This article is about the Confederate monument located at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse in Opelousas, Louisiana. The article is about the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and their unveiling of this monument to the Confederacy and white supremacy.
Opelousas Confederate Monument
The Opelousas Confederate Monument was constructed on
February 22, 1920. It is located close near the Saint Landry Parish Courthouse
in Opelousas, Louisiana. The Confederate Monument was constructed to specific
and nonspecific veterans during the war. It was erected by the Louisiana Division
of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and the Gordon Chapter No. 1470 of
On February 22, 1920, after many years of organizing completed
by the Louisiana Division and Gordon Chapter of the UDC, the white residents of
Opelousas dedicated a Confederate Monument. A Catholic priest—Father
A.B. Colliard had written a petition calling for the monument to the southern
Confederacy, indicating that the southern soldiers should be honored for their
hard work, bravery, and nationalist ambitions.
As historian Charles Reagan Wilson notes in his 1980
monograph, Baptized in Blood, a wave
of Confederate memorialization occurred all across the former Confederate
states, from East Texas to Virginia. He explains that the Confederate past had
been shaped by many ideologues of the Lost Cause, who successfully taught white
and black southerners that the southern cause of the Civil War was just, and had little
if anything to do with slavery. Wilson shows that religious leaders in addition
to memorialization societies stoked the flames of the Lost Cause, and historian
Karen L. Cox argues that southern women—a generation removed from the Civil
War—formed a wave of monument building all over the South between the 1880s and
early 1900s. She argues that women were much more important to the Lost Cause
than were actual war veterans or other men a generation removed from the
conflict. Her study focuses on the women who made up the United Daughters of
the Confederacy, or UDC for short.
An Opelousas UDC operative named Mrs. C.P. Richard
warm-heartedly displayed the Confederate monument to the townspeople of
Opelousas in 1920. That Opelousas day was filled with fanfare as residents turned
out to view the monument to the Confederacy. O.D Brooks, the Major General of
the Louisiana Division—UDC, presented an address that closed with the honoring
of the unknown dead. Reverend J.O. Harper spoke about the total number of
Confederate soldiers who fought for Confederate Louisiana between 1861 and 1865
and the soldiers who were still living. The Opelousas Mayor A.H Garland referred
in his speech to the history of the mothers and daughters who endured Civil War
Louisiana in addition to troops serving in the Trans-Mississippi Army. Alex. W.
Swords, another town official, related the life of a Confederate soldier from his
enlistment to his return to his “desecrated home” that had stolen by the white
paramilitary organizations such as the White Leagues during the Reconstruction
After the speakers had concluded on that day in 1920,
Commander J.O Clachere and Miss Genrie Fux unveiled the monument as a band
erupted in a version of “Dixie”—the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy and
the official anthem of the Lost Cause. The crowd joined in with other Southern
songs as they placed wreaths at the base of the monument and Hon. D.L.
Guilbeau, the master of ceremonies, read many flattering telegrams the UDC had received
from across the country.
The memorial is dedicated to both specific and
nonspecific Veterans. The four sides commemorate different soldiers but has the
same purpose. The sides dedicated read “Fidelis
Fortisimis Erected by The Louisiana Division U.D.C. and Gordon Chapter No.
“In Loving memory of the Confederate Soldiers
1861-1865. The principals of our forefathers and the heros in gray consummated
by Our Young Heros 1917-1919 (sic).”
“In Loving Memory of Brigadier General De Polignac and
Captian H.L. Garland CSA.”
“In Memory of Captian WM. Dejean and Captian Sam Haas
“In Memory of Brigadier General Alfred Mouton CSA.”