Saturday, June 21, 2014

Unveiling of the General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument in Sherman Plaza, President's Park, Washington, D.C., in the United States in 1903.

Sherman died on February 14, 1891. Within days, the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, a veterans' group for those who served in the Army of the Tennessee, began planning a memorial to their late commander. On July 5, 1892, Congress enacted legislation authorizing the Sherman Monument.

The selection of an artist in 1896 to design the monument was highly controversial. Danish-American artist Carl Rohl-Smith won the competition based on the success of his statue of Benjamin Franklin, which was displayed in front of the apse of the Electricity Building at the 1893 World's Fair. During the monument's design phase, Rohl-Smith died, and his memorial was finished by a number of other sculptors.

Rohl-Smith designed the equestrian statue of Sherman so that it depicted him on the day he rode up Pennsylvania Avenue at the head of the Army of the Tennessee on May 24, 1865, to celebrate the end of the Civil War.

Four bas-relief panels adorn the sides of the monument: "The March Through Georgia"; "The Battle of Atlanta" (in the background, the XVIth Corps is shown repulsing the attack which saved the Army of the Tennessee from defeat, and a troop arrives to take the body of General James B. McPherson from the field of battle); "Sherman by the Campfire" (Colonel S. H. M. Byers said he often saw Sherman standing or walking by a campfire at night while his men slept); and "Missionary Ridge" (depicting the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863).

There are two major figure groups. The western group depicts "War" as an older woman who is tearing asunder her clothing, trampling on the body of a dead soldier while vultures perch around her feet. The eastern group depicts "Peace" as a young woman naked from the waist up. At her feet, a nude young girl tends a wounded young boy dressed in tattered pants, while a nude boy lies in the grass feeding a bird.

There are four figures at each corner of the monument. They represent the artillery, infantry, cavalry, and engineers.

Two hundred and four wooden pilings were driven into the ground to help support the monument. The pilings had to be sunk 35 feet lower than anticipated due to the existence of groundwater at the site.

The monument was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt on October 15, 1903. The monument is located on the exact spot where Sherman, along with President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses S. Grant, reviewed the Army of the Potomac on May 23, 1865. Sherman led the parade of the Army of the Tennessee past this same site the next day.

On February 18, 1904, Congress legislatively gave the name "Sherman Plaza" to the area where the monument stands.

In 2011, the statue underwent a $2 million restoration.

The Sherman memorial is a contributing element to two National Register of Historic Places: the Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C., (added in 1973) and to the President's Park South (added in 1980).

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