Sculpted by John Massey Rhine, this memorial commemorates Dr. Benjamin F. Stephenson (1823-1871), a Civil War surgeon and the founder of the Grand Army of the Republic. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a fraternal organization founded in 1866 for Union Veterans who had been honorably discharged. At its peak in 1890, the GAR had over 400,000 members on its rolls. The GAR was one of the first organized advocacy groups in American history, supporting voting rights for Black veterans, helping to make Memorial Day a national holiday, lobbying Congress to establish regular veterans’ pensions, and supporting political candidates who were Union Veterans, six of which became President.
The Stephenson memorial was formally dedicated on July 3, 1909. Hundreds of elderly veterans attended the event, many wearing their military uniforms. The monument consists of a twenty-five-foot-tall granite shaft with tapering sides capped by a pyramid. Bronze reliefs are mounted on each of its three faces. The main western face depicts a sailor and a soldier standing together in Civil War uniforms, a symbol of fraternity. Below is a bronze medallion portrait of Dr. Stephenson, framed in a sculpted granite wreath and flanked by two badges of the Grand Army of the Republic. On the northeast side of the memorial, the relief depicts a woman protecting a small child, a symbol of charity. A woman holding a shield and drawn sword is on the southeast side of the memorial, representing loyalty. The memorial is located at Indiana Plaza in the Penn Quarter neighborhood. The small public plaza is bounded by Seventh Street to the west, Indiana Avenue to the north, and Pennsylvania Avenue to the south.