Marble Minstrels, Voiceless Stones

Confederate monuments in North Carolina county seats

  • Shirley Robinson Independent Scholar


Monuments to North Carolina's Civil War dead became a part of the state's human landscape soon after the war ended in 1865. The monuments vary in shape and size from the impressive statues in the grounds of the capitol in Raleigh to simple grave markers found in cemeteries across the state. They provide a very visible and readily accessible source of information on the way people remember the thousands of North Carolinians who fought and died for the Confederacy. Most county monuments were built in the period from 1895 (when the state's Civil War monument was unveiled) until about 1930. Although the rate of monument building slowed after that time and monuments became simpler in form, counties continued to build monuments throughout the twentieth century. In the period from 1980 to the present, several new monuments were built and existing monuments were restored and enhanced. This continued building activity raises the questions: what purpose do these monuments serve, and has that purpose changed over time?