Gaston County Confederate Soldiers Monument, Gastonia
The monument depicts in stone a Confederate Common Soldier at parade rest, both hands resting on the barrel of his rifle. The sculpture rests atop a tall column on a tiered base, with the entire structure rising to approximately thirty-five feet. The front of the monument bears a bas-relief of the Confederate flag, waving from a broken pole. And the initials of the Confederacy -- "CSA" -- in raised lettering adorn each side of the tier above the inscribed faces.
The monument was originally located on South Street in front of the 1911 Gaston county courthouse where it faced northward. It was relocated to the new county court building on Marietta Street after construction in 1998 where it was placed facing east.
Image: Historic postcard image of the Old Gaston County Courthouse on South Street
Front, column: CSA
Front, base: CONFEDERATE HEROES
Rear, base: CSA / ERECTED BY / THE GASTONIA CHAPTER, / U.D.C. / AND THE / J.D. MOORE CHAPTER / CHILDREN OF THE / CONFEDERACY
East side, base: THE NOBLE SERVICE / OF THE SONS OF / GASTON COUNTY IS OUR / PERPETUAL HERITAGE
West side, column: UDC
West side, base: IN MEMORY OF / THE / GASTON COUNTY / SOLDIERS
Gaston County Department of Public Works and the United Daughters of the Confederacy Chapter No. 995, Gastonia
November 21, 1912
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"Gaston County Commissioners Vote to Remove and Relocate Confederate Monument," www.wcnc.com, August 4, 2020, (accessed August 11, 2020) Link
"Gastonia Memorial to Her Confederates," The Charlotte Daily Observer (Charlotte, NC), November 22, 1912
"[Gaston County] Confederate Heroes, (sculpture)," Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS, sirismm.si.edu, #IAS NC000290, (accessed March 5, 2013) Link
Butler, Douglas J. North Carolina Civil War Monuments, An Illustrated History, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013)
Golder, Brandon. “Removal of Gaston County Confederate Monument Now Uncertain,” WCNC.com, (Charlotte, NC), August 25, 2020, (accessed September 6, 2020 Link
MacKethan, Lulie Biggs. 1947. Chapter Histories : North Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy : 1897-1947. Raleigh, N.C.: North Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Marusak, Joe. “Moving NC Confederate Statue ‘Smacks of Ethnic Genocide,’ Woman Says Ahead of Protest,” The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), charlotteobserver.com, August 7, 2020, (accessed September 6, 2020) Link
Orr, Adam. "Board Mulls Future of Gaston County’s Confederate Monument," www.gastongazette.com, July 7, 2020, (accessed August 10, 2020) Link
United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Sixteenth Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at Salisbury, North Carolina, October 9, 10, and 11, 1912 (Goldsboro, N.C.: Nash Bros. Printers and Binders, 1913), 80, (accessed September 5, 2012) Link
United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Minutes of the Twenty-First Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy North Carolina Division, Held at Kinston, North Carolina, October 10, 11, 12, 1917 ([United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1917]), 107, (accessed September 7, 2012) Link
Whitney, James, Royster, Caleb, and Alec Loeb. "The Civil War Experience in Gaston and Cleveland County," from “Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina”, http://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/, (accessed March 5, 2013) Link
“Monument Complete,” The Gastonia Gazette (Gastonia, NC), November 19, 1912
“Monument Unveiled,” The Gastonia Gazette (Gastonia, NC), November 22, 1912
“Protesters Speak Out Against Gaston County Confederate Monument,” WBTV.com, (Charlotte, NC), September 4, 2020 (accessed September 6, 2020) Link
Statue: Marble. Shaft and base: Mt. Airy Granite
United Daughters of the Confederacy, Gastonia Chapter, and the J.D. Moore Chapter Children of the Confederacy
The cornerstone was laid on August 8, 1912 with an address by Attorney General W. T. Blekett. The dedication took place on November 21, 1912. Mrs. D. A. Garrison, president of the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, led the dedication exercises which were attended by many of the county's surviving veterans. An opening prayer was given by the Rev. Dr. J. C. Galoway of Gaston, and Mr. A. E. Wolz gave the dedication address. More than 1,000 school children stood along South street to watch the exercises. Following the dedication, the United Daughters of the Confederacy provided dinner for surviving veterans.
Despite the general reluctance of the citizens of North Carolina to endorse secession and the Confederacy, Gaston County residents strongly supported the Confederate war effort and sent many men to the war along with neighboring Cleveland County. Following the war, there was strong support for the memory of the Confederacy and its meaning for the South, and Gaston County became the home of an active chapter of the Ku Klux Klan between 1868 and 1872.
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.
Gaston County Board of Commissioners originally voted 6-1 on August 3, 2020 to give the Confederate monument to the Charles Q. Petty Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SVC). The county agreed to pay for its removal pending the SVC finding a new location on private property. A deed was then drafted and sent to the Charles Q. Petty Camp. In all, 61 citizens took part in a public comment section of the meeting that lasted more than two hours.
However, the SVC group refused to sign the deed which would have given them legal ownership. The county attorney Jonathan Sink said opposing interpretations of state law emerged in discussions between the county and the SCV's attorney, Edward Phillips. On September 1, 2020, the Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 to rescind the August vote giving the monument to the SVC. Language in the new resolution indicated the statue will remain at its current location in front of the Gaston County Courthouse. Efforts to remove the statue may be considered at a later date.
The monument stands facing east in front of the Gaston County Courthouse, at 325 S Marietta St, Gastonia, NC 28052. At the original location on South Street, the monument faced north.
The Gaston County Courthouse is a large, modern office building. The monument stands just to the right of the main entrance, in a cement circle and surrounded by seasonal plantings.
The monument originally stood in front of what was then the prominent and newly constructed county courthouse on South Street. The county seat had moved from Dallas, North Carolina, the prior year. In 1998 a modern court building was built on North Marietta Street and the monument was relocated to its present location there. In many North Carolina communities, Confederate monuments continue to stand in front of historic courthouses and not their modern government counterparts. Gaston County's decision to relocate the monument to its contemporary seat of government authority speaks to importance of the monument as a living memorial to the County's Confederate heroes and history.
The old courthouse became the site of Memorial Day exercises. In 1914, the Gaston County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy reported on the significance of their Memorial Day exercises at the organization's annual convention. They reported on "an impressive feature of the unusually interesting" event: the use of the United States flag, "an emblem never used heretofore." They reported that a soldier boy carried the flag into the exercises in the courtroom, accompanied by the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner," and placed it next to a Confederate veteran and flag.