Blotting out the “memory” of a formidable foe?

Posted on December 10, 2008 by

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Thanks go out to Craig over at To the Sound of the Guns for making me aware of this one.

It’s interesting to see how monuments are refined or “tweaked,” after they have already been erected. As an example, take a look at this… (these images are from this page of The Historic Markers Database (HMDB)

I know it’s hard to read the tablet, but pay close attention to the last line. “HERE ON SUNDAY APRIL 9, 1865, AFTER FOUR YEARS OF HEROIC STRUGGLE IN DEFENSE OF PRINCIPLES BELIEVED FUNDAMENTAL TO THE EXISTENCE OF OUR GOVERNMENT, LEE SURRENDERED 9000 MEN, THE REMNANT OF AN ARMY STILL UNCONQUERED IN SPIRIT.”

Clearly, a positive representation of the memory of the Lost Cause is preserved in this marker.

Now that you’ve seen this, consider the records of the Battlefield Markers Association, Western Division. It seems that when this marker was placed (ca. 1929), the tablet’s story did not end with “UNCONQUERED IN SPIRIT.” Take a look at this…

So, where did “TO 118,000 MEN UNDER GRANT” go?

Of course, you have to keep in mind that (according to the information on this page at the HMDB) the Battlefield Markers Association, Western Division was organized in Charlottesville in 1925 with the intent of purchasing bronze tablets with “appropriate historic inscriptions.” Furthermore, these were placed on the bases erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy, D. A. R., and Memorial Association on the principal battlefields of Virginia. In all, they placed 25 markers. Oh, and if you’ve actually seen the booklet produced by the Battlefield Markers Association, Western Division in 1929, you have probably noted the tribute to Lee and Jackson in the back.

I doubt that the ghost of Jubal Early cleaned up that last line to erase all traces of the “Yankee horde,” and I don’t think that the few raised letters would bring much during the World War II scrap drive. It just looks like somebody had objections to the mention of Grant and his 118,000 men… and somebody, in the name of preserving the purity of this marker in the name of the Lost Cause, blotted out the “memory” of the side to whom surrender was made. For some reason, I can hear somebody say, after seeing the marker “cleaned-up” …. “There now, that looks so much better!”

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