Civil War Museum transfers collection to Gettysburg with Constitution Center exhibit planned
Updated: May 4, 2016 — 3:22 AM EDT
by Stephan Salisbury, Culture Writer
The homeless Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, steward of what scholars regard as one of the finest collections of Civil War materials anywhere but possessing no place to display them, reached an agreement Monday to transfer ownership of its roughly 3,000 artifacts to the Gettysburg Foundation, the private, nonprofit partner of the National Park Service.
At the same time, the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall has agreed to mount a permanent exhibition exploring the constitutional impact of the Civil War, using artifacts drawn from what is now the foundation’s Gettysburg collection.
It is believed it will be the first museum exhibit exploring the war’s constitutional legacy.
Like the Flying Dutchman, the Civil War Museum has traveled for years, rich in its memories of the dead, but invisible and portless in the land of the living.
“Our goal is to preserve the collection with integrity and to ensure the collection will be available to the citizens of Philadelphia,” said Oliver St. Clair Franklin, board chairman of the Civil War Museum. “And we’re very pleased the National Constitution Center is going to preserve space for an exhibition to explore what was our greatest constitutional crisis.”
Joanne M. Hanley, president of the Gettysburg Foundation, which owns and operates the visitor center and 22,000-square-foot museum at Gettysburg National Military Park, called the collection “priceless.”
“The significance of these pieces, you can’t put into words,” she said. “There’s no hyperbole that can describe them.”
Jeffrey Rosen, chief executive and president of the Constitution Center, said the future constitutional exhibition, focusing on passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, would be a few years in the making.
For one thing, he said, all money for the exhibition, which he estimated might cost up to $2 million, would have to be in hand before proceeding.
“Our exhibition is contingent on securing funding in advance,” he said. “As soon as the funds are secured, we’ll have a better sense of the timeline.”
The postwar constitutional amendments, among other things, abolished slavery, addressed equal protection under the law, defined citizenship, and guaranteed the right to vote.
Sharon Smith, president and chief executive of the Civil War Museum, said the collection was currently in storage at Gettysburg, where it played a central role in the Gettysburg Foundation’s commemorative exhibition related to the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Gettysburg.
That exhibition closed last year, but Hanley said the collection would be deeply mined for a long-term exhibition scheduled to open at the end of June on the art of the Civil War.
“We will always have major pieces on view,” Hanley said.
Smith said she believed the agreement with the foundation and the NCC would conclude the Civil War Museum’s odyssey, which began in earnest about a decade ago and has included lawsuits, virtual closure, failed partnership efforts, an aborted relocation to Richmond, Va., a failed state bailout, a failed deal with Independence National Historical Park, and seemingly endless searches for a home.
“It’s been like a soap opera,” Smith said. “It’s been going on for years and years.”
The roots of the museum go back to the end of the Civil War, when Union officers formed the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS). In 1888 they founded a museum in Philadelphia, and over the years, Union officers and their descendants donated a rich array of artifacts, including plaster casts of Lincoln’s hands and face, battle photos, Jefferson Davis’ smoking jacket, battle flags, the first John Wilkes Booth wanted poster, bullet-riddled tree trunks, photos of black soldiers and regiments, diaries, letters, drawings, swords, and firearms – a seemingly endless stream of personal, quirky, evocative objects.
For years, the collection was housed in a stately Pine Street mansion. But internal squabbles broke out in 2000, sparked by dwindling finances, declining visitation, a failed affiliation with the Union League, and an incendiary proposal to move everything to a new museum in Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office stepped in and blocked the Richmond move. In the next several years, the Pine Street building was sold. An effort to move into the historic First Bank of the United States, located in Independence Park, fell through. The artifacts found homes in boxes, and the museum searched in vain for a home in Philadelphia, city of its birth.
On the plus side, however, a strong affiliation grew with the Gettysburg Foundation, which has conserved and stored much of the museum’s collection and now stores it, officials said.
(The famous preserved head of Gen. George G. Meade’s horse, Old Baldy, which was displayed by the Civil War Museum for many years, was returned to its owner, the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library in Frankford, in 2010.)
The framework of the agreement just announced – the transfer of ownership of artifacts to Gettysburg, with a subsequent long-term loan to the NCC – emerged in the last two years as the best alternative to a stand-alone Philadelphia museum housing the collection.
In an April 25 letter to museum chair Franklin, the head of MOLLUS in Pennsylvania said his organization was “saddened” to learn that despite “a decade of work,” the museum would not have a new museum home in Philadelphia.
That said, commander-in-chief James Alan Simmons wrote that the museum’s plan of transferring the artifacts to the Gettysburg Foundation is “prudent and appropriate” and “the best alternative.”
The Civil War Museum, while giving its artifacts to Gettysburg, remains owner of an archive of more than 10,000 documents – journals, diaries, papers, photographs, books. Those materials are housed at the Union League, under a separate stewardship agreement, and are available for research.
“We’re running on fumes,” Smith said, regarding the museum’s finances. “There’s virtually no money. We’re down to a very small amount. That’s why it’s important to make sure all this is taken care of.”
Count me as being vehemently opposed to this arrangement. Having seen that collection, I know it is nothing short of spectacular. The airport terminal that is the Gettysburg Visitor Center already fails to display the vast majority of the artifacts in the Rosensteel Collection, claiming lack of display space. If that’s the case, what are the odds of even a small percentage of these items ever being displayed again? Slim to none.
Shame on former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell for breaching the agreement to fund a new museum.
These items should be on display at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, where at least they would be seen, instead of languishing in storage.
The Constitution Center exhibit will be great. I attended an event with Jeffrey Rosen at Dickinson College in March, and know him to be a dedicated and enthusiastic director of a great project. But that exhibit is NOT a Civil War exhibit. It’s constitutional law exhibit, and there is no place in it for most of the artifacts in the MOLLUS Museum’s collection.
I will, however, be pleased to see some of those artifacts back home in Philadelphia where they belong, which will be the best thing about that exhibit.Scridb filter
John Watts DePeyster was born on March 9, 1821, the son of Frederic de Peyster, a wealthy and powerful New York lawyer, investor and philanthropist. His great-great grandfather, Abraham de Peyster, was an early mayor of New York City, as was Abraham’s brother Johannes. His grandfather was a nephew of Lt. Col. Arent de Peyster, commandant of the British garrison at Fort Michilimackinac and Fort Detroit controlled during the American Revolution. John Watts DePeyster was a first cousin of Civil War hero Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny, the one-armed, swashbuckling general killed at Chantilly on September 1, 1862. He was also a nephew of the legendary dragoon, Brig. Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny.
DePeyster inherited vast wealth at a young age, more than one million dollars by the time he was twenty-one. He studied law at Columbia College, although he did not graduate on account of his poor health. He became an invalid at a young age due to a heart affliction he developed during service as a volunteer firefighter with the No. 5 Hose Carriage during his collegiate years, including a major fire in 1836 that caused his health problems. He helped to organize the New York Police Department and the Fire Department of New York.
DePeyster married Estelle Livingston (1819-1898) on March 2, 1841. They had five children: John Watts De Peyster was born 2 December 1841 and died 12 April 1873), Colonel Frederick De Peyster , who was born 13 December 1842 and married Mary Livingston, Estelle Elizabeth De Peyster Toler, (James B Toler), who was born 1844 and died 12 December 1889, Colonel Johnston Livingston De Peyster, who was born 14 June 1846 and married Julia Anna Toler and Maria Livingston De Peyster (born7 July 1852 and died 24 September 1857).
In 1845 he entered state service in New York and was soon named colonel of a militia regiment. The consistently poor state of his health prohibited him from commanding troops in the field. He served as state Judge Advocate General and then as Adjutant General, holding the rank of brigadier general, until he resigned his commission in 1855 after a conflict with the Governor of New York. He traveled extensively through Europe as a military observer, and implemented many reforms that modernized the militia for the upcoming conflict as result of his travels. He continued to serve in an administrative capacity throughout the war after his efforts to obtain a field commission.
In 1861, DePeyster went to Washington, D.C., to solicit a commission as a brigadier general in the Regular Army and offered to raise two regiments of artillery, which he felt best suited his expertise and physical condition. However, New York had already raised its recruitment quote of 75,000 men, so he met with no interest. Rebuffed, he returned home to New York. In June 1863, just before the Battle of Gettysburg, he turned down a commission as a colonel of cavalry offered to him by prominent New York Senator Ira Harris on behalf of Generals Joseph Hooker and Alfred Pleasonton—Pleasonton, a known careerist, may have thought that the wealthy DePeyster’s social connections could have helped his career.
All three of DePeyster’s sons served in the Union armies during the Civil War. His eldest son and namesake, John Watts DePeyster, Jr., served as an aide-de-camp and as an artillery commander with the Army of the Potomac and received a brevet to brigadier general of volunteers. His middle son, Frederic DePeyster, III, was a colonel and a regimental surgeon, and his youngest son, Lt. Johnston DePeyster, commanded a battery of artillery and received credit for hoisting the first Union flag to fly over Richmond in April 1865.
He penned a well-respected treatise titled New American Tactics that was serialized in The Army and Navy Journal that advocated using skirmish lines instead of main lines of battle, a revolutionary theory for the times. In spite of his ill health, DePeyster still achieved the rank of brevet major general of the New York State Militia in 1866. After the war, he was active in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, a veterans’ organization for former Union officers.
DePeyster and his family resided on an estate–Rose Hill–located in Tivoli, Duchess County, New York. He was a prolific writer and an accomplished military historian. After the Civil War, he was known as “America’s foremost military critic.” In that capacity, he published hundreds of pieces, including, perhaps, approximately fifty under the pseudonym “Anchor.” One commentator noted DePeyster’s “keen eye for topography, his long and still unceasing military education, his uncommon memory, his power of description and his opportunities for using his abilities constitute him the only as well as the first military critic in America.” DePeyster “rejoiced in overriding conventionalities and often showed strong bias, particularly in defense of a familial connection, but his writings show exceptional knowledge of military history and science.” This kind of erudition comes through plainly in DePeyster’s writings.
He strongly supported his fellow Empire Stater and close friend, Daniel E. Sickles, and, using the “Anchor” pen name, vigorously defended Sickles’ role at the Battle of Gettysburg. He also defended Hooker’s role leading up to the battle, and harshly criticized the role of the XI Corps at Chancellorsville. He praised the generalship of George H. Thomas, helping to establish Thomas as one of the pantheon of great captains of the Civil War. In numerous articles, including The New York Times and various scholarly journals, he correctly predicted the coming of the Franco-Austrian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
DePeyster was actively involved in alumni activity of his old friend Sickles’ former command, the III Corps. An organization called the Third Army Corps Union was formed as a beneficial society for the wives and children of veterans of the III Corps, and DePeyster helped write its history. Long his cousin’s advocate, DePeyster also wrote a fawning biography of Kearny. He was particularly interested in the Battle of Saratoga, and donated a memorial called the “Boot Monument” which commemorates Benedict Arnold’s heroic role and wounding in the battle (although he is not mentioned by name, and the memorial depicts only his boot), in 1887. DePeyster also authored numerous other well-regarded works of a military nature.
Because DePeyster enthusiastically defended Sickles’ conduct at Gettysburg, he took up his pen to attack George Gordon Meade. He penned a number of articles under the “Anchor” anonym that were published in a veterans’ publication in 1867, after the end of the war, and well after the release of the Joint Committee’s report. DePeyster then bundled them and published them under his real name in book format under the title The Decisive Conflicts of the Late Civil War, or Slaveholders’ Rebellion. He devoted half of his book to his criticisms of Meade’s conduct of the pursuit of Lee’s army.
His list of publications included Life of Field Marshal Torstenson (1855), The Dutch at the North Pole (1857), Caurausius, the Dutch Augustus (1858), Life of Baron Cohorn (1860), The Decisive Conflicts of the Late Civil War, or Slaveholder’s Rebellion (1867), Personal and Military History of General Philip Kearny (1869), The Life and Misfortunes and the Military Career of Brig.-Gen. Sir John Johnson (1882), and Gypsies: Some Curious Investigations, Collected, Translated, Or Reprinted from Various Sources (1887). He also contributed to numerous other books, biographies, publications, and articles.After the war, DePeyster became a major real estate developer in his hometown of Tivoli, New York. In 1892, he constructed a large Methodist church that remains an active congregation to this day. He refurbished an old school house and turned into an industrial school for girls. Then, in 1895, he constructed a very large brick firehouse for the local fire department which remained in use until 1986. He eventually had a falling out with Tivoli’s mayor–his own son, Johnston–and DePeyster barred the mayor from entering the building, forcing the village government to relocate to another building until the old firehouse was restored in 1994, when the village government again too up residence in the firehouse.
A 1908 newspaper article stated:
Gen. John Watts De Peyster, the millionaire philanthropist, is living the life of a recluse at Rose Hill, the ancestral seat of his family, at Tivoli. He is reputed to be worth millions, much of his property consisting of real estate in the city of New York, which has been in possession of his family over a century. He had isolated himself from his kindred and it is believed will give his fortune at his death to the institutions he has founded.
Years before the death of his wife, the general and Mrs. De Peyster lived apart and Col. Johnson L. De Peyster, the general’s only son still living, lost his father’s friendship by espousing his mother’s cause. Father and son did not speak or hold any communication with each other, although their two estates adjoined. Gen. De Peyster was persistent in his estrangement from his son even up to the son’s death. He did not visit him or inquire about him when he was ill. When Col. De Peyster died in May, two years ago, the grim old general closed the gates of Rose Hill.
A delegation of villagers who wished permission to drape De Peyster hall in memory of the colonel, who was very popular in Tivoli, was turned away without an audience. Gen. De Peyster refused to attend his son’s funeral. His sole concession was to offer to the widow the keys of the family vault. The tender was ignored and Col. De Peyster’s remains were laid at rest in the vault of Johnston Livingston, an uncle of the colonel’s on his mother’s side.
In 1901, he donated several thousand books and maps to the Smithsonian Institution, one of many major philanthropic gifts he gave over the court of his life. He donated the money to construct the first library at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and donated one of the largest collections of rare books about European military history, a collection gathered while he traveled Europe to research a biography of Napoleon he published in 1896. He also served as Vice President of the American Numismatic Society. Post #71 of the New York G.A.R. in Tivoli, New York was named for him.
De Peyster died in 1907 of natural causes at a family residence in Manhattan. He was buried in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Tivoli. He willed his massive manor house Rose Hill to a local Children’s Home.
DePeyster’s vigorous defense of Sickles and his aggressive attacks on George Gordon Meade’s conduct of the pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia after the Battle of Gettysburg played a major role in relegating Meade to under appreciated obscurity in the years after the American Civil War, which makes DePeyster worthy of study.Scridb filter
Ben Buehler Garcia hosts a weekly talk radio program on Tucson, Arizona’s KQTH called American Warrior that airs every Sunday from 12:00-1:00 PM PDT, or 3:00-4:00 PM, EDT. I was Ben’s guest today, where we spent an hour commemorating the 150th anniversary of the March 10, 1865 Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads. Those interested can download that hour-long discussion here.
Unlike some of the radio hosts that I have talked with over the years, Ben had read the entire book and was extremely well-prepared for our conversation. It was an interesting and enjoyable discussion, and I hope that some of you will check it out.Scridb filter
Part two in a series. Cross-posted at Emerging Civil War.Col. Gilbert J. “Gib” Wright, who commanded Hampton’s old brigade, was determined to try to capture Kilpatrick. He ordered Capt. Samuel D. Bostick of the Phillips Legion Cavalry to head straight for the Monroe farmhouse to capture the Union cavalry leader while the rest of the dawn attack launched.
In the meantime, two factors came into play to stymie the Confederate battle plan. First, a significant portion of Wheeler’s command got bogged down trying to push through the nearly impenetrable swamp. Those who got through lost all sense of discipline when faced with the veritable bounty of Kilpatrick’s campsites. Famished men stopped to feast on the ample Union rations or to loot the camps instead of pushing on. The combination of these two factors allowed sufficient time for those elements of Kilpatrick’s command that had not been gobbled up by the initial Confederate assaults to escape into the swamp, where Kilpatrick began to rally them.
In the meantime, Wheeler himself drew his saber and pitched into the melee, and so did Hampton. The big South Carolinian—6’4” and about 240 pounds—carried a heavy broadsword and not a saber, and he ended up killing a couple of Kilpatrick’s troopers during the day’s fighting, the 12th and 13th men that he had killed in personal combat during the Civil War. The scene in the Federal camps was utter chaos. Hampton’s plan for a surprise attack had succeeded beyond his wildest expectations, but with the complete breakdown of discipline, and the nature of the terrain, which naturally funneled the action toward the swamp, the Confederate tidal wave was rapidly running out of steam.
In the meantime, Judson Kilpatrick was rallying his routed command and getting it organized to launch a counterattack. After his humiliating flight into the safety of the swamp, the Union commander was determined to regain his camps.Scridb filter
I wish that I could say that this exceptionally disturbing article surprises me, but sadly, it does not. Republican members of the Tennessee legislature have decided that it’s their duty to politicize the teaching of history to school children. Specifically, they’re attempting to indoctrinate school children by dictating how history is to be spun.
From the January, 22, 2014 edition of the The Tennessean newspaper:
History bill would emphasize interpretations favored by conservatives
Written by Chas. Sisk
State lawmakers are weighing a bill that would mandate how Tennessee students are taught U.S. history, with an emphasis on interpretations favored by conservatives.
House Bill 1129 would require school districts to adopt curriculums that stress the “positive difference” the United States has made in the world and “the political and cultural elements that distinguished America.” The measure also deletes a current guideline that encourages teaching about diversity and contributions from minorities in history classes.
The state Department of Education opposes the measure, saying curriculum decisions should be left to the State Board of Education and local school boards.
Backers of the legislation, a version of which has passed the Senate, say it remains a work in progress. But its main sponsor in the House, state Rep. Timothy Hill, conceded Wednesday that the measure is meant to leave students with certain beliefs, such as the view that the wording of the U.S. Constitution leaves no room for interpretation.
That legal theory, known as strict constitutionalism, generally has been used by conservatives to argue their side on a number of issues, including abortion, government regulation and gun rights.
The bill was filed last February, months before the current fights over textbooks and education standards erupted. It had moved through the legislature largely unnoticed until this week, quietly passing the Senate unanimously just seven days ago.
But it has been embraced by some lawmakers who have voiced concerns about bias in Tennessee textbooks. State Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, backs the measure, which he said is similar to a bill he had planned to file himself.
Supporters say the bill ensures that Tennessee students learn about the country’s origins. The bill spells out that students would be taught about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, as well as the nation’s achievements in a variety of fields and the “political and cultural” characteristics that contributed to its greatness.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with talking in terms of we live in the greatest state in the greatest nation,” said Hill, R-Blountville.
But Remziya Suleyman, director of policy for the American Center for Outreach, a group that advocates on behalf of Muslims in Tennessee, said the bill might encourage districts to adopt history books that downplay or distort information about recent immigrants and religious minorities.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, said the bill seems to discourage discussion of the contributions of African-Americans, particularly those who were slaves.
“This part of our history I don’t think needs to be glossed over,” Love said.
Love and other lawmakers have asked Hill to agree to amend the measure before it moves further through the legislature. Both sides expect those changes to be worked out over the next few weeks.
Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or on Twitter @chassisk.
Here is some of the pertinent language of this horrific piece of legislation:
Students shall be informed of the nature of America which makes it an exception differentiated by its behavior, influence and contributions from the other nations of the world.
The Constitution is the “rule book” for how the federal government works. No action is permitted unless permission for it can be found in the Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, with the Bill of Rights … still apply in exactly the words they originally contained in simple English.
All school district boards shall document and report to the commissioner their compliance with the content of courses as described.
Education should not be about political spin. It should be about teaching children to think on their own and to draw their own conclusions. This sort of indoctrination is extremely disturbing, and I sincerely hope that this doesn’t become the hot potato issue that evolution has become in Texas.Scridb filter
George Gordon Meade was not known for being a warm or fuzzy sort of fellow. Known for his volcanic temper, the men of the Army of the Potomac called him “the goggle-eyed old snapping turtle,” referring to Meade’s need to wear eyeglasses. His aide, Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman, dubbed him “the Great Peppery” for his saucy language. Consequently, Meade hasn’t gotten much love.
Until now, that is.
Thanks to Todd Berkoff from bringing this to my attention. In 1890, Meade was featured on the $1,000.00 bill. Known as the “grand watermelon note” due to the size of the zeroes on the back of the bill, only one of these notes survives. That note went up for auction on January 10, and sold for $3.29 million. It had been estimated to go for $2 million. The last time it was sold, in 1970, it sold for a mere $11,000.
Finally, some real love for the Goggle-Eyed Old Snapping Turtle, who deserves it.Scridb filter
So, I managed to get myself double-booked for two different events the first weekend in October. One is the annual Middleburg conference, which I described here.
The other is my friend Ted Alexander’s fall event for the Chambersburg Civil War Seminars for October 2013 is titled The Cavalry at Gettysburg, and should be quite good. If I hadn’t gotten myself into the pickle of double-booking myself, I would be there for the whole event.
Here’s the schedule:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4
9:00am – 12:30pm – Sessions at the hotel
The Battle of Monterey Pass – John Miller
Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: JEB Stuart’s Ride to Gettysburg – Jeffry Wert
McNeil’s Rangers in the Gettysburg Campaign – Steve French
12:30pm – 1:30pm – Lunch
1:30pm – 6pm – Sessions at the hotel
Prelude to Gettysburg: Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville – Ed Bearss
“If Only I Spoke” – A Gettysburg Witness Tree – film by – Radford Wine
The Stuart Horse Artillery at Gettysburg – Robert Trout
“General Insubordination: Custer vs. Kilpatrick in the Third Cavalry Division” – Bruce Venter
6:30pm – Buffet Dinner at the hotel
7:30pm – George Washington Sandoe and the Militia Cavalry of 1863 – Scott Mingus
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5
Bus Tour – Lunch included
7:30am – 6pm – “The Cavalry at Gettysburg” – Eric Wittenberg, Ed Bearss and Jeffry Wert. Sites visited include –
East Cavalry field
Buford’s Cavalry positions
South Cavalry Field including Farnsworth’s attack
6pm – Dinner on your own
8pm – The Battle of Brandy Station – Eric Wittenberg
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6
8:30am – 12:00pm – Sessions
“He’s a Bully General”: Custer and his “Wolverines” – Jeffry Wert
Valor in the Streets: The Battle of Hager- stown – Steve Bockmiller
“Forward the Harris Light!”: The 2nd New York Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign” – Bruce Venter
Ted’s programs are always terrific, and he’s got lots of good speakers lined up. To register for this event, click here. I hope to see some of you there.Scridb filter
Some of you may recall that in May 2010, I found a headless statue of William T. Sherman in nearby Pickerington, Ohio, and set about trying to solve the mystery. A few weeks later, I spoke to Headless Billy’s owner, who assured me that a fix was in the works. I am pleased to say that Headless Billy is headless no more! Sadly, though, he remains handless Billy. Hopefully that will also be rectified soon.
Thanks to my friend Mike Peters for the photo of No Longer Headless Billy that graces this post. All’s well that ends well. Click on the image to see a larger version of it.
The following article appeared in last Friday’s edition of Columbus Dispatch:
Sherman statue headed for completion
By Ken Gordon
The Columbus Dispatch Friday June 7, 2013 6:43 AM
William T. Sherman has waited 45 years to get a good head on his shoulders — so what’s a few more days?
Rain yesterday kept sculptor Oro Ray King from securing a 60-pound sandstone head to the statue of the Civil War general, which was decapitated by vandals in 1968.
King and a friend, Mike Ancona, positioned the head to check the fit, but the rain kept King from applying the epoxy that will lock it in place.
He plans to finish the job on Tuesday.
King was hired by Columbus real-estate developer Walter Reiner, who purchased the vandalized statue at a 2008 auction in Muskingum County and moved it to a vacant grassy lot in a Pickerington shopping center that he owns.
Reiner wanted the statue of Sherman, a Lancaster native, to stand in Fairfield County.
The 7-foot statue, carved in 1918, originally stood among dozens of other statues of prominent historical figures on the Frazeysburg property of sculptor Daniel Brice Baughman.
Reiner bought it for $2,800 and paid $5,000 to move the 8½-ton rock to the shopping center.
He then began a long search for a sculptor.
A November story in The Dispatch about the headless statue, Reiner said, “brought people out of the woodwork.”
He settled on King, a Buckeye Lake resident who has been sculpting for 45 years and has done a lot of work for museums and historical sites.
Reiner would not disclose how much he paid King, except to say that it was more than the $4,000 he had originally hoped to spend but less than a $20,000 estimate he received.
King, 75, said he first made a clay bust after looking at various photos of Sherman, then obtained a 400-pound block of sandstone from Dresden, Ohio.
In April, he started carving the sandstone to the final, 16-inch-tall head.
“It feels pretty good to get it over with,” King said. “I have arthritis pretty bad, and sometimes I have to stop and let my hands rest a little bit.”
After fitting the head yesterday, King and Ancona removed it for safekeeping until King finishes the job.
“I think it looks better than the original,” Reiner said. “This will honor Gen. Sherman properly.
“I certainly meant no disrespect; it just took a little while to do the job right.”
Well done, Mr. Reiner. And well done Mr. King.Scridb filter
From today’s issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Rescued ‘Silent Sentinel’ Civil War statue going to Laurel Hill Cemetery
EDWARD COLIMORE, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
POSTED: Thursday, May 23, 2013, 5:52 AM
For nearly a century, the Silent Sentinel watched over the graves of Civil War veterans at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Yeadon and Southwest Philadelphia.
The bronze figure of a Union soldier clasping the end of a musket stood at rest amid long, neat rows of white marble headstones.
Then, as though deserting its post in fall 1970, the statue disappeared. Thieves pulled it from its granite base and tried to sell it to a Camden scrap dealer, who alerted police.
Silent Sentinel was recovered, repaired at a Chester foundry, and stored out of public view for more than 40 years, until a secure location could be found and money raised for a granite base.
On Wednesday – just days before Memorial Day, an observance with Civil War origins – the monument was moved to Laurel Hill Cemetery on Ridge Avenue to take up a new post and an old mission.
By this time next year, it will be affixed to a 10- to 12-foot-high granite base and illuminated at night at the Gen. George Gordon Meade Post No. 1 Grand Army of the Republic burial plot at Laurel Hill, officials said.
The figure is a natural fit for the Victorian-era cemetery, a kind of Civil War Valhalla where dozens of generals and admirals are buried, including Meade, the victorious commander at the Battle of Gettysburg. The 150th anniversary of that epic clash will be marked with a reenactment from July 3 to 7.
“We’re returning this monument to its sacred task,” said historian Andy Waskie, a member of the board of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery and an associate member of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS), which owns the statue.
In its new location, “the statue will add a new dimension to the Civil War and arts collection of the city,” said Waskie, a Temple University professor and author of Philadelphia and the Civil War – Arsenal of the Union.
The move to Laurel Hill is “a wonderful outcome,” said Jon Sirlin, a Philadelphia lawyer and associate member of MOLLUS who wrote the transfer agreement. A statue “that was otherwise hidden from view is now coming to light.”
The bronze will eventually be visible to passersby on busy Ridge Avenue, illuminated at night “like an eternal flame in Philadelphia, honoring all veterans,” Waskie said.
Also known as Silent Sentry, the monument has a colorful history. It was the work of a French immigrant, Achille Bureau, who served in the Union Army and was buried at Laurel Hill.
During a Memorial Day-related ceremony at noon Sunday, reenactors and others will dedicate a marble headstone at Bureau’s grave and a bronze-on-granite marker at the grave of another Union soldier, Lt. Charles Waterman. They’ll also fire volleys at each site and over Meade’s grave and Grand Army of the Republic burial plot.
Bureau’s statue was commissioned in 1883 by the Soldiers’ Home of Philadelphia, a civilian organization that helped care for indigent and disabled Civil War veterans, Waskie said. The home bought a plot at Mount Moriah for soldiers who died while under care there.
The 700-pound monument was dedicated in 1884 and remained in place until October 1970, when the thieves stole it, then tried to break it up and sell the bronze as scrap.
Finding a safe home for the statue delayed its move to a public site. MOLLUS wanted to prevent another theft and further vandalism, so it stored the statue, valued at $20,000, at the foundry until Waskie proposed the move to Laurel Hill.
“It was too much of a risk to take it back” to the unfenced Mount Moriah, said Adam Flint, commander of the Pennsylvania Commandery of MOLLUS.
Laurel Hill “is a National Historic Landmark that’s well secured and safe,” said Waskie, who formed a fund-raising committee for the transfer.
Nearly $25,000 has been collected for a granite base, plaque, installation, and lighting, said Alexander “Pete” Hoskins, president and CEO of Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill Cemeteries, and executive director of the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery.
“First, we’re part of saving an important monument that’s been out of view for more than 40 years,” Hoskins said. “This also helps remind the world that we are one of the most important Civil War burial sites.”
The statue, standing up to 18 feet high on its base, will be placed in the Meade plot amid the graves of about 24 Civil War veterans, including some who fought at Gettysburg. It’s now on display in the cemetery’s gatehouse office.
“It’s a gorgeous monument that is finally being returned to its mission,” Waskie said.
I’m tickled to see this soldier return to duty, as he should be. I’m sure he will do a fine job of standing guard over the grave of George Gordon Meade.Scridb filter
1863 Gettysburg Before and AfterThe Hagerstown Community College is putting on an interesting Civil War Seminar on Saturday, March 23, 2013. The topic of the seminar is before and after the Battle of Gettysburg. I’ll be presenting about the retreat from Gettysburg. I’ve included a link to the brochure for the event in this post. I hope to see some of you there.Scridb filter