Gen. Edward B. Fowler
Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street, Brooklyn
This jaunty monument to the Civil War General Edward B. Fowler, a Manhattan-born son of Brooklyn who commanded New York’s famous (at the time) 14th regiment, the “Red-Legged Devils,” sits on a small triangle of park space bounded by Lafayette Avenue, Fulton Street and South Eliott Place.
Fowler is depicted in a calm and confident pose, with his right hand cocked on his hip, clutching a cap, and his left hand resting on the hilt of his sword. Fowler is wearing his general’s uniform, complete with epaulets and a cape. The figure is atop a green stone pedestal, with Fowler’s name in the front and a plaque listing the battles he fought in on the back.
The statue was commissioned by the Veterans Association of the 14th Regiment. It was designed by Henry Baerer, cast by the Henry Bonnard Bronze Co. of New York and the whole works cost $10,000.
The monument was dedicated on May 18, 1902. Originally, the statue was in Fort Greene Park, “on top of a green slope in the middle of the park, known as the playground,” according to a story in The Times. On the day of the ceremony, the statue, cloaked in a flag, was flanked by two review stands. The speakers were a former assemblyman, Edward Brennan, and Theodore Gates, who was also commanded a New York regiment. After Gates was done talking, Fowler’s granddaughter, Ethel Moody, cut the cord to unveil the statue.
After a wreath was laid at the base of the statue, it was accepted on behalf of Brooklyn by J. Edward Swanstrom, the borough president, who delivered a brief speech with the expected mumbling and praise for Fowler. But, in his conclusion, Swanstrom takes an odd turn into the supernatural:
Who shall say that in the spirit world there is no wireless telegraphy, and that today there is no message that goes out from our hearts and reaches Gen. Fowler and your comrades who have gone before? If we cannot send a message to them, Gen. Fowler can at least send a message to us — that the United States is worth every sacrifice that any or all of us can make for it.
In the years after the dedication, the statue was frequently the centerpiece of regimental reunions, marches and parades. But as time went on, it was probably no surprise that Fowler’s name faded from the history books. His regiment performed at its best in two of the Union’s biggest flops, First and Second Bull Run. And at Second Bull Run, his unit was nearly destroyed, taking nearly 90 percent casualties. But Fowler was popular with his men; descriptions of his career in news reports or reference articles usually mention that Fowler had once refused a promotion to remain with his troops. His prominence in Brooklyn in later years assured that a monument would eventually be erected in his honor.
Fowler’s statue has been, over the years, a routine target for vandals. Some time in the 1960s, it was put into storage to thwart future ne’er-do-wells. In 1976, Fowler’s statue was moved to its present location, the former Lafayette Square, which was renamed Fowler Gore.
Fowler was born May 29, 1826, in Manhattan and died Jan. 16, 1896. An able commander during the Civil War, Fowler was active in veterans affairs afterward, advocating for better benefits and staying busy by attending the funerals of former members of his regiment. He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery.