Burke County Confederate Monument, Morganton
The solemn nine-foot tall soldier, standing on guard, faces north. Under his feet is a smooth faced granite plinth. In relief on the plinth’s north face is a furled flag and a pair of crossed swords. The east face features a pair of crossed cannons and the west face a pair of crossed muskets. The plinth gives way to a massive triple base of granite with smooth tops and roughhewn edges. The monument stands on a small earthen mound. Placed at a slant around the mounds sides are four engraved marble slabs containing the names of the soldiers from Burke County who died in the Civil War. Each slab contains six columns of names. A black wrought iron fence surrounds the monument.
The monuments original finial from 1911 was replaced by the statue in 1918. This finial was preserved and rests several yards to the southwest of the monument with a bronze plaque attached.
Images: Base with marble plaques | Finial | Front (north side) of the memorial | Northwest view | Close-up view of the statue | One of marble slabs | View of the Confederate monument with the Burke County Charters of Freedom memorial on the far left
Base: OUR CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS
Top of shaft: 1861-1865
Finial plaque: ORIGINAL “FINIAL” FROM / CONFEDERATE MONUMENT / REPLACED BY STATUE / JUNE 22, 1918
June 22, 1918
35.745680 , -81.687880 View in Geobrowse
"Court Square, Morganton, N.C. First Court House, Erected 1784. Confederate Monument Erected 1912.," in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link
Butler, Douglas J. North Carolina Civil War Monuments, An Illustrated History, (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2013), 107-108.
McBrayer, Sharon. "Residents Ask County to Move Confederate Statue," The News Herald (Morganton, NC), morganton.com, Feb 21, 2021, (accessed July 14, 2021) Link
Murphy, Chrissy. "Western NC County Won't Talk about Moving Confederate Monument, Even at Request of City Where It's Located," Record & Landmark, statesville.com, Apr 12, 2021, (accessed July 14, 2021) Link
Taylor, George Lansing, Jr. “Burke County Confederate Memorial, Morganton, NC,” University of Florida Digital Commons, (accessed April 23, 2015) Link
United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Tenth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division, Held at Durham, N.C., October 10th, 11th and 12th 1906, (Newton, NC: Enterprise Job Print., 1907), 94-95, (accessed August 30, 2012)
“Burke County Confederate Memorial - Morganton, North Carolina,” Waymarking.com, (accessed April 23, 2015) Link
“Burke County Court House, Morganton, N.C.” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Link
“Don’t Forget Thursday, August 10th.” The News-Herald (Morganton, NC), June 29, 1911
“Historic Burke County Courthouse,” Historic Burke Foundation, Inc., (accessed April 23, 2021) Link
“Mr. W. J. Kincaid Makes Generous Offer,” The News-Herald (Morganton, NC), January 3, 1918, (accessed April 23, 2015)
“The Confederate Monument,” The News-Herald (Morganton, NC), September 28, 1911
Bronze, granite, marble, iron fence
Burke County Sons of Confederate Veterans; former Burke County soldier Captain W. J. Kincaid of Griffin, GA
An American flag was raised as the Star Spangled Banner played. Renowned speaker Chief Justice Walter Clark orated; he was introduced by Captain L. A. Bristol. Miss Augusta Bristol, his daughter, performed the actual unveiling of the monument.
The base for the statue to Burke County’s Confederate Army troops was erected on the northwest corner of the Square in late 1911. Plans called for the monument to be paid for by public subscription, but construction was started prior to the funds being raised. Fundraising efforts fell short, leaving Burke County government to settle the debt over a number of years. The planned statue was not funded until 1918. It was a gift from Captain William Joseph Kincaid, a Burke County Confederate soldier, who settled in Griffin, Georgia after the war and wanted to see the memorial completed.
Following the massacre of nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015 by white supremacist Dylann Roof, Americans, especially southerners, have reflected on and argued over the historical legacy of slavery, the Civil War, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. Monuments have been a particular focus of these debates and controversies, especially after the death of a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 and after President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to the removal of Confederate memorials. Despite laws in many southern states intended to prevent or impede the removal or relocation of historical monuments, protesters and local community leaders have removed or relocated controversial monuments associated with slavery, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. The pace of the removal of controversial monuments accelerated sharply in 2020, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Against the backdrop of protests against police brutality and white supremacy across the nation, local authorities in many communities in North Carolina removed and/or relocated monuments that were the focus of civil unrest.
In 2021, Morganton city and Burke County leaders held several meetings to discuss the future of a Confederate memorial at the courthouse. City leaders in Morganton sent a letter to the county offering a place for it at the Forest Hills Cemetery. At this point, no resolution has been reached and the conversation continues.
The memorial stands at the northwest corner of the of the Historic Burke County Courthouse, which is located at 102 East Union Street, Morganton, NC. The Burke County Charters of Freedom memorial stands on the east side and a statue to Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. stands directly in front (south side) of the courthouse which now houses the Historic Burke Foundation, Heritage Museum, and the Visitor Information Center.
The monument is surrounded by a fence and nestled among large trees on the well-kept grounds of the Old Courthouse.