Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Gouverneur K. Warren Monument at Gettysburg

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

The other day, I posted this picture on my Facebook page and promised to give a shout out to all those who could tell me who it was. So congrats to Ray Ortensie, Scott MacKenzie, and Robby Colby. An honorable mention goes Vicki Gramm, who new where the monument was. And a very special shout out to Coni, it is not Grover Cleveland - but keep at it, sooner or later I'll post a picture of his statue :)

Once upon a time, before Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain became the patron saint of Little Round Top (thanks to Shaara, Burns, Maxwell), the hero of this notable knob was none other than Gouverneur K. Warren - the Army of the Potomac chief engineer who thought it might be a good idea to extend the army's line south of the III corps position and saw to it that some troops were placed there in force. Arguably, his move prevented Longstreet's Confederate I corps from turning the Union left flank. Nice work, G!

Below is a transcription of the monument dedication - by James B. Fiske, Pres. 5th N. Y. Veteran Assn. (Duryee Zouaves). August 8, 1888

With feelings of awe and with memories of the relentless War of the Rebellion passing quickly through our minds, we are here to-day to perform a duty that is both sad and pleasant. Sad, because we regret the absence from life of him whose memory we this day seek to perpetuate. Pleasant, from the fact that it has, and very properly, fallen to our lot as survivors of the Fifth New York Volunteers to offer here for dedication this tribute to the spotless name and memory of Gouverneur K. Warren.

To you, gentlemen, who have passed through the furnace of war, our pilgrimage hither will be no source of wonderment. You fully understand the promptings of love born of patriotism, nursed by trials and dangers, and matured by the fire of battle.

We come as members of one family, and Warren was our brother. We served with him through all the periods of privation and hardship encountered by his command from 1861 until 1865. We are living witnesses of his devotion to the Union cause, and we can testify to his cool and intrepid bravery under many trying circumstances.

Gaines' Mill, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Hatcher's Run, and Five Forks are a few of the many fields on which we were led by Warren, and on which he gained imperishable glory and renown.

Our regiment, under his able management, reached a proficiency in discipline and drill, and demonstrated fighting qualities unexcelled by that of any regiment in the United States service during the War of the Rebellion.

We admired his zeal and ability; we gloried in his bravery; and we loved him for his patriotism and loyalty to our flag and country.

It is said " he needs no eulogy.'' Can it not, with equal truth, be said " he needs no monument?"

If we had not listened to the patriotic impulses of our hearts and had never given this memorial a thought, what then? Could it not be said to those who come in after years: "If ye seek his monument, look around!" These grand old hills, " Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; " the vale below, wherein was felt the shock of battle, and all the country circling round are one vast, everlasting monument to the name and fame of Warren.

But, honored Sir, would we be satisfied to take our departure to " that Home not made with hands," without leaving behind us some testimonial of his worth? I think not.

Who, then, could attend to this work more appropriately than those with whom he faced the summer's scorching sun, the winter's fiercest blast, the hardships, fatigues and dangers of a soldier's life.

It would consume too much of time to enter into all the details of this movement. It is sufficient to say that about two years ago the Veteran Association of the Fifth New York Volunteer Infantry, Duryee Zouaves, at one of its regular meetings determined to erect a monument to the memory of their old commander, Gen. Gouverneur Kemble Warren. Our own members contributed liberally, but were not financially able to do the work unaided. We, therefore, through the aid of the press, and through the medium of printed circulars, appealed to the public, more particularly to that portion whose knowledge of the general was gained through service with him in the army.

Subscriptions came slowly for a time, but many words of cheer and encouragement were received which buoyed our spirits, and at last we began to see the dawn of success. From East and West, from North and South, came messages filled with gems of historic truth and praise of Warren.

We shall ever remember with exceeding pleasure and gratitude the kindly co-operation of friends in Baltimore; and when our mental vision takes an easterly view we see as if by magic, seated tranquilly in Narragansett Bay, within hearing of the melancholy sound of old ocean's surge and roar, and defended by that grim old citadel, Fort Adams, Newport, the beautiful city by the sea. We, in thought, are led to its suburbs, to its place of graves; we stand in silent contemplation around the tomb of our beloved commander, and our hearts are filled with gratitude and our pulses beat livelier when we remember the generous hospitality of the friends in Newport, and their sturdy efforts to assist us, and to which we in a great measure attribute our success. They, and all others who aided us, have our heartiest thanks.

And now the memorial is here. Upon the rock on which it stands the immortal Warren stood, and by his quick forethought, his acuteness of perception, thwarted the enemy's movements which, if successful, would have brought disaster to our arms and incalculable injury to the nation.

Through you, Sir, we desire to extend to the gentlemen composing the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association our warmest thanks for the setting apart of this historic spot for the erection of this statue, and for the other courtesies extended us through our committee.




  1. I was at Gettysburg a few years after the movie came out and saw that a ranger walk was going to focus on "the hero of Little Roundtop". With all the "don't call me lawrence" t-shirts around, I told my boys they could hear the full Chamberlain story.

    The ranger told Warren's story, Strong Vincent and Patrick O'Rourke's. We asked about Chamberlain and he said that we needed to understand that JLC was one of many men who played a role in saving the hill. Vincent and O'Rourke had died leading their men, but didn't pass Hollywood's muster. He then gave a full account of the Mainers role. Clearly he was always asked about JLC and had no intention of leaving him out. It was a good pedagogical device.

  2. My favorite story about Gettysburg battlefield interpretation concerns the path to the 20ths marker that had to be constructed after the film. It seems that it was a rarely visited spot before that. Even today, the 20ths, co. B marker illustrating the position of a detachment even farther to the left of the Union line (with some US sharpshooters) is pretty much ignored. They only got a few seconds in the movie....