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Iowa History Daily: April 2 - Harriet Ketcham's Soldiers & Sailors Monument

Iowa History Daily: On April 2, 1889, the deadline arrived for a contest soliciting designs for a monument to celebrate the service of Iowans in the Civil War. The six-person commission selected a design submitted by Mount Pleasant’s Harriet Ketcham featuring an equestrian rider atop an elaborate base over forty-six other entrants, and awarded a $500 prize to the Iowa sculptor. Following selection, the commission worked with Ketcham on revisions which ultimately resulted in the 135’ tall monument crowned with a ‘Victory’ statue on the south lawn of the Iowa State Capitol building.

Although Ketcham’s design and revisions led to the monument, she unfortunately passed away on October 13, 1890, shortly before the Iowa Legislature provided final authorization for the project. Carl Rohl-Smith, a Danish artist, signed on to provide design support as construction got underway. The granite and stone monument cost $155,000 to build, and funds returned to the state by the federal government for advances made to equip Iowa’s Civil War regiments during the conflict provided the sum.

The Grand Army of the Republic started the drive for the initial construction of the monument when they pushed the 22nd Iowa General Assembly to dispense the returned funds to celebrate the 76,242 Iowa men who fought in the American Civil War. Over 13,000 Iowans gave the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict, and the Iowa Legislature agreed with the Grand Army of the Republic’s request to honor those who served.

The soaring monument rises from a 60-square foot base and features a variety of Iowans important to the conflict. Four Iowa Civil War Generals: Marcellus M. Crocker, Grenville M. Dodge, Samuel R. Curtis, and John M. Crose sit astride horses at the base of the granite pedestal. Infantryman Shelby Norman, the first Iowan killed in battle, Sailor Ensign William H.C. Michael, Artilleryman Captain Henry H. Griffiths, and Cavalryman Lieutenant James Horton adorn the upper-base of the monument and represent the various branches of service they served. Depictions of noted Iowa generals, battle scenes, and other depictions decorate the base. #IowaHistoryCalendar #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD


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