“Work progressed somewhat slowly” — West Point Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin

Today, the West Point Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers the ceremony for the Battle Monument on May 31, 1897.

From History of the Battle Monument at West Point by the Battle Monument Association, West Point, published in December 1898:


The contract for the erection of the monument was let to Messrs. Norcross Bros., of New York City, and the sculptor for the figure of Fame surmounting the shaft, selected by Messrs. McKim, Mead & White and approved by the Building Committee, was Mr. Frederick MacMonnies.

The architects desired to make some modifications in the design, and were permitted to do so, the most notable change from the accepted design being the omission of the eagles surrounding the shaft.

Owing to various delays incident to changes and modifications of details, the procuring and correction of the lists of names of officers and men, and their casting in bronze tablets, the work progressed somewhat slowly.

Instead of the site dedicated by General McClellan in 1864, a new site contiguous to it was selected by the architect and Building Committee to the east of Trophy Point, and about midway between it and the hotel.

This site is a very conspicuous one from the river, and this consideration largely determined its selection.

The quarrying, transportation and erection of so large a mass as the monolithic shaft — probably the largest polished monolith in the world — are matters of considerable difficulty, requiring very great caution and considerable engineering skill; and the details of the operations involved are fully described in a separate section.

By the spring of 1894, the shaft was ready to receive the figure of Fame, and accordingly it was placed in position facing toward the Library Building.

It was hoped that the monument would be completed and in readiness for dedication by October of this year, and partial preparations for the dedication ceremonies were made.

In the meanwhile formal criticism of the figure of Fame, involving its replacement, having been made by a member of the Committee and acquiesced in by the architect, it was decided that the figure must be replaced.

Ultimately the architect offered to assume the entire expense of this change, and a new figure was undertaken at once by Mr. MacMonnies.

As a necessary consequence, the dedication was postponed and May 31, 1895, selected for the event.

Before that time it became evident that completion could not be hoped for until later, and the matter was left for future decision.

Great difficulty was experienced in securing correctness in the casting of the bronze tablets, and many alterations were demanded before their completion and location on the monument.

The lists of names had been carefully prepared in the office of the Adjutant-General of the Army, and afterwards were examined critically by both the Chairman of the Committee and the Treasurer.

The lists and tablets were repeatedly checked after casting, and everything done to insure accuracy in the record.

Early in May, 1896, the new figure was put in place, but various modifications in the details of the monument and the location of the bronzes rendered it impossible to dedicate in June, as the Committee had hoped to do.

It was not until March, 1897, that definite steps were taken to arrange for the final ceremonies and the date fixed for May 31st.

It was decided to make the event memorable, and, after careful consultation, a list of those to whom invitations were to be extended was prepared.

This list is as follows:

The President of the United States;
The Vice-President of the United States;
Members of the Cabinet of the President of the United States;
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court;
The Speaker of the House of Representatives;
The General of the Army and all officers of the Regular Army;
Graduates of the United States Military Academy;
Architects, Sculptor and Competing Architects;
Members of the Selection Committee;
Veterans of the Regular Army who served in the War of the Rebellion;
Families of Soldiers commemorated by Monument;
The Commander of the Loyal Legion;
The Commander of the Grand Army;
The Superintendent and Officers of the Naval Academy;
Heads of Bureaus of the Naval Department.

The invitation was the subject of much careful consideration, and was printed from special type originally cast in Philadelphia in the 18th century.

It consisted of four leaves on heavy rough paper with uncut edges, tinted pale buff.

On the first or cover page was an artotype of the figure of Fame; on the 3d page the invitation in black and red ink; on the 5th an artotype of the monument; on the 7th the names of the Building Committee and Architects; on the 8th or rear cover was printed the order of the exercises.

A special card entitling the holder to a seat was sent with each invitation, the assignment being made upon presentation of this card at the Auditorium.

The wording of the invitation was as follows:

1st page.
The Dedication Ceremonies of the
Battle Monument at West Point,
[Figure of Fame.]
The thirty-first day of May,

3d page.

The honor of your presence is
requested at West Point, New
York, on Monday, May the thirty-
first, eighteen hundred and ninety-
seven, at half after eleven o’clock,
at the dedication of the Battle
Monument erected in memory
of the Officers and Men of the
Regular Army of the United States
who fell in battle during the War
of the Rebellion by their surviving

In behalf of the Building Committee,
Charles W. Larned, Professor
United States Military Academy,

The favor of an early reply is
earnestly requested.


The West Point Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin shows with an image of the front view of the battle monument with the river below.

West Point Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin