The American Civil War has often been described as a “rich man’s war – poor man’s fight”, a perspective borne out by disproportionate suffering of the lower and middle-class compared to an educated, wealthy elite. Wealth frequently allowed men the ability to buy their way out of service by hiring a substitute or to be exempted from service in the South by owning more than twenty slaves. Most regiments, both north and south, were filled with poorer farmers or industrial laborers. As the war drew on, and the armies more hungry for soldiers, more and more farms and factories were emptied of their labor to feed the blood baths that were Antietam, Cold Harbor, Chickamauga, and many more battles. Many were conscripts, immigrants who stepped off the boat and into a foreign war, or volunteers who simply had no other choice but to fight. The 12th Virginia Regiment of Virginia Infantry was a bit different.
The story of the creation of Monument Avenue consists of several intertwined subplots: how the avenue came to exist, how it became an avenue both of monuments and of houses, and how mythmaking influenced which Confederates deserved monuments. Although this story is closely connected to the Civil War, the street evolved amid efforts to expand the city in the decades after the war. Making it an avenue of Confederate monuments between 1890 and 1929 was part of a deliberate reinterpretation of Southern history half a generation after the conflict ended.
Who deposited this item in the cornerstone box? Why did he deposit it? George T. Mattern, a private in Company H of the 23rd Virginia
Regiment, placed the muster roll in the cornerstone box. His service records indicate he enlisted in May 1861, was captured in 1864, and released from confinement at Fort Delaware after taking an oath to not take up arms against the US government in May of 1865 (https://www.fold3.com/ ). He does not appear to have been involved with Confederate Veteran organizations but it is known that he served as a police officer during the unveiling of the Lee Monument (SHSP 1889:257). Only George Mattern knows the reasons why he deposited his unit muster roll in the cornerstone box, but perhaps he thought it fitting since his unit was part of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
On March 9th, Preservation Virginia and DHR launched the “Virginia Preservation Academy,” a series of 4 virtual, educational webinars on the fundamentals of historic preservation. The Academy featured live evening lectures from preservation professionals with direct interaction between participants and panelists and was designed toward a diverse audience of preservation professionals, volunteers, students, architectural review board members, stewards of historic places, local government staff, community leaders, owners of historic properties, and anyone else who was interested in learning more about historic preservation. …continue reading the story
called Preservation Academy Series
A small, brass lapel pin made from a button was found in the cornerstone box from the Lee Monument. It comes from a Confederate naval officer’s uniform and bears the seal of the Confederate States Navy. When we think of the Civil War, the navies of both sides are frequently forgotten, but the Civil War at sea was an important part of the struggle. Blue and gray sailors fought on the high seas as well as in muddy rivers to control territory and keep vital supply lines open. This little button highlights the importance of naval conflict during the Civil War. …continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Buttoning on a Navy in Haste
Submit Threatened Sites project proposals now. This DHR program offers small grants to support investigations of archaeological sites endangered by erosion, pending development, or vandalism. These grants do not address standing structures, only archaeological sites. All work associated with these grants must be completed within the state fiscal year in which they are awarded. All awardees must be registered with the state procurement system before a grant is awarded or work for a state college or university or government agency. All work must be supervised by an archaeologist who meets the Secretary of the Interior Standards. Download the Threatened Sites Proposal Form. Applications and supporting materials are due to DHR by May 15, 2022.
Event organizers included several newspapers featuring stories related to the dedication of the cornerstone in the Lee Monument’s cornerstone box. One such paper, listed in an inventory of the cornerstone box, was the October 23, 1887, issue of the Daily Times. One half-page article of the eight-page paper discussed the upcoming dedication of the Lee Monument’s cornerstone. By exploring the other seven-and-a-half pages of the paper, a light can be shined on trends and oddities of local, state, and national politics and culture.
The Daily Times
The Civil War caused a huge demand for information across the nation. Even after the war ended, demand remained high, and cities all over the U.S. saw an explosion of new publications. High circulation numbers also led to political influence and large profits for publishers, encouraging even more opportunistic entrepreneurs into the business. As Virginia’s capital, Richmond was an especially rich newspaper market. Post-war demand resulted in the Daily Times being one of more than twenty papers published in the city by 1887.
White women served a critical role in the planning, fundraising, and design of the Lee monument yet none of the objects in the cornerstone box reflect their work. The only items related to women are a report of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (a group never involved in the Lee Monument) and several items women donated, all of which focused on veterans.
Among the myriad objects placed in the cornerstone box, it is curious that none reflects the central role Confederate women played in the Lee Monument’s creation. The only items related to women are a report of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (a group never involved in the Lee Monument) and several items women donated, all of which focused on veterans. Despite Confederate veterans’ near constant adulation of Confederate women at Memorial Day speeches and other occasions, perhaps the two-decade long battle they had endured with Richmond’s women over the monument had driven them to conveniently forget the critical role white women had served in the planning, fundraising, and design of the Lee Monument.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Where Are the Women?
How many of you contributed to a time capsule as a kid? The 1877 Lee Monument Cornerstone inventory included a listing of a “Master Nolting – $10 Confederate note.” However, it didn’t mention the letter included with the currency, an image and transcription of which can be seen below.
The author describes the challenges inherent in the preservation of artifacts composed of different materials, and in the specific identification of each of those materials. The particular example discussed in this post is an Army of Northern Virginia Badge included in the Lee Monument cornerstone by Carlton McCarthy, mayor of Richmond from 1904-1908.
Nestled among the belongings of Richmond Mayor Carlton McCarthy, the cornerstone box revealed a small medal suspended on a ribbon. This object is one of only three textile-based artifacts found within the box. On first glance, the medal appears to be an enamel Confederate flag attached to a red and white striped ribbon that is missing the pin. The placard is the Army of Northern Virginia Battle Flag inscribed with “A.N.V” at the bottom . Other iterations of this medal are marked with the respective soldier’s division or engraved on the back, but McCarthy’s award is not personalized.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Analyzing the Past: Analysis of Carlton McCarthy’s Army of Northern Virginia Badge
The author examines the growth of Confederate veterans’ organizations in the late 19th century, with a focus on the association of those who had fought under the command of Col. William Pegram in the 3rd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.
…continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Annual Reunion Pegram Battalion Association
Nine historic places were listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register today, including a recreational services facility in eastern Virginia for African American soldiers during military segregation in the 1940s, one of Shenandoah Valley’s earliest apple processing and storage facilities, and the sprawling farm of one of Southwest Virginia’s most prominent political figures and industrialists. …continue reading the story
called State Adds 9 Historic Sites to the Virginia Landmarks Register, March 2022
Use your mobile device or computer to learn about places listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places, read the text of local historical highway markers, and get a feel for just how much archaeology and architecture surrounds us. …continue reading the story
called Learn about history across Virginia with DHR’s Places Explorer
How did the Confederacy finance itself? The author details how the Confederate government raised the necessary funds to support its operation and the war effort. …continue reading the story
called Cornerstone Contributions: Investing in the Confederacy: The Role of Bonds in Funding the Confederacy
DHR is now soliciting applications for our 2022-2023 Survey and Planning Cost Share Program. Cost share projects are funded through a partnership between DHR and a local government and/or regional planning district commission. Eligible projects encompass a broad range of survey and planning activities, protection of historic resources through identification, documentation and evaluation, and preservation planning activities consistent with the responsible stewardship of historic resources. The deadline for applications is 4 p.m., April 1, 2022. …continue reading the story
called 2022-2023 Survey and Planning Cost Share Program
Do you know about a cemetery that needs attention?
Make sure that DHR knows about it, too!
Report it to us with our new online map tool and form. Using your mobile device or computer, provide DHR with some basic information about the cemetery and its location. We will check our records and connect a DHR staff member with you for follow up.
And please note: Recording a cemetery using this form will begin the process of adding it to our databases at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, but it does not guarantee protection of the burial ground.
As Virginia’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), DHR is mandated to periodically develop and publish a Statewide Comprehensive Preservation Plan (under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended). On November 10, 2021 DHR published Virginia’s Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan, 2022–2027. The plan is far-reaching and intended both to inspire and to represent the work of the diverse stakeholders who benefit and who shape the future of Virginia’s historic landscape. The plan’s goals, objectives, and outlined strategies target DHR’s next six-year planning cycle, 2022 through 2027.
“. . . this plan envisions a time when historic places are more fully valued and recognized as assets for education, tourism, environmental sustainability, and economic vitality. It is built on the premise that everyone’s history has value and that, because historic properties are a source of connection and pride, they play an important role in building stronger communities,” writes DHR Director Julie V. Langan in her message to introduce the plan.
(See below for Special Announcements & Opportunities.)
DHR acknowledges that meaningful collaboration with African American and Virginia Indian communities towards the development and implementation of preservation agendas has been regrettably limited. Neglect and a lack of direct engagement has led to the loss of many historic properties of significance to these constituencies. Moreover, many such resources are not represented in the Virginia Cultural Resource Information System (VCRIS).
The renowned seafood industry of the Chesapeake Bay would not have been possible without the contributions of generations of African Americans.
Following the Civil War, self-employment in oystering, crabbing, fishing, and boat building provided independence and self-sufficiency for Black watermen. Labor employment opportunities also supported the processing, packing, and shipping of seafood to all parts of the eastern United States.
In preservation circles and at DHR, people often refer to a “historic resources survey.” In this brief video (5 min.), DHR’s Blake McDonald, manager of the Architectural Survey & Cost Share Grant Program, explains clearly what exactly such a survey is and entails—and why it does not affect property owners or their property (beyond documenting the property’s historic character).
DHR now has two newsletters: a DHR Quarterly Newsletter, and a newsletter for Register Program Updates. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletters. Once you have signed, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Any questions or problems, please contact us (Choose “General Questions in the Contact Form.“). We look forward to hearing from you and keeping you up to date with DHR’s register programs and other preservation news and Virginia history.