Grant and Garfield Remembered on Capitol Hill

Of the six men who became president after the Civil War, five were born in Ohio, fought in the Civil War, were Republicans, and, with one exception, sported beards.  They were, in order, U.S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley (the one without a beard).   Grover Cleveland, the other president, was neither born in Ohio, nor fought in the war, nor was a Republican, nor had a beard.

Two of these men are the subject of statues at street level in front of the West side of the U.S. Capitol Building, Grant and Garfield.

The Grant statue — actually several statues surrounding Grant on horseback — is centered on a line leading from the center of the Capitol Dome, to Grant, to the Lincoln Memorial.   The figure of Grant, holding firmly as he faces forward, as if into a stiff wind, is a superb example of the statuary art.  The Grant “group” has no “explanatory” information inscribed on the statues  — perhaps it isn’t or wasn’t needed.

Fifty yards away is a statue of Garfield, pictured standing as he was as president.  The statue’s inscriptions include one noting that it was built by the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, in which Garfield had served.  (The statue was commemorated on May 12, 1887, but the inscription reads “May 12, 1867.”  Not sure why it hasn’t been corrected).  Another inscription notes Garfield was a “Major-General, USV.”  That is, unlike Grant, Garfield was never in the U.S. army, but rather in the U.S. Volunteers, the parallel army Winfield Scott created, unwisely, at the start of the war.  20190106_10043620190106_10063520190106_101141

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Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of the upcoming "Lincoln, Antietam, and a Northern Lost Cause."

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