Federal Funds Replace a Dismantled Confederate Statue in Ohio
Beheading a Confederate Figure
Shortly after May Day 2019, when we learned of violence during peaceful demonstrations in France, Ohio citizens protested a Civil War memorial that had been torn down, but reconstructed at the expense of the United States.
The statue had been vandalized and beheaded during the time of the Charlottesville What Supremacist riots in Virginia in which President Donald Trump stated that there were very fine people on both sides of the conflict.
Map of Camp Chase
Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery, last resting place of at least 2,260 rebel soldiers.
My great grandfather trained for 176th and 188th Regiment Infantries in the Union Army at nearby Goodale Park (Camp Jackson) and Camp Chase at the start of the American Civil War. The camp sat on the National Road/Route 40 of the time, on which my ancestor worked from 1865 - 1870 westward into Madison County. Today, Route 40 runs out Broad Street, a parallel highway.
As of May 1, 2019 Find-a-Grave reports that the cemetery holds 2,365 bodies. We know that some of the deceased soldiers were moved into Chase Cemetery after the war from other local Columbus cemeteries.
A Rebel on the Ground
The statue of a rebel soldier that stood in a graveyard for the southern prisoners who died there in Camp Chase was knocked down and its head severed in the 2017 vandalism. The head disappeared, but its hat survived, as did the stone body.
Camp Chase was a Union Army prison camp that became a graveyard at the end of the war. It is a poor section of town, but descendants of the soldiers buried here continue to travel to the West Side of Columbus, Ohio to place flowers and flags at the grave sites of their ancestors.
Religious services are held in the cemetery to honor the dead annually on the second Sunday of June at 3:00 p.m. and to remember Jefferson Davis Day (June 3).
Memorial Day 2019
On the Memorial Day after the Confederate statue was replaced in Camp Chase, local volunteers and Civil War re-enactors cleaned the cemetery, including all of the white headstones. A small American flag was planted in front of each of these many grave markers and words of remembrance were given by descendants of these soldiers and those of the Union Army as well.
The scenes at Camp Chase were surreal and moving this day as we experienced the many American flags flying, the new statue commemorating Confederates who sacrificed their lives, and a re-enactor in the blue uniform and cap of a Union soldier as he held small American flags for distribution.
Commemorative Camp Chase Fife and Drums
Debates About Civil War Memorials Solved
For several years Americans have been arguing about the Stars and Bars flag and monuments to Civil War figures. Some voices shout for them all to be eliminated, while other contend that the statues, if not the Confederate flag, be maintained for historical purposes. A third set of voices wearily complains that Americans are fighting among themselves too much of the time.
On May 1, 2019, a Virginia Judge ruled that local Charlottesville authorities have no right to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and of Stonewall Jackson, because state law protects those monuments. Ohio agrees.
The VA National Cemetery Association also agrees, stating on May Day that Camp Chase is an official National Historic Place and therefore, its statues are protected by federal law since 1966. The Camp Chase rebel statue is protected by the United States (the Union Army, if you will).
A Tour of Camp Chase
Legacy and Legends
Camp Chase was much larger during the war than it is today. Much of it was developed into a housing sector now called Westgate and the general area is known as the Hilltop, which descends into the poorer neighborhood of The Bottoms to the east.
Interestingly, the area along Sullivant Avenue where the cemetery is located has been home to a psychiatric hospital, an institution for the "mentally retarded", and a psychiatric forensic institute. Violent crime has increased in this area over the last two decades and some old-timers subscribe to the superstition that the violence is caused by the poor conditions at the Camp Chase P.O.W. camp and by the Civil War itself.
In addition to all this, some people maintain that they can see the ghost of a woman in a long gray gown wandering around the cemetery at night.
Share Your Opinion
What do you think of the federal and state governments protecting Confederate monuments?
Cost of Statue Restoration
How much did it cost in federal dollars to fix the dismantled and scarred Confederate statue, including fashioning a new head of bronze? The cost was approximately $41,000.00. At least the hat was saved.
The cost in hard feelings among detractors is likely to cost much more, at least in emotional distress, resentment, and lost time in arguing instead of working together for a better government as Abraham Lincoln would have liked.
The president of the NAACP in Columbus was very upset over the restoration. feeling that the memorial is one to slavery, not to history.
Is that a good use of our federal funds? I could think of a lot of things we can request funding for in our community.— Nana Watson, President of the Columbus Chapter, NAACP
Opinions in the community differ. Many people to whom I listened felt that history is best served by maintaining Confederate statues according to state and federal laws and teaching visitors to these places the real stories behind the Civil War, including slavery.
Other folks were incensed that rebel monuments were protected by the United States.
Some harsh sentiments from 1861 - 1865 descended in the sons and daughters of the Confederacy and the Union, and onward through the first two decades of the 21st century.
- Dee, Christine, ed. Ohio's War: The Civil War in Documents. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
- Family histories and diaries of Hugh McCaskey Inglish, Hugh McCaskey Inglish II and Hugh McCaskey Inglish III.
- Touring Ohio, the Heart of America: Camp Chase
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: National Cemetery Administration
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2019 Patty Inglish MS