The Shaw Monument, erected in 1895, sits in four pieces in the National Park Service Yorktown Battlefield maintenance yard. (Nation Park Service / August 3, 2014)
It appears that only the top quarter of a 119-year-old statue will be loaned to the York County Historical Museum if a proposal from the National Park Service is accepted by the York Board of Supervisors Tuesday night.
The rest of the Shaw monument, a 21 1/2-foot obelisk erected in 1895 by John W. Shaw, a Civil War veteran and former superintendent of the Yorktown National Cemetery, will be ground for use on roadways, according to a memorandum from County Administrator James McReynolds to the board.
The obelisk once marked the spot -- near the Untouched Redoubt in the Yorktown Battlefield, just south of the Colonial Parkway -- where Shaw believed British Gen. Charles O'Hara, Gen. Charles Cornwallis' second in command, surrendered his sword to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, George Washington's second, after the 1781 battle in Yorktown where American independence was won.
Research later showed it had been erected in the wrong location, according to the National Park Service.
In 1934, the National Park Service acquired the property where the monument stood, placing it in a wooded area out of public view where it fell into disrepair. It now lies on its side broken into four pieces at the battlefield's maintenance yard.
The park service consulted the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and concluded that the monument did not meet criteria for the National Register of Historic Places and could not be included in the park.
Dan Smith, superintendent of the Colonial National Historical Park, which includes the Yorktown Battlefield, requested proposals from historical- and preservation-minded groups interested in taking the monument. Apparently he decided on the history museum, which only requested the top 28-inch piece for display.
The Williamsburg Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution, and local Yorktown historian and inn owner Thomas Nelson Jr. also submitted proposals for the obelisk, the park service told the Daily Press in June.
Nelson believes the statue deserves to be preserved in its entirety and is a part of Yorktown's history. He said Shaw was a distinguished veteran who served in more than a dozen battles in the Civil War and spent two years building the monument from brick rubble of the original Yorktown courthouse that was destroyed during the war.
According to McReynolds' memo, Smith said he will use the aggregate material from the lower portions of the monument to create walkways on the Custom House grounds, operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The York County Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. in York Hall to discss the matter. The York County Historical Museum is located on the lower level of York Hall.