Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Search Challenge (4/26/14): What's the story with George's cane?

A true story:  I was traveling somewhere in the southern states when I took this picture.  It's remarkable for a couple of reasons--I can't remember where I was when I made this shot (I'm sure this never happens to you!), and I also remember that there was another statue directly in front of this one.  The problem is, since I can't remember where this shot was taken, I can't figure out what the other statue is.  

Can you help me out? This is clearly a statue of George Washington, but what else can you find out?  

Today's challenges: 

1.  Where is this statue of George Washington located?  A lat/long, street address, or building name would be enough.
2.  What happened to his cane?  Why haven't they fixed it? 
3.  What's the statue that's directly in front of George?  That is, what's behind the photographer?  

Remember to tell us HOW you found the answers.  

Search on! 


  1. This statue is located at South Carolina Statehouse, 1200 Gervais Street, Columbia SC. Invading Northern troops broke Washington's cane and the South has deliberately left it broken. A small plaque on the base of the statue explains its significance. The other statue is the Confederate Soldier Monument. A simple Google search for "George Washington statue broken cane" lead me here with the historical information and the address, there's even a link to Google maps, Street view let me look at the opposite statue, but didn't tell me its name. So I decided to visite the South Carolina state house homepage to take a closer look and there it is

  2. 1. Via Google Image Search: South Carolina State House; Coordinates: 34°0′1.56″N 81°1′59.33″W

    2. Google search [ george washington statue broken]
    Unsolved mystery:
    * The walking cane was broken during the move to its current location outside the State House:
    * Union soldiers brick-batted the statue and broke the cane in 1865:
    It was damaged by troops of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, who threw chunks of brick at the monument. The troops were only supposed to destroy property that would aid the Confederate Government in war, and the South has preserved this vandalism as proof of Yankee evil.

    3. Google maps/earth: Statue in front of the SC Statehouse is a monument to South Carolina's Confederate dead (South Carolina Civil War Soldiers Monument):

  3. I did an image search for George Washington statue Virginia and scanned the images. There are quite a few of the same statue, but only one with the broken cane. - George Washington Monument
    This is one of six bronze replicas created in 1857 from the original marble statue (1789), which adorns the capitol in Richmond Virginia. The State of South Carolina purchased the bronze replica in 1858 to be placed in the newly constructed State House. The walking cane was broken during the move to its current location outside the State House.

    Original Sculptor: Jean Antoine Houdon
    Replica cast by: W.J. Hubard Foundry

    I went to the location on street view and thought is looked like a confederate soldier, so I googled confederate soldier statue south carolina state house and found the following.

    Confederate Soldier monument -,-81.033471,3a,75y,180h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sR62nh7-asv6QmQHUIheh1g!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x4178fc150736a6ca

    Seems like there are a lot of stories about why the George Washington statue was not fixed, but the plaque on the statue may be wrong according to what is on the state website. Maybe other searchers will come up with the definitive answer. This was a pretty quick and easy search.

  4. Tineye led me to this this image as shown on this blog . The blog places the statue at the South Carolina State House in Coumbia, SC. The next image there has a close up of the plaque which explains the cane: "During the occupation of Columbia by Serman's Army February 17-?, 1883, soldiers brickbatted this statue and broke off the lower part of the walking cane." Other images on Google+ for the State House show that Strom Thurmond is lurking behind the photographer.

  5. A quick google image search on your photo turns up almost identical shots of the same statue -- it's in front of the South Carolina State Capitol building. A close up of the plaque shows that it bears the story of the statue being damaged by soldiers of Sherman's army in 1865. A bit more casual reading shows that this story is possible, but there are other explanations as well. The SC statehouse website claims the statue was damaged while being moved. As to the other statue, looking at some more pictures of the SC statehouse, it looks like a statue of Strom Thurmond is in line with the statue of Washington. A quick glance didn't show me any pictures with both of the statues in the same frame, though so it's possible the Strom statue is actually in front of a different entrance to the statehouse.

  6. Right clicked the image in Chrome and used Search Google for this Image. In the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) was Pages that include matching images George
    Washington Statue on South Carolina's Information Highway

    That tells me you were at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina.
    [ south carolina columbia capital building address ] to the Wikipedia article on the statehouse

    1. "It is located in the capital city of Columbia near the corner of Gervais and Assembly Streets." 34°0′1.56″N 81°1′59.33″W For the building. This statue is located in front of the North entrance off Gervais Street.

    [ george washington statue columbia sc ] to the Wikipedia article on George Washington (Houdon). I figured this was the statue and artist information. Of course, I didn't plan on their being so many replicas. Using Command-F on the page to find [south carolina] I found the one at the statehouse. Using the footnotes took me to the Historical Marker Database - George Washington (statue).

    ADDING to ANSWER FOR 1. That has a better location of "34° 0.042′ N, 81° 1.997′ W. Marker is in Columbia, South Carolina, in Richland County. Marker is on Gervais Street (U.S. 1 / 378) near Main Street, on the right when traveling east."

    It has a legible picture of the base plaque stating that the cane was broken by soldiers during a brickbattle and has a definition "brickbatted: pieces of brick used as a weapon or missle"

    [george washington statue columbia sc left broken -naacp] Had to add the -naacp to get eliminate results from a different controversy. SERP had a link to Roadside America page Columbia, South Carolina: Washington Statue Left Damaged To Show Yankee Evil

    2. Cane broken during a brickbattle during the occupation of General Sherman's troops. Left broken to show that us yankees are evil.

    (to be continued)

  7. To begin searching on #3 I used [ maps statehouse columbia south carolina ] and clicked on the map in the knowledge panel. In Maps I began zooming in and out. I expected to see the different statues labeled but did not. In Earth view i could see that one of the statues was of Strom Thurmond but did not see any statue behind him.

    Started going through my tabs and on the Roadside America page it says it is on the north side. Going in to streetview on the north side I find out it is a monument to confederate dead.

    [ monument to South Carolina's Confederate dead ] to

    3. Monument to the Confederate Dead - Columbia, SC - Smithsonian Art Inventory Sculptures on

  8. I searched Google images using your photo and found a bunch of almost identical photos that were identified as the Columbia SC State House. I went to their website and located the monuments map ( to find the exact location of the statue. The popups about each monument contain more information, including one explanation for the broken cane.
    1. It is located outside the State House in Columbia, South Carolina.
    2. The State House website says the cane was broken while moving the statue. According to the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine (, the statue was stored at Orphan House in Charleston after it was initially purchased by SC because the State House was still under construction. When the State House was finished, the statue was moved to a lower corridor in the State House for about 16 years before moving to its current spot, and during those 16 years the cane was "somehow" broken. Neither source mentions a reason for not fixing it.
    3. The map on the State House website shows that the monument in front of George is the Confederate Soldier Monument, dedicated May 13, 1879, in memory of those who died during the Civil War.

  9. Wow, I am amazed at all the different approaches!

    As for me, I found all the answers in a couple minutes and maybe it's worth to note yet another approach:

    1. [ "george washington" bronze statue broken cane ]
    Opened the two first results in new tabs.
    RoadsideAmerica gives partial answers to questions 1 and 2. The website itself doesn't look trustable but the story does.

    2. CTRL+F on the Wikipedia article on George Washington (Houdon), looking for [ columbia ]. Location on the South Carolina State House grounds confirmed. Very interesting information about the copies that were made of this statue too.

    3. Clicked on the link to the Wikipedia article on the South Carolina State House.
    Followed the coordinates link on the top, in order to ope the GeoHack page.

    4. On the GeoHack page, opened the link to Google Maps map.

    5. Moved the pegman to what it looked like the front grounds, in order to open StreetView. Moved around to watch what's in front of our statue. StreetView near the second statue.

    6. Zoomed to read the plaque. Can only read "unveiled may, 13".

    7. [ "South Carolina State House" statue unveiled "may 13" ]
    First result gives the answer to the last question.

  10. By differentiating this GW statue from others [george washington statue broken cane] we can quickly identify it’s location at the State Capitol Building in Columbia, South Carolina. By the way the original statue in marble was created by Jean-Antoine Houdon and is located at the Virginia State Capitol
    How and why the broken cane happened is well documented at in the newspaper article of April 11, 1865 in the Columbia Phoenix. But just a minute on more than one website we have an alternative explanations. Some say it was caused by the statue being relocated or it was a lightning strike in the 1890's. One such site at Wordpress, a site I have found to be quite reliable, presents all three explanations and leaves it to us to determine which is true.
    So how can I know for sure? I suggest it's what seems most credible. The Library site with newspaper article has specific details about the attack by occupying soldiers. But more important and convincing, if you look at the plaque below the statue, it states “during the occupation of Columbia by Sherman’s Army February 17-19th 1865 Soldiers brickbatted this statue and broke off the lower part of the walking cane”.
    As for it’s location we can use Google Maps to bring up the State capitol and we find it’s 1100 Gervais Street. I converted that to coordinates of 34.000741,-81.035016.

    The other statueConfederate Soldier Monumentis listed as one of the monuments at the state capitol. Also known as the Memorial to the Confederate Dead atWikimapiayou can read the plague by Google Image to find out it was unveiled in 1879. Of course you can using the coordinates and check it out by Google Maps> Street View.

    1. following the leads you found Rosemary, thought it was interesting that the cane in question seems fully absent in this 1895 photo - difficult to tell for sure, but at maximum magnification and zooming on area doesn't seem to show anything in GW's right hand - nothing appears to break the highlight on his top coat…
      SCDL: Standard Federal (Columbia S.C.) Photograph Collection
      SCDL, content page
      may just be an additional facet to the larger history of the cane storylines… that may not be mutually exclusive. Like Marian, I tried to find an image of the cane fragment on the Confederate Relic Room site without success.

    2. Good detection Remmij. That's such a bad image it's really hard to determine if the cane is missing at least on my screen. The Statue appears to be in really bad condition, doesn't it. This site [] explains the moves "This is a replica of an original marble statue made by Houdon. In 1853 the Virginia legislature had W. J. Hubard Foundry cast six copies in bronze. South Carolina purchased this one in 1858 for $10,000. Originally installed inside the state house, the figure was moved in 1884 to a spot in the northeast corner of the state house grounds. In 1907 the figure was moved to its present location at base of steps on the north side of the state house. Smithsonian Institution Research Information System(SIRIS) Inventory of American Sculpture #76006401".

    3. in the grand scheme of things, it is a rather clever way to have the SC Hodon/Hubard example, out of the edition of six, be "unique".
      also found this curiosity while poking around: another "Russell" finding another "George", about three years ago in London (a Gorham example)
      A. Russell
      but on American soil…

      other markers nearby in SC:
      SC walking distance
      where I found the Russell link -
      SC GW
      Houdon, Gorham locations
      for the "real" Russell (sRs edition ;)):
      Mrs. Beeton's macaroons
      one version

  11. Good day, Dr. Russell, fellow SearchResearchers


    [George Washington broken cane] Results gave images and links.

    Image with the Statue´s plaque

    Unsolved Mysteries: The Case of George Washington’s Broken Cane Site gives explanation,history and provides a site with more information and first hand source.South Carolina State House’s website (

    [george washington cane]

    George Washington Monument and photo Site mentions cane broke in relocation.

    [South Carolina State House statues]

    South Carolina State House Wikipedia Also link to South Carolina State House. There is option to visit Monuments.

    [George Washington broken cane] in Google Books.

    Columbia Civil War Landmarks

    [South Carolina Confederate Relic Room ad Military Museum] searching for the lower part.

    [Antoine Houdon George Washington]

    Rediscovering an American Icon Houdon's Washington

    George Washington – Conserving an American Idol Video

    [Antoine Houdon George Washington Statues locations]

    Our First President, in Three Dimensions Article mentions: " The Frenchman's real ambition, however, was to make an equestrian statue of the hero of the American Revolution."

    Wikipedia Statues locations


    1. Where is this statue of George Washington located? A lat/long, street address, or building name would be enough.
    A: South Carolina State House. N 34° 00.050 W 081° 01.994

    Went to Google Maps and verified. 1198 Gervais St. Columbia, SC. USA

    Statue faces North. It is made of bronze and was made in 1858. Six of Hubard’s bronze copies are known today

    2. What happened to his cane? Why haven't they fixed it?

    Book mentioned above says: "During Sherman's occupation of Columbia, soldiers threw objects and broke off the lowe portion of the walking stick. After the war, is was repaired but was removed by local citizens who wanted to show the Yankees in their "true light." The lower part is now on display at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room ad Military Museum."

    3. What's the statue that's directly in front of George? That is, what's behind the photographer?

    Confederate Soldier Monument

    Book has more data about this Monument.

    1. Tried to find the missing piece. Not luck.

      [George washington walking stick statue lower part] in web search and


      Statue of George Washington by William James Hubard Plaster copy cost: Widow sold the statue for $2,000 to the U.S. government in 1870.

      State House Monuments newspaper Confederate War Soldier faces North. Article mentions this could be Symbolically or accidentally. *Question for those like me that doesn't know. What is the answer? Was an accident or a symbol?

      [George washington walking stick statue]

      Did You know?

      In the Confederate Relic Room site already mentioned there is a video (among many) that talks about the importance of importance of walking sticks to 19th Century South Carolina veterans

  12. I decided to check and see if there was a directory of American Statues and if you go to the the Smithsonian Institute you will find a database with this information.

  13. 1. Where is this statue of George Washington located? A lat/long, street address, or building name would be enough.
    2. What happened to his cane? Why haven't they fixed it?
    3. What's the statue that's directly in front of George? That is, what's behind the photographer?

    1. IMAGES instantly tells me its in front of the Columbia South Carolina State Capitol Building. 1 second

    2. explains

    This is one of six bronze replicas created in 1857 from the original marble statue (1789), which adorns the capitol in Richmond Virginia. The State of South Carolina purchased the bronze replica in 1858 to be placed in the newly constructed State House. The walking cane was broken during the move to its current location outside the State House.

    However there is a plaque on it that says it was brick-batted by Sherman's soldiers.

    Now for the triangulation bit: Newspaper - Columbia Phoenix 11 April 1865 -- Article describing war damage to the New State Capitol which presented a very conspicuous mark to the enemy's cannon. Itemises hits to the building and then "When in possession the barbarians tried, in a petty manner to deface and defile as much as they could . . . They seem to have found considerable sport in their practice, with brick-bats, or fragments of rocks, as sharp-shooters; and making the fine bronze statue of Washington their mark, . . . a part of his cane has been carried away among their 'spolia opima' [rich spoils taken from the vanquished]. More damge is described.

    Why haven't they fixed it? The broken cane is a reminder of war just as the star markers on the roof of the building mark where shells landed. Another couple of minutes

    3. Statehouse says the statue is

    Confederate Soldier Monument
    Dedicated May 13, 1879

    Sponsored by the South Carolina Monument Association in memory of those who died during the Civil War. a few more seconds

    jon who enjoyed learning about this

  14. 1 - The statue is located outside of the South Carolina State House.
    Search path: “George Washington Machine Gun” which led to an image of the same statue in London. “George Washington Statue London” led to the Wikipedia page for the original statue [] scrolling down to copies, started checking casts located in the south. Third cast is located on South Carolina State House grounds. Information on the link [!17231~!14&ri=19&aspect=basic&menu=search&source=~!siartinventories&profile=ariall#focus] indicates that this statue is the right one with broken cane in right hand. Used google maps to confirm correct identity.
    2 -Smithsonian site indicates that cane was broken during Sherman’s occupation of Columbia when soldiers “Brickbatted” the statue (February 17-19, 1865). Interestingly, the state house tour website [] indicates it was broken when it was moved outside either in 1884 or 1907.
    3 – There’s a monument to confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Sculpted by Carlo Nicoli, Dedicated May 13, 1879 . Found on

  15. Smithsonian American Art Museum’s research database will get you to their outdoor sculptures database. Handy for visiting sculptures or future searches.

  16. Finding the location was easy. I did an image search on the image, which led me to a similar image with an unbroken cane. That was inside the Washington monument. So I did a search on Washington monument copies. Lo and behold, Wikipedia has a list. There aren't too many and they aren't all in the south, so I decided a location by location search would be easier than trying to conceptualize a search that would find the statue. I got lucky. The third location I searched turned out to have a broken cane. It was the South Carolina State House grounds.
    Next I tried to tackle the "what statue is in front of it issue." I searched [south carolina state house]. One link from South Carolina State Parks did have a map of the statues, but it was clearly incorrect as it showed the Washington statue right in front of the street with nothing in front of it. I tried google maps and google earth, but couldn't get a view at an angle that was useful for the query. Then I tried [south carolina state house grounds]. This brought up several maps of the grounds in the image section. The one I chose happened to be from I was able to click on the numbers on the map and pop-up windows told me the name of the monument. The Confederate Soldiers Monument is in front of the Washington statue. The pop up for the Washington statue told me that the walking cane was broken during the move to its current location outside the State House.
    Then I did a search on [south carolina george washington statue] to find more information about the cane. said that the cane was broken by Union soldiers throwing bricks at it and was left broken to show how evil the Union soldiers were. It said that there was a plaque on the statue telling this story. So I searched [south carolina washington statue plaque]. Sure enough, I found a legible image of the plaque and it did say the statue was broken by Sherman's soldiers brickbatting it. It did not say why it was left broken. So now we have two seemingly reliable sources contradicting each other.
    Hoping to find more, I googled [south carolina washington statue cane]. I found a blog that restated the discrepancy between the two explanations of the break, but didn't offer any resolution. states that the statue was purchased by the state legislature in 1858 and placed inside the State House. It was moved to the grounds in 1884 and to its current location in 1907. That gives 2 possible dates for a break on moving: 1884 or 1907. An interesting side discovery in the search results came from a google books result. The book, South Carolina Curiosities by Lee Davis Perry and J. Michael McLaughlin states that the missing part of the can now resides in the South Carolina Relic Room and Military Museum and directs the reader to their website for more information. However, I could not find any information about the cane end on the website.
    Next I googled [south carolina state house] to see more about the history of the State House's construction. Interestingly, I found and article in the South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program containing a clip from an April 11, 1865 Columbia Phoenix newspaper article which included information about damage done to the statue by Union soldiers. It specifically mentioned the broken cane. I would say this definitively rules out moving damage, since it predates either of the statue's moves. So the statue was broken by Sherman's soldiers celebrating their victory and was left broken as a way to highlight the atrocities of the evil Yankees.

  17. Both statues on one photo:

  18. And one the other way around:

  19. Google search: george washington statue with broken cane.

    This search brought me to this link:

    The statue is outside the South Carolina State House. Brutal Yankee assaults broke the cane, and then during the North's occupation of SC in 1865, several soldiers gathered souvenirs, destroying property and breaking canes.

    This same page shows another source that says that the cane was broken during the move of one of the six replicas from the capital in Richmond, VA to the State House.

    Another site from the Google search,, says that the statue was left broken to show Yankee evil, and that is described on a plaque at the base of the statue.

    To find the statue that stands directly in front of George I did this Google search: south carolina state house statues, which brought up this link:

    On that page I clicked "Explore the State House, Tour the Outside". On that page I clicked "Monuments and Markers" which brought up a map. The 1 and the 2 looked like 2 statues together. I clicked the 1 and that was the George Washington Monument. Then I clicked the 2 and that was The Confederate Soldier Monument!

  20. On the site of the South Carolina Digital Library I found the book "Sack and Destruction of the City of Columbia, S. C." (Publication Date 1865) with the following text on page 49:"When in possession, the soldiers tried to deface and defile as much as they could. They wrote their names in pencil on the marble, giving their companies and regiments, and sometimes coupling appropriately foul comments with their signatures, thus addressed to posterity. They seem to have found considerable sport in their practice, with brick-bats, or fragments of rocks, as sharp-shooters ; and making the fine bronze statue of Washington their mark, they won various successes against his face, breast and legs. Sundry bruises and abrasions are to be found upon the head and front, and a part of his cane has been carried away among their spolia opima."

  21. For a complete overview of all the monuments on the State House Ground:

  22. I found it by images, state house, tour the outside. As a side note, this statute was covered by a wooden box during the NAACP convention in 2011.

  23. 1. Where is this statue of George Washington located? A lat/long, street address, or building name would be enough.
    The statue is located in front of the State Capitol Building in Columbia.

    Google image search: george washington statue

    2. What happened to his cane? Why haven't they fixed it?
    Union troops damaged the cane during the Civil War, and southerners left it to show what they had done.

    [cane george washington statue columbia]

    3. What's the statue that's directly in front of George? That is, what's behind the photographer?
    The Confederate Monument is right in front of George.

    [statue in front of the columbia state house]

    Took about 18 minutes.

    1. Nicely done. Excellent links to credible sources.

    2. Thank you for the compliments!

  24. The broken cane is only part of the story. We can find several references to the “six bronze stars” that mark where the building took cannonball hits mentioned at the SC State House SC State House website (South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program)
    “Cannon fire damaged sills, walls, and columns on the west and north facades and, rather than be repaired, they were marked with bronze stars that can be viewed today.”
    Have a look by Google Image Search [columbia state capitol six bronze stars]. This provides further support that the damage was left as a reminder of the 1865 event.

    1. looking at stars led me to this - (being in the midst of the Sesquicentennial probably stirs memories…)
      this day…
      an interesting side note as I looked at the other monuments on the SC Capitol grounds — this rang a bell
      Paccard bell
      Goo newspaper
      ordered by Truman
      The Liberty Bell History
      Liberty Bell set, 55
      World Peace Bell
      WPB (KY) in action
      in South Carolina - (fwiw, the Illinois display is the saddest I've seen - kills the spirit of the bell IMHO, the CA display is modest…)
      Liberty Bell Replica #46 located on the Columbia, State Capitol Grounds, between Brown and Hampton Bldgs.
      there seem to be a number "MIA", that would be an interesting detective exercise…
      location map, at least 15 "missing"

  25. Its great to see so many new faces here !

    Where have you been ?



  26. Anne and I did this challenge before looking at the answers. We have been busy and couldn't get to this until now. This will be quite abbreviated. We started by uploading the picture into google images. We found that it was a statue of Geo. Washington (no surprise) by Houdon and it was in the capitol. We knew it wasn't in the capitol but the result linked to a Wikipedia article From this article on monuments dedicated to GW we were able to select the right monument and then from there it gave a list of all the places that had copies. Since we knew it was in the south only took us 2 tries to find the right one. We went to NC first but could tell it wasn't the right statue so clicked on South Carolina and there it was. Told us that it was at the State Capital of SC. We then did a search for images of the state capital and got this result and we
    saw what statue was behind the GW statue. We then did a search for statues South Carolina state capital and we were able to determine it was the confederate memorial. We then did a search for broken can George Washington statue south Carolina state capital. We got this result
    This seems to indicate that the cane was broken in a move. Would agree that this didn't explain why they never fixed it but we ran out of time. This was a really fun interesting challenge.