This week’s #MarkerMonday examines the Spirit of the American Doughboy historical marker in Berrien County, a new Georgia Historical Marker. Berrien County commissioned the first Doughboy statue to honor the Berrien County soldiers who died in World War I. Sculpted by Ernest Moore Viquesney, a resident of Americus, Georgia, the statue was praised for its true portrayal of American soldiers during World War I. The statue stands seventeen feet tall, with a ten-foot-tall white Georgia marble base topped with a seven-foot-tall copper statue. The statue’s popularity grew, and Viquesney received orders from across the United States for replicas. There were over 140 statues created that can now be found in 39 states.
As Viquesney prepared to sculpt the first Doughboy statue he closely researched details of the soldiers’ uniforms and weapons to ensure that he created the best representation. He also asked two of his friends to model in their WWI uniforms, so he could study the folds of the uniform in his desired pose. As a result, the sculpture was praised for its demonstration of inspired confidence, showing an American soldier walking into No Man’s Land, holding a grenade in one hand above his head and a Springfield rifle in his other at his side. The soldier is also depicted carrying his mess kit, bedroll, and gas mask.
Berrien County lost more soldiers in proportion to its population in one event– the collision of the British transport ship the HMS Otranto with the HMS Kashmir–than any other county in the United States. The loss of life greatly affected the population of young men of rural Berrien County. The Spirit of the American Doughboy statue in Nashville, Georgia, represents those soldiers and others lost to disease or combat during WWI. The Nashville statue is known to community members as “Our Doughboy.”
Explore the links below to learn more:
New Georgia Encyclopedia – Berrien County
Atlas Obscura – Why Do So Many U.S. Towns Have the Same WWI Soldier Statue?
The E.M. Viquesney Doughboy Database – Nashville, Georgia
The American Legion – Spirit of the American Doughboy
Arkansas Living – ‘The Spirit of the American Doughboy’