Archive for the ‘Civil War’ Category

The War Horse at Virginia Historical Society

The War Horse at the Virginia Historical Society on The Boulevard, Richmond, Va.WHAT: The War Horse at the Virginia Historical Society on The Boulevard, Richmond, Va.

LOCATION: 428 North Boulevard, Museum District.

The bronze horse sculpture is mounted on a six-foot base and surrounded by a high iron fence.ARTIST: Tessa Pullan.

DEDICATION: September 17, 1997.

DESCRIPTION: The bronze horse sculpture is mounted on a six-foot base and surrounded by a high iron fence. The statue stands in front of the Virginia Historical Society on The Boulevard. The War Horse is a memorial to the Civil War horse, designed by Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England, and given to the historical society by Paul Mellon.

An inscription on the granite reads:

In memory of the one and one half million horses and mules of the Confederate and Union armies who were killed, were wounded or died from disease in the Civil War. 

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The first thing most people notice with the statue is the ribs. The horse is intentionally gaunt and overly thin, indicating how difficult it must have been for the dedicated domesticated animals during the Civil War. The best time to see the statue may be at night, as a floodlight focused on The War Horse helps cast a huge shadow on the granite walls of the VHS.  Take a walk or drive by on The Boulevard some evening to see for yourself.

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Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue

Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, VirginiaWHAT: Confederate President Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.

WHERE: Monument and Davis avenues, in the center of the intersection.

ARTIST: Edward V. Valentine.

DEDICATION: June 3, 1907.

DESCRIPTION: A 7 1/2 foot high standing figure of bronze atop a 12 foot granite pedestal. This grouping stands in front of a 67 foot high column on top of which is another Valentine sculpted allegorical figure of the South “Vindicatrix.” The column stands in front center of a semi-circle classical colonnade of 13 Doric columns. William C. Noland of Richmond designed the entire monument.

Close up image of Jefferson Davis on Monument Avenue

Monument to Confederate War Dead at Hollywood

Pyramid monument to Confederate War Dead at Hollywood CemeteryWHAT: Monument to Confederate War Dead.

LOCATION: Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond’s Oregon Hill neighborhood.

ARTIST: Design originated from engineer Charles Henry Dimmock.

DEDICATION: November 8, 1869. (Cornerstone was laid Dec. 3, 1868)

DESCRIPTION: The famed 90-foot pyramid is made with large blocks of James River granite. The blocks were stacked without bonding. Built overlooking the cemetery’s Soldiers’ Section. It is a monument to the 18,000 Confederate enlisted men buried in the cemetery.

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Pyramid monument to Confederate War Dead at HollywoodThe pyramid took a year to build and there were many accidents during construction. Thomas Stanley, a Lynchburg convict working with the construction crew, made the perilous climb to the top to lower the capstone into place.

The plaque reads: “A memorial to the Confederate women of Virginia, 1861-1865. The legislature of Virginia of 1914, has at the solicitation of Ladies Hollywood Memorial Association and United Daughters of Confederacy of Virginia placed in perpetual care this section where lie buried eighteen thousand confederate soldiers.

Capstone to the pyramid atop Monument to Confederate War Dead at Hollywood CemeteryA chapter (Oct. 1996) in Harry Kollatz Jr.’s book, True Richmond Stories, retold the tale of the capstone’s placement, and how prisoner Thomas Stanley — assumed to have come from the nearby state penitentiary on Gamble’s Hill — volunteered to perform the dangerous honor:

And thus it was that a horse thief came to be on the work gang for Dimmock’s pyramid. The knots in the hoisting ropes were tied too close to the top and the stone wouldn’t go past them. Stanley poured water on the ropes, causing them to shrink the needed inches. Then, as a breathless crowd watched, the prisoner put himself between the mass of hanging rock and the pyramid and righted the stone to its seat.

Everyone that has heard of this legend assumes that Stanley went free after this accomplishment. Kollatz’s story cleared that up, somewhat:

In the release box of his prison schedule, the simple penciled notation reads “transferred.” There is no mention of when or where. A romantic notion suggests itself: the warden opened a gate and told Stanley to go and never come back…

Pyramid at Hollywood CemeterySeeing this monument is an essential to anyone that visits Richmond. The first time I saw the pyramid, I was shocked by its size and towering presence in the scenic cemetery. It can be seen from many points near Oregon Hill. It is easy to imagine the stones being brought in from either the Kanawha Canal — located just below Hollywood — or Belle Isle — just a bit further below the canal and across the James River.

J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue

J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue

Ironwork around J.E.B. Stuart's statueWHAT: Statue honoring J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.

WHERE: Monument and Lombardy avenues in the Fan District, in the center of the intersection.

ARTIST: Fred Moynihan.

DEDICATION: May 30, 1907.

DESCRIPTION: A 15-foot-tall equestrian bronze statue mounted on a 7 1/2 half foot granite pedestal. The statue faces north and is the most animated of the Monument Avenue statues. The horse’s right foot is raised and Stuart is portrayed turned in the saddle to face east. It was unveiled by Virginia Stuart Waller, the general’s granddaughter. 

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Close-up look at J.E.B. Stuart on Monument AvenueConfederate General James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart was major general — chief of cavalry — in the Army of Northern Virginia, Confederate States of America.

While he cultivated a cavalier image, his serious work made him the eyes and ears of Robert E. Lee’s army and inspired Southern morale.

He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in 1864 and died in Richmond just a few blocks away from where his monument is located at the intersection with Lombardy Street.

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I’ve often heard the complaint from visitors and tourists what a shame it is that Stuart’s statue is facing the direction it is facing. Monument Avenue officially begins at this intersection. As the traffic heads east, the street becomes into Franklin Street and is one-way. That makes it tougher to drive by the monument and get a good look at Stuart, especially for tour buses. Traffic through the intersection also makes it tough to safely cross the street to get a closer look at the statue.  

No matter. I’ve always enjoyed the confines in Stuart Circle. The intersection is the most busy, architecturally speaking. The statue came first, but then came First English Lutheran Church (1911), St. John’s United Church of Christ (1928), Grace Covenant Presbyterian (1920-23) — and on opposite corners, the old Stuart Circle Hospital (now apartments) and the attractive high-rise Stuart Court Apartments.

Statue honoring J.E.B. Stuart on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia

General A.P. Hill’s statue on Laburnum Avenue

Confederate General A.P. Hill statue in Richmond, Virginia

Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill in Richmond, VirginiaWHAT: Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill in Richmond, Virginia.

LOCATION: Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road in the center of the intersection.

ARTIST: William Ludwell Sheppard.

DEDICATION: May 30, 1892.

DESCRIPTION: A 9 1/2 foot high standing likeness of General Hill which is mounted on a 24 1/2 foot high pedestal which contains the remains of the General. The monument is on land donated by Major Lewis Ginter and was erected by the efforts of Pegram’s Battalion. Caspar Burberl of New York enlarged in bronze Sheppard’s model.

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The tale of how Hill came to rest in the middle of Laburnum Avenue is a good one, best told by Gary Robertson in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in April, 2005, 140 years after the general’s death:

Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill was buried standing up. It took three tries before he reached his final resting place.

And if all that wasn’t odd enough, the search to find his first grave — and perhaps correct the historical record — has been led by a group of Civil War devotees whose primary focus is illuminating not the life of Hill, but of another Confederate general, George E. Pickett.

A member of the Pickett Society noted that the nonprofit society was formed in 1999 to honor Pickett but also to correct “many subjective and historically incorrect items and pretensions.”

Hill was shot to death near Petersburg on April 2, 1865, as his battle lines were collapsing during the last days of the war. Then the race was on to bury him appropriately — and before nature took its course and ravaged his body even further.

Research by the Pickett Society indicates that the first burial came not where some Civil War researchers believe it was, at Bellgrade Plantation, near Huguenot and Robious roads in Chesterfield County.

Pickett Society records at the Virginia Historical Society and other research from local historians and authors, instead indicate that Hill was buried in an area south of the James River near Bosher Dam, in what is now the city of Richmond.

Hill lay in that grave for two years before he was unearthed and his remains transferred in the autumn of 1867 to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, which was where some of his former soldiers wanted him.

In 1891, the remains were moved again and buried under a statue erected in Hill’s honor at the current intersection of Laburnum Avenue and Hermitage Road. 

General Robert E. Lee’s statue on Monument Avenue

Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Va.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument AvenueWHAT: Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.

WHERE: Monument and Allen avenues in the center of a grass island in the roundabout.

ARTIST: Jean Antoine Mercie.

DEDICATION: May 29, 1890.

DESCRIPTION: A grand and imposing equestrian bronze figure 21 foot high, mounted on an oval-shaped granite pedestal 40 foot high, which is flanked on both sides by two gray marble columns. The statue is oriented to the south and was the first constructed on Monument Avenue.  The traffic flows around this monument in a roundabout, starting in 2004.

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This monument is the one that draws the most “Wows” of all the Monument Avenue statues from first-time visitors. It is the biggest, tallest and most imposing statue of all in Richmond — even bigger than the George Washington equestrian statue at Capitol Square.

The traffic circle is wide and the inside has grass, so it is also the most approachable monument on the avenue. People can sit in the circle and watch traffic, catch sun rays and just hang out with General Lee. There rarely is a bad time of day to photograph the statue as well, as he is facing south and even in the winter, if the sun is shining, it will be on his face instead of his horse Traveller’s backside.

* * *Robert E. Lee on Monument Avenue

HISTORY: Lee graduated from West Point Military Academy. He became a Captain in the Mexican American War. He had also served as a superintendent at West Point. There he was responsible for training future soldiers.
Based on his military accomplishments, he was asked by President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union army. Lee turned down the position due to his loyalty to Virginia. Lee traveled to Richmond in 1861 to accept charge of the Army of Northern Virginia. He later served as a military advisor to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee showed his skill of organization as he prepared 40,000 troops for battle. His men held him in high respect and obediently carried through his orders. Lee’s greatest battles included the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.

On the afternoon of April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to General Grant of the Union army at Appomattox Court House, marking the end of the Civil War.

After the war Lee became the president of Washington College, which is now called Washington and Lee University. On October 12, 1870 at age 63, Lee passed away at Washington and Lee. He is buried under Lee Chapel there.

Lee’s horse, Traveller, became well-known as he carried Lee throughout the Civil War. The horse died in June 1871 from stepping on a rusty nail.

Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Libby Hill Park

Monument to the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Libby Hill Park

Monument to the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Libby Hill Park

Monument to Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Libby Hill ParkMonument to Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Richmond’s Libby Hill Park in Church Hill.  

LOCATION: 29th Street and Libby Terrace.  

ARTIST: William Ludwell Sheppard.  

DEDICATION: May 30, 1894.  

DESCRIPTION: A bronze standing figure of a Confederate soldier 17 foot high, which stands atop a granite column 73 foot high, made of 13 stone cylinders to represent the 13 Confederate States. Granite column is topped by an ornate “Corinthian” capital. Modeled after Pompey’s Pillar in Egypt.  

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Libby Hill Park sits high on the hill above the James River on the southern edge of Richmond’s first neighborhood — Church Hill. This small but significant park has some of the best views of the city and the James, including the “View That Named the City.”  

View that named Richmond from Libby Hill ParkThe curve of the James River and steep slope of the hill at Libby Hill Park are very much like the features of the River Thames in England, at a royal village east of London called Richmond on the Thames. William Byrd II founded the town in 1737 and is credited with naming Richmond from this comparison of views.  

The Monument to Confederate Soldiers and Sailors is visible from many areas of town, including the Interstate 95 James River Bridge. That is significant to me, as travelers passing through Richmond get a quick glance at a majestic symbol of our history.