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, occurred 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. The Library of Virginia database of Virginia's military dead, which is only partially complete, assigns 200 Confederate deaths to Greenbrier County from those soldiers whose home counties are known.(10)
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."
1. "Confederate Monument." Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian Institution Research Information System. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://siris-artinventories.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=IF08558P17829.3377&profile=ariall&uri=link=3100008~!183265~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=Browse&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!siartinventories&term=Outdoor+Sculpture+--+West+Virginia+--+Lewisburg&index=OBJEC
2. Moore, Annie. "Greenbrier County residents advocate for Confederate statue to be moved." June 19, 2020. WVVA. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://wvva.com/2020/06/19/greenbrier-county-residents-advocate-for-confederate-statute-to-be-moved/
3. Moore, Annie. "City leaders say Lewisburg Confederate Monument will stay." June 26, 2020. WVVA. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://wvva.com/2020/06/26/city-leaders-say-lewisburg-confederate-monument-will-stay/
4. Bordelon, Bobby. "Online petition to remove Confederate statue in Lewisburg gains traction, Mayor White responds." June 24, 2020. Mountain Media. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://mountainmedianews.com/online-petition-to-remove-confederate-statue-in-lewisburg-gains-traction-mayor-white-responds/
5. Alvey, Tina. "A whole new ballgame for Lewisburg's mayor-elect." The Register-Herald. June 22, 2019. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://www.register-herald.com/news/a-whole-new-ballgame-for-lewisburgs-mayor-elect-with-video/article_a3e2b1ef-6e43-582e-9758-dfbed34efafe.html
6. "The Civil War in Greenbrier County: An Overview." July 1, 2013. Beyond the North House Tour [blog]. Greenbrier Historical Society. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://greenbrierhistorical.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/the-civil-war-in-greenbrier-county-an-overview/
7. "Echoes of Slavery in Greenbrier County." Exhibit. Greenbrier Historical Society. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://www.greenbrierhistorical.org/echoes-of-slavery-in-greenbrier-county.html
8. Mott, Joyce. "Greenbrier County." May 31, 2013. e-WV: Encyclopedia of West Virginia. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2168
9. Woodward, Bettie S. "Greenbrier College for Women." May 1, 2012. e-WV: Encyclopedia of West Virginia. May 31, 2013. Web. Accessed June 30, 2020. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2165
10. Database of Virginia Military Dead. Accessed January 27th 2021. https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/vmd/vmd_Search.asp.
West Virginia & Regional History Center, https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/007331
West Virginia & Regional History Center, https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/042224