Virginia Monument Finding Aide
These documents from the GNMP VI7-67 Virginia Monument Files are related to the NPS approval of the erection of the Virginia Memorial on the Gettysburg Battlefield. They are presented in chronological order.
3b. Thomas Smith, Secretary, Virginia Gettysburg Commission (VGC) to Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, December 7, 1909
A meeting of the Virginia Gettysburg Commission met in Washington D.C. and selected a site for a Virginia memorial to be erected on the Gettysburg Battlefield at “Spangler’s Woods” and ask Secretary of War, Henry Stimson “may be advised of your approval of our action.”
4. Department of War, Assistant and Chief Clerk John C. Scofield refers Mr. Thomas’ correspondence to Colonel John P. Nicolson, Chairman, Gettysburg National Park Commission (GNPC) December 9, 1909
Mr. Scofield forwards Mr. Thomas’ correspondence to John P. Nicolson, Chairman and was so advised.
5. W.B. Van Amringe, The Van-Amringe Granite Co., to John P. Nicolson, Chairman GNPC, February 3, 1910
Mr. Van Amringe notifies Mr. Nicolson that Mr. Sievers has been named as sculptor and “awarded the contract for the State of Virginia memorial at Gettysburg.” He goes on to mention that he does not know of Mr. Sievers’ design, skill or whether he “is clever in Equestrian statue work but there is no doubt as to his artistic training and cleverness in memorial work.”Mr. Van Amringe goes on to detail the design of the monument but adds a concern regarding “how Mr. Sievers’ will provide the necessary surface ... remains to be proven.” And “whether the Commission have been wise in their selection of so small an object” in comparison “with the State of Pennsylvania memorial at Gettysburg.”
6. Thomas Smith, Secretary VGC, to General L.L. Lomax, GNPC, July 31, 1910
Mr. Nicolson is informed the VGC “in deference to the preference of the National Commission, to the substitution of the flag of Virginia, in place of the Confederate battleflag.”
7. General L.L. Lomax, GNPC to Col. Thomas Smith VGC, August 3, 1910
Mr. Lomax acknowledges the VGC’s decision regarding the substitution of the Virginia state flag on the Virginia monument and will forward this to the Secretary of War, “we are not willing that any one except the Secretary should approve or those in the highest place should carry out the plan.”
8. Virginia Monument Design approval by Gettysburg National Park Commission, Endorsement of Approval, Acting Secretary of War, September 1 & 13, 1910
The GNPC approves the design of the Virginia monument on September 1 and the Acting (Assistant) Secretary of War sends the Department’s endorsement to the Chairman GNPC on September 13.
9. John Chisholm, (through General Lomax), GNPC to Col. Thomas Smith, VGC, September 14, 1910
This correspondence confirms the Secretary of War’s approval of the design for the Virginia Monument at Gettysburg.
10. John P. Nicolson, Chairman Gettysburg National Park Commission GNPC to General L.L. Lomax, GNPC, February 7, 1912
Mr. Nicolson has concerns regarding the Virginia monument inscription “they fought for the faith of their fathers” he has received from Mr. Van Amringe. He mentions the law that inscriptions “should be without censure, praise or blame.” He also states, “the approval of this inscription by the Secretary of War is doubtful” and suggests two alternatives for Mr. Lomax “to think over. The simplicity of which would appeal to every soldier… to make it more dignified.”
11. General L.L. Lomax, GNPC to John P. Nicolson, Chairman GNPC, February 8, 1912
Mr. Lomax agrees with the Chairman regarding the inscription and mentions his conversations with Col. Smith “last week” when he wrote to Mr. Smith “about the same as stated in Mr. Nicolson’s letter.” He also has forwarded the order from the Secretary of War to Mr. Smith for his board’s use. He believes he can “induce Col. Smith to do away with the names of Virginia organizations (military units) as it would be duplicating the VA Tablets the monument. And for myself I like the monument free from inscriptions.”
12. W.B. Van Amringe, The Van-Amringe Granite Co., to John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC, February 27, 1912
Mr. Van Amringe has sent Mr. Nicolson two blueprints of the Virginia monument and seeks the GNPC’s approval. He’s also anxious to know “the amount of lettering which will be required” on the pedestal. The VGC “accompanied by the writer, will visit Mt. Airy (NC) on March 6th and … we are in hopes that the inscription for said pedestal will have been approved” by the Government.
13. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to W.B. Van Amringe, The Van-Amringe Granite Co., March 1, 1912
Mr. Nicolson returns the Virginia monument blueprints to Mr. Van Amringe and ask him to send one to Mr. Smith. He adds the approval given by the GNPC is only for “the construction of the Pedestal and foundations … and does not authorize any inscriptions. Please acknowledge receipt.”
14. Thomas Smith, VGC to John P. Nicolson, Chairman GNPC, March 29, 1912
Mr. Smith has forwarded to the Chairman the inscription recommended for the Virginia monument “with the hope that they are not in the least infringement in any way of the regulations of the War Department issued on January 12, 1912.”
15. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to General L.L. Lomax, GNPC, (No Enclosures included) April 1, 1912
Chairman Nicolson reiterates that the inscription submitted by Col. Smith for the Virginia monument is not acceptable to the GNPC or the War Department. And Nicolson requests General Lomax speak with Mr. Smith about new wording for the inscription.
16. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to Col. Thomas Smith, VGC, April 1, 1912
Mr. Nicolson writes “We understood by previous correspondence that the expression that ‘They fought for the faith of their fathers’ was to be omitted.” Nicolson then suggests “Virginia to her soldiers at Gettysburg cannot in any way be objectionable.” But this is just a suggestion and “is not insisted upon.”
17. Major Charles A. Richardson, New York Monument Commission Commissioner, to John P. Nicolson, Chairman GNPC, April 2, 1912
Commissioner Richardson also does not approve of the actions of the Virginia Commission and does not abide “discussion of antebellum subjects” and instead of facing facts, they persist “to provoke discussion of antebellum subject and which in my opinion should be allowed to become dormant.”
18. General L.L. Lomax, GNPC to John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC, April 3, 1912
In discussions with Mr. Smith, Lomax believes Smith signed the “communication the Chairman sent” and mailed it but he will investigate. Mr. Smith also says, “he will call a meeting of the Virginia Board at once and lay the matter before them.”
19. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to General L.L. Lomax, GNPC, April 4, 1912
The Chairman writes “If Colonel Smith mailed me the document that was returned for his signature, it failed to reach me.” He goes on to state he cannot depend on Mr. Smith’s memory but has refrained from mentioning it to Mr. Lomax.
20. Thomas Smith, VGC to John P. Nicolson, Chairman GNPC, April 4, 1912
Mr. Smith writes “I beg to advise you that the Virginia Commission at Gettysburg was under the impression that the inscription:VIRGINIA TO HER SOLDIERS AT GETTYSBURGTHEY FOUGHT FOR THE FAITH OF THEIR FATHERSwas included in the letter of approval of September 13th, 1910 from the Secretary of War.” “Upon possession of information that it was not recognized that the inscription had been considered by the Gettysburg National Military Commission, they (VGC), as soon as practicable, assembled to submit an inscription and I duly reported to you their action in my letter of March 29th.” Mr. Smith will submit the subject of the inscription to the VGC without delay.
21. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to Col. Thomas Smith, VGC, April 6, 1912
Mr. Nicolson reiterates his earlier correspondence by stating, “It is impossible for us to express our surprise at its contents. By referring to the previous correspondence you will note that the approval of the Secretary of War carried with it only the design and location, and the Inscription was especially reserved to be submitted in a future communication by you for approval.” Mr. Nicolson will send Mr. Smith copies of this correspondence, “the loss of which is very annoying …You evidently mislaid them. In every communication to you as the Secretary I stated the inscription was “apart and separate from the design and location.”
22. General L.L. Lomax, GNPC to John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC, April 9, 1912
Mr. Lomax is worried and will travel to Warrenton to see what he can “do with Col. Smith toward adjusting the matter of inscription.” He is optimistic about the result, however.
23. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to General L.L. Lomax, GNPC, April 11, 1912
Chairman Nicolson “sincerely” hopes Mr. Lomax will be able to adjust the matter” with Colonel Smith regarding the Virginia monument inscription issue but says of Colonel Smith, it “appears to me to have lost his grip with men and things.” Nicolson reiterates that the War Department will not approve the inscription as submitted and the GNPC “would be against a controversy, the same as with the location.”Nicolson, on a different subject, alerts Mr. Lomax that after his meeting in Washington before the Appropriations” Committee. “I am greatly concerned with the condition of affairs.”
24. Thomas Smith, VGC to John P. Nicolson, Chairman GNPC, April 12, 1912
After a meeting of the VGC they have agreed to the change in the inscription:“VIRGINIA TO HER SONS AT GETTYSBURG”Mr. Smith does however write he “will be glad to receive the letters that you refer to as establishing my inexplicable obliviousness.”
25. General L.L. Lomax, GNPC to Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, July 1, 1912
Mr. Lomax writes the GNPC has submitted their report and approved the design for the Gettysburg Virginia monument to the Secretary of War. The design includes the substitution of the Virginia state flag in place of the Confederate flag. This use of the state flag seems “more appropriate.
27. Governor of Virginia, H.C. Stuart to John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC, November 17, 1916
The Virginia Governor writes to Mr. Nicolson detailed plans for conducting the dedication of the Virginia monument. The Dedication will be scheduled for June 1st or 2nd 1917, to follow the Confederate Reunion in Washington DC scheduled for May 28th and 29th, 1917. The Governor “will be most happy to receive any suggestions” that the Chairman might have regarding the dedication.
29. John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC to Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, May 11, 1917
The Chairman suggests to the Virginia Governor that he might want to invite the Secretary of War or Assistant Secretary of War to the Virginia Dedication.
34. W.B. Van Amringe, The Van-Amringe Granite Co., to Lt Col John P. Nicolson, Chairman, GNPC, June 12, 1917
Mr. Van Amringe gives Mr. Nicolson their “hearty thanks” for the Virginia Dedication but wonders “I believe the World War has served to dwarf into insignificance practically all the evidence of previous wars and events.” He also mentions that the Virginia Dedication was expected to draw many of the participants from the Confederate Reunion in Washington held a few days earlier, but it did not. Was it the weather or the lack of housing in Washington that dampened their interest in the Dedication? Finally, Mr. Van Amringe thanks Mr. Nicolson on behalf of his wife for the souvenir pamphlet including sheet music he gave her.
35. Rededication of the Virginia Memorial, GNMP, “Guide for Personnel”
The Virginia Monument was rededicated in April 1987 and this is an NPS guide and program for those participating in and attending that rededication.
Last updated: October 26, 2022