Tyrrell County Confederate Memorial, Columbia
The Tyrrell County Confederate Monument consists of a common soldier statue on a multi-tier base standing approximately 23 feet tall. The lower two tiers are constructed of large stones in a square form. Above this are three base tiers formed of stamped zinc that also hold inscriptions. Above the base tiers are larger segments of stamped zinc panels forming the statue’s pedestal and holding inscriptions. A bust in relief of Robert E. Lee comprises the panel directly beneath the statue on the memorial’s front. The soldier is standing, looking straight ahead, with the proper left foot slightly forward. He is holding his weapon by the barrel with the butt resting on the ground. See "Subject Notes" below for several aspects of this monument that make it unique for a North Carolina Confederate memorial.
North, tablet: THIS MONUMENT / WAS / ERECTED BY THE / TYRRELL / MONUMENT ASSOCIATION, / A.D. 1902. / EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. / MARK MAJETTE, ABNER ALEXANDER, / THOMAS L. JONES, J. S. CAHOON, / AND C.E. TATEM. / FINANCE COMMITTEE. / MRS. B. V. MCCLEES, MRS. J. C. MEEKINS SR., / MISS LINA B. ALEXANDER. / PRESIDENT. / LT. COL. WILLIAM F. BEASLEY.
North, upper base: IN MEMORY OF THE PATRIOTIC SONS OF TYRRELL COUNTY / WHO FELL IN THE SERVICE OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES.
North, lower base: GENERAL JAMES JOHNSTON PETTIGREW. / HIS NORTH CAROLINIANS WENT FARTHEST AT / GETTYSBURG, PA.
West, upper tablet: WAR / COMMENCED / AT / FORT SUMTER, / S. C., / APRIL 12, 1861.
West, lower tablet: OFFICERS / COMPANY A, / 32ND N. C. TROOPS / J.H. THOMAS, CAPT. / L. L. HASSELL AND F. F. PATRICK, 1ST LTS. / HENRY ARMSTRONG, HOLLOWAY / ARMSTRONG, G. W. BATEMAN, / J. C. DUGUID, 2ND LTS. / ABNER ALEXANDER, 2ND LT. 61ST N. C. TROOPS. / JAMES JARVIS, 2ND LT. 2ND N. C. CAVALRY. / J. W. SIMMONS, 1ST LT. 2ND N. C. CAVALRY. / FIELD OFFICERS OF 32ND N. C. / TROOPS TAKEN FROM CO. A. / E. C. BRABBLE, (CURRITUCK CO.) COLONEL. / D. G. COWAN, (BERTIE CO.) LT. COL. / HENRY G. LEWIS, (TYRRELL CO.) MAJOR.
West, upper base: AS A TRIBUTE TO COMRADES WHO HONORABLY / SERVED THE CONFEDERATE CAUSE TO THE END.
West, lower base: WILLIAM M. OWENS, CAPT. / CO. G, 2ND N. C. CAVALRY / BRANDY STATION, VA.
South, upper tablet: IN / APPRECIATION / OF OUR / FAITHFUL SLAVES
South, lower tablet: CONFEDERATES LIVING / IN TYRRELL COUNTY / WHEN THIS / MONUMENT WAS ERECTED: / ABNER ALEXANDER, W. L. GIBSON, / B. V. ALEXANDER, THOMAS L. JONES, / NELSON ALEXANDER, W. C. KEMP, / W. W. ALEXANDER, W. W. KEMP, / W. J. BARNES, W. F. KNOWLES, / THOS. BASNIGHT, JAMES LITCHFIELD, / D. D. BRICKHOUSE, J. P. NICHOLS, / F. L. BRICKHOUSE, JAMES PHELPS, / J. S. CAHOON, JOHN RHODES, / JESSE CAHOON, J. A. SAWYER, / W. R. CARAWAN, 2ND LT. S. L. SAWYER, CO. H, 33RD N. C. TROOPS, W. J. SAWYER, / W. G. COLSTON, EDWARDS SEXTON, / A. A. COMBES, W. E. SHALLINGTON, / J. L. COOPER, B. S. SPENCER, / W. S. DAVENPORT, A. H. TATEM, / M. G. ELLIOTT, C. E. TATEM.
South, upper base: TO THE NOBLE WOMEN OF TYRRELL COUNTY, WHOSE / DEVOTION TO OUR CAUSE AND SACRIFICES IN ITS BEHALF, / AND FOR THEIR LOVED ONES IN THE FIELD, ENTITLE / THEM TO RANK WITH THE HEROINES OF ALL AGES.
South, lower base: NELSON MCCLEES, 1ST LT. / EDENTON BELL BATTERY / FORT ANDERSON, N. C.
East, upper tablet: WAR / ENDED / AT / APPOMATTOX, / C. H., VA., / APRIL 9, 1865.
East, lower tablet: WE LOVINGLY DEDICATE / THIS TABLET / TO / THE MEMORY OF / MARY ALEXANDER / BEASLEY, / WHO WAS BORN IN TYRRELL COUNTY, / A. D. 1811, / AND DIED IN TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA, / IN 1892. / SHE WAS THE DAUGHTER OF / HENRY AND CLARKEY ALEXANDER, / AND DEVOTED THE FOUR YEARS OF OUR / WAR TO NURSING OUR SOLDIERS, WHO / LOVED TO CALL HER "MOTHER BEASLEY." / SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF / LT. COLONEL W. F. BEASLEY, / 71ST N. C. TROOPS, WHO WAS THE / YOUNGEST OFFICER OF HIS RANK IN / THE CONFEDERATE ARMY.
East, upper base: THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIER WON AND IS ENTITLED TO THE / ADMIRATION OF ALL WHO LOVE HONOR, AND LIBERTY.
East, lower base: WILLIAM MORRIS, / SAILOR ON MERRIMAC / HAMPTON ROADS, VA.
August 7, 1902
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"Memorial to Confederate Soldiers, Columbia, NC," Waymarking.com, (accessed May 30, 2014) Link
"The Origin of the Bell Battery," North Carolina Civil War 150 (accessed May 30, 2014) Link
"Tyrrell County Confederate Monument," The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed May 30, 2014) Link
Butler, Douglas J. North Carolina Civil War Monuments, An Illustrated History, (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013), 85, 144-145, 164, 172, 225, 242
Debnam, Matt. “Opposing Views on Columbia’s Confederate Monument,” The Coastal Times (Manteo, NC), June 17, 2020, (accessed June 6, 2021) Link
McClees, Ray. ,”“Tyrell Commissioners Stand Firm on Confederate Monument Location,” The Coastal Times (Manteo, NC), June 24, 2019 Link
McElya, Micki. “The Faithful Slave, How Alex Tizon’s Essay Echoes a Trope with Deep Roots in American History” The Atlantic (Washington, DC), May 31, 2017 Link
“To Unveil Monument,” Tar Heel (Elizabeth City, NC), July 25, 1902
“To the Boys in Gray,” The Farmer and Mechanic (Raleigh, NC), August 12, 1902
“Tyrell’s Monument,” Tar Heel (Elizabeth City, NC), August 8, 1902
“Unveiling at Columbia,” The Weekly Economist (Elizabeth City, NC), August 15, 1902
Zinc. Also known as “White Bronze” which was a proprietary treatment of cast zinc produced by the Monumental Bronze Company and its subsidiaries. Cast pieces were soldered internally to avoid visible seams. The outer surface was then sandblasted to create a carved-stone appearance.
Tyrrell County Monument Association
The featured address by T.G. Skinner was said to be a “masterly defense of the cause of the South,” before a crowd estimated at 3,000 people. Colonel W.F. Beasley presented the monument to Tyrell County on behalf of the Monument Association and Mark Majette made the speech of acceptance. Miss Lula Jones, daughter of a Confederate veteran, unveiled the monument.
Several aspects of the Tyrrell County Confederate Monument make it stand out among Confederate memorials in the state. It is one of only four built before 1904 in public/civic spaces. Previously most of the monuments were located in cemeteries, typically marking mass graves of Confederate dead. It also is atypical in that it is made almost completely of stamped metal (see "Materials & Techniques".) Typically, only the statue would have been metal whereas the base and pedestal were stone. Two of the panels have inscriptions to women. Aside from two monuments dedicated specifically to women in Raleigh and Wadesboro few other monuments mention the contributions of women to the Confederate cause. The inscription on another panel is stamped “In Appreciation of Our Faithful Slaves.” To be clear, the "faithful slave narrative" was used before the Civil War by southern slave owners in their response to abolitionists and later was used by white supremacists. Micki McElya addresses this topic in her 2017 article The Faithful Slave, How Alex Tizon’s Essay Echoes a Trope with Deep Roots in American History: "The faithful-slave trope was the ultimate example of southern paternalism that described the master-slave relationship as essentially familial, existing outside of market forces. Advocates proclaimed slavery to be morally superior to free labor, arguing that it was more truly humane, based on a lifetime of mutual care and obligation as well as natural racial hierarchies. By this logic, some were born to be slaves while others were born with the responsibility to manage, guide, and care for them. This was often summed up in the phrase that certain slaves (and later free domestic workers) were “like one of the family.” The word “like,” of course, glosses over American slavery’s endemic sexual exploitation and family destruction, as well as the fact that many enslaved people were their owners’ family."
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.
Calls in 2019 and 2020 for removal of the Tyrrell County monument came to naught with county manager David Clegg and the Tyrrell County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tommy Everett stating that state law prevented its relocation. Efforts to force its removal continue.
The monument is located beside the Tyrrell County Courthouse at the southeast corner of Main Street and Broad Street. The Tyrrell County War Memorial stands on the east side of the courthouse building.
The monument stands in a grass area surrounded by a circular walkway and small trees.