Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Monumental Confederate Memorial In North Carolina

In my last posting I followed up on my discovery last summer of what I considered to be an outstanding Civil War Monument in Gloversville, New York, which I later learned is also on public display in three other locations.  So you already know that I am always interested in finding new to me monuments like this one. Despite a childhood dalliance with wearing the grey during the Centennial observations, seduced by the cavalier image, my sentiments today are very much with the North and the Union. Nevertheless, a handsome memorial will catch my interest almost regardless of its subject.
Most monuments, whether in the North or the South, warrant little more than a cursory examination of the single static figure and brief supporting inscriptions. However, during a recent sojourn in  Wilmington, North Carolina, almost by chance I found a dramatic multi-figure Southern monument that deserved close examination (even though located on a narrow island in the middle of an extremely busy street!).

The Confederate Monument includes two figures, one reclining - described in commentaries as representing sacrifice; the other standing - representing courage. It is the latter standing figure that really holds the eye and captures the imagination. He appears to embody the emotional attachment to the Lost Cause that still held sway in much of the South when the monument was dedicated in 1924.

The sculptor is identified on the memorial base as the then-noted F.H.Packer of New York but several articles and a guide book report that he worked in collaboration with local architect Henry Bacon, Jr, on the monument as a whole. It consists of a more than 15 ton granite pedestal and shaft providing base and background to the two figures. This is not the only work by Packer to be seen on the streets of Wilmington.The casting was done at Roman Bronze Works in New York which worked with many of the greatest sculptors in America.

Whatever their symbolic representation, the two figures offer some interesting details regarding the appearance of these Confederate soldiers. For example, the socks pulled up over the pants’ cuffs and tied down with what appears to be twine; and the two bullseye canteens with their distinctive metal ringwork patterns.



The two canteens featured in the memorial bear the markings of Company H, 40th North Carolina.

According to Stewart Sifakis’ Compendium of the Confederate Armies: North Carolina, this company was also known as Company H of the North Carolina 3rd Artillery Regiment in November 1863 and was captained by Calvin Barnes. Much of the 40th/3rd Artillery was captured at the fall of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865. The then surviving remnants were converted to infantry and consolidated with the remnants of the 2nd Artillery Regiment and other companies. They were surrendered as part of Joe Johnston’s army at Durham Station, North Carolina on April 26, 1865 having fought at Fort Anderson, Northeast River, Jackson’s Mills, and finally at Bentonville.

The National Park Service offers the following account of the regiment: “40th Regiment Volunteers-3rd Artillery was organized at Bald Head, Smith's Island, North Carolina, in November, 1863, from heavy artillery companies formed in 1861 and 1862. Its 1,152 men were from the counties of Lenoir, Beaufort, Pamlico, Richmond, Robeson, Wayne, Wilson, Edgecombe, Greene, New Hanover, Bladen, Anson, and Chatham. Attached to the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia, detachments served at Fort Holmes, Fort Caswell, Fort Campbell, Fort Anderson, and Fort Fisher. In 1865 the unit was converted to infantry and assigned to Hagood's Brigade. It fought at Bentonville and surrendered with the Army of Tennessee on April 26. Its commanders were Colonel John J. Hedrick, Lieutenant Colonel George Tait, and Major William A. Holland.”
You can also find their published roster at Google Books.

The good news is that the only apparent visible damage is the broken off bayonet on the standing figure’s musket. Sadly, the bayonet was clearly there in 1994 based upon the photo at this link to the North Carolina monument’s online index -