Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

Confederate Memorial at Arlington, South Side
Confederate Memorial at Arlington, East Side
Unveiling the Confederate Memorial , 1914

Dublin Core

Title

Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

Description

Located on the western edge of Arlington National Cemetery inside the Jackson Circle stands the Confederate Memorial. Reaching to a height of 32 feet above the ground, it looms large over the 482 graves of Confederate soldiers and officers that encircle it.
Contrary to the straight rows of Arlington's headstones, the Confederate graves are arranged in concentric circles with the Memorial at the center. Additionally setting them apart are the tops of their grave markers, angled to a point, meant to differentiate them from the round tops of the Union stones.
At the top, a female figure carved in classical Greek style stands as a representation the South, with the inscription of a biblical quote from Isaiah 2:4 at her feet: "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks" Beneath this are fourteen shields decorated with the coats-of-arms of the eleven seceded states plus the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland.
The thirty-two figures at the base depict the Lost Cause in fantastical detail, with mythological gods mixed in with Southern soldiers and civilians. Two of the figures are African-American, one a "mammy" and the other a body-servant following his master to war. These were meant to represent a popular Southern belief in the "loyal and faithful slave" and dispel notions of the brutality of the slave regime, which Ezekiel and the UDC considered lies told by the North.

The south side bears the inscription:
TO OUR DEAD HEROES BY
THE UNITED DAUGHTERS
OF THE CONFEDERACY
VICTRIX CAUSA DIIS
PLACUIT SED VICTA CATON
(Translated from Latin: The Victorious Cause was Pleasing to the Gods, But the Lost Cause Pleased Cato.)

The north side displays this message:
NOT FOR FAME OR REWARD
NOT FOR PLACE OR FOR RANK
NOT LURED BY AMBITION
OR GOADED BY NECESSITY
BUT IN SIMPLE
OBEDIENCE TO DUTY
AS THEY UNDERSTOOD IT
THESE MEN SUFFERED ALL
SACRIFICED ALL
DARED ALL — AND DIED

Confederate soldiers were forbidden burial at Arlington prior to the end of the Spanish-American War. After that conflict ended with an American victory, President William McKinley kicked off his 1898 “Peace Jubilee” tour with a speech in Atlanta that addressed the issue of honoring the Confederate dead, stating that “…Sectional feeling no longer holds back the love we feel for each other. The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories”
By 1902, the remains of more than 260 Confederate soldiers had been exhumed and relocated to Section 16 of the National Cemetery. Over the next few years, that number would increase to over 400.
In 1906, the United Daughters of the Confederacy began fundraising efforts to pay for a proper memorial, hiring Confederate veteran Moses Jacob Ezekiel to design and sculpt the monument. It was completed and unveiled by President Woodrow Wilson on June 6th, 1914. Ezekiel was buried at the monument's base upon his death in 1921.
The majority of the general public remains unaware that the Confederate Memorial even exists and as of December 2021 there are no plans nor public outcry to remove or relocate the monument from its place within the cemetery.

Creator

Moses Jacob Ezekiel

Source

“Confederate Memorial.” Arlington National Cemetery. https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Explore/Monuments-and-Memorials/Confederate-Memorial.

Shapiro, T. Rees. “Uneasy Future for Arlington’s Confederate Memorial.” The Washington Post. Washington, D.C: The Washington Post, 2017.

Date

1914

Contributor

David Cantwell

Language

English

Type

Sculpture

Identifier

HIST 402A Fall 2021

Coverage

Arlington National Cemetary, Arlington, VA

Geolocation