Virginia contributed over 19,030 men to the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg, the largest contingent from the thirteen Confederate States. She lost 4,470 soldiers as casualties, the second highest state total. The Virginia Monument was the first of the Confederate Monuments to be built at Gettysburg, and it remains the largest. It was commissioned on March 9, 1908, and cost $50,000 which would be the equivalent of $885,000 today. It’s stands forty-two feet above Seminary Ridge, on West Confederate Avenue in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
General Robert E. Lee is mounted upon his horse; Traveller, surveying the field of battle. Virginia soldiers beneath him represent the famous infantry assault and actions of General Pickett’s Charge. The figures represent the various ages of the men, and captures the solidarity of soldier’s standing together for a common cause. It's a display of emotion, a remembrance of courage, love of their country, and honor.
The seven sculptures are representation of Virginia men who left their homes and trades behind to serve in the defense of their country. First, infantryman, symbolic of a professional man standing and loading for action, next a mechanic, his face is set with determination as he surveys the battlefield. Beside him, an artilleryman who was an artist now aims a pistol, drawing a bead as he prepares to fire, determined to defend at all cost. In the center, a cavalryman color bearer on horseback holding the State Flag of Virginia, ready to advance the colors. To his right, a businessman swings his musket as a club in a display of courage and fury of hand to hand combat. A farmer raising his loaded musket with hammer cocked, starting to advance on the field of battle, and a young artilleryman standing his ground with saber by his side, and bugle to his lips, sounding the call. The shattered cannon, broken wheel, discarded knapsack, hat, swab and exploded shell, which are scattered about the ground, indicate that the place had been the scene of a desperate engagement.
They are meant to remind us that they were more than just soldiers.
Then Governor of Virginia Henry Carter Stuart would comment during the dedication of the memorial
"It is fitting that we erect here this noble effigy of our great Captain surrounded by the memorials of men who fought and fell fifty-four years ago. This imperishable bronze shall outlive our own and other generations. We who stand here today shall pass into the beyond, leaving what legacies we may of duty done or ideals sustained; moon and stars shall shine upon his face of incomparable majesty; the dawn shall gild it with splendor of sunrise; the evening shadows shall enfold it in their gentle embrace; and until the eternal morning of the final re-union of quick and dead, the life of Robert Edward Lee shall be a message to thrill and uplift the heart of all mankind."
The statue was unveiled in 1917 by Miss Virginia Carter, General Lee’s own niece, and presented by Henry C. Stuart, the governor of Virginia.
Fredrick William Sievers was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He moved to Richmond, Virginia, as a young man, he received his art education in Rome and Paris.
His sculpting abilities of the Virginia Monument is a pure work of art He captured in bronze the emotion and expression; which is a fitting tribute to the common Virginia soldiers that fought at Gettysburg.
The sculptures were casted in bronze at Tiffany studios, New York and the granite pedestal was the work of Van Armoring Company of Boston, Mass
Virginia State Monument
June 10, 2017
The Virginia Division Color Guard
Brigadier General W. C. Wickham Camp #2250