At the North Carolina Civil War Symposium in Raleigh a couple of weeks ago, someone brought up a really good question – what is a Confederate Monument? Of course, the answer to part of this question is easy: the monuments on the grounds of various courthouse or in various cemeteries across our fair state are for certain Confederate Monuments Who can look at the monument on the statehouse grounds in Raleigh, or the courthouse grounds in Burke, and say that these are not Confederate monuments?
Personally, my definition would be this: a monument, or plaque, erected by the veterans themselves, or by an auxiliary group, like a Ladies Memorial Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy chapter, of Sons of Confederate Veterans camp, that denote some event, or a group of people, that played a part in the Civil War.
However, there are some monuments across the state that do not easily fit into this definition. Take for instance the monuments to Zebulon Baird Vance. There are three that I count: the obelisk at Pack Square in Asheville; the monument on the grounds of the state capital in Raleigh; and, the monument in Statuary Hall in Washington, D. C. Of course, Vance is one of our most famous Confederates, serving as colonel of the 26th North Carolina Troops, and governor from 1862-1865. But Vance’s history goes further. He was elected a Congressman prior to the war, as governor after the war, and finally to the United States Senate. Vance’s monument in Asheville was erected by the Vance Memorial Association, which might have been composed of veterans, but was not a veterans organization per se. Of course, when it came time for the dedication, Vance’s role in the war was prominent in the speech. The Veterans themselves, both blue and gray, marched in the parade, and each year since, the local UDC Chapter, along with B’nai B’rith, placed a wreath on the monument on May 10, Confederate Memorial Day. Even one of the local newspapers, the Mountain Express, considered in 2003 the Vance memorial “a shrine to the Civil War-era governor…” While it has been a while since I’ve been in Pack Square (maybe a decade), I don’t recall anything that actually speaks about Vance’s service ( please correct me if I am wrong).
How about Vance’s statue at the US Capital in Washington, D.C.? Is that a Confederate monument? Nothing on it denotes his service to the Confederacy. Yet, Vance is one of our most famous Confederates, and has more written about him than any other war-time Southern governor.
There are others. In Charlotte, there used to be a monumental arch marking the birthplace of Mrs. Stonewall Jackson. The monument was erected by the Stonewall Jackson Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in October 1915. This monument was later torn down.
How about the monument that the UDC erected in 1926 in Concord to the KKK? The inscription read: “In Commemoration of the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ during the Reconstruction period following the ‘War Between the States’ this marker is placed on their assembly grounds. The original Banner (as above) was made in Cabarrus County.” (I do not know if this monument still exists.) Is this a Confederate monument?
Or, are the dozen or so markers that mark the Dixie Highway and the Jefferson Davis Highway, Confederate markers? If you ask the people in Marshall in Madison County if they have a Confederate Monument, they would probably say yes. There, on the walkway to the courthouse is a rock with a plaque with Robert E. Lee sitting on it. Yet this “monument” marks a road, not local Confederate soldiers or even the famed Confederate leader.
In the end, I do believe that the Vance Statues and Monuments are Confederate monuments, but not the Arch to Mrs. Jackson or the KKK marker in Cabarrus County. I’m still mulling over the highway markers.
What do you think?