The Citizen-Soldier plays an interesting role in the commemoration of the Civil War. According to memory scholar, Kirk Savage, common-soldier statues came about not to merely mend the nation’s grief, but to rehabilitate and modernize the figure of the citizen-soldier.” For soldiers, fighting in the war was something that took away their personal agency, these statues were an effort to give it back. In doing so, the statue plays into an idea known as the Lost Cause.
The Lost Cause is a way that remembers the Civil War by focusing on things like honor and bravery, and forgetting things like slavery and emancipation. According to Savage, the monuments did this by standardizing them so that they could be built in both the North and South. Savage said, “monument committees were able to use local distinctions within the inscriptions and to the architectural features like uniform and pose, the important thing is to build a statue that conforms to the pattern.”
The Citizen-Soldier statue was born in time of great racial strife. The statue aimed to give back personal agency to those who fought in the Civil War but it often overlooked the African American soldier. By doing that, it reinforces the idea of the lost cause.