As Confederate monuments are removed in the wake of last weekend’s violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Montgomery County plays its own role in commemorating the men in gray.
A marker in Ladoga Cemetery lists the names and units of 64 former Confederate soldiers buried in the county. The stone was placed in 2010 by the John Hunt Morgan and Dixie Grays chapters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans along with the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
It aims to teach visitors of a unique local connection to the Civil War: Montgomery County has buried the highest number of Confederate veterans north of the Mason-Dixon line who were not prisoners-of-war.
Bill Boone, a local Civil War historian whose great-great-grandfather John Mangus fought for the Confederacy, learned of the distinction as the group worked to erect memorial stones for Confederate soldiers.
“When we started thinking about it, we just wanted to honor the veterans of Montgomery County,” he said.
Most of the buried soldiers lie in Ladoga, where they had lived before moving south before the war. Returning home to find their fields and homes destroyed, they moved back to Montgomery County, where their presence caused years of friction with local Union veterans.
Other Confederate veterans are buried in Oak Hill North and other cemeteries scattered throughout the county.
Momentum to dismantle Confederate-era monuments has gained speed following last week’s deadly encounter in Charlottesville that left one person dead and 19 others injured.
In the past week, Confederate monuments or plaques have been removed in New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Protesters yanked a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier from its pedestal in Durham, North Carolina. Other monuments were vandalized in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Boone said white supremacists have “usurped” the cause for Confederate heritage, but does not support removing the memorials.
“Those things are symbols,” he said. “They don’t speak and they don’t threaten anybody.”
Stephen Morillo, Beesley Professor of History at Wabash College, grew up in New Orleans, where four Confederate statues were removed in April.
New Orleans and other cities began erecting the monuments after Reconstruction, during the height of lynchings and other violence against blacks.
Morillo said the statues belong in museums where they can be given historical context.
“All of these monuments are not Civil War-era monuments,” he said. “They are Jim Crow-era monuments which were explicitly designed to symbolize and reinforce white rule.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.