Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What is a Confederate Monument?

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?

6 comments:

Tom Vincent said...

Those are some great questions. I wouldn't count the Vance monuments since I don't think they are primarily focused on his Civil War service. I'd count the Mrs. Jackson arch, since we probably wouldn't know about her except for Mr. Jackson's Civil War service. I'd definitely count the Dixie Highway markers and such. As you probably know, I'm really interested in the courthouse and cemetery monuments to the county's "Boys in Gray." I think I will title my future presentations and papers "Confederate Monuments that Tom is Interested In."

NCMeekins said...

All good questions but you leave two out:
what do you do with the Confederate Memorial Forest in NC
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougandbecky/2532957812/
and what about Annie Carter Lee's grave site (even though she was moved in 1994 her stone is still there)?

Michael Hardy said...

Tom – thanks for the post. The Jackson arch makes your list. Could we not use the same criteria for the three Vance statues? Would the larger public have ever heard of Vance had not the war happened? And even without a war, would Vance have risen to governor? And, say he did rise to governor without a war, - how many governors (or senators) in North Carolina have a statue, let alone three? How many governors or senators have a biography, let alone the dozen or so about Vance? I believe Vance is the most written about Tar Heel in our state’s history. This really is a tricky “gray” area!

Michael Hardy said...

Chris – for me, the Memorial Forest makes the list – it was donated/erected by the UDC in honor of the men who fought – I really wish we could find that monument. The Lee statue does raise a good question, especially since they disinterred her remains (ok, dirt, I don’t recall them actually finding much in the way of remains) and sent them to the Lee crypt in Lexington. For me, the Jackson and Lee statues go into this “other” category. While erected by the UDC, they are not monuments to Confederate soldiers.

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Actually there are tons of monuments in NC to Confederate soldiers that you do not have posted. See the following link for a list. https://cwmonuments.wordpress.com/category/north-carolina-confederate-monuments/page/7/

Furthermore, the Confederate soldier monument in my hometown was recently damaged and removed, and the city council is refusing to restore it. I have a petition. If you're interested, please sign and pass it along.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/35/help-save-our-national-and-southern-heritage/

Michael Hardy said...

Thanks for the comment. I actually have about 160 North Carolina Confederate monument on my list. However, it is not published anywhere online.