Richmond is a city that refuses to give up its ghosts. Instead, it has cast them in bronze and set them along the city’s most picturesque street: Monument Avenue.
Monument Avenue boasts statues of Jeb Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Matthew Fontaine Maury, the father of modern oceanography, is also honored there (as is late-20th Century tennis legend Arthur Ashe).
The Jackson statue stands at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Boulevard, which is home to many of the city’s museums. The site was selected in November 1914, and the monument’s cornerstone was placed in June 1915. The statue itself, though, didn’t see completion until October 11, 1919. Sculpted by Richmonder F. William Sievers, who designed the Virginia monument at Gettysburg and would also design the Maury statue on Monument Avenue, the statue cost about $40,000 and stands thirty-seven feet tall.
Stonewall sits ramrod straight on a horse that stands ramrod straight. He holds the mount’s reins in his left hand. It is an altogether human, albeit stiff, rendition of Stonewall. Sievers modeled the steed after a local racehorse named Superior—and then took a lot of ribbing from Confederate veterans because the horse looked too impressive.
Sievers apparently wasn’t especially keen on the placement of the statue because he didn’t think it offered the best “viewing advantage,” but he conceded to the demands of veterans and allowed the statue to face north. As the story goes, they wanted Jackson to face in that direction because they “wanted Stonewall to keep a close eye on the Yankees.”