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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Confederate Soldiers Monument, Oakdale Cemetery, Wilmington

  • Type

    Common Soldier Statue

  • Subjects

    Civil War

  • Creator

    William Rudolf O'Donovan, Designer

    Maurice J. Power, National Art Foundry, Foundry

    William Rudolf O'Donovan, Sculptor

    Maurice J. Power, Sculptor

  • City

    Wilmington

  • County

    New Hanover

  • Description

    A bronze statue of a common soldier at parade rests atop a square granite pedestal. The soldier is depicted with both realism and elegance, with his pose confident, relaxed and casual. His left arm is draped loosely over the end of his rifle as it rests on the ground and his left leg bent slightly to the side. Large bronze medallions with the classical depictions of the likenesses of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson are mounted on the front and rear faces. Lee appears on the front and Jackson on the rear.

    The monument rests atop what is considered to be a burial mound for the bodies of 367 Confederate soldiers. The structure below the base of the monument has changed over time. The stone base of the monument originally sat directly atop an ostensible and sharply angled grassy mound at the site. The circular mound was surrounded by a low border framing the flat ground around the mound with low shrubs planted around the circle. At some point, the mound was replaced by a more grand circular stone or concrete surround with six stone steps leading to the base of the monument. An engraved plaque is located between the 2nd and 3rd steps and was originally located in the dirt at the base of the mound. The plaque states that the foundation was built in 1958. A low gridiron fence surrounds the burial and monument area.

    A later added plaque specifically commemorates the unidentified bodies of 550 soldiers who died at the Battle of Fort Fisher and are buried in the Confederate Plot of Oakdale Cemetery. It also acknowledges the work and sacrifice of those who labored to build the monument. Several other plaques were added later, including a plaque to the memory of Charles W. Yates (steps leading to the gate) and plaques with the information about the mound and restoration work (both in front of the memorial, outside the fence).

    Images (courtesy of Natasha Smith): Close-up view of the memorial | Front view | Rear view | Landscape view | Far-off view | Information plaque | Iron gate | Dedication plaque | In memory of Charles W. Yates | Foundation steps plaque | Restoration plaque

  • Inscription

    Base: TO THE CONFEDERATE DEAD

    Dedication plaque: THIS MONUMENT WAS DEDICATED MAY 10, 1872 / TO PERPETUATE DEEDS OF THE BRAVE AND IN GRATEFUL / TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF 550 HONORED UNKNOWN / CONFEDERATE DEAD AT THE BATTLE OF FORT FISHER / WHO LIE BURIED HERE / SPONSORED BY THE LADIES MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION LATER MERGED WITH DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY / SELF DENIAL - WORK - PRAYERS - TEARS - HEARTS BLOOD / ENTERED INTO ITS BUILDING

    Iron gate: CONFEDERATE / CEMETERY 1866

    Information plaque: On December 13, 1867, / Oakdale Cemetery donated this / plot to the Ladies Memorial / Association, now the United / Daughters of the Confederacy, / Cape Fear Chapter #3. 367 / soldiers are buried here. / Confederate Memorial Day / Services have been held / annually since 1869.

    Restoration plaque: Restoration of Fence / and / Placement of Handrails / By / Cape Fear Chapter #3 / United Daughters of the Confederacy / Mary Ann Tiden Barrett, President / 2004

    Foundation steps plaque: THESE FOUNDATION STEPS WERE ERECTED 1958 BY THE / BRYAN WINSLOW NEWKIRK FAMILY / A MEMORIAL TO THEIR GRANDFATHER / CAPTAIN ABRAM FRANCIS M.D. / CONFEDERATE STATES ARMY

    Yates plaque: IN MEMORY OF / CHARLES W. YATES / GALLANT CONFEDERATE SOLDIER, WHOSE / BEQUEST TO THE CAPE FEAR CHAPTER No. 3 U.D.C. / MADE POSSIBLE THIS PROTECTING WALL / DEC.1952

  • Custodian

    Oakdale Cemetery

  • Dedication Date

    May 10, 1872

  • Decade

    1870s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    34.247140 , -77.931940 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Confederate Monument, (sculpture), [Wilmington, NC]," Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog, IAS # IAS NC000420, (accessed November 12, 2012) Link

      Confederate Veteran 6 (1898), 226 Link

      North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. "Confederate Soldiers Monument," Wilmington, North Carolina Civil War Monuments, (accessed August 9, 2013) Link

      Oakdale Cemetery Company. "Historic tour of Oakdale Cemetery Chartered 1852: Confederate Mound," oakdalecemetery.org, (accessed November 12, 2012) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze, with a base of North Carolina granite

  • Sponsors

    Ladies Memorial Association (which later became the Cape Fear Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy)

  • Monument Cost

    $7,000-$8,000

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The dedication was held at the monument in the Confederate Lot in Oakdale Cemetery. The Ladies Memorial Association was also honored at the event.

  • Subject Notes

    In 1852, prominent Wilmington businessmen purchased 65 acres for a new cemetery to be located beyond the town limits, which was 8th Street. The cemetery became known as Oakdale and was North Carolina’s first rural Cemetery. The first burial occurred on February 5, 1855.
    On December 15, 1867, the cemetery corporation gave the Ladies Memorial Association a plot of land to place a monument to the Confederate dead. Many soldiers who had died at Fort Fisher were already buried on the public grounds of Oakdale Cemetery, and they were later re-interred in this location.

  • Location

    The memorial is located at Oakdale Cemetery, 520 North 15th Street Wilmington, NC 28401. It stands in the middle of Section K. Henry Bacon Grave Marker is located in Section D; Lot # 20.

  • Landscape

    The monument is surrounded by an iron fence, with a few stone steps leading up to the gate.

  • Death Space

    Yes

  • Approval Process

    The plot for the monument was donated by the Wilmington Cemetery Corporation. The Ladies Memorial Association began a subscription campaign to raise funds for a fence around the plot and the monument.

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