In most cases, Confederate monuments are over or close to 100 years old. These memorials were raised primarily in honor of the local veterans who never returned home as most say "Confederate Dead" on them. Many have funeral symbols incorporated into them such as the cut off stump or log symbolizing a life cut short. Clearly, these monuments are community memorials. Other communities have chosen to honor the politicians and generals of the Confederacy during the post-war Monument Movement. Before 1877, many Confederate monuments were located in the cemeteries. Romney in Hampshire County is credited with the first Confederate Monument in 1867. After 1877, monuments began to appear in public spaces.

The Monument Movement was not a Southern movement. It was a national movement as Northern states placed monuments to those that "Defended the Union" or "Preserved the Union" and their generals. These coincided with honoring those that served. The Union monuments went up in public spaces and in cemeteries from the beginning with a few before the war ended. The memorials served as a healing process of the nation. In both cases, ladies' associations, monument associations, and veterans raised funds for the monuments.

The memorials served as a healing process of the nation. Some of these associations were created for the sole purpose of erecting a memorial and then disbanded. The Grand Army of the Republic and the Allied Orders backed many Union monuments and the United Daughters of the Confederacy backing many Southern monuments. More often it was the community subscriptions paying for the memorials. Monument companies made the monuments for both sides, The 1913 catalog of Mullins Monument Co of Salem, Ohio was titled "The Blue and the Gray" showing previous work on both Union and Confederate monuments.

"Stonewall" Jackson on the Capitol grounds is an individual connected to the state by his birth in Clarksburg. Stonewall was placed in 1910 at the original downtown Capitol. In response, the Mountaineer Monument was placed there in 1912. Even now the present capitol has three monuments to the Union and one to the Confederacy. There is one of Booker T. Washington, who in 1914 supported the Confederate Monument in Opelika, Alabama. Washington wrote in 1914 to Mamie A. Harrison of Rochester New York that "any monument that will keep the fine character of such heroes before the public will prove helpful to both races in the South." Washington's West Virginia schoolteacher, William H. Davis, was a cook in the 7th Independent Company of Ohio Volunteer Cavalry who guarded Lincoln from 1863-65.

Confederate monuments are community memorials. They should not be judged on standards of 21st-century thought, which was unlikely ever considered by the 19th-century participants. West Virginia needs the West Virginia Monuments and Memorials Protection Act which was introduced in every session since 2016.

Ernest Everett Blevins, MFA Commander, Robert S. Garnett Camp 1470 Sons of Confederate Veterans Charleston, West Virginia


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