Metairie Cemetery is one of New Orleans most famous cemeteries, even though to this day, it is often confused for being a cemetery located in Metairie, Louisiana. Before the grounds became the cemetery in 1872, the grounds held a horse racing track originally constructed in 1838. With the outbreak of the Civil War, the race track became a camp for the local Confederate garrison. After the war, the race track was back in back in operation, until bankruptcy hit. It became a cemetery after a prominent businessman threatened to see the race track become a cemetery when he was refused membership into the race track's Jockey Club. The cemetery contains the graves of many famous and wealthy New Orleans residents, many nationally and internationally renown.
Backstory and Context
Famous sites of the cemetery:
Stonewall Jackson Monument, Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana
The Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans contains a monument dedicated to Stonewall Jackson. Stonewall Jackson was a famous general who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. His popularity was spread throughout not just the rebellious southern states, but also people who studied his military tactics. Jackson received the nickname of Stonewall for his command of 1st Virginia Infantry Brigade where his command stopped a Union assault at the First Battle of Manassas in July of 1961 (l Jones).
The Stonewall Jackson monument is the located on the burial site for veterans of the Civil War. It is built on a tumulus located on the eastern portion of the old horserace track. The cemetery originally was a race track that eventually fell out of use. Charles T. Howard purchased the track where he envisioned that it would hold the remains of wealthy New Orleanians (Branley). The monument is located on a 38 foot columnn.
The dedication of the monument took place on May 10, 1881 which was the same date as the eighteenth anniversary of Jackson’s death. There were about 10,000 people in attendance at the dedication. Additionally, the monument honors those troops that fought under Jackson’s command (Branley). It was designed by Achille Perelli of New Orleans (storyvilledistrictnola).
Like many of the Civil War monuments, there is controversy surrounding the Stonewall Jackson monument. Those involved in the dedication of the monument highlighted the importance of the soldiers. For instance, a Mr. Davis made remarks,
“Our objects, like those of our brethren in Virginia, are purely benevolent, historical, and non-political. Any man whose record is clear as a soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia is welcome to our ranks, whatever be his present political feeling.”
Davis was part of a committee that charged with erecting the tomb. This group views the construction and erection of the monument as something that honors the people of the Civil War. In 1881, the south was still reconstructing itself following its defeat in the Civil War. Their words suggest that they desired the Stonewall Jackson monument was an attempt at reconciliation due to it being non-political.
There are others who argue that the monument is anything but non-political due to it honoring someone who was charged with preserving the southern way of life which included the bondage of human beings. There are also those people who see the statue as preserving what the south fought for such as John B. Richardson who served as president of the tomb committee, “designed to perpetuate the memory of those who fought and fell for the Lost Cause, and at the same time a fitting place of rest for those who must soon follow (csa-dixie).” Richardson and many others desired to ensure that the historical legacy of the Confederacy would be remembered in Louisiana.
Today, the monument is still on the grounds of the Metairie Cemetery. It is still considered one of the popular destinations for those who take cemetery tours in the area. People aren’t aware of the exact nature of the history behind the monument so a firm understanding of the hurt that some people feel about the monument is lost to supporters of the statue.
Notable burials within:
Metairie Cemetery, The Contemplative Traveler
"A NOTED LOTTERY MAN DEAD.; CAREER OF CHARLES T. HOWARD, OF THE LOUISIANA COMPANY". The New York Times. June 1, 1885. Retrieved 2011-12-03. Charles T. Howard, of New-Orleans, the well-known chief of the Louisiana Lottery Company, died at Ingleside, Dobbs Ferry, in this State, yesterday. While out driving on Wednesday he was thrown from his carriage.
Branley, F. (2013, May 6). NOLA history: Metarie cemetery in New Orleans. Retrieved from http://gonola.com/things-to-do-in-new-orleans/things-to-do/nola-history-metairie-cemetery-in-new-orleans.
Dedication of the tomb of the army of northern Virginia association and unveiling of the statute of Stonewall Jackson at New Orleans. Southern Historical Society Papers, (Jan.-Dec. 1881)Vol. IX. Retrieved from http://www.csa-dixie.com/csa/gazette/jackson/dedicationoftombanvstonewallstatue.htm.
Jones, M. (2015, January 21). Stonewall Jackson-Happy birthday! The South’s Defender. Retrieved from https://thesouthsdefender.blogspot.com/2015/01/stonewall-jackson-happy-birthday.html.
Metairie cemetery.(n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.storyvilledistrictnola.com/cemeteries_metairie.html.