Why there are Confederate statues in states that weren’t in the Confederacy
Produced by Alexander Stockton, Allison McCann, and Isabella McKinley Corbo
VICE News Tonight on HBO
The inscription on the Confederate Memorial Fountain in Helena, Montana, says it “sits in longing tribute to our Confederate soldiers.” But there are a few things wrong with the monument, a granite fountain erected in 1916 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy: Montana didn’t have any Confederate dead. It didn’t have any Union dead. That’s because there was no Montana during the Civil War.
Helena’s fountain isn’t alone. As of 2016, at least 22 of the over 1,500 Confederate memorials scattered across the United States sit in areas that weren’t even part of the U.S. when the Confederacy existed, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dozens more live in states that operated under split governments during the Civil War, like Kentucky, which contributed half as many Confederate soldiers as Union soldiers to the fighting but which now hosts 56 Confederate memorials and just two Union ones (the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, is taking steps to remove two Confederate statues from the city).
But the existence of these monuments is less a testament to what actually happened in the Civil War or the heritage of the Confederacy than the fervor to rewrite the telling of the war decades after, when a flurry of monument-building filled the landscape with landmarks, even where they have a dubious connection to actual history.