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

    Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway, Colonel John Connally Marker, Asheville

  • Type

    Marker

  • Subjects

    Historic Military Figures

    Geography

    Removed Monuments

    Civil War, 1861-1865

  • Creator

    Mrs. James Madison Gudger, Jr., Asheville, NC, Designer

  • City

    Asheville

  • County

    Buncombe

  • Description

    The memorial is comprised of a rectangular bronze plaque attached to a roughhewn granite block on a single roughhewn base. In relief inside an oval that encompasses one third of the plaque is a representation of General Robert E. Lee astride his horse Traveller. The inscription, also in relief, appears below the oval. The Asheville marker was the first of at least six with this plaque placed in North Carolina.

    In addition to the Dixie Highway plaque this marker also has a memorial plaque to Confederate Colonel John K. Connally on the rear. Connally commanded the 55th NC regiment, one of several regiments that lay claim as having gone “Farthest at Gettysburg.”

    Images: Rear plaque |
    The marker was removed on July 10, 2020 by a joint resolution of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and the Asheville City Council | Removed marker in front of the Zebulon Vance Monument | Where the marker stood

  • Inscription

    Front: ERECTED AND DEDICATED BY THE / UNITED DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY / AND FRIENDS / IN LOVING MEMORY OF / ROBERT E. LEE / AND TO MARK THE ROUTE OF / THE DIXIE HIGHWAY / “THE SHAFT MEMORIAL AND HIGHWAY STRAIGHT / ATTEST HIS WORTH - HE COMETH TO HIS OWN” / - LITTLEFIELD - / ERECTED 1926

    Rear: IN MEMORY OF / COLONEL JOHN KERR CONNALLY / COMMANDING OFFICER OF THE CELEBRATED 55 TH N.C. REGIMENT C.S.A. / WOUNDED AT GETTYSBURG 1863

  • Custodian

    City of Asheville

  • Dedication Date

    May 2, 1926

  • Decade

    1920s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.594980 , -82.551460 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Series

    Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway Marker

  • Supporting Sources

      Confederate Veteran, 34, (1926), p.161 (cover) 205, 237 Link

      Bush, Matt. “Vance Monument Fully Shrouded, Lee Marker Removed,” WFAE.org, (Charlotte, NC), July 10, 2020, (accessed July 15, 2020) Link

      Butler, Douglas J. Civil War Monuments, An Illustrated History (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2013), 193

      Hunt, Max. "Debate over Asheville’s Confederate Memorials Continues," MountainExpress (Asheville, NC), mountainx.com, July 6, 2017, (accessed August 30, 2017) Link

      Walter, Rebecca. “Monumental Decision: Buncombe County Approves Removal of Confederate Statues,” Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), June 17, 2020, (accessed July 17, 2020) Link

      Wicker, Mackenzie. “Confederate Monument Removed from Buncombe Courthouse Property,” Asheville Citizen Times (Asheville, NC), July 14, 2020, (accessed July 15, 2020) Link

      “Daughters Will Donate Markers for State Roads,” The Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), October 26, 1925

      “Dixie Highway, Asheville, NC,” Waymarking.com, (accessed May 24, 2016) Link

      “Robert E. Lee Dixie Highway,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (May 24, 2016) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze, granite

  • Sponsors

    Plaque: United Daughters of the Confederacy, North Carolina Division. Granite block: Provided by the family of Colonel John Connally.

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Mrs. James Madison Gudger, Jr., chair of the Dixie Highway Committee for the U.D.C. in North Carolina, unveiled the marker. During comments, Mrs. Gudger spoke of the “far reaching results” achieved in honoring the “memory of the South’s greatest hero, Robert E. Lee” and that the plaques will speak a “silent message through all the coming years.” She further said the markers will help “keep alive Southern traditions, and perpetuate…the true history of the Southland. At the completion of this dedication Mrs. Gudger and others traveled to Fletcher to dedicate an identical marker placed at Calvary Episcopal Church. An address on Robert E. Lee was given by Lucian Lamar Knight, state historian of Georgia at both dedications.

  • Subject Notes

    The Dixie Highway was first planned in 1914 and became part of the National Auto Trail system and initially was intended to connect the Midwest with the South. Rather than a single highway the result was more a small network of interconnected paved roads. It was constructed and expanded from 1915 to 1927. The eastern route of the Dixie Highway mostly became U.S. Highway 25. Starting in the late 1920s, the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed bronze plaques on granite pillars to mark the route of the Dixie Highway and honor General Robert E. Lee. Surviving examples in North Carolina can be found in Marshall and Hot Springs in Madison County, in Asheville in Buncombe County and in Fletcher, Hendersonville and near Tuxedo all in Henderson County.

    The efforts to mark the Dixie Highway in North Carolina were led by Mrs. James Madison Gudger, Jr. of Asheville who also designed the plaque. The North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy raised $800 to have the die cast for the plaque and then loan it to other states for marking their highways. Other states do not appear to have taken advantage of the die aside from an example in Greenville, South Carolina. It is thought that 10 total were made from this die leaving several unaccounted for.

  • Controversies

    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.

    Buncombe County and the city of Asheville approved a joint resolution to remove Confederate monuments located at the Buncombe County Courthouse and Pack Square Park. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved the resolution by a 4-3 vote on June 16, 2020. The Asheville City Council had approved the resolution by a 7-0 vote on June 9, 2020. The monument to the 60th NC Volunteer Regiment and a Robert E Lee Dixie Highway/Colonel John Connally marker were deemed to be the property of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The UDC was given 30 days to respond and then 90 days to remove the memorials. Al Whitesides, the only African American on the County Board of Commissioners spoke for several minutes. “I’m voting for all my ancestors that died to make this country the great country it is today,” he said. After receiving no response from the UDC the city and county acted to remove the monuments. The Robert E Lee Dixie Highway/Colonel John Connally marker was removed from Pack Square Park on July 10, 2020 at an approximate cost of $1,100. The monument to the 60th NC Volunteer Regiment was removed from Buncombe County Courthouse grounds on July 14, 2020. A 12 person task force was to be formed to determine how to repurpose or legally remove the Zebulon Vance Monument also located at Pack Square Park as its ownership was unclear. The resolution to remove the monuments also called for the Vance monument to be completely shrouded until its fate was determined. That task was completed on July 10 with cost of the shrouding alone estimated at $18,500.

  • Location

    The marker was removed by city of Asheville contractors on July 10, 2020 and placed in storage at an undisclosed location. The marker stood near the center of Pack Square Park right in front of the Zebulon Vance Monument. Several hundred yards east in the immediate area of the old Buncombe County Courthouse there are other notable plaques, monuments and memorials: Western North Carolina Veterans Memorial, 60th NC Regiment, Revolutionary War, Spanish American and other wars, Police and Firemen who died in the line of duty, Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Colonel Robert Morgan and former Governor Samuel Ashe for whom Asheville was named.

  • Landscape

    The marker stood in the center of the downtown square, surrounded by beds containing seasonal plantings.

  • Removed

    Yes

  • Former Locations

    The monument stood in Pack Square Park near the Zebulon Vance monument in downtown Asheville until its removal on July 10, 2020.

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