El Dorado Confederate Monument
The El Dorado Confederate Monument is a sculpture erected in 1910 by the Henry G. Bunn Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to commemorate local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War.
Ten Confederate infantry companies were raised in Union County during the Civil War, and other men from the county served in various cavalry and artillery units. In late 1908 or early 1909, the Henry G. Bunn Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which had formed in 1907 and named itself for the colonel of the Fourth Arkansas Infantry Regiment, decided to raise a monument to the local men who had fought for the South. “Without a cent of public aid and relying solely upon their own resources and the voluntary contributions of citizens of El Dorado and the surrounding country,” according to a newspaper account, they raised more than $2,850 for a monument that was designed by members of the chapter.
It is unique among Arkansas Confederate monuments, with a marching Confederate soldier statue atop a four-columned classical temple structure that originally covered a working fountain of which a future UDC member wrote: “[T]he cool crystal water was intended to denote the calm steadfast purity of purpose of the sons of the South in the great war, while the freedom of the waters’ flow and its enlivening healing nature served to typify the loving streams of blood that was forced to flow ere the land of these immured here was compelled to bow to the superior force, wealth and strength of the invader.”
The south lintel of the temple is inscribed “CSA / 1861–1865 / ERECTED BY THE HENRY G. BUNN CHAPTER / UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY / 1909.” The north lintel is engraved with “TRUTH CRUSHED TO EARTH SHALL RISE AGAIN, / EVEN DEATH CANNOT SEVER THE CORDS OF MEMORY.” The west lintel is inscribed “IN HONOR OF THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS / OF UNION COUNTY, ARK.,” while the east side features a pair of crossed swords.
The unveiling of the monument and its donation to Union County were scheduled for March 21,1910, leading one local newspaper to declare, “We feel safe in saying that not another town has more patriotic and enterprising ladies than does El Dorado and the magnificent gift they have bestowed proves them the finest in the land.” The bandstand and rostrum on the Union County Courthouse grounds next to the monument were decorated with red, white, and blue bunting and Confederate flags, and seventy uniformed veterans sat under the speakers’ stand, surrounded by 700 schoolchildren, who participated in the exercises. The El Dorado band played, and prayers were made before featured orator John H. Hinemon of Arkadelphia (Clark County) reportedly “spoke briefly about the war and its results and ended by complimenting the people of Union county for thus honoring the heroes of the Civil War. He declared that every county in the state should follow the example set by Union county.” Bunn Chapter president Mrs. D. W. Thomas presented the monument to Rev. J. F. McKinzie, who was representing County Judge A. P. McMahon, after which a quartet sang “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground.” Anna Craig then removed the cover (a 20′ by 60′ Confederate flag) to reveal the monument while the assembled crowd sang “Dixie.”
The El Dorado Confederate Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1996.
In the wake of nationwide protests against police violence and Confederate symbols in 2020, officials included a ballot issue in the November elections on whether to keep the El Dorado Confederate Monument on the Union County Courthouse grounds. Voters cast 7,904 ballots in favor of retaining the monument while 4,163 voted for its removal.
For additional information:
“Confederate Monument Unveiled.” Huttig News, March 26, 1910, p. 1.
“Confederate Monument Unveiled at El Dorado.” Arkansas Gazette, March 22, 1910, p. 2.
“Daughters of Confederacy to Unveil Monument to Veterans.” Arkansas Gazette, March 20, 1910, p. 25.
Dodson, Mrs. Thomas F. “Confederate Monuments and Markers in Arkansas.” Arkansas Division UDC, 1960.
The Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1890.
“The Latest: Local Election Results Still Incoming, GOP Leading in Most Races.” El Dorado News-Times, November 4, 2020, p. 1A.
Logan, Charles Russell. “Something So Dim It Must Be Holy”: Civil War Commemorative Sculpture in Arkansas, 1886–1934. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 1996. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed November 30, 2018).
Slater, John. “El Dorado Confederate Monument.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/UN0161S.nr.pdf (accessed November 30, 2018).
“Will Unveil Monument.” Huttig News, March 19, 1910, p. 1.
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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