Roy Harris and Jon Elliston, both Board Members of the Friends of North Carolina, made presentations before the guest speaker. A slide presentation of the Civil War monuments in the immediate area, most of which had been erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy, was shown. The prominent placement of these monuments, such as the Vance Monument, seems to be a major bone of contention. The auditorium in the library was packed; refreshments were served. A question and answer session followed.
W. Fitzhugh Brundage gave historical perspective to a topic which is being hotly debated in North Carolina at the moment—in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham. He pointed out that there are close to 1000 monuments in the state, commemorating many wars, people, objects, and events. Approximately 233 of these are Confederate Monuments, which were erected primarily by mourners for the dead and/or descendants of those who had been killed in battle.
In addition, he pointed out that there are 34 African American Monuments in North Carolina. Some were dedicated to African American soldiers who fought and died for the Union, such as the one in front of the First Baptist Church in Hertford, NC. The inscription there says, “In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers who fought in the war of 1861-1865.” The death toll during the Civil War easily took 250,000 Confederate lives, probably more by a recent study.
He mentioned that in the state of Mississippi just after the war, one-fifth of the state’s budget went to buying artificial limbs. He also spoke briefly about the laws of North Carolina (although he made certain to mention that he is by no means a lawyer), which relate to the removal of monuments on public and private land. For specific information on the monuments in North Carolina research “Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina by UNC Chapel Hill Professor Fitzhugh Brundage or go to www.docsouth.unc.edu.
The North Carolina Room at Pack Memorial Library collects and preserves the history, life and literature of Western North Carolina. It welcomes donations of photographs, postcards and other written documents that pertain to Western North Carolina. You can help by becoming a Friend of the North Carolina room. Visit their website, www.ncroom.buncombecounty.org or perhaps donate, volunteer and get behind the scenes. The upcoming events in the Lord Auditorium will be on March 21, from 6 – 7 pm: Women’s History Month, with another one on April 25 6-7 pm: Rich Mathews: “The Early Days of Coxe Avenue.”