Located at the eastern edge of the National Mall near the base of the Capitol Building, this memorial pays tribute to American Civil War General and 18th U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. It faces the Lincoln Memorial approximately two miles to the west, symbolically linking the President and the General who together steered the nation and its armies through one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.
At 252 feet long by 71 feet wide by 44 feet high, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial is the largest equestrian monument in the United States. Grant and his horse, Cincinnati, stand at two and a half times life size and are positioned atop a 22-foot-high marble pedestal. Grant is portrayed in the same way that he often appeared on the battlefield, without a sword, shoulders slightly drooping, and topped with a wide-brimmed Army hat. The monument contrasts Grant's customary stillness while observing battles with the turbulence of the charging Cavalry to his north and Artillery to his south. Relief panels on each side of the statue's pedestal depict marching soldiers, and four lions on individual pedestals guard the statue’s base.
To Grant’s right is the famous Cavalry Group rushing out onto the battlefield. The lead horse carries the commanding officer who, with a drawn sword, is giving the command to charge. Tragically, one of the horses has already fallen, pinning its rider beneath. To Grant’s left is an equally dramatic portrayal of the Artillery group. Five men and three horses attempt to steer a cannon into position, but the bridal of the lead horse has broken, causing it to lunge forward and the driver to lose control.
Thirty years after the war’s end, veterans of the Army of the Tennessee successfully lobbied congress to erect a monument to General Grant in Washington, D.C. Congress passed the Hepburn Act in 1901, which allocated $250,000 for the project; the largest Federal expenditure for statuary to date. Of the more than two dozen designs submitted, the selection panel chose that of Henry Merwin Shrady, beating out several more prominent sculptors.
Shrady tragically died two weeks before the memorial's dedication on the centennial of Grant's birthday, April 27, 1922. Nevertheless, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial remains a “remarkable achievement by a sculptor who, with little formal training, toiled twenty years to translate his grand vision into cast bronze.”
Part of Civil War Monuments
DC Inventory: March 3, 1979
National Register: September 20, 1978