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Point Pleasant Battle Monument

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1908–1909, Van-Amringe Granite Company
  • Point Pleasant Battle Monument (State Historic Preservation Office, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Rodney Collins)
  • (West Virginia Collection within the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

This rough-hewn granite obelisk commemorates the daylong battle that occurred here on October 10, 1774. It also commemorates Livia Simpson-Poffenbarger's tireless efforts to have the nation recognize the importance of the engagement, which she considered the first battle of the American Revolution. Her persistence paid off when the U.S. Congress appropriated $10,000 for the monument in 1908. Armed with additional funds, the Ladies Monument Association contracted with Boston's Van-Amringe Granite Company, which had also erected monuments at Gettysburg, to furnish plans and specifications. For $16,000, including shipment and erection, the ladies ordered “a monument of Balfour granite, the statue thereon to be of Westerly granite. The shaft is an obelisk with a base twenty-four feet square, the height to be eighty-two feet. The statue is to be that of a colonial soldier of the primitive Virginia style, dressed in hunting shirt, coon skin cap, leather breeches and long rifle.” One hundred fifty-two granite stones were cut and numbered at the quarries of the Balfour Pink Granite Company, near Salisbury, North Carolina, and shipped to Point Pleasant by railroad. The cornerstone was laid on June 9, 1909, the capstone set on August 22, and the monument dedicated on October 10, the 135th anniversary of the battle. A number of human bones found during excavation for the monument's foundations were reinterred, and an arrowhead was placed in a sealed box set under the capstone.

An 8-foot granite soldier with a coonskin cap in his right hand and a long rifle in his left faces eastward in “at ease” position at the monument's base. The Smith Granite Company of Westerly, Rhode Island, provided the statue. Albert Russell and Sons of Newburyport, Massachusetts, cast the bronze plaques that detail the history of the battle and list the names of its participants. The monument, one of West Virginia's earliest and still one of its largest memorials, dominates the point where the Kanawha flows into the Ohio. Whether it commemorates the first battle of the American Revolution is another matter.

Also on the grounds are monuments to Chief Cornstalk, reinterred here in 1909, and “Mad Anne” Bailey (1742–1825), a popular pioneer heroine whose exploits have been so blown out of proportion over the years that it is hard to separate fact from myth. Near the Ohio riverbank a plaque identifies the site where French explorer Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville buried a lead plate on August 18, 1749, claiming the Ohio, or Belle Rivière, for France. It was uncovered almost a hundred years later.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.


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S. Allen Chambers Jr., "Point Pleasant Battle Monument", [Point Pleasant, West Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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