Monument honors all Confederate soldiers

By Rick Harmon
May 2, 2010

Almost everyone who has driven past the Capitol has seen Alabama’s Confederate Monu­ment, but few realize what it ac­tually is and even fewer what is under it.

First of all, although it is in Alabama, it is not really Alaba­ma’s Confederate Monument.

While many Southern states have Confederate memorials, Alabama’s monument is not just for Alabama’s Confederate soldiers. As the first capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery’s monument was built for sol­diers from the entire Confedera­cy.

The Ladies Memorial Associ­ation worked tirelessly to raise nearly $46,000 to build the mon­ument to honor Confederate sol­diers who died in the war.

In 1886, Jefferson Davis him­self helped lay the cornerstone for the monument, just a few feet from where he took the oath of office as president of the Con­federacy.

Former Confederates from throughout the South came to Montgomery on Dec. 7, 1898, to witness the dedication of the 85-foot-tall structure, designed by Alexander Doyle.

The monument on the north side of the Capitol is topped with a bronze figure honoring patrio­tism and Southern womanhood. Below this figure, Fred Barni­coat created a granite statuary representing the four branches of the Confederate armed forces. A bronze band encircles the col­umn.

Beneath the monument are treasures — treasures not of wealth, but of history.

Many former Confederate sol­diers presented everything from diaries and photos to regi­mental flags and uniforms to be buried under the cornerstone of the monument.

Items placed beneath the cor­nerstone include everything from Gen. Joseph Wheeler’s bat­tle flag and a bundle of books from Jefferson Davis’ daughter, Winnie, to newspapers from throughout the state (including an Oct. 7, 1864, Montgomery Ad­vertiser) and a list of course studies used by Montgomery public school teachers in 1885.

These, along with Confeder­ate postage stamps, regimental badges, and different denomi­nations of treasury notes and bonds were placed in a zinc box. The lid was cemented in lead, and the box was placed under the cornerstone, where it has remained for more than a century.

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