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| || MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK MEMORIAL |
410 SR 43
corner of Hautboy Hill Road,
Cornwall Hollow in Cornwall, CT
Dedicated: May 30, 1900; July 31, 1994
Type: Granite stele with bronze plaques, cannon, and pyramids of shells
Architect: George Keller
Sculptor: James J. Hawley & Neil Estern
Foundry: Roman Bronze Works
Principal benfactors: Mr. and Mrs. Carl Stoeckel
Height: Approximately 12'
MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK MEMORIAL, Cornwall Hollow in Cornwall, is significant historically because it honors the professional career of Connecticut's distinguished military figure in the Mexican and Civil Wars. Cornwall's John Sedgwick (1813-1864) was born nearby on Hautboy Hill Road and built his own home (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) across the street from his birthplace. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, on May 9, 1864.
A small committee of citizens was formed to raise a monument in General Sedgwick's memory. The largest contribution was made by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Stoeckel of Norfolk, Connecticut, friends of the General's sister, Emily (Sedgwick) Welch, also of Norfolk. The total cost of the memorial was $2400, of which $1,233.57, contributed by the Stoeckels, was paid to M.J. O'Connor, the stone contractor.
Dedication Day on May 30, 1900, drew a crowd of 3,000 people to the scene, probably the largest crowd ever to gather in Cornwall Hollow. A fine parade which included 20 members of the Admiral Foote Post, No. 17, Grand Army of the Republic, of New Haven preceded appropriate remarks by Governor George E. Lounsbury and others. The newspaper report took up 5 1/2 columns in The Winsted Herald.
The original genuine cannonballs were lost in the World War II scrap metal campaign, bringing $11.00 in 1942. Replacements are concrete. The memorial was vandalized in 1976 and again in the late 1980s, at which time the bronze plaques on the howitzer pedestal, Seal of the United States on the front, and wreaths on the sides, cast by Roman Bronze Works, were stolen, and the medallion bust of Sedgwick on the front of the stele was badly damaged. Replacement plaques for the seal and wreaths have been sculpted and installed and the medallion bust repaired. The replacements, based on careful study of historic photographs of the originals, are the work of Cornwall resident Neil Estern (b. 1926). Estern is known for his portraits of public figures, including Presidents John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter and landscape architects Frederick L. Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Estern's monument to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York City, probably his most famous in terms of favorable art criticism, has been modeled but not cast.
The grand re-dedication of MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK MEMORIAL was held July 31, 1994, in the presence of a large crowd. The First Litchfield Artillery Regiment participated, a highly polished brass Civil War cannon was fired, and actor and television personality Sam Waterston, also a Cornwall resident, delivered a thoughtful and appropriate oration.
Monuments raised elsewhere to General Sedgwick include a truncated pyramid at Spotsylvania, Virginia; a bronze statue at West Point, New York (1868); and an equestrian figure sculpted by H.K. Bush-Brown at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (1913).
MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK MEMORIAL is significant artistically because it is a dignified and effective memorial different from most of its genre in design, and because it was the last Civil War monument to be designed by George Keller (1842-1935). The handsome but restrained stele is sited with the dramatic cannon and cannonballs in a manner that indisputably signifies the military career of General Sedgwick.
The architect Keller came to New York City from Cork, Ireland, as a child. He joined James G. Batterson's Hartford shop for the production of monuments at the end of the Civil War (see OVERVIEW) A few years later he set up his own office for the general practice of architecture, becoming Hartford's leading l9th-century architect. Among his Civil War monuments are those at Antietam, Maryland; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; Manchester, New Hampshire; and Utica, New York, as well as the SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MEMORIAL ARCH, Hartford.
Little is known of the sculptor, James J. Hawley, who had a brief career. He was born in New York in 1871. His first and only major commission was the Sedgwick work. He died in 1899, before the Sedgwick monument dedication. Hawley was paid $450, Keller $233.80.
Roman Bronze Works was a well-known New York City art foundry. M.J. O'Connor was a Connecticut contractor who also worked on SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, New Britain.
MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK MEMORIAL is oriented parallel with SR 43 in a small roadside park. The monument consists of a granite stele with cannon and cannon balls in front of it. Three granite risers lead up to a gravel bed surrounded by granite blocks. The cannon is in the center of the gravel bed, parallel with the highway and facing south, the cannonballs are in three pyramids along each edge, and the monument itself is at the back.
The slightly tapered granite stele is divided into three sections. The high base is defined by a scotia molding above which the tall mid-section displays lettering and a bronze medallion bust of General Sedgwick. An oak leaf band sculpted in the stone serves as frieze, under a raised branch which is the top decoration.
In front of the stele, the 8"-bore cannon, produced in 1839 by West Point (New York) Foundry, rests on a granite cube, which has a bronze plaque of the Seal of the United States on the front and wreaths on the sides. The cannonballs now are concrete.
The stele was sandblasted in June 1994 and appears to be none the worse for the treatment.
Front (south) face of stele, incised caps:THIS MEMORIAL INCLUDING ORDNANCE
USED IN THE MEXICAN AND CIVIL WARS AND
GIVEN BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE
UNITED STATES IN HONOUR OF
MAJOR GENERAL JOHN SEDGWICK
COMMANDER OF THE SIXTH CORPS
ARMY OF THE POTOMAC
WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THE
PRESERVATION OF THE UNION
A SKILLED SOLDIER A BRAVE
LEADER A BELOVED COMMANDER
AND A LOYAL GENTLEMAN
THE FITTEST PLACE WHERE MAN CAN DIE
IS WHERE MAN DIES FOR MAN
(back, incised caps):VERA CRUZ / CERRA GORDO / PUERLA / CHERRIBUSCO / MOLINO DEL RAY / MEXICO FAIR OAKS / ANTIETAM / FREDERICKSBURG / THE WILDERNESS / SPOTSYLVANIA
(incised in muzzle of cannon):No. 4 R L B
The Cornwall Hollow Cemetery is directly across the street. General Sedgwick is buried there. His monument, a tan granite obelisk facing west, carries a broadfoot cross with central numeral 6, badge of the Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac, which General Sedgwick commanded. The monument's surface has accumulated black circles and crusts.
Baruch, p. 15.
Peter Hastings Falk, ed., Who Was Who in American Art (Soundview Press, 1985).
Michael R. Gannett, President, Cornwall Historical Society, Inc., and Municipal Historian, letter, April 14, 1994, to Connecticut Historical Commission.
David F. Ransom, George Keller, Architect (Hartford: The Stowe-Day Foundation, 1978), pp. 152, 153.
David F. Ransom, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Major General John Sedgwick House, Cornwall. Connecticut (Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1992).
"Rededication of the Sedgwick Monument, Cornwall Hollow, July 31, 1994, 2 p.m.," program. Cornwall Historical Society.
Donald Martin Reynolds, Masters of American Sculpture (New York: Abbeville Press, 1993), pp. 117, 118.
Town Green Survey, Statewide Historic Resource Inventory, Hartford: Connecticut Historical Commission, 1991.
The Winsted Herald, Supplement, June 6, 1900.