United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument

A rough cut 12 foot tall block of granite with a bronze plaque on the front sits in the front. Behind it is a smaller stone monument. Green farm fields are in the background.
Dedicated in 1914, the UDC Monument was the first monument at Monocacy to commemorate the Confederate victory on northern soil. Two previously erected monuments were dedicated to the Union soldiers who fought to save Washington, DC. The Maryland Monument (in the background here) was dedicated in 1964 to both Union and Confederate soldiers from Maryland who fought at Monocacy.

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On July 9, 1914, nearly 500 people gathered at the edge of the Best Farm to dedicate a monument to Confederate soldiers who fought and died at the Battle of Monocacy. The ceremony followed the United Daughters of the Confederacy's (UDC) well established formula for dedication ceremonies. There were Confederate veterans, prayers, speeches, music, and children. All orchestrated as part of the UDC's effort to reframe the narrative of the war from one of a southern fight to preserve slavery to a "Lost Cause" effort to protect southern honor and states' rights.

Founded in 1894, the UDC brought together thousands of southern women in a common cause: preservation of Confederate culture and vindication of Confederate veterans. Building upon the traditions of Ladies Memorial Associations that built funerary markers in the years following the war, the UDC expanded their focus beyond cemetaries. In addition building memorials, the UDC focused their efforts on caring for Confederate veterans and widows, preserving and documenting the Confederacy, educating white southerners on the "true history of the war," and providing social opportunities. A dedication ceremony for a UDC monument was more than a simple ceremony, it was an event designed reclaim a mantle of patriotism for Confederate veterans and indoctrinate young, white Southerners in Confederate culture. Newspaper accounts describe the pagentry of automobiles and teams of horses carrying crowds from Frederick to Monocacy Junction. Once crowds and dignitaries were in in place, the ceremony opened with a bugle blasts and prayers. The first speaker, a Confederate veteran, began with a history of the events that led to the battle at Monocacy.
 
A close up photo of a bronze plaque with writing on it.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy erected the only Confederate monument on Monocacy National Battlefield.

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In accordance with the UDC standard monument dedication program, children performed the job of unveiling the monument. Historian Karen Cox notes that "the Daughters envisioned each monument as a gift that connected past generations with future generations. It was culturally significant, therefore, that a child symbollically open the gift." At Monocacy, 13-year old Grafton Wallis and 9-year old John Wood did the honors. An honor court of girls accompanied the boys. Included in the court was 10-year old Eleanor Potts Williams, the grandniece of Confederate Capt. Alexander Young who was killed at Antietam.

The boys unveiled a rough cut block of granite set upon a smooth granite foundation with a bronze plaque embedded in the front. At approximately 12-feet tall the monument would have dominated the farm fields surrounding it. The bronze plaque read:

This boulder overlooks the Monocacy Battlefield and is in memory of the Southern soldiers who fell in the battle fought July 9, 1864 which resulted in a Confederate victory.

Erected July 9, 1914 by the Fitzhugh Lee chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy of Frederick, Maryland

After the monument was revealed, Colonel Robert E. Lee, Jr., the grandson of General Robert E. Lee, delivered the main address. After noting that the Battle of Monocacy was the only Confederate victory on Northern soil, Lee went on to deliver a speech brimming with Lost Cause propaganda. A contemporary newspaper stated, "He showed how the South feared the consequences of slavery with which she was being saddled and referred to the efforts of the South to prevent the importation of African slaves. Col. Lee declared the slaves were freed by the South, saying that the fight was not to break the American Union, which her sons had done so much to establish." Lee closed by focusing on reconciliation and mutual respect.

Following Lee's speech, the Daughters emphasized the patriotism of the participants and the honored Confederate soldiers. They played the Star Spangled Banner. They unfurled an American flag. Dignataries and veterans of both the Confederacy and Union laid wreaths. The program ended with a benediction and Taps. Lee's speech and the UDC program reflected the national desire for peace and reunification. However, for the UDC reunification was only possible if Northerners welcomed Confederate veterans as true patriots.

In addition to Confederate veterans, the UDC also invited Union veterans as special guests. One of the Union veterans present at the Monocacy monument dedication was J.J.Kahler. He was 17-years old when he fought at Monocacy. Another Union veteran, Capt. Talbert, was 22 at the Battle of Monocacy. The inclusion of Union veterans in the ceremony underscored the reunification of the nation and granted the Confederate veterans the respect that the UDC desired for them.

 

Last updated: October 23, 2020

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