This statue, a reminder of Virginia’s Confederate past, honors a military unit of volunteers who fought extensively for the confederation known as the Richmond Howitzers. After the Civil War was over, the Howitzer Battalion was absorbed in the US Army and fought valiantly in both World Wars. This statue was dedicated in 1892 and reflect's the South's use of monuments to commemorate the Lost Cause of secession.
The sculpture, created by Caspar Buberl and William L.
Sheppard, depicts a “Number One” artillery man standing erect at the front of
the gun. The number refers to the specific functions assigned to a soldier when shooting the enemy, and number ones were to ram the cartridge into the barrel of the cannon
and to sponge the barrel down after the piece of artillery had been fired in
order to put out any sparks before the next round was fired.
The statue is cast in bronze and sits on a granite base at
the corner of Park Avenue and Harrison Street. On the South side of the base,
we can see the emblem of the Richmond Howitzers on bronze. The Latin expression
adopted by the regiment reads “Cita Mors Aut Victoria Laeta”, which translates
as “A Quick Death or A Sweet Victory”. On the North side we can see the emblem
of the Confederacy on bronze.
One of the creators, William L. Sheppard, served with the
Richmond Howitzers artillery, which he joined in 1861. After the Civil War,
he devoted his time to painting watercolor scenes that depicted everyday
scenes of the life of Confederate soldiers. Eventually, he became a much-appreciated
artist of the Lost Cause.