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The Sherman Monument

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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The Sherman Monument

Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Alexander Phimister Proctor sculpted the famous equestrian portrait of General William Tecumseh Sherman.  The architect of the monument was Charles Follen McKim.  It took them eleven years to complete the monument and was completed in 1903.  The actual statue and the plaque were made of gilded bronze, while the pedestal was made of Stony Creek granite.  The monument is located at the 59th street entrance to New York City’s Central Park and is the centerpiece to Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza.

The statue depicts one of the United States’ most famous generals, William Tecumseh Sherman.  He is best known as the man who was, and still is the most hated and despised person in the history of Georgia.  Sherman was born in Lancaster, Ohio on February 8, 1820.  His father died when he was very young and, since his mother could not care for him, he became a foster child to his father’s friend Thomas Ewing.   William eventually married Mr. Ewing’s daughter, Ellen.  William went to the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1840.  He served in California during the Mexican War but resigned in 1853 and then, became a captain and a commissary officer.

The years preceding the Civil War were not successful for Sherman.  He lived in California and Kansas and failed in banking.  In 1859, things started to look up when he became the superintendent of a military academy, which is now Louisiana State University.  He again resigned to volunteer for the Union army and was made colonel of the United States infantry in May 1861 (Son of the south).  Sherman led the forces that fought at Bull Run and at Shiloh.  In August 1861, Sherman and George H. Thomas were promoted to Brigadier General and were assigned to the department of the Cumberland under the command of Robert Anderson.  Many people thought that Sherman was crazy because he demanded such a large force to drive the enemy out of Kentucky.  Because of all of the harassment he received from the press, Sherman went into a state of depression and was not mentally competent.

General William Tecumseh Sherman

In 1862, Sherman was placed in command of the Fifth Division of the army of Tennessee.  The army’s first battle was at Shiloh.  The North lost the first’s day’s battle, but in July of that year, Sherman was assigned to command the District of Memphis.  Later that year, Sherman failed to take control of the confederate’s iron grip in Vicksburg.  He did however help Grant in the campaign that finally ended in the capture of that city in 1863 (ngerogia).  In the spring of 1864, Sherman was made supreme commander of the armies in the West and was ordered by Grant to create chaos and destruction of all the resources that would be beneficial to their enemy.  With 98,797 troops, Sherman began the Atlanta Campaign.

Sherman burned a trail of destruction as his troops seized Atlanta while marching to the sea.  He ordered the civilians to leave the city and made arrangements for a safe passage because no matter if they were for the Union or for the Confederacy, they could not remain in their homes if they were within the city of Atlanta.  Sherman wanted to split the confederacy so in November 1864, he made his infamous March to the Sea.  Before leaving Atlanta though, he set fire to factories, railroad yards, clothing mills, and other and other targets that could be resourceful to the Confederacy.  Sherman never planned to burn down the entire city but the fire got out of hand.  He was the victor of Savannah and gave Abraham Lincoln the city as a Christmas present.  Sherman received the surrender of Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865, which was 17 days after the surrender of Robert Lee.  Because of Sherman’s help with the burning of Atlanta, he was able to make the confederates surrender, thus winning the civil war.  Sherman retired in 1883 and died in 1891.

After Sherman’s death, members of the City’s Chamber of Commerce, appointed a committee to raise funds to build a monument for him.  Many of these people were personal friends of Sherman.  August Saint-Gaudens was chosen by the committee to create the monument.  The sculpture of the project already had a head start because he created a bust of Sherman in 1888.  August Saint-Gaudens was very fond of Sherman after hearing his many stories.  Saint-Gaudens worked very hard on the detail of the monument.  He split his time between his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire and Paris, France.  Because he became very ill during the sculpting process, the monument took a little longer to complete (nycgovparks).  Proctor assisted in modeling the horse.  This was the first time that the use of Robert Treat Paine’s device for mechanical enlargement of a sculpture was used.  Previously, this process had all been done by hand (Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site).

Charles McKim was the sculptor of the Sherman Monument.  He was born in Pennsylvania in 1847 and by the times he was 16, he had developed an interest in architecture.  He eventually traveled to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts for three years.  McKim loved residential and civil architecture.  He focused his skills on colonial and early republican era.  In 1879, McKim established the McKim, Mead and White architectural firm along with Stanford White and William Mead.  Some of his famous projects were the Boston Public Library, Pennsylvania Stations, and the original Madison Square Gardens.  McKim died in 1909 after having a nervous breakdown after his longtime partner Stanford White was murdered.

The granite used in the Sherman monument was from the Norcross Quarry in Branford, Connecticut and from the Red Granite Co. (Dale and Gregory).  The inscription on the granite read: To General William Tecumseh Sherman Born Feb. 8, 1829 Died Feb. 14, 1891 Erected by Citizens of New York under the auspices of the chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.  General William Tecumseh Sherman Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Sculptor Charles Follen McKim, Architect 1903.  The pedestal where the inscription was written on was 42'6" x w 30'8"; total h 24'4".

When the monument was practically completed in 1902, Saint-Gaudens and architect Charles McKim were ready to install the monument in Riverside Park.  They choose this area because it was near General Grant’s Tomb.  They eventually settled on the Grand Army Plaza because the Sherman family didn’t like the Riverside location.

In the monument there is a peaceful figure leading General Sherman.  This figure, like in many other works of Saint-Gaudens was his mistress, Davida Johnson.  The horse that the General is riding on has a pine branch at its feet, which represents the General’s march through Georgia.  The statue is also sited so that Sherman marches towards the south where he had his greatest triumph.  Saint-Gaudens had the statue gilded with two layers of gold leaf to protect it.

After eleven years in the making, the monument was unveiled on Memorial Day in 1903.  The piece and Saint-Gaudens were praised by many, as were his other works.  Among them was the Admiral Farragut Statue, which was his first project with Stanford White, and today stands as one of the country’s finest outdoor pieces in New York City’s Madison Square Park (nycgovparks).  Another famous work was the Henry Maxwell medallion portrait, which stands in Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza. 


Over the years, the Sherman monument’s original gold leafing has peeled away and the statue has also become discolored.  In 1989, the Central Park Conservancy’s Grand Army Plaza and the Pulitzer Fountain Partnership conserved the monument.  Assistance was also provided by the David Schwartz Foundation and the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society.  A small controversy erupted after the community saw the restored piece in its gilded glory, as Saint-Gaudens had originally intended.  Since the conservation, the toning of the gold leaf has become more subdued.  The donors of the monument are the citizens of New York, under the sponsorship of the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York.

Admiral Farragut Monument

The granite used in the Sherman monument was from the Norcross Quarry in Branford, Connecticut and from the Red Granite Co. (Dale and Gregory).

http://wiki.worldflicks.org/general_william_tecumseh_sherman_monument.html#coords=(40.76480335,-73.97306365)&z=21 is the Google placemeark for the monument.  The coordinates for the William Tecumseh Sherman monument are 40°45'53"N   73°58'23"W.  http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.7648033&lon=73.9730636&z=19&l=0&m=b is also the Wikimapia place mark. http://books.google.com/books?id=7oG5JpbeuDEC&pg=PA253&lpg=PA253&dq=Robert+Treat+Paine’s+device+for+mechanical+enlargement+of+a+sculpture&source=bl&ots=hZqOP4gZ9Y&sig=h9GcvFCgYyTBcsvBbtdT4sCo-A8&hl=en&ei=C47QTKO0K4_ksQO6_PXgCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&sqi=2&ved=0CCoQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Robert%20Treat%20Paine’s%20device%20for%20mechanical%20enlargement%20of%20a%20sculpture&f=false on page 254 you can see a real life drawing of the monument.

Works Cited

Augustus Saint-Gaudens. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct 2010. .

Dale, Nelson, and Herbert Gregory. The Granites Of Connecticut. Washington: Washington Government Printing Office, 1991. Print.

"Grand Army Plaza." New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. N.p., 2010. Web. 20 Oct 2010. .

"William Tecumseh Sherman." About North Georgia. N.p., 2010. Web. 20 Oct 2010. .

"General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument." Web. 20 Oct 2010. .

"William Tecumseh Sherman." Son of the South. N.p., 2008. Web. 20 Oct 2010. .

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 09:24  


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