See response from a Confederate Monument supporter. Forwarded information from another page.
Why were they erected? When were they erected? Who erected them? What purpose do they serve today as it relates to all races?
Traci Wood Thompson But on to questions…1.) Why the RM monument was erected: in general to fallen Confederate soldiers and specifically to the soldiers of Nash County, as its inscription states, and the comrades of Robert Henry Ricks, the soldiers of the “Bethel Regiment.” 2.) Why Confederate monuments were erected in general: Monuments erected in the South after the Civil War were bought almost exclusively by women’s groups and for the express purpose of honoring their dead. “…Monuments erected in the South after the Civil War were bought almost exclusively by women’s groups and for the express purpose of honoring their dead…Nearly ninety percent of the state’s white male population between the ages of 15 and 50 – 125,000 men in all – fought for the Confederacy. More than 40,000 never returned…less than twelve months after Appomattox, despite military occupation, grass-roots efforts arose across the South to care for – and honor – the region’s dead. Diverse, spontaneous, and led by an unlikely demographic, these activities filled a critical need and led, perhaps unintentionally, to the Confederate memorial tradition.” – Douglas J. Butler, North Carolina Civil War Monuments: An Illustrated History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. Inc., 2013), p. 1-5. 3.) When were they erected: 1.) The RM monument was erected in 1917. 2.) Confederate monuments in general were erected from a few years after the war to today, with majority in the late 1880s-early 1920s time period. The reasons for this timing are many, including a. they were not allowed earlier. An example from New Orleans: “From the commencement of Confederate memorial work, every obstacle to its prosecution was thrown in the way by Federal authorities. The following order is a fair reflex of the antagonistic sentiment that prevailed…’Headquarters Military District of the Gulf, New Orleans, July 18, 1866 – 1. Notification is hereby given for the information of all concerned that no monument intended to commemorate the late rebellion will be permitted to be erected within the limits of the military division of the Gulf ‘…While the Confederate veterans abstained scrupulously from any acts that could be construed into a violation of the obligations of their paroles, they never ceased to formulate plans and collect funds to honor the memory of their worthy dead.” (Wood, Confederate Handbook, 1900, p. 117.) b. Such work was too expensive in an economically devastated post-war South. “When the Confederate soldiers returned to their homes at the close of the war they were confronted by conditions more trying than any perils they had encountered on the field of battle…enfeebled by four years of hardship and privation; without money, credit…they commenced a struggle to earn a support for themselves and those dependent upon them…they toiled as men had never toiled before…step by step, slowly but surely, they moved forward in the path of love and duty…they ever kept love and lost comrades in tender remembrance. When dawning prosperity enabled them to divert something from their daily needs they turned to memorial work. At first modest headboards, here and there throughout the South, marked the resting places of fallen comrades. Later, when improved conditions justified larger expenditures, cemeteries were established in which were gathered the remains of the dead, and monuments commenced to replace the simple headboards. To-day, lofty and beautiful shafts in every part of the South stand in mute but eloquent evidence of the loving devotion of the Confederate soldiers to the memory of their dead.” (Wood, Confederate Handbook, 1900, p. 116.) c. The groups responsible for memorializing the dead did not effectively organize until the late 1890s. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded in 1894. “Immediately following the return of the Confederates at the close of the war, the women of the South, although sharing in the struggles of the men to provide for the daily wants of life and to restore shattered homes, devoted attention to perpetuating the memory of their husbands’, sons’ and brothers’ deeds, and to alleviating the wants of necessitous Confederate soldiers…at first the efforts of the women of the South in charitable and memorial directions were applied under no general or concerted plan. As the field of their operations grew wider, the necessity of enlarged organization became apparent…’The Daughters of the Confederacy’ entered into organized existence in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 10, 1894…the objects of the Daughters of the Confederacy…are declared to be ‘educational, memorial, literary, social, and benevolent’…The work of perpetuating Confederate memories by the erection of monuments and other structures has been confided almost entirely to the Daughters of the Confederacy. Through their agency…monuments will be erected to fallen heroes to whose memory full tribute has not yet been paid. The South has reason to be thankful that the perpetuation of her most cherished memories has been confided to such faithful and worthy hands.” (Wood, Confederate Handbook, 1900, p. 107-108.) d. Monuments were often erected to commemorate various anniversaries of the war. Who erected them: answered in above questions and answers. What purpose do they serve today as relates to all races: 1.) They are a part of the history of all Southerners of any race whose ancestors lived in the South during the war, just as any aspect of local history is related to everyone’s ancestors, in some way, who lived in a certain time and place. 2.) A monument dedicated to all veterans is relevant to anyone who knows or is related to a veteran. 3.) They are public art. 4.) They are educational as a reminder of American history in general.