Monument Avenue: J.E.B. Stuart Monument

It took 42 years for the City of Richmond to unveil “a suitable monument and inscription” to James Ewell Stuart. The J.E.B. Stuart Monument stood in Richmond for 113 years.

By Christina K. Vida
Elisa H. Wright Curator of General Collections

On May 14, 1864, two days after James Ewell Brown Stuart died, the City of Richmond formed a committee to erect “a suitable monument and inscription” to the Confederate general. The committee’s work slowed with little fundraising occurring in the 1870s or 1880s, although Stuart’s brother placed a marker on his grave in Hollywood Cemetery in 1876, and in 1888 a group of cavalry veterans erected an obelisk in Stuart’s memory near the site of his death in Henrico County.  

List of musical performances on May 26 and 27, 1892, at Mozart Hall in Richmond for a benefit concert supporting the Stuart Monument and Lee Camp Charity Fund.
Program for a fundraising event for the Stuart Monument, 1892, FIC.007867, The Valentine.

In October 1891, a new organization, the Veteran Cavalry Association of the Army of Northern Virginia, took over the mission of a monument to Stuart. After a decade of serious fundraising, led in part by Fitzhugh Lee, in 1903 the United Daughters of the Confederacy offered to help the VCA raise the final $3,000 for the monument.  

In May 1904, the organization selected New York sculptor Frederick Moynihan to create his equestrian statue of Stuart, modeled after John Foley’s monument to James Outram in India. 

Later that year, the Civic Improvement League suggested that the Stuart, Davis, and “Extra Billy” Smith monuments all be located on Monument Avenue to make the road “more than a mere name.”  

Work commenced on the pedestal base in June 1905 at Franklin and Lombardy streets. In late 1906, veterans decided to officially unveil the Stuart monument during the reunion already scheduled in late May and early June.  

Men guiding a bronze statue of J.E.B. Stuart on a horse into place in Richmond while the statue hangs from ropes and pulleys on a tall derrick.
Moynihan bronze equestrian statue being installed on the J.E.B. Stuart Monument, 1907, V.61.19.02, The Valentine.

The organizers planned to combine the Stuart and Jefferson Davis monument unveilings for at least two years as it coincided with 1907 Jamestown Exposition and the events surrounding the 300th anniversary of the English arrival in Virginia. On May 30, 1907, Stuart’s granddaughter, eight-year-old Virginia Stuart Waller, pulled the cord to unveil the statue.  

Men in white hoods and robes from the KKK stand in front of the Stuart Monument with men in suits beside trucks with posters on them reading “Christmas Cheer Richmond Klan 1.”
Richmond members of the Ku Klux Klan gather around the J.E.B. Stuart Monument, 1920s, V.2023.25, The Valentine.

During the summer of 2020, as social justice activists targeted Lost Cause monuments around the city as sites of protest, skaters and bikers began utilizing the base of J.E.B. Stuart Monument.  

A skateboard skating on the graffiti-covered granite base of the J.E.B. Stuart Monument in Richmond in 2020.
A skateboarder skating on the base of the J.E.B. Stuart Monument, June 20, 2020, Ronnie Pittman, Flickr.

On June 1, 2020, while peaceful protestors gathered at the Lee Monument, other activists attached a rope to the sculpture of Stuart. Aerial footage collected by the Richmond Police Department reveals that officers at the Lee Monument misunderstood a call for police support at the Stuart Monument, leading to the tear gassing and assault on a large crowd of citizens at Lee Circle.  

Painted covered equestrian statue of J.E.B. Stuart being lifted by ropes, pulleys, and a crane in Richmond in 2020.
Team Henry contractors removed the Moynihan bronze statue of J.E.B. Stuart from the monument on July 7, 2020, Heidi W. Abbot, V.2021.31.24, The Valentine.

On July 7, 2020, at the direction of the City of Richmond, Team Henry Enterprises removed the Moynihan bronze sculpture of Stuart, and they returned in 2022 to dismantle the pedestalIn the spring of 2022, the city transferred ownership of the sculpture and pedestal to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia.  


Sources 

  • Daily Dispatch, May 16, 1864, pg. 1. 
  • “General Stuart’s Monument.” Daily Dispatch, February 5, 1876. 
  • “The Grave of General J.E.B. Stuart.” Daily Dispatch, May 16, 1876. 
  • “The Stuart Monument.” Richmond Dispatch, June 19, 1888, pg. 1.  
  • “A Cavalry Mass-Meeting.” Times, October 2, 1891. 
  • “Daughters to Help Build Monument.” Times-Dispatch, November 3, 1903, pg. 7 
  • “The Stuart Statue Design is Adopted.” Times-Dispatch, May 11, 1904, pg. 1 
  • “Lee Prompt In His Reply.” Times-Dispatch, May 13, 1904, pg. 2. 
  • “Avenue of Monuments,” Times-Dispatch, August 10, 1904, pg. 10.  
  • “Famous Avenue of Monuments,” Times-Dispatch, October 1, 1905, pg. 27. 
  • “Ground Broken for Stuart Monument,” Evening Journal, June 23, 1905. 
  • RVA Magazine, “Richmond, Va. Skater. The plinth of the former Confederate statue of JEB Stuart has now become reclaimed space and a favorite spot for skaters and BMX riders throughout the city,” Facebook, August 4, 2020,  https://www.facebook.com/RVAMAG/photos/richmond-va-skater-the-plinth-of-the-former-confederate-statue-of-jeb-stuart-has/10158604181194146/?paipv=0&eav=Afbi-cyQmoegszQz730hGm_F6zvp4iKnsv-69Trx863S595JpYzn2DYUQp9VOz9OrdU&_rdr  
  • Richmond (Va.) Police Department air surveillance footage, 1 June 2020.” Library of Virginia. http://rosetta.virginiamemory.com:1801/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE3453655 

 

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Authors Christina K. Vida
Work Title Monument Avenue: J.E.B. Stuart Monument
Website https://thevalentine.org
Published October 3, 2023
Updated May 24, 2024
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