General Meade Memorial

Meade MemorialAccording to the Smithsonian Art Museum’s Art Inventories Catalog, the Meade Monument at Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street, NW, honors General Meade, a native of Pennsylvania who commanded the Union forces at Gettysburg and the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War.

The sculpture was commissioned by residents of the state of Pennsylvania on October 18, 1913. The sculpture was authorized by an act of Congress on January 21, 1915, but ground breaking did not take place until March 28, 1922 after the design of the memorial was approved by the Washington Fine Arts Commission and the State of Pennsylvania. The cost was $85,000. The sculpture was originally installed on Union Square at 3rd Street, N.W, but was moved to National Park Service storage in 1969 during construction of the reflecting pool atop the I-395 freeway tunnel. It remained in storage until 1983 when it was installed at Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street.

The description of the sculpture is as follows:

Meade Memorial back Cylindrical sculpture with the figure of General George Meade on one side and the winged figure of War on the opposite side of a circle, which is formed with six allegorical figures standing side by side. The allegorical figures represent Loyalty, Chivalry, Fame, Progress, Military Courage, and Energy, qualities the artist believed were necessary for the character of a great general.

The male figure of Loyalty, on Meade’s proper right, and the female figure of Chivalry, on his proper left, remove the general’s military cloak, symbolic of the “cloak of battle” that the general leaves behind. Over the general’s head, Loyalty holds up a wreath and garlands, symbolic of the general’s accomplishments. On the general’s proper right, behind the figure of Loyalty, is the female figure of Fame in the middle position supported by the male figure of Energy.

On the general’s proper left, behind the figure of Chivalry, is the male figure of Progress in the middle position, and behind him is the male figure of Military Courage locking arms with the male figure of War at the center rear position. The winged figure of War is flanked by two memorial tablets. General Meade is represented as the embodiment of all six allegorical qualities as he emerges from his cloak of battle and progresses into his future. At the top of the monument is a gold finial with the state seal of Pennsylvania.

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