With the current attack on American history I never mentioned to anyone that my greatest fear was someday someone would propose the removal of all Confederate monuments at Gettysburg. It was just too ridiculous to imagine and therefore only a matter of time before it happened.
The fact that we no longer teach history in school leaves no counter point to the one person with an agenda who wants to organize a mob and destroy anything they find “offensive.” The vote-getters (politicians) just pile on with no regard for the truth.
Let’s look at Confederate monuments from a historical perspective.
First, approximately one third of the U.S. population supported the Confederate side and two thirds the Union during the Civil War. Do we have a right to tell these people and their descendants that they are no longer part of American history?
The Union veterans of the battle of Gettysburg did not have a problem with Confederate monuments being erected there. Why should anyone take offense 157 years later?
Fact: Maryland put up the first Confederate monument on the entire battlefield.
Second, you cannot have a war with only one side. To take the Confederate monuments down would be like telling the story of D-Day without mentioning the Germans.
Third, the monuments are not political statements, but an account of what transpired on the battlefield between combatants.
Fourth, what did the men represented with these monuments do to help heal the country and move it forward after the war?
Case in point: General Robert E Lee.
Lee did more to reunite the country than most Northern politicians. As just one example, after the surrender at Appomattox, he told his soldiers to go home and be good citizens. Many others used their post war success to fund hospitals and libraries. Does that count for nothing?
Now for the reality of the moment. The Maryland State Monument has two figures, one Union and one Confederate. How do you tear down a half a monument? To remove the Confederate monuments would cost millions of dollars at a time when our economy is in bad enough shape because of the pandemic. Would it not make more sense in the near future to put up monuments to Black history than tear down White history? Like it or not, it is all “OUR” history. There are a lot of great Black soldiers’ stories to be immortalized — especially in Maryland.
Finally, the so called protesters defaced monuments of Grant and Lincoln; they tear down or agitate for the removal of any monument that is somehow associated negatively with Black history. This is nothing short of historic genocide. By their logic, we should tear down the Washington Monument and Mount Rushmore. Where will it end, if government officials do not put a stop to it?
Daniel Carroll Toomey
Author Marylanders at Gettysburg and the inscription on the Maryland State Monument.
(Lede photo credit: Todd Welsh/BPE)
Daniel Carroll Toomey is the author of several books about the American Civil War, including Marylanders at Gettysburg, The Civil War in Maryland, and The War Came By Train. Toomey is also the author of the inscription on the Maryland State Monument.