Oct
10

Where in the World is Freddy?

By John Michael  //  Army War College, Fort Lesley J McNair  //  No Comments

Freddy is Missing ?

frederick the great

Roosevelt Hall located on Fort Lesley J. McNair began as the home of the US Army War College – a concept conceived by then Secretary of War, Elihu Root and approved by then President Theodore Roosevelt.  The building proclaims the Beaux Arts styling and was designed by the noted architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White.

When announced, a call went out for the donation of statues to grace the pedestals in front of the building.  With hopes of donations that would include: Caesar, Hannibal, Alexander Suvoroff, Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great and Wellington, the lack of response was disappointing. except that Germany, happy with the treatment afforded to the Kaiser’s brother donated a statue of Frederick the Great.

freddy on pedestal - frederick the great

On 19 November 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt accepted the statue. As the building of Roosevelt Hall continued, the statue graced a pedestal awaiting the building’s completion and the arrival of other statues. The wait was both disappointing and short-lived.  No other country stepped up to donate a statue.  France disappointed that Napoleon wasn’t chosen and Britain hardly wanted Wellington to share the space with Freddie, so they declined.

 

10 January 1905, a disgruntled person left a satchel near the statue.It contained a bomb. However, a worker noticed the unusual item and reported it and it was removed. So Freddie was safe for a while.

World War I Begins

freddie at roosevelt hall Frederick the great

Frederick the Great in Front of Roosevelt Hall

When WW I began on July 28, 1914, Freddy’s again was threatened. When the United States got involved  it was decided that Freddy’s presence posed a potential problem. So on 13 April 1918, with Freddy’s future in jeopardy,  he was removed from the pedestal in front of Roosevelt Hall and placed in storage in a nearby warehouse. There he remained until November 29, 1927, when the Secretary of War ordered Freddie returned to his pedestal.

When World War II broke out, there were objections to Freddie standing tall in front of what was then the Army War College at Roosevelt Hall.  Despite all these protests, Freddie was allowed to stay in place on his pedestal throughout the war.  After the war in1946, the statue was again removed from the pedestal and placed into storage. The Army War College was relocated to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania, and the pedestals in front of Roosevelt Hall were bare. Roosevelt Hall became the home of the National War College which included all branches of military service and also the State Department.  (Ambassador Chris Stevens was a graduate of the National War College). So it was fitting that the empty pedestals would soon be adorned with artillery tubes, anchors, and propellers signifying the military branches the college served: the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

Freddie Finds A New Home – Permanently!

The statue remained in storage for several years, until COL William P. Yarborough, who was attending the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks learned of Freddie who was still hidden away.  He petitioned the commandant to release Freddie from the warehouse and in March 1954, the statue was erected on the old parade field near the Hessian Powder Magazine & Museum.

freddie at carlisle barracks

 

It’s fitting to repeat Theodore Roosevelt’s words when he accepted Freddie in 1904:

“I most sincerely pray that in the coming years these two great nations shall move on toward their several destinies, knit together by ties of the heartiest friendship and goodwill.”

 

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Images of America - Fort Lesley J. McNair

Images of America – Fort Lesley J. McNair

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