Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Flags Removed in North Carolina

Confederate flag controversery still unsettled in Haywood
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Written by Becky Johnson

Haywood County temporarily backed off its hard-line stance against tiny Confederate flags being stuck in the ground around the base of a memorial for Confederate soldiers on the lawn of the historic courthouse in Waynesville, but has once again started removing the flags.

After getting a complaint about the divisive symbol being placed on the courthouse lawn by Confederate supporters, the county decided to remove the tiny flags. That didn’t last long, however.

The county immediately got pushback from Confederate supporters, who claim the flag is a symbol of their heritage and honors their ancestors who fought for the South. Several of them staged a protest outside the courthouse last week and have upped their game — placing a full-size Confederate flag pole on the lawn instead of the six-inch-high toothpick variety they had been sticking in the ground before.

County leaders then decided to let the flags stay, given the absence of a formal policy on what can and cannot be placed on the courthouse lawn by outside groups.

After a week of allowing the flags until a policy could be researched and adopted, the county changed its position and decided that it would instead remove the flags in the absence of a policy. This also means that the tiny American flags stuck in the ground around the other war memorials on the courthouse lawn have to go as well.

In the meantime, those who are offended by the Confederate flag as a symbol often associated with racism and slavery have expressed their views to the county.

“Nearly every symbol, flag and banner can be placed in a historical context in an attempt to justify the placement of same on public, government property. There is no doubt that a great number of our citizens find that the flying of this particular symbol on government property is offensive,” reads a letter delivered to Haywood County commissioners last Friday and signed by 20 local residents. “This is a symbol that divides our citizens and continues to harm our ability to heal past wrongs.”

Commissioners also received letters pleading to allow the flag.

“Those that vilify Confederate monuments and symbols are very confused about the history of the War Between the States and have jumped on the bandwagon to spread falsehoods and fear. In no way do these symbols represent hate or violence,” according to a letter from Kip Rollins, a Haywood residents and leader within the Southern Historical and Heritage Preservation Society.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Petersburg VA Depot to be Restored

Petersburg South Side Depot to be restored as Civil War Center

The historic South Side Depot in Old Towne Petersburg will be restored, and eventually it will house a visitor's center devoted to interpreting the Civil War.

Petersburg will have its own version of Richmond's visitor-friendly collaboration at Tredegar Iron Works when a restoration being announced today is completed.

The city of Petersburg and Petersburg National Battlefield will begin stabilization and restoration of the South Side Depot in Old Towne Petersburg with $400,000 in Transportation Enhancement grants from the state and a $100,000 match from the Civil War Trust. The building eventually will house a visitor's center where park rangers will interpret Petersburg's Civil War history.

The Civil War Trust also is receiving a $448,000 Transportation Enhancement grant toward the purchase of 81 acres at Cemetery Hill near Blandford Cemetery. The land is part of a $1.1 million campaign by the trust to protect 120 acres associated with fighting around the city during the last year of the war. Acquisition of the Cemetery Hill property will require $750,000 of that total.

The two historic preservation projects will be announced today at a 10 a.m. news conference featuring leaders of the city, state, battlefield and Civil War Trust. Officials plan to gather on the cobblestones of River Street at the South Side Depot, whose tall windows and distinctive cupola date to 1854.

The land at Cemetery Hill will be placed under a perpetual conservation easement and is slated to be incorporated into Petersburg National Battlefield. The trust also has applied for funding from the Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation Fund and is raising money from trust members.

Cemetery Hill was held continuously by Union troops for more than nine months during the siege of Petersburg. The site factored into the battles of Petersburg on June 18, 1864; the Crater on July 30, 1864; and Fort Stedman on March 25, 1865, according to the Civil War Trust. Those battles accounted for a combined 20,500 casualties — a quarter of those seen in the entire campaign.

The South Side Railroad was the final railroad to be severed by Union forces. When it was captured on April 1, 1865, said Mary Koik, spokeswoman for the Civil War Trust, "it was a foregone conclusion" that Petersburg would surrender. Richmond surrendered a day later.

A room on the second floor of the depot was used as an office after the war by Confederate Gen. William Mahone, a railroad president who later was a founder of Virginia State University.

Having a national park site in downtown Petersburg will allow the battlefield to "reach out to new audiences who haven't come to the park and help them learn more," said park Superintendent Lewis Rogers.

"I'm African-American. When I grew up, I didn't think there was anything in the Civil War for me. I learned there were African-Americans who fought in the Civil War, and Native Americans who fought in the Civil War, both of which fought at Petersburg.

"We want to reach out to the urban population … and to become more a part of fabric of the community. We have four sites, but most are out in more rural areas. … We want the opportunity to be right in town and be part of the fabric of the community. We hope it will also help stimulate the economy."

Officials predicted that the site would draw tens of thousands of heritage tourists each year.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Confederates Remembered in Montana

Confederate monument honors the nostalgic past
July 21, 2012

For those who believe Montana was far removed from the Civil War, take a stroll through Helena's Hill Park and admire the granite fountain prominently standing there.

The Confederate Memorial Fountain was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916. As you read the inscription, "A Longing Tribute to Our Confederate Soldiers," realize that you are in the presence of the only Confederate monument in Montana and the Northwest and one of the few such tributes to the Confederacy in the northern United States.

Hill Park, once known as Great Northern Park, is south of the distinctive Civic Center between Neill Avenue and North Park Avenue. It's near the heart of the capital city on the western rim of historic Last Chance Gulch.

Confederate Veteran magazine covered the unveiling of this Confederate memorial:

"The 5th of September, 1916, was made memorable in the city of Helena, Mont., by the presentation of the Confederate memorial fountain as a gift from the Winnie Davis Chapter, U. D. C. (United Daughters of the Confederacy)," the magazine wrote. "It was in 1903 that this Chapter began its work for a Confederate memorial, and in this it was aided by other Chapters of the State. So on the evening of September 5, in the glow of the low Montana twilight, an interested throng gathered to witness the unveiling ceremonies."

Several aged Confederate veterans were present. Miss Gertrude C. Young gave the presentation speech, telling the history of the gift as the Confederate Daughters saw the need to beautify Hill Park. She explained the motive in planning such a gift, telling how the Confederate Daughters, desiring to make some presentation to their new residence after leaving the South, had chosen the fountain as a fitting memorial.

Young lauded the present-day American spirit, a spirit of union with no ill feeling between the old North and South, which caused such bitterness and sorrow years ago.

City Attorney Edward Horsky, in place of Mayor Purcell, accepted the donation for the city. After the speeches, Mrs. Will Aiken pulled the cord to loosen the flag that covered the monument, while Mrs. F. F. Read turned the water into the bowl. These three women were the only charter members of the Winnie Davis Chapter then in Helena.

Prominent Helena architect George H. Carsley, the monument's designer, was inspired by a memorial fountain erected in Washington, D.C., in the memory of two heroes of the Titanic disaster. Erected at a cost of $2,000, the Confederate memorial used native Montana granite.

A Confederate Veteran described the fountain:

"The base upon which the fountain is placed is rectangular in form, bordered by heavy granite copings and approaches being on opposite sides, corresponding to the east-and-west axis of the park."

The fountain has two basins with bubbling drinking fountains at its north and south sides.

"Rising out of the upper basin is an octagonal shaft, upon opposite sides of which are two inscriptions in cut letters. ... Upon one side: 'A Longing Tribute to Our Confederate Soldiers.' Upon the other ... 'By the Daughters of the Confederacy in Montana, A. D. 1916.' "

Four bronze spouts pour water from this pedestal into the upper basin.

"In addition, there are four low jets bubbling through the surface of water in the upper basin, which, together with two overflow spouts from the drinking fountain and the water spilling from the upper into the lower basin, forms pleasing lines and graceful patterns.

"The whole is surmounted by a bronze lantern, giving to the shaft something of the proportions of a lighthouse, the distance from platform to top of the light being about nine feet."

The Montana Confederate Memorial was dedicated in 1916 at a time when race relations in the country were at the nadir with segregation and lynchings reaching their peak. The memorial beautified Hill Park, but ironically it also made a strong statement about the past — that even this far north the Confederacy should be honored nostalgically.

NC County Removes Flag from Memorial

Confederate supporters protest flag removal at courthouse
Written by Becky Johnson

A protest was held this week in front of the Haywood County historic courthouse by Confederate supporters who say their flag is being discriminated against.

For years, David Crook had been making monthly rounds past the Confederate Memorial on the lawn of the historic courthouse and tucking a tiny flag into the ground at its base. And for years, an anonymous person who felt the flag carried negative symbolism had been pulling them up.

“They kept disappearing,” said Thomas Shepard, whose own ancestors fought for the South. “So we kept replacing them.”

The flag tug-of-war gradually ramped up, with a new one being put down and pulled up almost daily.

The county was forced to wade into the fray in June, when a local attorney complained about the tiny flag display and asked the county to intervene.

“Personally, I have been more than uncomfortable with the flag’s presence on government property,” Waynesville Attorney Bob Clark wrote in an email to county commissioners. “Will you please take action, quietly and effectively, to stop the display of this divisive symbol?”

If the county won’t step in and stop the tiny flags from cropping up, then perhaps the commissioners should issue a public statement that they “support the flying of this symbol,” Clark suggested.

County Manager Marty Stamey talked the issue over informally with commissioners, and the next morning directed county maintenance workers to pull up the flags whenever they saw them. Stamey sent county maintenance workers an email asking them to keep an eye on the monument a couple of times during the day to monitor for the flag’s reappearance.

“Am I understanding correctly that you are requesting the Confederate Flag to be removed and not ever be placed back in front of the Confederate Monument?” County Maintenance Director Dale Burris wrote back to Stamey.

“It is a sensitive issue with government property as you are aware,” Stamey wrote back to Burris. “Maybe we can request that they just keep a nice wreath in front of the memorial instead.”

Burris decided to keep any flags he pulled up from the monument in the maintenance office in case someone came looking for them. But no sooner had he walked outside to do the deed than one of the Confederate supporters, Jule Morrow, happened to drive by and see him pull it up. Morrow confronted Burris, and Burris replied that he was only doing what he had been told by county officials.

Confederate supporters questioned why their flag is being pulled up from the lawn, while tiny American flags stuck at the base of other war memorials in front of the historic courthouse are allowed to stay.

David Teague, Haywood County public information officer, said part of the problem is outside groups placing any kind of decoration on county property without permission.

The county had been working on a compromise with some of the Confederate supporters, Teague said.

One Confederate group, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, urged local Confederate supporters not to cause a ruckus.

“The best thing to do in this case is not to replace the flag you are using and let the matter die a natural death,” wrote Aileen Ezell, president of the N.C. Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. “We gain nothing by fighting this. It is amazing to me that such a small flag has caught so much attention.”

Some of the local Confederate supporters in Haywood County have decided to go to the mat over the tiny flags after all, however. Several of them staged a protest outside the courthouse this week, and have pledged to appear before the county commissioners at the next county meeting and lobby permission to put their flag back out.

“This flag is often associated with hate rather than heritage and honor,” Shepard said. But, that’s not the case, he said.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Confederate Cemetery to Be Dedicated in Virginia

Virginia cemetery for Alabama Civil War dead to be dedicated
Tuesday, August 07, 2012

WASHINGTON -- A newly restored Civil War cemetery in northern Virginia will be formally dedicated next month in a ceremony that is expected to draw descendants of the Tenth Alabama Infantry Regiment soldiers who died there.

The small but significant portion of Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park was reborn after decades in private hands, overgrown and surrounded by farmland. Prince William County saved the battlefield area in a deal with a real estate developer, and historic preservationists determined that up to 90 Alabama soldiers died there during a disease outbreak in the late summer of 1861.

An Eagle Scout candidate, guided by park officials, helped clear the cemetery site and make it accessible to the public in a project last December. Since then, park officials have been raising money for a monument and, in the absence of engraved tombstones, using historical documents to try to piece together the names of the fallen soldiers.

So far, 42 of the men have been identified, said Rob Orrison, site manager with the Historic Preservation Division of the Prince William County Department of Public Works.

The Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans donated the stone for the monument. Among those who drove it up to Virginia was a descendant of a soldier buried there, Orrison said. The four-foot rock was added to the site Monday and plaques are coming.

The Sept. 22 ceremony, at 9 a.m. CDT, will be open to the public and include remarks from park officials and a historian, music, a color guard, and a gun salute by a Virginia-based re-enactment group.

Orrison said the Alabama Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans collected dirt from around each of the courthouses in the counties that were home to members of the 10th Alabama Regiment.

"I have two buckets of dirt in my office right now, and they're bringing the rest up in September," Orrison said. "They're going to spread some Alabama soil on the cemetery."

The Eagle Scout candidate who organized two days of site-clearing, fence-raising and bridge-building, Dane Smith of Nokesville, also will participate in the ceremony, as will a second Eagle Scout candidate who will be laying the patio around the monument with flagstone brought from Alabama.

The 133-acre Bristoe Station park opened in 2007, marking the Battle of Kettle Run in 1862 and the Battle of Bristoe Station in 1863. It is about an hour's drive west of Washington, D.C., in Bristow, Va., near the Manassas National Battlefield Park.

The 10th Alabama Infantry Regiment included companies from Jefferson, Shelby, Calhoun, Talladega, St. Clair, Calhoun, DeKalb and Talladega counties, according to the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Monument to Black Confederate Veterans to Be Erected

NC county to honor black Confederate Army veterans
Posted: Aug 03, 2012 N.C. (AP)

A North Carolina county has finalized plans for a granite marker that will honor local slaves who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

The Charlotte Observer reports ( ) that the marker honoring 10 black men, including nine slaves, is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country. The marker will go in a brick walkway at the Old County Courthouse in Monroe, in front of a Civil War monument.

The county's historic preservation commission on Thursday unanimously approved the plan for a marker that reads, "In Memory of Union County's Confederate Pensioners of Color." It goes on to recognize all African Americans who served in "The War Between The States."