THE VALIANT PRIVATE SOLDIER
The Valiant Soldier Square by The Gateway of the Prince (Prinsens Port)
Day of placement:
6th of July 1858
H. W. Bissen
Description and background:
The monument is a bronze statue erected in memory of the Danish victory over the Schleswig-Holsteiner at Fredericia on July the 6th 1849. It depicts a common Danish soldier in full uniform with his rifle in the left hand and a beech leaf raised in his right hand. His left foot is placed on a mortar. The statue is 3.75 meters high and the vault/footing is 2.5 meters high. The Valiant Soldier is placed in the middle of a circle shaped lawn in the perimeter of which is placed 6 morars out of which 2 are meant to have been recaptured from the Schleswig-Holstein army.
The Monument commemorating the victory was erected through a fund-raising started already on the 12th of July 1849. A committee was set up and the year after the artists H. W. Bissen and A. Jerichau were asked to make drafts of the design. Jerichau´s suggestion was the Nordic God Thor setting out to fight the Giants whereas Bissen´s first drafts show the Danish Crown Prince Uffe the Meek. Tradition says that Uffe on the Island of Eider defeats two Saxon warriors and in this way suits the theme of the event pretty well.
In the end the choice of the common contemporary private soldier was decided which, as it turned out, became extremely popular. Danish as well as adversarial soldiers have since the disclosure participated in the celebrations by the Statue on the 6th of July each year. The Monument is generally known as “The Valiant Private Soldier” but also the terms “The Danish Common Soldier” or “The Valiant Soldier” are used. Bissen himself called the piece of art “The Danish Common Soldier after the Victory”.
At first it was considered if the Monument should be placed at the gateway from which the sortie was carried out – near the later built Nørreport (Nortern Gate). Instead Prinsens Port (The Prince´s Gate) was chosen because it was through this gate that the victorious soldiers marched into town and was celebrated by the citizens. Then this port was the main access road meaning that all traffic should pass through here and thereby pass through the Monument.
In the context of art history this statue is unique because for this is the first time that a Victory Monument shows a private unknown soldier and not the commander-in-chief. On the relief of the Soldier´s Grave (Krigergravens relief) Bissen has too depicted the common private soldier.
The Valiant Soldier is Fredericia´s most cherished landmark and it is seen in many different respects – among other things as logos, on signs and posters, on figurines and on china. Please note the traffic signs on pedestrian crossings. By the celebration of 6 July each year wreath laying takes place by the Monument.
6th of July 1849