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Confederate Defenders of Charleston
DofC Monument in Charleston SC.jpg
Confederate Defenders of Charleston (2018)
Coordinates 32°46.165′N 79°55.743′W / 32.769417°N 79.929050°W / 32.769417; -79.929050
Location White Point Garden, Charleston, South Carolina
Designer Hermon Atkins MacNeil
Fabricator Delano & Aldrich
Rudier Foundry
Material Bronze
Granite
Height 17 feet (5.2 m)
Dedicated to Confederate soldiers from Charleston

Confederate Defenders of Charleston is a monument in Charleston, South Carolina, United States. The monument honors Confederate soldiers from Charleston, most notably those who served at Fort Sumter during the American Civil War. Built with funds provided by a local philanthropist, the monument was designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeil and was dedicated in White Point Garden in 1932. The monument, standing 17 feet (5.2 m) tall, features two bronze statues of a sword and shield-bearing defender standing in front of a symbolic representation of the city of Charleston. In recent years, the monument has been the subject of vandalism and calls for removal as part of a larger series of removal of Confederate monuments and memorials in the United States.

History

Background and dedication

In April 1861, Fort Sumter, a sea fort held by the Union Army near Charleston, South Carolina, was besieged by Confederate forces, who would later take control of the fortification and hold it throughout the American Civil War until February 1865, the same year the war ended. The idea for a monument honoring the Confederate soldiers from Charleston, and in particular those at Fort Sumter, gained traction in the early 1900s. In 1928, Andrew Buist Murray, a notable philanthropist from Charleston, died and left $100,000 in his will for the purposes of erecting a monument of this nature. The local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was responsible for the monument's erection. Hermon Atkins MacNeil was chosen as the designer for the monument, and New York City-based Delano & Aldrich served as the architectural firm. Additionally, casting for some parts of the monument was performed by the Rudier Foundry in Paris. In designing the monument, MacNeil wished to portray the defenders of Charleston as "stalwart youth" defending both the fort and the city, where the defenders' wife and family, their "most prized possessions", lived. The total cost for the monument was between $80,000 and $90,000. Dedication for the monument, which was located in Charleston's White Point Garden, took place on October 20, 1932. Burnet R. Maybank, the Mayor of Charleston, declared the day a public holiday to allow municipal employees to attend the ceremony.

The dedication ceremony, attracting approximately 8,000 attendees, was presided over by several notable individuals from the region. Bishop Albert Sidney Thomas of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina gave the invocation, while Bishop Emmet M. Walsh of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston gave the benediction. The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Gerald W. Johnson, a writer for the The Evening Sun newspaper in Baltimore. In his speech, Johnson argued that the men honored in the monument had not fought to preserve slavery in the United States, but instead had fought for "their right to live their lives as they chose to live them." Several Confederate veterans were present, while a group of four women who were all descendants of Confederate garrison members from Fort Sumter performed the official unveiling for the monument. Following the unveiling, a Confederate flag, said to be the last one to fly over Fort Sumter, was placed at the base of the monument along with two wreaths made of white and red carnations.

The monument was dedicated during a period known as the Charleston Renaissance, a period of growth for the city that saw, among other things, a boom in the arts and in historic preservation efforts that promoted tourism in Charleston. Boosters promoted the city's history as rooted in Southern culture, and numerous monuments honoring Charleston's history, such as the Defenders monument, were erected during this time. According to historian Robert J. Cook, "The Lost Cause flourished amid these changes," and he points to Johnson's keynote speech during the monument's dedication as an example of this. A 2019 article in The Charleston Chronicle discussing monuments in the area describes the year of the monument's dedication as "the apex of the Ku Klux Klan".

Design

The monument consists of a bronze statue of two figures atop a granite pedestal. The figure in front is a warrior, symbolizing the Confederate soldiers from Charleston, wearing only a fig leaf and sandals and holding both a sword and a shield bearing the Seal of South Carolina. Behind him stands a female figure symbolizing Charleston. Described as resembling an Amazon or an "Athena-like" figure, she holds a laurel wreath as a reward for the warrior. These statues stand 10 feet 6 inches (3.20 m) tall atop an octagonal pedestal that rises 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m). The monument lies at the center of a large circular plaza with a diameter of 56.5 feet (17.2 m).

The monument features several inscriptions on the pedestal. On the front is inscribed:

TO THE
CONFEDERATE
DEFENDERS OF
CHARLESTON
FORT SUMTER
1861–1865

Below this, the following inscription wraps around the pedestal:

COUNT THEM HAPPY WHO FOR THEIR FAITH AND THEIR COURAGE ENDURED A GREAT FIGHT.

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