After Appomattox: North Carolina Civil War Monuments, 1865-1965

A solitary Confederate soldier facing north atop a granite pillar guarding the county courthouse is perhaps the twentieth century South’s most recognizable image. However, this stereotypical depiction belies the complex and nuanced reality of North Carolina’s Civil War memorials. From the earliest carved marble shafts above mass graves of unknown Confederates to commercially produced soldiers still watching over many courthouses, the story of our state’s Civil War monuments is as varied as the war was divisive. Fewer than half the state’s 100 counties erected “Confederate soldiers” during the century following Appomattox. Meanwhile, eight Union monuments, including one to African American soldiers, were raised, albeit in less prominent locations. In this presentation, author and award-winning photographer Douglas Butler discusses the historical, artistic, and social contexts in which these commemorations were created, shares his images, and relates insightful episodes and fascinating anecdotes highlighting the cultural and aesthetic evolution of these memorials.

(This program is for general audiences but can be tailored specifically for artistic, heritage, or history groups. An accompanying photo exhibition of Butler’s work is also available.)


microphone, carousel slide projector