Camden Confederate Monument
The Camden Confederate Monument is a commemorative sculpture erected in 1915 on the grounds of the Ouachita County Courthouse in Camden (Ouachita County) through the efforts of the Hugh McCollum Camp 778 of the United Confederate Veterans (UCV), aided by the Hiram L. Grinstead Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), to honor women who had supported the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The Camden Confederate Monument is one of two Arkansas memorials that honor the women who supported the Confederate cause, and as with the Monument to Confederate Women on the Arkansas State Capitol grounds, it was raised through the efforts of the United Confederate Veterans. Sufficient money was raised by the McCollum Camp, with help from the Grinstead UDC chapter and Ouachita County, to purchase a statue by mid-April 1915 and place it on the Ouachita County Courthouse grounds.
The monument is an Italian marble carving of a woman in a dress clutching a flagpole against her shoulder while standing before a granite obelisk. The front of the sculpture is inscribed “1861 / 1865 / TO OUR CONFEDERATE WOMEN.” The right side of the obelisk reads “THEIR INSPIRATION TRANSFORMED / THE GLOOM OF DEFEAT INTO THE / HOPE OF THE FUTURE AND THEIR / MEMORY SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN / EVEN IN THE HOURS OF PEACE.” The left side is inscribed “ERECTED BY THE VETERANS / OF / HUGH MCCULLUM / CAMP 778 / AIDED BY / GRINSTEAD CHAPTER / U.D.C. / AND OUACHITA COUNTY / CAMDEN, ARKANSAS / 1914 / TO THE WOMEN OF THE CONFEDERACY.”
The rear of the obelisk contains a lengthy inscription: “TO THE CONFEDERATE WOMEN / WHOSE PIOUS MINISTRATION / TO OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS / SOOTHED THE LAST HOURS OF THOSE / WHO DIED FAR FROM THE OBJECTS / OF THEIR TENDEREST LOVE; / WHOSE DOMESTIC LABORS / CONTRIBUTED MUCH TO SUPPLY / THE WANTS OF OUR DEFENDERS / IN THE FIELD; WHOSE ZEALOUS / FAITH IN OUR CAUSE SHONE / A GUIDING STAR UNDIMMED / BY THE DARKEST CLOUDS OF WAR; / WHOSE FORTITUDE SUSTAINED / THEM UNDER ALL THE PRIVATIONS / TO WHICH THEY WERE SUBJECTED; / AND WHOSE PATRIOTISM / WILL TEACH THEIR CHILDREN TO / EMULATE THE DEEDS OF THEIR SIRES.”
The principal speaker at the May 15, 1915, dedication of the Camden Confederate Monument was Judge W. T. Martin, who waxed eloquent on the statue and Southern women. He extolled the statue, saying, “She holds the flag of her country with a spirit of devotion as deep as her bearing is lofty, as pure as her motives are divine, and in reverent contrite, devotional heart imploring the Giver of all good for the success of Southern Arms, victory upon the Southern cross, and the flag which she is pressing so fondly to her bosom floating in beauty and triumph above the cause she loves so well.” Martin predicted that the statue “will perpetuate in stone the unparalleled sacrifices, loyalty and devotion of the women of that momentous period, an episode in the History of this beautiful southland which will live in song and story long after this beautiful statue has crumbled into dust.”
The Camden Confederate Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 7, 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 Camden Confederate Monument on the Ouachita County Courthouse grounds. Voters cast 6,539 ballots in favor of retaining the monument, while 2,871 voted for its removal.
For additional information:
Dodson, Mrs. Thomas F. “Confederate Monuments and Markers in Arkansas.” Arkansas Division UDC, 1960.
Gill, Bradly, and Patric Flanagin. “Local Election Results Are In.” Camden News, November 11, 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 December 17, 2019).
Martin, W. T. “To the Daughters of the Confederacy and the Hugh McCollum Camp.” Camden Daily Beacon-Herald, May 18, 1915, p. 2.
Slater, John. “Camden 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/OU0046S.nr.pdf (accessed December 17, 2019).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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