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Federal Funds Rebuilt a Vandalized Confederate Statue in Ohio

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

This Confederate monument was vandalized in 2017 but replaced with federal funds in 2019. The memorial is on the National Register of Historic Places and open daily from sunrise to sunset.

This Confederate monument was vandalized in 2017 but replaced with federal funds in 2019. The memorial is on the National Register of Historic Places and open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Anger Over a Beheaded Confederate Figure

During the 2020s, political protests in America became increasingly violent, including protests against Confederate statues around the nation. On such protest occurred in Columbus, Ohio, in 2019.

Shortly after May Day 2019, we learned of violence infiltrating peaceful demonstrations in France as well as the U.S.A., indicating a global concern. At the same time, Ohio citizens protested a Civil War memorial that had been torn down but reconstructed at the expense of the United States government.

The statue had been beheaded and knocked off its pedestal on top of an archway during the time of the Charlottesville White Supremacist riots in Virginia in which President Donald Trump stated that there were very fine people on both sides of the conflict.

People on both sides of the issue in Columbus were angry.

Map of Camp Chase

My great grandfather trained with the 176th and 188th Regiment Infantries in the Union Army at nearby Goodale Park (Camp Jackson) and Camp Chase at the start of the American Civil War. The latter camp sat on the National Road/Route 40, on which my ancestor worked from 1865 - 1870 westward into Madison County. Today, Route 40 markers appear on Broad Street, just north of Camp Chase.

Find-a-Grave currently reports that the cemetery holds 2,365 bodies, but the Veterans Administration maintains that the count is 2168, with some graves holding the remains of more than one person. Some of the deceased soldiers were moved into Chase Cemetery after the war from other local Columbus cemeteries as well as from a graveyard in Cincinnati..

Camp Chase opened in 1861 as a training camp and prisoner of war facility. In 1863 a Confederate cemetery was added on the grounds and in 1865, the training grounds and prison were closed. Our U.S. Congress funded the surrounding stone wall in 1879.

The toppled statue.

The toppled statue.

A Rebel on the Ground

The statue of a rebel soldier that stood in a graveyard for the southern prisoners who died there in Camp Chase was knocked down and its head severed in the August 2017 vandalism. The head was stolen but its hat survived, and stone body lay on the ground.

This area on Sullivant Avenue is a poor section of town, but descendants of the soldiers buried here continue to travel to the West Side of Columbus to place flowers and flags at the grave sites of their ancestors.

Religious services are held in the cemetery to honor the dead annually on the second Sunday of June at 3:00 p.m. and to remember Jefferson Davis Day (June 3).

Memorial Day

On the Memorial Day after the Confederate statue was replaced in Camp Chase, local volunteers and Civil War re-enactors cleaned the cemetery, including all of the white headstones. A small American flag was planted in front of each of these many grave markers and words of remembrance were given by descendants of these soldiers and those of the Union Army as well.

The scenes at Camp Chase were surreal and moving this day as we experienced the many American flags flying, the new statue commemorating Confederates who sacrificed their lives, and a re-enactor in the blue uniform and cap of a Union soldier as he held small American flags for distribution.

Commemorative Camp Chase Fife and Drums

Debates About Civil War Memorials Solved

For several years Americans have been arguing about the Stars and Bars flag and monuments to Civil War figures. Some voices shout for them all to be eliminated, while other contend that the statues, if not the Confederate flag, be maintained for historical purposes. A third set of voices wearily complains that Americans are fighting among themselves too much.

On May 1, 2019, a Virginia Judge ruled that local Charlottesville authorities have no right to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and of Stonewall Jackson, because state law protects those monuments. Ohio agrees.

The VA National Cemetery Association also agrees, stating on May Day that Camp Chase is an official National Historic Place and therefore, its statues are protected by federal law since 1966. The Camp Chase rebel statue is protected by the United States (the Union Army, if you will).

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A Memorial Day at Camp Chase

Legacy and Legends

Camp Chase was much larger during the war than it is today. Much of it was developed into a housing sector now called Westgate and the general area is known as the Hilltop. It descends into the poorer neighborhood of The Bottoms to the east.

Interestingly, the area along Sullivant Avenue where the cemetery is located has been home to a psychiatric hospital, an institution for the "mentally retarded", and a psychiatric forensic institute.

Violent crime has increased in this area since the 1990s and some old-timers subscribe to the superstition that the violence is caused by the legacy of the poor conditions at the Camp Chase P.O.W. camp and by the Civil War itself. Over 2,000 prisoners died of typhoid fever, typhus, dysentery, smallpox, pneumonia, malnutrition, exposure, and frostbite.

In addition to all this, some people maintain that they can see the ghost of a woman in a long gray gown wandering around the cemetery at night looking for - and never finding - a particular name on a gravestone.

A lady in gray is said to search the cemetery every night for a lost love.

A lady in gray is said to search the cemetery every night for a lost love.

Share Your Opinion

Is that a good use of our federal funds? I could think of a lot of things we can request funding for in our community.

— Nana Watson, President of the Columbus Chapter, NAACP

Cost of Statue Restoration

How much did it cost in federal dollars to fix the dismantled and scarred Confederate statue, including fashioning a new head of bronze?

The cost was approximately $41,000.00. At least the hat was saved.

The cost in hard feelings among detractors is likely to be much more, at least in emotional distress, resentment, and lost time in arguing instead of working together for a better government as President Abraham Lincoln would have liked.

Arguments about this statue continue in Columbus to this day. The president of the NAACP in Columbus was very upset over the restoration, feeling that the memorial celebrated slavery, not history. Many people feel the same way today.

President Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation.

President Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some individuals feel that history is best served by maintaining Confederate statues according to state and federal laws and teaching visitors about the real stories behind the Civil War, including slavery.

Some folks are incensed that rebel monuments may be protected by the United States and still others want any mention of slavery eliminated from school curricula.

Some harsh sentiments from 1861 - 1865 have descended through the sons and daughters of the Confederacy and the Union, and onward through the 21st century.

Sources

  • Dee, C., ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
  • Family histories and diaries of Hugh McCaskey Inglish, Hugh McCaskey Inglish II and Hugh McCaskey Inglish III.
  • Touring Ohio, the Heart of America: Camp Chase
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Camp Chase. National Cemetery Administration

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Patty Inglish MS

Comments

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 16, 2019:

People are taking today's values, culture, and civil rights laws and mistakenly looking at 19th century history through that lens. Slavery was abominable, indefensive. Sadly, however, removing statues designed as war memorials doesn't undo the injustice. It's better to leave them in place as historical markers and engage in thoughtful, open conversation of what we have learned from this period in history. For example, what does it mean to be on the right or wrong side of history and what are the implications for leaders today? (I think of Trump and immigrants in cages here.)

I have thought deeply about the subject, as I live in metro Richmond with the politically contentious but historically significant Monument Avenue statues of Jeff Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and others. Even if one tore down such statues (which are protected by Virginia law as war memorials), then what happens to all the streets, bridges, city and town names, etc. with names that are derived from these famous Confederates? It's a slippery slope.

Interesting article.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on July 10, 2019:

Patty

The problem with history books is people forget conflicts are real, with real people on both sides.

The beauty of monuments is they take the past and make it personal!

I think monuments should be maintained for that reason, so that we today, can see that real people were involved on both sides, and each had their reasons.

This same debate goes on here with the New Zealand wars (the wars of colonization) with the Maori wanting the monuments preserved.

Dianna Mendez on May 11, 2019:

I vote to keep the monuments. It is so much a part of our History.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 04, 2019:

@Virginia Allain -- Thanks for your ideas; honest, museum-quality explanations would be great. Slavery of any kind is immoral and should be illuminated in that way.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 04, 2019:

@Mary Norton -- I hope statues on both sides of the Civil War and the issues involved are explained well to the public.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 04, 2019:

@mckbirdbks .. Hi Mike -- At one time I would have felt all the Confederate statues should be destroyed, but then I realized how history is distorted when parts of it are lost. I side with total disclosure now.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on May 03, 2019:

I think if the statues are in a museum with appropriate historical explanation next to it or in a cemetery where there are other stones commemorating people, OK. I do not like the glorification of the South's goals in the Civil War which was to keep a race of people enslaved for economic reasons.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 03, 2019:

I am a History major and I strongly support to leave monuments to history. It is part of us especially for people who have loved ones who died for it.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 02, 2019:

Hi Patty - Good has won out against the Confederates and their war against a race of people. Good has won out against a German regime which chose to exterminate a race of people. A bunch of tin, lead, bronze or iron statues just reminds me that the people have won each time they rose up against the forces of evil. That was true then, it is true now. I struggled with a response to your article.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 02, 2019:

Eric, I agree - you are indeed historical and must be preserved!

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 02, 2019:

How very interesting. I reckon some folks could be offended about just who I am. I am historical. My half century plus of life entails some not so good things. Well when the come to get me I hope they leave my Stetson.

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