Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War

Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War

Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War

Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War

Synopsis

"A comprehensive examination of the ways in which the wartime service and sacrifice of Floridians has been memorialized from the Reconstruction Era through the present. A valuable contribution to the subject of Civil War Memory."--David J. Coles, coeditor of A Yankee Horseman in the Shenandoah Valley

"A complete guide. The authors locate every Civil War monument in Florida and explain their symbolism."--Daniel L. Schafer, author of Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida

One hundred and fifty years ago, Florida was shaken by battle, blockade, economic deprivation, and the death of native sons both within and far outside its borders. Today, tributes to the valor and sacrifice of Florida's soldiers, sailors, and civilians can be found from the Panhandle to the Keys. Authors Lees and Gaske look at the diversity of Civil War monuments built in Florida between Reconstruction and the present day, elucidating their emblematic and social dimensions.

Most monuments built in Florida honor the Confederacy, praising the valor of Southern soldiers and often extolling the righteousness of their "Lost Cause." At the same time, a fascinating minority of Union monuments also exists in the state--and these bear notably muted messages. Recalling Deeds Immortal shows how the creation of these bronze and stone monuments created new social battlegrounds as, over the years, groups such as the Ladies' Memorial Associations, United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Grand Army of the Republic competed to control the messages behind the memorialization of fallen soldiers and veterans. Examining the evolution of Civil War monuments, the authors demonstrate that the construction of these memorials is itself an important part of Civil War and post-Civil War history.

Excerpt

We are told by the historian of an earlier age that
whenever the renowned men of the Roman com
monwealth looked upon the statues of their ancestry,
they felt their minds vehemently excited to virtue. It
could not have been the bronze or marble that pos
sessed this power, but the recollection of great ac
tions which kindled a generous flame in their souls,
not to be quelled until they also, by virtue and heroic
deeds, had acquired equal fame and glory.

John J. Dickison, “Military History of Florida” (1898)

In 1871 the Walton County Female Memorial Association erected a monument at the Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church (see figure 1). Engraved on its surfaces are the names of ninety-four Confederate soldiers from Walton County who died during the Civil War. They died in battle, hospital, camp, and at prisoner-of-war compounds in places throughout the South and in northern states as far away as Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, and New York. These soldiers went away to war and never returned, and in most cases their graves are far from home. For many, their place of burial is unknown. the families of these soldiers were deprived of a “proper” death, which in the mid-nineteenth century was supposed to happen at home in the presence of loved ones. Also missing was a proper funeral as well as a grave in the family or local cemetery that could be visited and honored. the Euchee Valley monument became a substitute for the grave, and it served to assist family and community in mourning and remembering these tragically departed souls.

The Walton County monument is thus a physical symbol coded with meaning intended to help us remember—what memory scholars call a “mnemonic device.” At first this memory was one familiar to the community.

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