published Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Cleveland unveils statue of namesake

A bronze statue of Revolutionary War hero Col. Benjamin Cleveland, for whom the city of Cleveland, Tenn., was named, is unveiled Friday as part of Patriots' Day activities. The work was sculpted by local artist Joshua Coleman and commissioned by the Colonel Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
A bronze statue of Revolutionary War hero Col. Benjamin Cleveland, for whom the city of Cleveland, Tenn., was named, is unveiled Friday as part of Patriots' Day activities. The work was sculpted by local artist Joshua Coleman and commissioned by the Colonel Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Photo by Paul Leach /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland commemorated Patriots' Day — the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord — by celebrating the life and times of the city's namesake, Revolutionary War hero Col. Benjamin Cleveland.

On Friday, the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution unveiled a 500-pound bronze statue of Cleveland -- known by contemporaries as "Old Round About" -- in a ceremony at First Street Square.

The statue faces the Bradley County Courthouse with one hand on a sword hilt and the other holding a fox horn. Cleveland, a North Carolina militia officer who was 6 feet tall and weighed at least 300 pounds, earned his fame at Kings Mountain, S.C., on Oct. 7, 1780, serving as a leader of victorious Patriot forces that delivered a severe blow to British military efforts in the South.

The statue was created by local sculptor Joshua Coleman.

"He has produced what I think is a gem for our city of Cleveland and our county of Bradley," Phil Newman, chairman of the chapter's statue committee, said of Coleman.

Giving Cleveland's statue the right face proved to be a challenge, Newman said. No known sketches or portraits exist of Cleveland, forcing researchers to rely on images of his siblings and descendants.

A crowd of at least 200 people, including known descendants of Cleveland and members of local and visiting historical societies dressed in 18th-century styles, attended the event, which also marked the launch of a three-month exhibit dedicated to Cleveland and the city named for him.

A painting of Cleveland titled "Benjamin Cleveland's War Prize" is the centerpiece of the museum exhibit. The painting shows Cleveland leading his men and a horse, taken from an enemy officer, away from Kings Mountain.

The work was commissioned by the Allan Jones Foundation.

"This is another spoke in the wheel of our revitalizing our downtown history and heritage," Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said of the statue. "Future generations will come and say, 'Yes, that's the man we named our city after.'"

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Contact him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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