Monticello Confederate Monument
The Monticello Confederate Monument is a commemorative sculpture erected in 1915 on the grounds of the Drew County Courthouse by the W. F. Slemons Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to commemorate local men who had served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. It was later moved to Oakland Cemetery.
As was the case in many Arkansas cities, the W. F. Slemons Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, based in Monticello (Drew County), decided around the beginning of the twentieth century to raise a monument on the courthouse grounds to honor county residents who had fought for the Confederacy. The Slemons Chapter was named for William Ferguson Slemons, a Monticello lawyer and politician who fought for the South as a cavalry colonel during the Civil War and later served in Congress after Reconstruction ended in Arkansas.
Raising funds by holding teas and plays, the UDC women by 1914 had raised $2,250 for a monument a newspaper described as twenty-seven feet high, 3,600 pounds, and made of gray Georgia marble. Though it apparently was in place at the Drew County Courthouse by December 1914, it was not dedicated until May 15, 1915. The ceremony included local school children placing wreaths at the base of the statue, which was festooned with garlands of ivy and wreaths of magnolia leaves. The band played “Dixie” as the statue was unveiled, and Slemons himself gave the dedication speech. After the ceremony, the UDC ladies proceeded to Oakland Cemetery to place flowers on the graves of Confederate soldiers.
The Monticello Confederate Monument depicts a Confederate infantryman standing atop a tall granite shaft. The east side is inscribed “CSA / TO THE / CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS / OF DREW COUNTY / 1861–1865.” The north face is inscribed “ERECTED BY THE / W. F. SLEMONS CHAPTER / U.D.C. / 1914.” The west side is inscribed “LEST / WE / FORGET,” and the south face reads: “FURL THAT BANNER! TRUE, / ’TIS GLORY, / YET ’TIS WREATHED AROUND / WITH GLORY / AND ’TWILL LIVE IN SONG / AND STORY / THOUGH ITS FOLDS ARE / IN THE DUST. / FATHER RYAN.”
A new Drew County Courthouse was built in 1932, and its predecessor was demolished the following year. The Monticello Confederate Monument was then moved to Oakland Cemetery, where it stands in a grassy circle at the end of the entrance road. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1996.
For additional information:
Allardice, Bruce. Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008.
“Dedicate U.D.C. Shaft.” Arkansas Gazette, May 17, 1915, p. 2.
Dodson, Mrs. Thomas F. “Confederate Monuments and Markers in Arkansas.” Arkansas Division UDC, 1960.
Holley, Donald. “Monticello’s Confederate Monument.” Drew County Historical Journal 19 (2004): 30.
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).
Slater, John. “Monticello 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/DR0255S.nr.pdf (accessed December 17, 2019).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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