Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War

By Battle, Mary | The Journal of Southern History, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War


Battle, Mary, The Journal of Southern History


Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War. By William B. Lees and Frederick P. Gaske. (Gainesville and other cities: University Press of Florida, 2014. Pp. [xviii], 370. $44.95, ISBN 978-0-8130-4996-0.)

In Recalling Deeds Immortal: Florida Monuments to the Civil War, William B. Lees and Frederick P. Gaske provide a detailed account of one hundred monuments dedicated to Florida's Civil War history. While national Civil War narratives often minimize the role of Florida, Lees and Gaske assert that, like in other former Confederate states, these numerous and widely dispersed monuments play an influential role in Florida's history and contemporary cultural landscape. The funding and manufacture of Civil War monuments surged throughout Florida in the late nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century and, in some cases, even the twenty-first century. As Lees and Gaske explain, "Florida was involved in a significant way in the war, and it was equally involved in the social forces that shaped the way the victors and the defeated commemorated their different realities" (p. 12).

Lees is the executive director of the Florida Public Archaeology Network at the University of West Florida, and Gaske is the editor of Florida Civil War Heritage Trail (Tallahassee, 2011). In meticulous detail, the authors provide entries about each monument that include descriptions of design and construction materials, as well as citations of engraved quotations. The authors also provide context about the organizations or individuals who funded different monuments, the individuals or events they commemorate, the events surrounding unveilings, and in some cases, the local controversies surrounding specific monuments.

Lees and Gaske's detailed text is accessibly written for a range of audiences, and their exhaustive efforts have generated a unique resource. At the same time, public interest in their work also points to a significant issue. In their introduction, Lees and Gaske explain that the purpose of their book "is to reconnect [the] seemingly random dots" of Florida's monuments "to the broader patterns of Civil War and postbellum history," particularly the role of Lost Cause mythology in fueling the construction of Confederate monuments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (p. …

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