Keep the Confederate Soldiers' memorial at Madison County Courthouse
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These Confederate soldiers' memorials are to remember and honor the men who did not come home even in death. The appalling call for removing all of these monuments due to lack of actual research of the men they were erected for has become a totalitarian trend that is a detriment to our entire country, not only the south. Anyone who actually researches their history can easily find that the vast majority of these men simply fought to defend their home from invading forces. The privates that these memorials are dedicated to are in many cases direct descendants of Revolutionary War veterans and were fighting off another form of tyrannical government, contrary to the implication that is falsely applied to them. To simply sweep their sacrifice under the rug and write it off as one cause that simply is not factual is an affront to every one of these men as well as their descendants. They were also deemed US veterans by Congress, and in many cases actually were US veterans, therefore they deserve the same respect as other veterans. However if this appalling practice continues in this country no veterans' monuments or memorials will be safe. This practice is getting scarily similar to the warnings that Orwell wrote of in his novel 1984. Please do not let this totalitarian action take place in Madison County, the division has not reached here as it has other places and we would like to see it remain that way.
The reason for the monument in this prominent position is due to Huntsville's significant history of being sieged during the war. As well as the many soldiers from this area that never came home.
"Truly our town is full of the enemy. There is a sentinel at every corner. ... They have been searching the houses today for arms." - Mary Jane Chadick, as told in "Incidents of the War: The Civil War Journal of Mary Jane Chadick" by Nancy M. Rohr
Huntsville's capture was not a complete surprise, wrote author Charles Rice in "Hard Times: The Civil War in Huntsville and North Alabama 1861-1865."
"A messenger, evidently local druggist Sidney Darwin, had already ridden away to alert the city," Rice wrote. "The first notice the city had of its impending fate was the shrill shriek of a locomotive steam whistle, quickly followed by the booming of a cannon."
Mitchel reported back on April 11: "Entered Huntsville this morning at 6 o'clock." He arrested 12 prominent citizens he suspected of supporting guerrillas.
Even fifth-graders know how the Civil War turned out. It was inevitable Blue would overtake Gray in Huntsville at some point. If war is about killing people and breaking things, it's also about taking as much ground as possible - or taking it back. The South was, after all, an upstart country called the Confederate States of America.
Huntsville residents certainly had their tribulations during occupation but local historians seem to agree it could have been much worse.
"The weight of Federal occupation bore heavily upon the shoulders of the people of Huntsville and Madison County," explains a brochure from the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society and Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table.
"Social gatherings practically ceased, since most of the time had to be spent in performing daily household tasks," it said. "Many of the ladies gave of their time to minister to the sick and wounded soldiers. The Ladies Humane Society was very active in its work at the hospitals established in school buildings and churches of the city."
'One of the most beautiful towns'
Susanna Leberman of the Huntsville Heritage Room at the public library said many Union soldiers sent letters home during Huntsville's occupation. The library recently acquired a photo of the Union encampment downtown from one of those families up north.
One of her favorite letters is from Lt. William Lytle, 3rd Division Army of the Ohio:
"Huntsville is one of the most beautiful towns in America. There is a great deal of wealth here, the private residences are very elegant and surrounded with fine gardens. The air is so laden with perfume they call it Happy Valley," Lytle wrote.
"Alas it is no Happy Valley now," the letter continues. "The desolating footstep of the war has gone over it and it will tell with pallid lips in years to come the bloody history of this accursed rebellion."
"Huntsville was a beautiful city and they always praised it," said Brian Hogan, who has done extensive research on the occupation. "There was no thought at any time of burning Huntsville."
Hogan said the women of Huntsville did put up some resistence. They pelted soldiers with rotten potatoes or buckets of slop. One soldier reportedly threw a potato back, bonking a woman in the face.
Federal troops commandeered the First Methodist Church on Greene Street and accidentally burned it down in January 1864. There was no wholesale ransacking or dramatic torching of buildings.
"General Mitchel and other officers took measures to protect homes which were used for their quarters," wrote Martha B. Gabel in The Huntsville Historical Review on July 19, 1971.
As the war dragged on, the Yankees would get tougher.
"Reign over Huntsville ends
June 11, 1862: These funeral processions pass two or three times a day of late and sometimes there are two coffins in the hearse at the same time. When a member of the cavalry dies, his horse is led in the procession, as a chief mourner, with the blankets and accouterments of the deceased thrown over him, which looks inexpressibly sad. - Mary Jane Chadick
On July 1, 1862, Gen. Mitchel's 80-day reign over Huntsville came to an end when he was called to Washington. The local newspaper was happy to see him go.
The Huntsville Daily Confederate reported on Nov. 12, 1862, the death of "his detestable lowness, Maj. Gen. O.M. Mitchel. No man ever had more winning ways to excite people's hatred than he. We have no space to do justice to his vices - virtues he showed none, in his dealings with the people of North Alabama," wrote Jack Harwell in Old Huntsville magazine.
Almost exactly three years after Mitchel's arrival, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at a courthouse in Virginia. Huntsville was back in the Union of the United States of America.
May 26, 1865: "The war being over and the dear ones returned, there will be little more of interest for these pages. Therefore, you and I, dear journal, close friends as we have been, united by every bond of sympathy, must part." - Mary Jane Chadick"
Civil War: 150th anniversary of the Union occupation of Huntsville by Deborah Storey
Confederate descendants and supporters of historical veteran monuments and memorials.
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