Veterans in uniform leaving the Confederate Veteran Memorial, Arlington, Va., 1914.
Library of Congress

Civil War Monument Dedication Speeches

Those who dedicated the Civil War battlefield monuments scattered across the nation had a common goal — to impart perspective upon their listeners. This perspective differed from monument to monument — and region to region or occasion to occasion — but that is because memory is a curious thing. While some of these monuments were erected while the conflict still raged or by veterans as they traveled home at the war’s conclusion, the majority were placed over the course of three decades — beginning in the mid-1880s. For some of those involved, memories were still fresh; for others quite faded. And others, were spurred by the stories imparted to them by an earlier generation. Nevertheless, the battlefield monuments and their accompanying dedications were shaped by the desire to cement a story in time — leaving way for reflection by those in the future.