Princess Anne County Confederate Monument (1905)
The Princess Anne County Confederate Monument broke ground on October 19, 1904 and was unveiled on November 15, 1905. The monument depicts a standard Confederate Private, and was erected in front of the 1822 Princess Anne County Courthouse. In 2017, the monument came under scrutiny following numerous outcries across the country to remove Confederate Monuments from the public eye. The Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission was tasked with formulating a recommendation to the City Council of Virginia Beach, and their work is still underway as of the 9th of January, 2018.
Backstory and Context
Following the Civil War, Confederate veterans and families desired a monument to commemorate their service during the war. The primary sponsor, the Princess Anne Camp of Confederate Veterans, garnered the approval from the Board of Supervisors of Princess Anne County to put the statue in front of the Princess Anne County Courthouse. Thereafter, on April 4, 1903, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution allowing Princess Anne County to pay $500 from the County Levy to James H. Bonney of the Princess Anne Camp of Confederate Veterans to assist in the construction of the monument. In addition to the Princess Anne Camp of Confederate Veterans, some primary sponsors of the monument include the Princess Anne Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy, Princess Anne Mason Lodge No. 25, and the Princess Anne Sons of Confederate Veterans. On the day of the unveiling, 1,500 people from across Tidewater, including Norfolk and Portsmouth, ventured to Princess Anne County to witness the monument. It was celebrated by these individuals as a means of cherishing their service and their family's service during the Civil War.
The monument is inscribed with the following:
1861- Virginia - 1865
Sic Semper Tyrannis
Princess Anne County Confederate Heroes
Your arms are stacked,
Your splendid colors furled,
Your drums are still,
Aside, your trumpets laid
In 2017, many Confederate monuments were under fire as people cited the monuments reflected a time period in which people of African descent were held in the bondages of slavery and in the years after, where African American people were systematically discriminated against. This specific monument was under controversy because of its location in front of the Princess Anne County Courthouse. While this was a central location, critics note that slave auctions were regularly held there, and they believe that the monument was placed there as a reminder to people of color that they were once in chains. Additionally, some people note that the monument was placed in front of the central court of the county, thus believing it was meant to intimidate people of color, representing imbalances and the unfair treatment of the court system. They therefore reason it should be taken down. On the flip side, defenders of the monument cite that their ancestors placed the monument because they were proud of their service to their former country, the Confederate States of America, and their Commonwealth of Virginia. They do not believe the monument is racist or had the intentions to intimidate people of color. Other defenders of the monument believe that the monument's placement is history, and must be preserved. These defenders say that the monument serves as a vital reminder of America's past, and should not be removed.
The monument still stands in front of the old Courthouse today. Discussion occurred in a public forum with the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission, and people from across Virginia Beach came out either in support or defense of the monument. Currently, the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission is still in the process of formulating a recommendation to the City Council. A specific committee was created to address the situation, and they have been meeting. There are some legal concerns that would prevent removal of the monument, however. According to the Virginia Beach City Attorney, Virginia Code 15.2-1812 "Memorials for war veterans," prevents the removal of this monument. That is also being taken into consideration with regards to the future of this monument. Another option other than removal that may not be likely is moving it to a cemetery. Virginia Beach does not have a cemetery dedicated to the Civil War or veterans, so that is also an unlikely decision.
Virginian-Pilot, A. S. (2017, October 04). Confederate monument can't be moved in Virginia Beach, city attorney says. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from https://pilotonline.com/news/government/local/Confederate-monument-can-t-be-moved-in-Virginia-beach-...
Virginia Beach City Documents