General Gouverneur Kemble Warren Statue
General Gouverneur Kemble Warren Statue in Grand Army Plaza
Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830-1882)
Backstory and Context
Gouverneur Kemble Warren was born on January 8, 1830 in Cold Spring, New York. In 1850, he graduated second in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following graduation, Warren was assigned to the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers. By exploring and surveying western lands for a transcontinental railroad route, he helped to create one of the first comprehensive maps of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Warren received a promotion to the rank of first lieutenant in 1856 and three years later became a professor of mathematics at West Point, a position he held until the spring of 1861.
Soon after the Civil War broke out, Warren entered the volunteer army, becoming lieutenant colonel of the Fifth New York Infantry. With his regiment, he saw combat at the Battle of Bethel Church on June 10, 1861. A few months later, Warren was promoted to the rank of colonel. During the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, he commanded a brigade in V Corps. Warren was wounded at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, but recovered quickly enough to perform admirably at the Battle of Malvern Hill. Later that same year, he participated in the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Fredericksburg. Following Antietam, Warren was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.
In February 1863, Warren became chief engineer of the Army of the Potomac. Later that same year, on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he ordered Union troops to take control of a rocky hilltop on the left flank of the Union line, known as Little Round Top, just before Confederate forces launched their assault on the position. Warren’s decision most likely saved the Union Army from catastrophe. Following the engagement, he was promoted to the rank of major general. Warren then briefly commanded II Corps in place of the wounded Winfield Scott Hancock before taking command of V Corps in March 1864. He led V Corps during the Overland Campaign of May and June 1864, and through the early stages of the Appomattox Campaign of March and April 1865. At the Battle of Five Forks, on April 1, 1865, Major General Philip Sheridan, angered by what he perceived as Warren moving too cautiously, relieved him of his command.
Following the war, Warren rejoined the Army Corps of Engineers. During the late 1860s and 1870s, he not only designed bridges and harbors, but also went to work to clear his name. Finally, in 1879, a court of inquiry largely exonerated Warren’s actions at the Battle of Five Forks. The court’s findings, however, were not published until after Warren died of liver failure in Newport, Rhode Island on August 8, 1882.
In 1896, the G.K. Warren Post No. 286 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Brooklyn commissioned a statue in honor of its namesake. Designed by German-born sculptor Henry Baerer, the over-life-sized bronze statue depicts Warren standing in full military garb, holding a pair of field binoculars and gazing into the distance. Dedicated in Grand Army Plaza on June 26, 1896, the statue rests on a pedestal made of roughly-hewn granite from Little Round Top.
"General Gouverneur Kemble Warren." New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The City of New York. Web. 4 February 2021 <https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/B040/monuments/1648>.
"Gouverneur K. Warren." American Battlefield Trust. Web. 4 February 2021 <https://www.battlefields.org/learn/biographies/gouverneur-k-warren>.
"Gouverneur Warren."National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 4 February 2021 <https://www.nps.gov/people/gouverneur-warren.htm>.
Tucker, Spencer C., ed. American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection. Vol. 1, A-C. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2013.