Washington Confederate Monument
The Washington Confederate Monument is a commemorative obelisk financed and erected through the efforts of the citizens of Washington (Hempstead County) to honor the memory of the Confederate soldiers who died there during the Civil War. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1996.
Washington, strategically placed on the Southwest Trail, lay in the path of troop movements to and from Texas and, following the fall of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Union troops in September 1863, was the seat of Confederate government in the state as well. At least seventy-four Confederate soldiers are believed to be buried in Washington’s Presbyterian Cemetery (now Washington Cemetery); this number includes soldiers in the Nineteenth Texas Infantry of Walker’s Texas Division who were heading north in 1862, casualties of the Skirmish at Prairie D’Ane, and Missourians from the town’s 1864–65 garrisons. While a former Confederate soldier kept a list of the names of the men buried in the cemetery, it was lost after he moved from the state.
The people of Washington, through public subscription, raised money for a marble obelisk to be placed near the unmarked graves of the Confederate soldiers. The monument was erected in early August 1888. It is inscribed: “Erected by our citizens to the memory of our Confederate Soldiers who died at this post during the late Civil War far from home and kindred.”
In March 1911, the Presbyterian Cemetery Association plastered over the original brick base; this base was removed, and a cream-colored brick base was installed in the 1930s. That brick deteriorated over time, and in the summer of 1994, Joshua Williams led the restoration of the monument’s base as an Eagle Scout project. Brick similar to that of the original base was used in rebuilding the base, and new plants and a concrete walkway were put in during the project. The monument was rededicated on October 16, 1994, some 108 years after its initial installation. In 1997, Joel Williams, younger brother of Josh Williams, helped to restore the monument once again after a tree knocked the obelisk off its base.
The Washington Confederate Monument differs from many of the other Confederate memorials around the state, which were usually sponsored by such groups as the Southern Memorial Association, United Confederate Veterans, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and—predominantly—the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Only two others, the Searcy Confederate Monument in White County and the Jackson Guards Monument at Jacksonport State Park, were financed through public subscription.
For additional information:
Carrigan, A. H. “Washington.” In Publications of the Arkansas Historical Association, Vol. 2, edited by John Hugh Reynolds. Little Rock: Democrat Printing and Lithographing Co., 1908.
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 25, 2020).
“The Old Confederate Monument.” Brochure on file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Rebels Saluted.” Hempstead County Historical Society Journal 13 (1994): 49.
“Washington Confederate Monument.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/HE0719S.nr.pdf (accessed November 25, 2020).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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