Philadelphian Walter's classical obelisk is a solemn reminder of the hold that the Wyoming Valley's mythic founding event, the battle of Wyoming—a military defeat for the Patriot militia, but a propaganda defeat for the British—had on the nineteenth-century American imagination. This early example of commemorative architecture consists of a pedestal and obelisk of dark gray local sandstone laid in ashlar blocks twelve to fifteen inches in thickness. The remains of the dead, buried in a common grave after the battle, were reinterred below. Designs for a suitable monument were first solicited in 1833, as the battle of July 3, 1778, and its bloody aftermath were being recalled for a new generation in prose (J. H. St. John de Crèvecoeur) and verse (Thomas Campbell's “Gertrude of Wyoming,” 1809). From the time the monument was commissioned to the present, it has been the center of annual commemorations, drawing such guests as Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and Theodore Roosevelt.
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