Lewisburg Confederate Monument
During the Civil War, Greenbrier County firmly supported the Confederacy and several battles occurred in the area. In 1906, the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a monument to Greenbrier County's Confederate dead. Originally located on the grounds of former Greenbrier College, the rerouting of Route 60 necessitated the relocation of the monument to its present location. In 2020, there were calls for the monument's removal or relocation to the nearby Confederate cemetery, but the city government ultimately decided against removal, promising instead to incorporate new interpretive signs around the monument.
Backstory and Context
Although ultimately attached to the state of West Virginia, most of the residents of Greenbrier County were loyal to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The county held an enslaved population of 1,525 in 1860. During the war, 81% of the county's eligible men fought for the Confederacy. During the war, several engagements, including 1862 Battle of Lewisburg and the 1863 Battle of White Sulphur Springs, occured in the county.
In 1905, the United Daughters of the Confederacy paid $2,800 dollars to build a Confederate monument in Lewisburg, the seat of Greenbrier County. William Sheppard designed and W. Sivers sculpted the bronze figure. The Confederate soldier stands at parade rest atop a granite base, upon which is inscribed "IN MEMORY OF OUR CONFEDERATE DEAD." It was dedicated on June 14, 1906. The monument was placed on the grounds of the Lewisburg Female Institute (later Greenbrier College and now New River Community and Technical College). The monument was relocated to its present spot due to the construction of Route 60.
In June 2020, amid nationwide protests over Confederate iconography in the wake of George Floyd's death, some residents of Greenbrier County called for the removal of the Confederate statue. Some thought it should be removed to the local Confederate cemetery. As local resident Brehana Scott noted, "It's a painful reminder that only one side of history is displayed. It's a painful reminder that one in ten people in Greenbrier County were slaves but there are no monuments to glorify those people or recognize that history." Diamond Sinclar likewise argued, "It's part of history, it's part of a dark part of our history. It shouldn't be glorified." A position calling for the monument's removal gathered over 900 signatures.
The City of Lewisburg ultimately determined not to remove the statue. Mayor Beverly White (the city's first African-American mayor) concluded that "History happened--We can't change it, what we must focus on is how we move forward." She promised, "The City will work with the North House Museum to create interpretive signage to educate our communities not divide our communities."
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West Virginia & Regional History Center, https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/042224