the kepi is Samuel Heintzelman; on his left is Orlando Willcox.  The gentleman in the top hat in center of the last photo is District of Columbia Supreme Court Judge Abraham Olin. 

 

battle-bull-run-monument_picture2.jpgbrmonument.jpgbrmonument2.jpg

The article goes on to mention that much of the party then proceeded to Groveton, where another, similar monument was dedicated to the memory of the soldiers who fell in the Second Battle of Bull Run.  Interestingly, the author notes that the monument on Henry Hill is about twenty feet in height, and is a pointed column, built of red sandstone ornamented with 100-pound elongated shells.  This shaft will not, we are inclined to believe, last many years.  It bears on its surface the inscription, “Erected to the memory of the patriots who fell at Bull Run, July 21, 1861.” 

Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the American Civil War, in Vol. II of which yet another photo of the dedication is plate #100, states that both monuments are of chocolate colored sandstone, twenty-seven feet high, and were erected by the officers and men of General Gamble’s separate cavalry brigade, camped at Fairfax Court-House. The Monument on the first Bull Runfield is situated on the hill in front of the memorable stone house, on the spot where the 14th Brooklyn, 1st Michigan, and 1st and 2d Maine were most hotly engaged, and where Ricketts and Griffin lost their batteries. The shaft is twenty-seven feet high, and bears upon its top a hundred pound shell. On the pedestal at each corner is a shell of similar size. On one side of the shaft is inscribed, “To the memory of the patriots who fell at Bull Run, July 21st, 1861,” and on the reverse, “Erected June 10th, 1865”.





We Got Us the Movin’ Pitchers!

9 11 2006

OK, here’s another challenge…insert a Youtube video into a post.  I got the instructions from WordPress’ FAQ.  You need to insert the url for the video between two pretty simple tags.

Mannie Gentile, the happiest ranger in the NPS and host of My Year of Living Rangerously, sent me this video he made of the Jackson monument.  You may need to click the big arrow twice.  Take a gander:





Body by Balco?

8 11 2006

Jackson 4 

Jim Burgess is the Museum Specialist at Manassas National Battlefield Park, and he is one of the many folks I’ve come across in the NPS who goes the extra mile to help out strangers.  I was put in contact with Jim by John Hennessy down in Fredericksburg after asking John about a relatively obscure listing in his order of battle for BR1, and together I think Jim and I solved something of a mystery while uncovering another, but more on that in a later post.  I sent Jim a note on Monday asking if he had any info on the dedication of the Jackson monument on the battlefield and, as I knew he would, he came through for me yesterday.  The following summary of how the monument came to be has been gleaned from the information Jim sent me and from the e-book “Battling for Manassas” by Joan Zenzen.

At the 75th Anniversary reenactment on July 21, 1936, a suggestion was made to erect a monument more suitable than the “poorly lettered” sign then marking the site of Jackson’s line.  When the Sons of Confederate Veterans conveyed the Henry Farm to the US government on March 19, 1938, the deed included a condition for the erection of a monument to Jackson by the State of Virginia.  Also as part of the negotiations with the SCV, the Park Service  pledged to construct what is now the visitor’s center.  These two projects effectively established the national park.

In 1939, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (after the usual wrangling with a national arts commission) chose Joseph P. Pollia (1894-1954) to sculpt the Jackson statue.  Pollia was Italian born but trained in Boston, and had previously sculpted a memorial on San Juan Hill in Cuba and a statue of Phil Sheridan.  An early model of the statue was criticized by Confederate organizations because they felt the features of the rider more closely resembled US Grant, and that the horse looked more like a plow horse than a prize mount (that is, more like Little Sorrel than Cincinnati?).  Pollia changed his design.

After casting at the Bedy-Rassi Foundry in New York City, the statue was trucked to the park where it arrived on July 14, 1940.  The State of Virginia appropriated $25,000 for the artwork and paid $22,500 to Pollia.  On August 31, 1940, more than 1,500 people gathered for the dedication, and were reminded by Douglas Southall Freeman in his keynote speech that “Jackson’s use of discipline and vigorous training…would serve current military commanders well.”

Even though I am a thoroughly unreconstructed Union man, I’ve loved this monument from the day I first laid eyes on it.  It reminded me of so many of the drawings in the Stan Lee Marvel Comics of my youth – this Jackson is impossibly muscular, like The Incredible Hulk.  In fact, this Jackson achieved a state of muscular development not seen in real live human beings until the mid 1980′s.  The dude is ripped!  And so is his horse (supposed to be “Little Sorrell” – not likely).  Striated glutes!  The horse has striated glutes!  Jackson’s diamond shaped calves are easily discernible through his heavy leather riding boots.  And his chest!  (See the banner at the top of this page.) Obviously ‘ol Blue Light spent his down time at Harper’s Ferry that spring doing lots of bench presses from various angles, dumbbell flys, and cable crossovers.  But I suspect he (and Little Sorrel) had some help.  And on my last visit to the park, I found something that comfirmed my suspicion. 

On the west side fo the monument’s black granite base are etched the immortal (if possibly ambiguous) words of Brigadier General Barnard Bee, uttered before his mortal wounding: “There Stands Jackson Like a Stone Wall.”  Everyone can see these words.  They face the visitor’s center.  Fewer folks walk to the east side of the monument, and fewer still stoop low enough to read the small inscription nearly at ground level:

“Saved the day for the Confederacy in 1861, also hit 78 home runs with 207 RBI in a secession shortened season.”

And at the end of the inscription, in a brighter etching obviously made recently:

An asterisk.








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