Confederate Defenders of Charleston Monument

White Point Garden, Confederate Defenders of Charleston
Monument to Defenders of Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina
Edmund Ruffin. Fired the 1st shot in the Late War. Killed himself at close of War., ca. 1861
Fort Sumter - 1861

Dublin Core

Title

Confederate Defenders of Charleston Monument

Description

Overlooking Charleston Harbor with Fort Sumter in the distance, stands one of the city’s most controversial points of interest, a seventeen foot tall statue dedicated to the Confederate Defenders of Charleston. Erected in 1932, the statue is dedicated to the Confederate soldiers who held Fort Sumter and defended the city from Union forces from 1861 to 1865. Sculptor Herman A. MacNeil describes his bronze figures as such, “Its motif in brief, is that the stalwart youth, standing in front with sword and shield in front symbolizes by his attitude the defense not only of the fort, but also of the fair city behind the fort in which are his most prized possessions, wife and family.” To further express the theme of courage and sacrifice, the inscription around the base reads, “Count them happy who for their faith and their courage endured a great fight.”

Commissioned by the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy and funded by a bequeathal of $100,000 from Charleston philanthropist Andrew B. Murray, the monument was dedicated on October 20th, 1932. The ceremony in White Point Garden was attended by thousands of Charleston residents as well as the last surviving Fort Sumter veteran, Colonel William Robert Greer. Four young women, all descendants of Sumter veterans, unveiled the monument and placed red and white carnation wreaths alongside the final flag to fly over the Confederate controlled fort. In his speech as keynote speaker of the event, journalist Gerald W. Johnson, described the honored soldiers as not fighting for slavery, but “their right to live their lives as they choose.” These symbols and ideas of the Lost Cause were embraced by the city as municipal and business leaders aimed to draw in tourists with Old South charm and imagery.

In the wake of the Emmanuel Church shooting in 2017 and the George Floyd protests of 2020, Charleston’s Confederate monuments have been the center of considerable controversy and debate. While drawing the attention of Black Lives Matter protests and right wing counter protests throughout the summer of 2020, there appear to be no plans within the municipal government to remove the statue in the near future.

Creator

Herman A. MacNeil, Sculptor

Source

Rosen, Robert N. Confederate Charleston: an Illustrated History of the City and the People during the Civil War. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994.

Young, John R. A Walk in the Parks: the Definitive Guidebook to Monuments in Charleston's Major Downtown Parks. Charleston: Evening Post Books, 2010.

Cook, Robert. Civil War Memories: Contesting the Past in the United States since 1865. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.

Date

October 20th, 1932 -

Contributor

Steven Mang

Language

English

Type

Bronze Statue

Identifier

HIST 402A (Fall 2020)

Coverage

Charleston, South Carolina

Geolocation