Brigadier General Joseph Hayes Plaque - a bronze plaque, no one knows why it existed or where it went
This is one of the great unsolved mysteries that our group has come across. Over the years we have heard rumors of certain items and have been able to track them down or we would come across an item dealing with a member of the 18th and have no idea how it came into being, only later to discover the true origin. On this item we had never heard about it until it appeared on EBAY one day and still know nothing about its origin. The seller could not provide any historical information and refused to tell us where he got it from or who he sold it to.
Description from EBAY:
This is a SOLID BRONZE plaque, by GORHAM, of Brigadier General Joseph Hayes. The plaque is QUITE heavy (probably around 50-75 pounds) and measures 23 1/4" high and 15" wide and appx. 2" deep. There are 4 large bolts coming out of the back for mounting. On the bottom it is signed THE GORHAM CO. FOUNDERS. I will try my best to read to you the inscription on the front. I believe it says "JOSEPH HAYES BRIGADIER G. MAY GENERAL W.S.VOLS COMDG 1ST BRIGADE (REGULARS) & 5TH ARMY CORPS. NY MAY 29/06". The piece is on the dirty side, but...NO cracks...NO breaks... NO repairs.
During Donald's trip to Gettysburg he found a book that solved this great mystery and reports the following.
William E. Styples’ latest book, Generals in Bronze, has finally solved the mystery of the Joseph Hayes bronze relief. The relief was the work of American artist James E. Kelly (1855-1933), who, because of his interest in the Civil War, created a series of these bronze artworks featuring men who had served as generals during the war. Kelly conducted extensive interviews with each general prior to creating the work and those edited interviews form the basis of Styples’ book.
We’ve chosen not to provide a complete list, but there are interviews with Phillip Sheridan, William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, Joseph Hooker, Abner Doubleday, Judson Kilpatrick, Daniel Butterfield, Gouverneur K. Warren, Daniel E. Sickles, Alfred Pleasonton, Oliver O. Howard, Joshua L. Chamberlain, and, of course, Joseph Hayes. There are additional interviews with non-combatants such as Professor Thaddeus C. Lowe, Matthew Brady, and William J. Ferguson, who was performing onstage in Our American Cousin and had a close up view of John Wilkes Booth leaping to the stage at Ford’s Theater.
Kelly is most noted for his public sculptures, including the Monmouth Battle Monument in Freehold, N.J., the John Buford Monument at Gettysburg, the Sixth New York Cavalry Monument at Gettysburg, the Battle of Harlem Heights at Columbia University, New York City, and the Soldier’s and Sailors Monument at Troy, N.Y.
Hayes and Kelly first met in 1887 and formed a close friendship which lasted for 25 years. Kelly described Hayes as “strikingly handsome” and “his gait and bearing were that of a cavalier…and his rather precise English proclaimed him a Harvard man of the Old School.” The interview with Hayes includes his comments on the Battle of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, on Grant taking command of the Union Army, the Battle of the Wilderness, his promotion to Brigadier General, and the surrender at Appomattox.
Hayes on Pickett’s Charge:
“I was on the Little Round Top and saw Pickett’s charge. Our cannon opened on them. They broke in disorder and huddled round their colors and advanced in disorder and were easily repulsed. They came forward sticking to it up to our front and in no line-of-battle, but a mob. Then they fell back in a rush, running over the field. We sat on the rocks and laughed at them. General Meade said that never before until that time had he seen a division in line-of-battle, as they are apt to be obscured by woods or other natural formation.”
Styple’s book, published by Belle Grove Publishing Co. in 2005, can be purchased through any major online bookstore, however we would recommend purchasing directly from the publisher at http://www.bellegrovepublishing.com/ as you'll not only receive an autographed copy, but $10 of every purchase goes toward a fund to provide a memorial for James E. Kelly's currently unmarked grave at St. Raymond's Cemetery, Bronx, New York.