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Our Confederate Dead: 1905

Portsmouth, Virginia, circa 1905. "Confederate monument, Court Street." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Portsmouth, Virginia, circa 1905. "Confederate monument, Court Street." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Speaking of whining

I agree with Dave. AntonioB, you're whining the way southerners like you have since the 1960s Civil Rights movement, "Our race relations are just fine. If you northern agitators wouldn't stir things up, we'd all be happy with the way things are."

But in saying you've improved race relations since the 1920s (you had a long way to go), you're acknowledging improvements were needed. And now you're again blaming northern agitators for removing Confederate monuments from downtown squares, streets, and intersections. You will not accept many residents of those cities are simply tired of looking at the last vestiges (that's a spoiled northern uber elitists cushy white liberal arts college term) of a government that believed in enslaving other human beings and committed treason against the United States. There is nothing about the Confederacy to be proud of. In fact, it is something to be ashamed of. And if it makes any difference -- my father's family has been in Alabama since before the Civil War. I'm not a northern agitator.


So much for keeping politics out of here. But you wokesters should know the South has gone leaps and bounds over the North when it comes to race relations the last 100 years. FACT. Statue, obelisks or not. Only ones whining about these monuments were spoiled northern uber elitists from cushy white liberal arts colleges.

[Southerners whose ancestors were enslaved might also have some objections. And I do see some whining here. - Dave]

And the message was, We won

Hayslip, you made your remark before I realized the boy to the right of the monument was not on roller skates, and removed that observation from my comment. He is simply standing so close to two horse apples that I first thought he had wheels under him. I apologize.

[The boy is indeed on skates. - Dave]

davidk, I agree the pendulum has swung too far in removing any statue or monument which is not in sync with our current way of thinking. One of the most egregious removals was the 2018 removal of the Dr. J. Marion Sims statue from Central Park in New York City.

The appropriate place for any Our Confederate Dead monument is in a cemetery or on a Civil War battlefield. But monuments honoring the Confederacy in the middle of downtown streets and intersections were meant to send another message. Accordingly, a few million newly freed slaves were about to find out, the hard way, that being given your freedom did not mean you were given equal rights.

The latest

In August 2020, after the monument became a target of protests and attacks, the City removed it and put it in storage, minus some portions of the statutes of the rebels that had been severed earlier that summer. One statue, when severed from its pedestal, fell on a participant, seriously injuring him.

Contentious statues

We live in an era when statues are being hauled down everywhere: people sitting on thrones, on horseback, raising an arm. If you had anything to do with empire, conquest, colonialism – you’re toast. But I see nothing at all wrong with memorials to the dead. That’s what this monument is: a memorial to people who died in war. I feel sad it has to be guarded.


After many battles within the city, the monument was finally taken down.

Rollerskates and road apples

Not a good mix.

Monu mental

I see that after 117 years, a monumental obsession with a failed war and the failed, immoral value system behind it, is still literally impeding a clear path to progress in the South.

And now, like the Confederacy, it is gone

The boy at left is standing at an entrance to what is now called the Old Court House. I can't read everything painted on the windows and signs on the house next door, but I can make out the word "Law". A side door on the house puts you on a short, direct path to the courthouse. That lawyer must have had a good practice. I believe the building you can see directly behind the monument in 1905 is the building now painted yellow.

If you use the Street View kozel supplied to move to the other side of the Confederate Dead monument, you'll see another Portsmouth police car parked, protecting that side of the monument. Turns out it needed protection. After the monument was vandalized in 2020, the Portsmouth City Council voted unanimously to move it to an undisclosed storage area.

I like the figures on this monument because each is not standing squarely on its base; part of a foot is airborne. They're largely generic, made of cast white bronze. In a bit of irony, the sailor representing the Confederacy here also appears outside the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall in Wabash, Indiana.

No longer around

Just like those it remembered. Dismantled for being a traffic hazard ... among other reasons.

Now with protection.

No longer standing

In 2020, the Confederate soldier statues were beheaded by sledgehammer. Later that year, the monument was removed by order of the Portsmouth City Council.

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